What does performance mean to you? Perhaps it’s going into the gym and beating all of the numbers from the previous week. Maybe it’s scoring the most goals at a 5-a-side football match. Maybe it’s completing an essay in record time. Or excelling at work. Regardless of how you interpret the word, we’re here to guide you on priming yourself to perform at full capacity, inside and outside of the gym.
We can’t ignore diet when it comes to optimising our performance. We cannot expect to get the most out of supplements without a solid foundation, nor will we perform as well in the gym or make as impressive changes to our physique with poor nutrition.
The quality of the food that you are eating is key. Choose grass fed, organic fatty meats or go for leaner cuts if that isn’t within budget. Try to include fatty fish and even organ meat in your diet when possible too. Eat a rich variety of vegetables and fibrous carbohydrates. These should make up the bulk of your diet.
Also make sure that you choose food that sits well with you. For example, cauliflower and kale are packed with micronutrients but cause stomach upset with lots of people! Identify problem foods and find alternatives. If you are eating meal and rushing to the toilet straight after, no matter how ‘healthy’ it is, it probably doesn’t agree with your digestive system! Supplements such as probiotics, digestive enzymes and GDAs can be helpful, but don’t let them become a crutch. If you need a little extra help, we’d suggest taking a look at the Neobium brand.
For the more advanced trainee, sometimes controlling calories, or even macros, isn’t enough to continue making progress. We would advise looking more specifically at how you time nutrients around sessions. For example, most carbohydrates should be placed peri-workout (pre, intra and post), whereas high fat meals such as salmon and avocado are best suited away from glycogen depleting work to control appetite and get essential fatty acids in.
Before even considering what you do in sessions, think about how you work it into your day and how you can create a routine that sets you up for success. For example, you might be losing out on sleep by setting an early alarm for the gym and therefore negatively impacting recovery and the quality of training. Studies have proven that adjusting the training schedule to improve sleep duration has a significantly positive impact on several aspects of athletic performance.
There are other habits that we can get into to set us up to perform well: the music we listen to on the commute to the gym, watching motivational videos, drinking a certain pre-workout, packing our gym bag and laying out our clothes in advance of the session…
Sleep is a vital and often underrated component of performance. Sleep deprivation can affect illness, injury, metabolism, cognition, memory, learning, and mood. Extensive periods of sleep deprivation while attempting to maintain or progress performance can even stimulate overtraining syndrome due to autonomic nervous system imbalances. An optimal amount of sleep is likely a minimum of 7-8 hours for an adult, and that’s not forgetting that quality of sleep matters too. A few easy changes that you can make to improve your sleep would be:
• Cutting out stimulants from mid-afternoon at the latest
• Going to sleep at the same time each night
• Limiting blue light (phone screen, laptop) after it gets dark outside
• Supplements such as ZMA, 5HTP, CBD and Ashwagandha
Without being sufficiently recovered, we cannot expect to perform well. In addition to sleep (above) we can consider investing in physical therapy and treatments to speed up the healing process from constant trauma to the muscles. We can also do things ourselves like stretch, foam roll and take epsom salt baths.
Factor in your recovery capabilities when programming training also. For example, some people can heavy deadlift one day and heavy barbell squat the next. Others would not be able to handle the lower back fatigue and training performance would take a hit as a result. This doesn't mean that you have to skip out the hard stuff! Simply design your split and exercise selections to avoid excessive soreness. While muscle damage does contribute to hypertrophy, if one session is ruining your next three, you are probably not handling recovery effectively.
The gold-standard stack here is the Hydrapharm Perform Bundle, engineered specifically to take mental and physical output to the next level. PERFORM contains Hydrazine and Plasma.
Hydrazine goes beyond your standard ‘pre-workout’, and could in fact be utilised as a nootopic or even to enhance calorie burning and motivation on a diet. Moderate stimulation from caffeine is supported with Bauhinia Purpurea Extract, Cacao Extract, Cymbidium Goeringii Extract and Kigelia Africana. Cymbidium Goeringii Extract is an adaptogenic herb that can increase energy and help the body adapt to high stress environments, whether triggered by training or day to day modern life. When taken pre-workout (allowing 15-30 minutes depending on individual metabolism to ‘kick in’) it can improve performance by delivering more blood and nutrients to working muscles while training. As something of a ‘luxury’ ingredient, don’t expect to find this in your average supplement! Kigelia Africana increases energy and focus for a ‘feelgood’ effect. Like Cymbidium Goeringii, 15-30 minutes prior to exercise is the perfect time to take it.
A world apart from your usual energy and focus boosting supplement, Hydrazine simply cannot and has not been replicated by any other brand.
Where Hydrazine can be seen as an energy supplement, Plasma is the ‘anti-fatigue’ side, by enhancing nutrient partitioning, improving recovery, increasing VO2 max and boosting muscular performance. Plasma contains an innovative blend of 7 active ingredients to defeat limiting factors to physical output. Cynomorium Songaricum has been shown in clinical research to increase endurance performance. Schisandra Chinensis is an adoptogen with the ability to positively influence exercise performance as well as combat fatigue. COQ10 is an anti-oxidant which can reduce oxidative stress during exercise and increase time to exhaustion. A 2008 study on both trained and untrained human subjects found results indicating that acute and chronic supplementation of CoQ10 may affect acute and/or chronic responses to various types of exercise (Cooke et al.).
The 7 ingredients work synergistically here to create an unrivalled endurance booster.
In addition to Hydrazine pre-workout, you may wish to use other nootropics for different times/requirements. We have to promote relaxation, nootropics for students, nootropics for gamers, you name it!
For more supplement recommendations, suited to your individual level of training, fill out the short questionnaire in our ‘Shop by Goal’ section under ‘Improve Performance’.
Cooke, M., Iosia, M., Buford, T., Shelmadine, B., Hudson, G., Kerksick, C., Rasmussen, C., Greenwood, M., Leutholtz, B., Willoughby, D. and Kreider, R. (2008). Effects of acute and 14-day coenzyme Q10 supplementation on exercise performance in both trained and untrained individuals. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 5(1), p.8. Fullagar, H., Skorski, S., Duffield, R., Hammes, D., Coutts, A. and Meyer, T. (2014). Sleep and Athletic Performance: The Effects of Sleep Loss on Exercise Performance, and Physiological and Cognitive Responses to Exercise. Sports Medicine, 45(2), pp.161-186.