best supplements for crossfitters

When it comes to high-intensity functional training programs like CrossFit, the goal is to build a body that is capable of practically anything. Whether it’s rope climbs, sandbag cleans, or sprinting through a 100-meter swim; endurance, strength, and recovery are the most vital aspects to your training. There’s a reason why Crossfitters are considered the fittest humans on earth. 

Adding the right supplements to your programming and nutrition protocol can help specific aspects of your training, so that you can increase training volume, fight muscle fatigue, clock faster times, generate more power, increase strength, and recover faster. But with so many supplements to choose from, it’s hard to know which supplements are the best for crossfitters and your goals.

What Is CrossFit

CrossFit is a brand, that trademarked a type of training, called high-intensity functional training. 

High-intensity functional training (HIFT) is a type of training modality that incorporates high-intensity training with functional fitness, strength training and Olympic lifting. HIFT emphasizes multi-joint movements that can be modified to any fitness level.

High-Intensity Functional Training (HIFT) workouts usually take place in a one-hour class in a group-training aspect, comprised of three components; a dynamic warm-up such as a running or biking followed with a stretching and movement warm-up for mobility, a strength portion, and workout of the day (WOD). If your coach does not include a cool-down component in your class, then its suggested to conduct some light movement and stretching until your body temperature and heart rate, cool down to a normal resting rate.

1. Citrulline Malate 

What’s It Good For? Strength, Endurance, Recovery

One of the best supplements for crossfitters in regards to all-around performance is Citrulline Malate. Never heard of it? Here’s the scoop.

Citrulline Malate is a combination of the non-essential amino-acid L-Citrulline and Malic Acid. The reason Citrulline Malate is so beneficial for Crossfitters is that it helps with strength, endurance, and recovery (3 critical components of being a well-rounded athlete) It’s the only supplement that helps with every component of your performance - the only one.

How Does Citrulline Malate Work

L-Citrulline is converted into another amino acid called L-Arginine, which facilitates the production of Nitric Oxide. Nitric oxide is a vasodilator that triggers the widening of blood vessels, to help with blood, oxygen, and nutrient transport. Greater oxygenation of skeletal muscle will improve endurance and help build lean muscle mass [R] That means, that you’ll not only be able to lift heavier, but that you’ll be able to fight muscle fatigue and hammer out more reps, and clock faster times, since you’ll have better aerobic capacity when you’re chipping away at your thrusters.

That’s not all. A study that included 17 pre-professional cyclists were given either a placebo or 6g of Citrulline Malate two hours prior to a 137-km cycling stage. The research concluded that Citrulline Malate supplementation increased amino acid concentration and utilization, especially branched chain amino acid (another beneficial supplement) concentration, which can assist with building and rebuilding lean muscle mass, as compared to the control group. [R]

Citrulline Malate is regarded as a top supplement for crossfitters due to its well-established capacity to improve anaerobic performance and alleviate muscle soreness.A clinical study found in the Journal of Strength & Conditioning found that Citrulline Malate can improve repetitions by 52.92% and decrease muscle soreness by 40%. [R] Considering that improving rep count and deceasing soreness are two critical components of becoming more competitive in Crossfit, Citrulline Malate proves to easily be one of the best supplements for crossfitters.

RELATED ARTICLE The Best Supplement For CrossFitters: Citrulline Malate

What’s The Recommended Dose Of Citrulline Malate

Ensure your Citrulline Malate supplement contains at least 5g per serving. Numerous clinical studies suggest a range of 5-8g per serving.

2. Beta-Alanine 

What’s It Good For? Strength, Endurance, Delayed Muscle Fatigue

Endurance is the key to your overall performance. If you can sprint faster, row harder, and clock faster times, you can gain a competitive advantage and improve your results. Beta-Alanine is a beta amino acid, which has proven to enhance muscular endurance and is amongst one of the most popular sports supplements for crossfitters and for good reason. (4)

How Does Beta-Alanine Work

Beta-Alanine is a non-essential beta-amino acid, proven to improve muscle endurance by counteracting the development of lactic acid. Lactic acid is created from the buildup of Hydrogen Ions (H+), which causes our muscles pH to drop, becoming more acidic. During high-intensity training, lactic acid produces a burning sensation and causes increased fatigue, resulting in a loss of power and eventually muscle fatigue. Imagine if you were able to fight or delay muscle fatigue and maintain a high-level of performance even at the point of exhaustion? You would inevitably increase training volume. More training volume and delayed muscle fatigue means harder and faster turns on the assault bike, increased rowing, and overall - more reps. [R, R] Beta-Alanine is definitely a supplement you should consider taking while high intensity functional training.

