Common Performance-Enhancing Supplements for Men
Some common performance-enhancing supplements that improve workout performance in men include:
It may come as no surprise that men’s testosterone levels often decrease with age. DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone) is a hormone your body uses to make testosterone, which enhances exercise performance and your physique when available in sufficient amounts.
Your doctor lets you know if your testosterone levels are low using a simple blood test, as low T levels impact workout performance. Symptoms of low testosterone include fatigue, depression, muscle loss, low sex drive, and increases in body fat.
While testosterone therapy is popular among men over 40, some doctors discourage it if your levels are borderline because of heart disease and cancer risks possibly associated with long-term testosterone use — and because your body may stop producing its own testosterone while on therapy. DHEA enhances the production of testosterone your body does make.
The University of Michigan found that DHEA doses of 100 milligrams daily helped improve athletic performance and strength in older men.
#2 Creatine Monohydrate
Loss of lean muscle mass associated with aging can be frustrating for men over 40, which is why taking creatine monohydrate supplements can put you at ease.
This dietary supplement is similar to the creatine your body produces, and is used in combination with resistance training as a way to boost lean body mass and strength in older men.
A 2017 study published in Open Access Journal of Sports Medicine found that supplementing with creatine enhanced muscle building and improved upper and lower body strength in older adults.
A 2017 review published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition found that older men who ingested 0.1 gram of creatine per kilogram of body weight, which equates to 0.05 grams of creatine per pound of body weight daily, combined with protein supplementation had increases in lean body mass and upper body strength. The researchers say it's safe to take up to 30 grams of creatine daily.
Nitrate supplements help boost nitric oxide within your body, which helps improve exercise performance. Nitric oxide is a molecule that keeps blood vessels healthy, regulates blood pressure and blood flow, and enhances the nervous and immune system.
A 2016 study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that men who took nitric oxide-enhancing supplements (nitrates) in doses of 400 milligrams had better resistance training performance than men who didn’t take the nitrate supplements.
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Caffeine is a widely-used sports performance-enhancing drug, as the energy it provides makes exercise seem easier.
A review published in 2018 in Sports Medicine suggests that while caffeine recommendations for sports performance are highly individualized, general guidelines are to ingest 3 to 9 milligrams of caffeine per kilogram (1.4 – 4.1 milligrams per pound) of body weight about 60 minutes prior to exercise to boost performance.
The National Institutes of Health reports that ingesting 400 – 500 milligrams of caffeine daily appears to be safe for adults.
#5 Sodium Bicarbonate
Sodium bicarbonate is also known as baking soda, but surprisingly appears to enhance workout performance. A 2018 study published in PloS One found that sodium bicarbonate improves high-intensity and resistance exercise performance.
Researchers found that ingesting 150 milligrams per kilogram (68 milligrams per pound) of body weight daily for 10 days improved CrossFit performance in study subjects.
Herbal and Food-Based Workout Supplements for Men
Herbs, herbal extracts, and super foods are also used as performance-enhancing workout supplements for men.
Fiber-rich fenugreek seeds appear to help protect against heart disease and high blood cholesterol, according to a 2017 study published in the International Journal of Medical Sciences.
The researchers found that men who took 500 milligrams a day of fenugreek supplements had increases in testosterone (up to 46% in most study subjects), and improvements in sperm counts, mood, mental alertness, heart health, and sex drive.
If your testosterone levels are lower than normal, considering adding fenugreek to your regular supplement routine after getting the okay from your doctor.
Ashwagandha is an herbal supplement that enhances muscle mass and strength when combined with regular workouts. A 2015 study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition found that men who consumed 300 milligrams of ashwagandha root extract two times a day combined with resistance training had greater increases in muscle strength, muscle size, and testosterone levels (and less body fat) compared with men who resistance-trained without the ashwagandha supplements.
#3 Betaine Anhydrous (Trimethylglycine)
Betaine anhydrous, also known as trimethylglycine, is a naturally-occurring byproduct of sugar beets. Taking it as a supplement appears to improve body composition in active adults.
A 2018 study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition found that taking 2.5 grams of betaine daily enhanced fat loss and may improve strength-based performance.
