By David Barr CSCS, CISSN
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No other word evokes a sense of dominance like power. Its essential nature makes it a ubiquitously sought after performance variable, in everything from golf to grappling. Jiu Jitsu techniques are the name of the game, however, adding more power to your techniques can make a big difference. Herein, we’ll explore simple ingredients that can turbocharge your own power, and along with it, your domination on the mat.
Perhaps the most powerful performance booster known to man, creatine monohydrate is a must-have for athletic prowess. Not only can it improve body composition and muscle strength, but power along with it (7). If you’re looking to use just one inexpensive supplement, this is it. You may expect some weight gain with creatine (as water is driven into the muscle) so be advised if you are trying to make weight. Some fighters use creatine and then go off a week before the weight in, so that they still enjoy the longer lasting power increase without the few pounds of additional water weight.
FAQ: “What type of creatine is best?”
A. The salt, or “type”, of creatine is usually irrelevant outside of your glass. Stick with monohydrate because it’s the gold standard.
Pump or Power
Spawning an entire genre of supplements, Arginine-alphaketoglutarate (AAKG) is most often (erroneously) consumed as a nitric oxide, or blood flow, stimulator. Although arginine supplementation doesn’t affect blood flow in healthy people, it might be able to provide an increase in your strength and power output (1,5).
Interestingly, this may be the optimal ingredient for weight-limited athletes looking to change performance without increasing bodyweight, because in spite of the ergogenic effect, AAKG appears to impair muscle growth (1,5).
FAQ: “Everyone knows that nitric oxide and arginine is good for blood flow.”
A. The discussion of this would (and has) entail a lengthy literature review. But for the sake of brevity, nitric oxide is a gas (you can’t consume it), and the evidence is unanimous that arginine supplementation won’t affect your blood flow.
Another power packed supplement, beta alanine is among the best researched in your potential arsenal. Yielding many of the same characteristics as creatine supplementation, beta alanine does so without the increases in muscle water weight making it perfect for weight-controlled athletes. By increasing power output and decreasing the perception of fatigue (2), this might be the first supplement you’ll want to use on your quest to domination.
FAQ: “Why do I tingle after taking beta alanine?”
A. This effect is known as paresthesia and is completely safe. Using small doses of beta alanine (see below) will mitigate this effect.
Pump and Power
Although traditionally thought of as a blood flow supplement, Glycocarn (GPLC) works to increase power and (3,4), and anaerobic endurance (6). While having too much of a pump can impair performance, using a lower dose will provide the ergogenic benefit without the blood flow alterations (4).
FAQ: What if I actually want to get a pump?
A. A higher dose, 4.5g/d will give you the blood flow boost you’re after.
Creatine Monohydrate: Load for 7 days at 10g/day in 2 divided doses. Maintain at 5g/day.
AAKG: 12g/day in 2-3 divided doses
Beta Alanine: Load for 3 weeks at 6g/day in 4 divided doses. Maintain thereafter at 3g/day in 2 divided doses.
- Campbell B, Roberts M, Kerksick C, Wilborn C, Marcello B, Taylor L, Nassar E, Leutholtz B, Bowden R, Rasmussen C, Greenwood M, Kreider R. Pharmacokinetics, safety, and effects on exercise performance of L-arginine alpha-ketoglutarate in trained adult men. Nutrition. 2006 Sep;22(9):872-81.
- Hoffman JR, Ratamess NA, Faigenbaum AD, Ross R, Kang J, Stout JR, Wise JA. Short-duration beta-alanine supplementation increases training volume and reduces subjective feelings of fatigue in college football players. Nutr Res. 2008 Jan;28(1):31-5.
- Jacobs PL, Goldstein ER, Blackburn W, Orem I, Hughes JJ. Glycine propionyl-L-carnitine produces enhanced anaerobic work capacity with reduced lactate accumulation in resistance trained males. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2009 Apr 2;6:9.
- Jacobs PL, Goldstein ER. Long-term glycine propionyl-l-carnitine supplementation and paradoxical effects on repeated anaerobic sprint performance. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2010 Oct 28;7:35.
- Little JP, Forbes SC, Candow DG, Cornish SM, Chilibeck PD. Creatine, arginine alpha-ketoglutarate, amino acids, and medium-chain triglycerides and endurance and performance. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2008 Oct;18(5):493-508.
- Smith WA, Fry AC, Tschume LC, Bloomer RJ. Effect of glycine propionyl-L-carnitine on aerobic and anaerobic exercise performance. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2008 Feb;18(1):19-36
- Volek JS, Ratamess NA, Rubin MR, Gómez AL, French DN, McGuigan MM, Scheett TP, Sharman MJ, Häkkinen K, Kraemer WJ. The effects of creatine supplementation on muscular performance and body composition responses to short-term resistance training overreaching. Eur J Appl Physiol. 2004 May;91(5-6):628-37.
About The Author
David Barr’s is a performance specialist whose research experience includes work for NASA at the Johnson Space Center, as well as studying the effect protein intake on muscle growth. He has authored 2 books and more than 50 web-based publications on applied training and supplement science. He is a certified sports nutritionist through the ISSN and a certified strength and conditioning coach through the NSCA. He can be reached through his site: www.RaiseTheBarr.net