RELATED ARTICLE Beta-Alanine: The Best Supplement For Increasing Muscular Endurance

RELATED ARTICLE 10 Studies That Prove Elite Athletes Should Take Beta-Alanine

What’s The Recommended Dose Of Beta-Alanine

Research shows that a daily intake of 5g of Beta-Alanine for up to 4 weeks can significantly enhance muscle carnosine levels and boost endurance training.

3. Kre-Alkalyn 

What’s It Good For? Strength, Power, Endurance

If you google the best supplements for crossfitters nearly every search result will include creatine on their list. Since the introduction of creatine in 1993 as a sports performance supplement, Creatine has proven to be one of the most highly studied and effective supplements to help generate more power and force, to improve strength. But is Creatine one of the best supplements for crossfitters? To grasp the disparity between Kre-Alkalyn and Creatine, it is imperative to comprehend the functioning of creatine.Here’s the scoop 

How Does Creatine & Kre-Alkalyn Work

Creatine is a non-essential protein that helps your body perform explosive movements through the generation of your body’s energy supply ATP. Creatine helps enhance athletic performance through its ability to support short bouts of intense training, by producing higher muscle force and power. Research shows that the greatest improvements in exercise performance are found during a series of repetitive high-power reps, such as those found in high-intensity functional training.

The problem is that traditional creatine monohydrate, despite its impressive enhancement in proven athletic performance, has some noteworthy drawbacks such as

  • Bloating
  • Water Retention
  • Cramping
  • Loading and de-loading phases
  • Cycling phases (you have to cycle on and off)

Kre-Alkalyn is a pH corrected form of creatine, which was created to address the negative side effects of Creatine Monohydrate. You see, creatine is converted into a toxic by-product called creatinine, which your body can’t absorb and use towards creating more muscle force, power, and gains. Kre-Alkalyn solves for that problem, by alkalizing and balancing the pH, and therefore delivers higher concentrated amounts of creatine without the toxic conversion to creatinine. In addition, Kre-Alkalyn is a better choice for crossfitters and endurance athletes, because 

  • Kre-Alkalyn is not degraded to creatinine which subsequently leads to greater bioavailability
  • Kre-Alkalynsolves for side effects such as bloating and cramping. 
  • 5 grams of Kre-Alkalynis equivalent to about 10–15 grams of ordinary Creatine Monohydrate
  • Kre-Alkalyndoes not require a loading phase or de-loading phase
  • Kre-Alkalyn, unlike creatine monohydrate enhances VO2 max and aerobic capacity [R]

RELATED ARTICLE The Best Type Of Creatine: Kre-Alkalyn Vs Creatine Monohydrate

What’s The Recommended Dose Of Kre-Alkalyn

Studies suggest taking at least 3g of Kre-Alkalyn 30 minutes before your WOD to help with endurance, power, and speed. 

4. Essential Amino Acids And Electrolytes (INTRA workout)

What’s It Good For? Strength, Recovery, Hydration, Muscle Mass

Essential amino acids and electrolytes, are two of the most beneficial supplements for long distance and endurance runners. 

Intra-workout supplements can be extremely beneficial to help boost endurance and provide fuel for long-lasting training and prolonged bouts of exercise. Athletes who train for several hours in the gym, on the track, or on the pavement, need to keep their energy levels, focus, and hydration optimized at all times to maximize their training capacity and output. That’s where intra-workout supplements can benefit performance the most.

The majority of intra-workout supplements contain fast-acting carbohydrates, essential amino acids, and electrolytes.

How Do Essential Amino Acids Work

Essential amino acids, otherwise known as EAAs, have become a popular sports nutrition supplement for athletes. Studies suggest that supplementing with EAAs can help improve the muscle building process and reduce muscle mass breakdown enhancing athletic performance. 