Another 2010 study found that in men, betaine supplementation increased power and performance in upper body muscle groups.
#4 Beet Root and Beet Juice
Beet root and beet juice are excellent food sources of nitrate, which is a nitric oxide booster in your body that expands blood vessels and increases blood flow to muscles during workouts. Because beet juice’s effect on nitric oxide, it may improve athletic performance and reduce muscle fatigue.
The National Institutes of Health reports that beet juice seems to improve endurance performance for sports like swimming, running, rowing, and cycling if you consume about 2 cups of beet juice, 2 – 3 hours before exercise.
#5 Tart Cherry Juice
As an antioxidant, tart cherry juice helps reduce inflammation and accelerate recovery post-exercise for strength and endurance exercises, say researchers who conducted a 2017 review published in Current Sports Medicine Reports.
Researchers say most studies use doses of 8 – 12 ounces of tart cherry juice OR 1 ounce of concentrated juice twice a day for four to five days before events, and two to three days after events to enhance recovery.
Amino Acid Workout Supplements for Men
The following amino acid supplements are beneficial for exercise performance in men based on numerous studies.
L-Glutamine is an amino acid your body uses to produce energy. L-Glutamine supplements appear to reduce muscle soreness after workouts in men, according to a 2015 study published in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism.
The researchers found that ingesting 0.3 grams per kilogram of body weight (0.14 grams per pound of weight) daily over a 3-day period reduced muscle soreness post-exercise and improved recovery times in men.
The National Institutes of Health says it’s likely safe to take up to 45 grams of glutamine a day for several weeks without experiencing side effects.
If you’re trying to build muscle mass or reduce soreness after workouts, branched-chained amino acids (BCAAs) can help. The BCAAs are amino acids leucine, isoleucine, and valine.
A study published in 2017 in Frontiers in Physiology found that ingesting 5.6 grams of BCAAs stimulates muscle gains when combined with resistance training in men.
Another study published in 2017 in the Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness found that men who took 9.6 grams of BCAAs daily reduced exercise-induced muscle soreness.
Beta-alanine is another amino acid that makes an excellent performance-enhancing workout supplement for men, especially during cardiovascular exercises. A 2018 study published in Frontiers in Physiology found that taking 5 grams of beta-alanine daily improved 10k running times and reduced lactate concentrations in active adults.
A review published in 2015 in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition found similar results; that ingesting 4 – 6 grams of beta-alanine daily improves endurance exercise performance.
#4 Beta-Hydroxy Beta Methylbutyrate (HMB)
Beta-hydroxy beta methylbutyrate, also known as HMB, contains the active metabolite of the essential amino acid leucine. This supplement helps older men reduce abdominal fat, according to a 2015 study published in Experimental Gerontology. Researchers found that when male study subjects took HMB supplements combined with a resistance training program, belly fat decreased.
Another study published in 2014 in the European Journal of Applied Physiology found that taking 3 grams of HMB daily increases muscle strength, muscle size, and power when used in combination with resistance training.
L-citrulline is another amino acid that improves muscle blood flow and performance during exercise. The reason it works is because L-citrulline increase arginine in your body, which changes into nitric oxide.
A 2017 study found that older adults who took 6 grams of citrulline a day for 14 days had 30 – 35% increases in arginine in their bodies, lower blood pressure (in men), and increases in muscle blood flow during exercise.
As with other amino acid supplements, taurine appears to improve recovery time after exercise and enhance endurance performance. A 2018 review published in Sports Medicine found that taking taurine supplements in doses of 1 to 6 grams per day for two weeks improved overall endurance exercise performance.
Another 2017 study found that taurine supplementation, when taken twice daily over 72 hours following resistance exercise, appears to improve muscle recovery post-exercise.
Arginine is an amino acid that changes into nitric oxide in your body, which increases blood flow and improves exercise endurance. A 2014 study published in Biology of Sport found that ingesting arginine improved exercise performance in male wrestlers by increasing time to exhaustion. Taking up to 9 grams of arginine a day for several weeks appears to be safe, says the National Institutes of Health.
Essential Nutrient Supplements for Men
Your body requires essential nutrients on a daily basis and without getting proper amounts of the nutrients below, exercise performance suffers.
