Supplements get a lot of people's emotions roiling. On the one hand, there are people who swear by the supplements they take, as if the supplements are what is putting in the work. On the other side of things, some people think there is something “unnatural” or unhealthy about using supplements. In the real world, most arguments have a lot of nuance to them, and knowledge tends to become power.
When you understand what supplements actually do within your body, you can make an informed choice. It is ultimately up to you to decide what you are going to take into your body. Knowing how you will be affected can be useful to you.
If you need to be as strong as possible for an athletic endeavor, or just to show off in the gym, one way to do this is to take creatine. There are two forms of creatine, and they affect your body differently. Both creatine monohydrate and creatine hydrochloride draw water from the rest of your body into your muscles. In the former case, this results in a larger look, but it can bloat you a bit. In the latter case, this tends to result in a leaner look.
In both cases, creatine allows your muscles to recover more quickly after they have been worked at high intensity on heavy weight. This allows you to train harder, as well as training heavier, and be able to do so with consistency.
Pre-workout supplements such as the kind offered at often contain caffeine and beta alanine. Both of these can work to provide you with more energy during your workouts, but they work in different ways.
Beta alanine works by causing your muscles to have less of a build-up in lactic acid. Since this tends to break down muscles and causes pain, having less lactate means that you can go for longer. These longer workouts cause further micro-tears to your muscles that can, in turn, help them to get stronger.
Caffeine works in two ways. First, it stimulates your adrenal gland, which gives you that burst of energy. Secondly, it works on your neurotransmitters to fool your brain into not knowing if you are tired or not. This is why coffee, a natural source of caffeine, is so popular in the morning and for people who like to stay up late. Caffeine allows you to workout harder because your brain does not realize when fatigue is setting in. It also encourages you to feel stronger, meaning that you are more likely to start out at full capacity and push for longer, which tends to expand what you are capable of later on.
Protein is the building blocks of your muscles and is essential in rebuilding them after a hard workout. Anything that involves movement is going to slightly damage your muscles, and hard workouts such as running, lifting and jumping will further stress your muscles. The micro-tears mentioned earlier are natural and okay, but often eating is simply not enough to get the amount of protein that you need.