Powerlifting Supplements: 5 Key Ingredients To Boost Performance & Recovery

Brad Borland
Written By: Brad Borland
May 23rd, 2013
Updated: June 13th, 2020
Categories: Articles Supplements
43.3K Reads
Powerlifting is one of the most taxing sports on the planet. Maximize your recovery, keep your joints healthy and boost performance through proper supplementation.

Speed, power and strength: Just a few of the requirements of a successful powerlifter. Form meets function in this sport of inches and it would behoove anyone to look for an edge to separate one from being a champion and not being a champion.

Just like any other sport, lifters need nutritional support through food and a sound supplement plan to help drive them to new personal records. Basic supplementation to facilitate recovery, growth and injury prevention can go a long way when it comes to pushing your way to the top.

Take these five supplements under consideration to give you the edge you need to help get those numbers up!


Any powerlifter knows the stress joints take over the long haul of training. Heavy, repetitive loads week in and week out can have a significant impact and could cause damage to joint tissue potentially setting you up for injury. Glucosamine (sulfate) can be used as a preventative measure to help reconstitute cartilage. It works by helping the uptake of sulfur by cartilage tissue to help strengthen weak joints. If you are allergic to shellfish, however, be sure to seek out a vegetarian version.

When you need it: Glucosamine is safe to take daily as its effects are cumulative and will have a chronic benefit so take the manufacturer’s recommended dosage.


Creatine monohydrate has been clinically proven in countless tests to increase strength, power, muscle endurance, speed recovery between bouts and even help enhance cardiovascular performance. We all know creatine can help pack on lean muscle and boost strength levels so it goes without saying that creatine should show up on any strength enthusiast’s list.

When you need it: Pre and post workout aim for 3 to 5 grams each. Don’t worry about loading phases; research has concluded the same results were observed after 30 days with and without a loading phase.



BCAAs comprise of leucine, isoleucine and valine, the most important group of the 9 essential amino acids. They enable your muscles to increase protein synthesis to help repair and build trained muscle. They are the most crucial when it comes to increasing growth in muscle, repair and performance.

When you need it: Take 2 to 3 grams before and after training to help enhance recovery abilities and performance.

Fish oil

Fish oil has had a lot of press in the last few years and for good reason. The countless benefits of these essential fatty acids (EFAs) include heart health, joint health, weight management, improved circulation, increased brain function, energy production, support the nervous system and many more. These healthy fats are a must for anyone undergoing a stressful training program pushing themselves to their limits.

When you need it: Fish oil is safe to take on a daily basis so normally 2 to 4 grams 2 or 3 times per day is best for most people.

Vitamin D

A champion of heart and thyroid health, vitamin D is also essential for proper absorption of calcium – a critical micronutrient for muscle function. Although plentiful through exposure to sunlight many in our busy society don’t get enough vitamin D – this is where supplementing can help. Furthermore, recent research has suggested that vitamin D can also help regulate key hormones such as testosterone especially under stressful and depleted conditions.

When you need it: Take the recommended daily dose as stated by the manufacturer preferably with a meal in the morning.


Of course as a precautionary measure getting in a good muti-vitamin/mineral can give you that “insurance” you may need during particularly intense phases of training. With these extreme training conditions a multivitamin/mineral is essential in replenishing your body of vital micronutrients so it can function properly and increase performance on a daily basis and correct any deficiencies from skipped meals, stress and other abnormal occurrences that take you away from your regular schedule of meals.

When you need it: Take a quality multivitamin/mineral at the end of the day with your last meal. This way while you sleep your body has the right building material to help repair, grow and be ready for the next bout ahead.

Powerlifting Supplementation
Supplement When and How Much
Glucosamine 1 gram per day with a meal
Creatine 3-5 grams pre and post workout and 3-5 grams with your first meal on non training days
BCAAs 500 mg of leucine 250 mg of isoleucine and  250 mg of valine post workout
Fish Oil 2-4 grams 2-3 times per day preferably with meals
Vitamin D Follow the manufacturer’s recommended dosage
Multivitamin/mineral Find a product with 100% of most of the vital micronutrients taken at night


I eat a pretty balanced diet. Does someone like me need a multivitamin/mineral supplement?

In a word: Yes. Even some of the most balanced diets will require a little “insurance” in the form of a multivitamin/mineral supplement when undergoing intense bouts of training most days of the week. Also, your balanced diet may not always be balanced due to changes in schedules, high stress periods at work and/or life changes resulting in burdens on diet regularity.

Can’t I get fish oil from fish instead of supplement form?

Absolutely! However, the whole idea behind supplements is twofold. One is adding additional nutrients to an existing diet and two, getting in vital nutrients when it seems otherwise impractical. It can be a bit impractical to eat fish several times per day not to mention prepping, packing and carrying it wherever you go. A quality fish oil supplement is a great way to circumvent the logistical frustration and get in those essential fats. This of course is not to say you can ditch eating and benefiting from eating fish, it is just a convenient option for those that have a tough time eating enough fish or on a diet.

I have read that you have to do a “loading” phase when using creatine. Is this true and if so, how much?

Initially it was recommended that you load up to 20 grams per day on creatine for a week and then continue on a “maintenance” dose for weeks thereafter. However, research uncovered that simply starting with a maintenance dose of 3-5 grams pre and post workout elicited the same gains at the end of numerous studies. This will not only save money in the long run but also will give your digestive system a sigh of relief!

I see that my whey protein product has BCAAs included in each serving. Why would I need to take extra BCAAs on top of it?

In many studies BCAAs have been shown to aid in muscle mass growth and strength versus not supplementing at all or with just carbohydrates. The extra BCAAs can be very advantageous in that the body uses these vital amino acids the most during muscle repair. Recent research has shown that leucine specifically has significant anabolic effects over the valine and isoleucine. So, getting in an extra punch of BCAAs will go a long way in your physique goals.

I have been taking a glucosamine product for a little over a week and have felt no positive effects from it. What gives?

The effects of glucosamine are not acute in nature. Glucosamine helps repair the cartilage in joints over a long period of time – think months not days or weeks. Also, it is not an acute painkiller as well. It is a long-term solution for troubled joints. Normally some over-the-counter meds such as NSAIDS or acetaminophen can aid in short-term pain relief. Of course consult your doctor or pharmacist for your specific needs. Glucosamine is more of a rehabilitation solution to stronger joints.

Posted on: Sat, 05/25/2013 - 18:23

What about something I read in regards to multivitamin; that they contain ridiculous amounts of iron. Even to the point of being unhealthy especially when supplementing an iron rich diet with them. Any merit to this claim?

Posted on: Wed, 01/08/2014 - 17:22

Though this is a late reply, maybe it will help someone wondering the same thing.

Iron is necessary, but too much can lead to iron poisoning. There are usually Men's Multis and Women's Multis, and the difference usually includes that Men's has little or no iron while Women's has more, because men tend to have more. So multivitamins can relatively have "ridiculous amounts of iron", but it's very vendor-specific, and gender and diet are also factors.