Several studies have investigated the effects of amino acids, particularly the branched chain amino acids, in addition to the remaining essential amino acids on strength and performance. EAAs put your body in an anabolic or muscle building state when muscle protein synthesis exceeds muscle protein breakdown.

A study conducted at the University of Arkansas investigated the effects of EAA supplementation in older individuals on physical function and performance. The study found that after 12 weeks of EAA supplementation, physical performance and distance walked by study participants was significantly greater improving strength, and reducing fat mass [R].

What’s The Recommended Dose EAA or INTRA Workout Supplements

Aim for at least 4g of EAAs and 750mg of Electrolytes for optimal hydration and performance.

5. Clean Carbs

What’s It Good For? Recovery, Strength, Energy, Endurance, Muscle Mass

Swolverine's Clean Carbs® is made with 100% real whole-superfoods from complex carbohydrates, including Sweet potatoes, Yams, Oats, and Blueberries. These four ingredients provide the long-lasting and sustained energy your body needs to fuel performance and optimize recovery. It’s the best carbohydrate supplement to drink pre and intra workout for your comp or WOD. 

How Do Clean Carbs Work

Glycogen plays a major role in supporting energy demands during pro-longed high-intensity training and moderate exercise. [R]. Depletion of glycogen stores is the main factor in the onset of fatigue during exercise [R]. For rapid recovery from prolonged exercise, it is important to replenish glycogen stores to initiate muscle repair and adaptation [R]. Carbohydrates are utilized within your pre, intra, and post-workout nutrition strategy to influence the restoration of endurance capacity and recovery during high-intensity training [R].

The amount of carbohydrates your body needs depends on the intensity and duration of the activity. The longer the activity and the higher the intensity, the more carbohydrates and glycogen are used as an energy source.

Most endurance athletes train around 65-70% at VO2 max capacity. Muscle glycogen can be depleted within 2 hours of exercise, with liver glycogen depleted with a 15 hour fast. Therefore, consuming an adequate amount of carbs athletes can delay onset muscle fatigue caused by glycogen depletion. 

The problem with the majority of available carbohydrate supplements, is that their made with cheap ingredients, offering suboptimal nutritional value. Supplements like maltodextrin, dextrose, and cluster dextrin are manufactured with genetically modified corn starch, resulting in a highly glycemic carbohydrate source, used for fast-acting energy. Simple carbohydrates spike your insulin levels, which gives you a quick, yet short-lived boost of energy but can attribute to low blood sugar leaving you feeling tired, fatigued, and lethargic. Ever chugged a sugary energy drink, carb supplement, or eaten a snack before a workout or long run and find yourself gassed-out mid-way through your training. This is why.

Most athletes will consume a sugary energy drink an hour or two before their training session, to get that mid-day pick-me-up, when their energy hits a wall. This infuses a vicious cycle, that we call the Blood Sugar Roller Coaster. 

Complex carbs or clean carbs,  digest much slower than simple carbohydrates due to their longer-chain molecular structure. Complex carbs are also sugars, but they do not spike blood insulin, keeping your blood glucose levels stable, providing a long-sustained energy release. These types of carbohydrates, work best for prolonged training, improving endurance, building more muscle mass, and optimizing body composition. Complex carbs slow the absorption of sugar, slowing down digestion, which results in lower cholesterol levels and keeping you fuller for a longer period of time. When you ingest complex carbohydrates, there is no blood sugar roller coaster, of highs and lows. Energy is gradual and sustained over time.

What’s The Recommended Dose Of Clean Carbs

If you’re an endurance athlete and require a larger amount of carbohydrates in your diet, then yes you should absolutely be taking a pre, intra workout, supplement or post-workout carb. Of course, you’ll get most of your carbohydrates through food, however, in times of glycogen depletion with intense physical exercise supplementation is advised for optimal performance and recovery.

6. Krill Oil

What’s It Good For? Recovery, Joint Health, Inflammation, Heart Health, Brain Health 

For years, the recommended supplement for Omega-3 fatty acids has been Fish Oil, and for good reason. Fish oil contains Omega-3’s, which contain a litany of proven health benefits, including heart health, brain health, immune system support, joint function, and can also help with inflammation. However, Krill Oil has recently made a solid statement, in terms of being a better option for the essential and recommended Omega-3 fatty acids we all need in our daily diet.

