When you are considering taking a supplement to improve workouts, there are generally three areas that you want to be addressed:
- Improved focus.
- Improved endurance or power output.
- Ability to recover.
But I’m getting ahead of myself; first you need to consider whether supplementation is for you or not. I have talked previously about protein supplementation but here I’d like to discuss supplementing specifically for your workouts and what you need to look for. If you are a fair-weather trainer and you exercise 3 times a week at a slow and sustained energy level, then supplementation isn’t for you. You will be able to get all the nutrients you need from a good diet. An easy way to see if you are training at a low level of intensity is to use the rate of perceived exertion scale:
Sitting anywhere between one and three for between 30 minutes and an hour a day will not cause enough fatigue or muscle damage to warrant supplementation. I would even argue that doing activity at a level between four and six for five or fewer sessions a week wouldn’t even warrant supplementation. If you’re still reading this, then I’m assuming you fit into the category that does four or more sessions at an RPE of between seven and ten, and guess what, you will need supplementation – if you want to optimise your performance anyway.
The reason you train is to get better, bigger, stronger, faster, or essentially improve on who you are today. The training you put in, and the nutrition you use to support that, will directly impact on how fast – or whether – you achieve your goals. If you eat right for your goal but don’t train appropriately you will never achieve it; conversely if you train right but don’t eat appropriately you may make progress but it will never be as effective as doing them both together. Supplementation supports that effort and makes it that little bit simpler to achieve your goals. It doesn’t replace the need for an effective nutrition plan, but it does supplement it (seems obvious doesn’t it). For example, creatine is a proven combination of the amino acids arginine, glycine and methionine that is stored in muscles and converted into phosphocreatine which is then used as energy. It is one of the most comprehensively proven supplements for improved performance; the optimum amount is 5g before training which you could quite easily get from eating 2.5lbs of red meat. Now I like a good steak or burger, but 2.5lbs is not possible to eat an hour before training so I would use a creatine supplement supplying me with the 5g of creatine without the digestive nightmare. This is the beauty of supplementation.
The supplementation business is an expensive one. If you were to read any fitness magazine, it would recommend you supplement with amino acids here, zinc and magnesium there, take pre-workout, peri-workout, post-workout, before you sleep supplements, while you sleep supplements and just before you wake supplements. It could get ridiculously out of hand, ultimately costing you hundreds – if not thousands – of pounds a month, so the good people at Sci-Mx have created an All-In-One supplement that you take before a workout in order to improve focus and performance, and then immediately afterwards in order to improve recovery for your next session called OMNI MX® (but more on that in a minute). Now Sci-Mx aren’t the first to come up with this notion, and they certainly won’t be the last, but the extensive research that they put into each and every supplement means that you can trust the products they release. I’ve already talked about some of the tricks the supplement industry use regarding protein, but when it comes to performance related products you should be very wary of any brand using proprietary blends as their key selling point. A proprietary blend is a secret blend of ingredients that the brand labels with a ridiculously over the top name, something akin to “…containing 15g of MEGAPUMPMIX” without ever actually telling you what makes up that blend. It promises the world, but never really lets you know what you’re taking. The MEGAPUMPMIX that has been used to justify a supplement’s price increase, might actually be a simple blend of beta-alanine (a beta-amino acid that prevents muscle fatigue due to increase in muscle carnosine) that you can buy a lot cheaper from another supplement and in better concentrations. Avoid proprietary blends that do not tell you what their make-up is! You will notice that Sci-Mx products do have proprietary blends listed in their ingredients, but helpfully they go on to describe what their component parts are.
Back to our list of what we want from a supplement:
- Improved focus. The combination of Taurine and MCT Oil in OMNI MX® helps improve focus and gives you the increased mentality you need to prepare for a tough workout ahead.
- Improved endurance or power output. The Creatine improves performance output in short-term, high intensity workouts.
- Ability to recover. The ZMA (usually Zinc Monomethionine Aspartate, Magnesium Aspartate and Vitamin B6) has been proven to aid recovery and helps achieve deeper levels of REM sleep. The blend of whey and casein protein gives sustained protein release for up to 9 hours optimising protein synthesis and aiding in muscle repair and regeneration.
That’s the science bit done, most importantly how does it mix and taste? The recommendation is that you mix and consume a shake 30 minutes before a workout and then immediately afterwards. I followed the instructions to the letter: using two heaped scoops and mixing it with 350ml of cold water 30 minutes before a workout, and I felt bloated. I was still burping up the shake midway through the session as I was training quite intensely, particularly with body compressing exercises like squats. The next session I adjusted to 300ml of water and took it 1 hour before the workout and it was perfect. I felt the supplement working, I didn’t feel bloated, and most importantly the blend was great. The powder blended well, with just the odd dot of powder remaining, and it genuinely tasted like a strawberry milkshake. It didn’t taste chalky, or watery; it was thick and very flavourful. I mixed the same for post workout and it was, as you’d expect, just as appetising. I waited about two hours before eating anything because after the combination of the two shakes and about a litre of water during the session I did feel quite full, but this is no bad thing. The 65%/35% ratio of protein to carbs goes some way to achieving this with its combination of slow and fast release proteins meaning that the OMNI MX® RIPPEDCORE helps you make lean muscle gains rather than just “dirty” bulking.
The tub that I had was 2.1kg and it gives you 30 servings, it won’t take a genius to workout that this is only 15 days worth of product if you have to use two servings daily. While the recommendation says that you should take two servings on rest day too, my own personal opinion is that you only need to take it on workout days as the concept of creatine backloading is somewhat inconclusive; this will also make you £44.99 go a little further. If you’re taking your training and supplementation seriously, and you can afford it, then by all means follow the instructions to the letter; after all you are investing in yourself and the money will be well spent in the end.
I would thoroughly recommend this product, and will continue to recommend the Sci-Mx brand, as they have continuously impressed me with their innovative products and the high quality with which they are delivered. I used this product to support my regular workouts, my compulsory physical training, and my World Pull Up Challenge 2016. It was just as effective on resistance based workouts as it was on cardio based sessions such as speed intervals and Fartlek training.
Disclaimer: I was provided with a free 2.1kg tub of OMNI MX® RIPPEDCORE in return for this review, but all thoughts expressed here are my own.