#1 Protein Powder
Protein is a key nutrient for active men, regardless of which workouts you participate in regularly. That’s because your protein needs are higher, especially when muscle building is your goal.
Athletes need 1.4 to 2.0 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, which equates to about 0.6 to 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight daily, according to the position stand of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. The same source recommends consuming 20 – 40 grams of protein every 3 to 4 hours to improve body composition and exercise performance.
Active men seeking weight loss can aim for slightly higher protein intakes of 1.6 to 2.4 grams per kilogram (0.7 to 1.1 grams of protein per pound) of body weight, say researchers who conducted a 2018 review published in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism.
Protein powder supplements help you meet daily protein needs and improve post-workout recovery. Consider high-quality, complete protein sources such as whey, casein, or egg protein powders.
#2 Vitamin D
Many men (70% according to the Vitamin D Counsel) in the United States do not meet daily vitamin D requirements, which is why supplementing with vitamin D is important. This essential nutrient is a must for bone health and osteoporosis prevention. It’s also used in your body for neuromuscular functions.
Getting too little vitamin D in your diet can leads to fatigue, which takes a toll on the quality of workouts. In fact, if you’re deficient in vitamin D and begin vitamin D supplementation, you’ll likely notice increases in energy.
Vitamin D is often in multivitamin supplements for men, but if you have a deficiency you may require additional vitamin D supplements. Your doctor lets you know if your levels are low using a simple blood test.
Foods rich in vitamin D include fish, eggs, dairy foods, and vitamin D-fortified cereals. Sunlight is another source of vitamin D. Adult men require 15 micrograms of vitamin D each day, and 20 micrograms daily for men over 70.
If you’re not meeting daily iron requirements and are deficient in this essential nutrient, iron-deficiency anemia can develop. Symptoms of anemia include fatigue and reduced exercise performance.
You won’t need an iron supplement unless you have a deficiency but if you do, taking such supplements drastically improve energy and exercise performance.
The iron RDA for men is 8 milligrams daily, but if you do have a deficiency your doctor may recommend higher doses until your levels normalize. Iron-rich foods include meats, chicken, fish, tofu, legumes, spinach, and iron-fortified breakfast cereals.
Zinc supports muscle growth and development, which is why it’s an important workout nutrient for men. Zinc deficiency, which affects about 10% of the United States population, can lead to fatigue and difficulty building the muscle mass you desire.
Men need at least 11 milligrams of zinc daily, and your requirements may be higher if you’re deficient in this essential mineral. Look for multivitamin supplements that meet the zinc RDA or take additional zinc supplements to enhance workouts. Zinc-rich foods include meats, chicken, seafood, legumes, dairy foods, and nuts.
Your body uses magnesium to transport potassium and calcium across cell membranes, which aids in muscle contraction, nerve impulse contraction, and normal heart rhythm. Studies show that magnesium helps improve muscle strength, power, and jumping performance.
Make sure magnesium is included in your daily multivitamin supplement and if not, consider an additional magnesium supplement or eat plenty of magnesium-rich foods like nuts, fortified cereals, spinach, other green veggies, dairy foods, chicken, fish, and legumes. The magnesium RDA for men is 400 milligrams daily for men ages 30 and younger, and 420 milligrams per day for men over 30.
Which Workout Supplements for Men Should I Choose?
With so many different workout supplements for men to choose from, picking the right one can be overwhelming. The supplement that’s right for you depends on your individual needs and exercise and body composition goals.
The list of best supplements for men over 40 is different from the best muscle-building supplements for men, but there will always be some overlap regardless of your individual needs. Always check in with your doctor before taking supplements, especially if you have a health condition.
You don’t have to take all of the workout supplements for men listed above to achieve results. Many pre-workout supplements designed to enhance exercise performance contain several ingredients listed above in one supplement to maximize energy, decrease recovery time and muscle soreness, increase strength and muscle mass, or boost speed and power. Check the ingredient list in your favorite supplements.
Remember that eating healthy, working out regularly, and getting plenty of sleep is your number one priority. Workout supplements for men simply enhance exercise results and the way you feel. To get started with a new diet and exercise regimen, try the Fit Father Project's free muscle workout and free 1-day meal plan today!
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