RELATED ARTICLE Krill Oil Vs Fish Oil: 5 Reasons Why Krill Oil Is Better

How Does Krill Oil Work

One of the key differences between krill oil and fish oil is the bioavailability, or how quickly your body can absorb it. The Omega-3s found in krill oil are packaged as phospholipids, (the same structure found in your cellular membranes) which can be utilized immediately by your body. The Omega 3’s found in fish oil, however, are bound in triglycerides, which have to undergo additional conditions and processes in order for them to become bioavailable [R]

Krill oil has been shown to be absorbed 68% better than fish oil [R] thereby suggesting that the Omega-3 polyunsaturated fats in Krill Oil are more bioavailable than Fish Oil. [R]

Since Krill oil is bound in phospholipids and not triglycerides, the addition of the phosphate group permits more efficient digestion and absorption. Krill oil is absorbed in 2-3 hours as compared to fish oil, which can take anywhere from 48-72 hours, therefore prolonging the benefits associated with inflammation and post-workout recovery.

Krill oil is preferred over fish oil because it contains the highly potent antioxidant, Astaxanthin. As an antioxidant Astaxanthin helps fight the build-up of free radicals and suppress the signs of aging. Astaxanthin also plays a crucial role in reducing inflammation of the cardiovascular system and improving immune system function by increasing HDL-cholesterol which helps the body rid of plaque build-up on the arterial walls.

RELATED ARTICLE Astaxanthin:The World’s Most Powerful Antioxidant

Not to mention krill oil pills are a whole lot smaller than fish oil, and they don’t give you any of the super attractive fish burps we all cherish and love. 

What’s The Recommended Dose Of Krill Oil

The recommended dose for most individuals is one 500mg serving. However, if you experience persistent joint pain and inflammation, follow the guidance of your physician.

7. ZMT

What’s It Good For? Sleep, Recovery, Strength, Well-Being

Sleep is an often overlook and critical component of your training. Being tired can hamper your motivation and negatively impact your athletic performance. Getting an adequate amount of high-quality sleep is also vital to facilitate recovery, initiate the muscle-building process, and to recover from brain fatigue caused by normal daytime activities.

How Does ZMT Work

ZMT is a synergistic combination comprised of ZMA (Zinc, Magnesium, Vitamin B6) and natural testosterone boosting ingredients such as Ashwagandha,  Diindolylmethane (DIM), Rhodiola Rosea, and Tongkat Ali. This specific combination of vitamins and minerals, have significant benefits on your immune system, hormonal balance, and will help you attain better quality sleep. 

RELATED ARTICLE The Benefits Of ZMA Supplements: More Than Just A Sleep Aid

A study published in the Journal Of Medical Sciences 46 subjects were administered 500 mg of Magnesium, or a placebo in a double-blind randomized controlled trial, over a period of 8 weeks, researchers found a significant improvement in, sleep efficiency, sleep time and sleep quality in the Magnesium administered group. [R] Therefore, if you’re not getting enough sleep, supplementing with a ZMA might be exactly what you need to get a full eight hours of uninterrupted sleep and a good night's rest. 

Adequate sleep is essential for the muscle-building process and post-workout recovery. [R] Without enough sleep, you can become irritable, short-tempered, fatigued, and compromise your gains. When was the last time you had a solid day of training when you were running on 3-4 hours of sleep? Probably never. Since ZMT also contains natural testosterone boosting ingredients, your body will naturally release more human growth hormone, helping in overall well-being, strength, and focus. Overall, if you have trouble sleeping and getting an adequate amount of quality rest, ZMT might be exactly what you need to sleep well so you can power through your WOD.

What’s The Recommended Dose Of ZMT

We recommended taking six capsules of ZMT 45 minutes prior to sleep. 

RELATED ARTICLE How To Get Better Quality Sleep: 6 Easy Steps So You Don’t Feel Like A Zombie

Best Supplements For CrossFit: Takeaway

Overall, these supplements are proven to help improve your CrossFit training and performance. After all supplements are meant to be supplemental. By incorporating these products into your programming and nutrition protocol, you'll be able to take your performance to a new level and ultimately become a better athlete.  


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