If you’ve been following the blog for a while, you’ll know I’m not huge into supplements. It’s my belief that most athletes need a solid base of nutrition from whole, nutrient-dense foods with thoughtful pre- or post-workout refueling strategies, and perhaps—if the circumstances warrant it—smart supplementation.
If you’re a casual athlete without competitive aspirations, a strong focus on nutrition will take you very far, and supplements really aren’t necessary. However, if you’re hitting your training and competitive season really hard, pushing the boundaries of your physical potential, carefully chosen supplements can have a place in your routine. (In case you’re curious, I regularly include Omega-3 fatty acids, magnesium and Vitamin D in my regimen, but I’d be taking those even if I wasn’t training.)
In the interest of experimentation, I recently agreed to test out a supplement called HMB from Blonyx and report my findings to you. The short answer: HMB seemed to help my recovery.
What exactly is it?
If you’re after a longer answer, let’s back up a second. HMB is an acronym for beta-hydroxy beta-methylbutyrate, and put into simple terms, it’s produced when the body metabolizes the amino acid leucine. Leucine, if you’re savvy about basic biochemistry, is a branched chain amino acid which is implicated in the body’s muscle protein synthesis pathway (mTOR).
What was my experience with it?
I’m now doing olympic weightlifting full time for my training, with an eye on a couple local competitions later this summer and fall. Returning to the platform after a surgery, some time living abroad, writing my book and just general life chaos left me with some major flaws in my technique and some serious ups and downs in performance. I started using Blonyx’s HMB Sport in mid-January, just as my training started to find some consistency (i.e. lifting 4 times a week).
I noticed that my sessions felt punchier and I could lift heavy on back-to-back days without feeling as sluggish as I had been. In May 2013 I hit PRs in both the clean (91kg) and snatch (63kg), but since that time had struggled to reach those numbers again. In February, I cleaned 90kg and snatched 63kg.
Whether my improvement was a sole result of testing HMB Sport or not is hard to say because training frequency, sleep and nutrition are certainly possible factors. If you’re putting a premium on consecutive training sessions with short recovery windows, HMB might be worth experimenting with.
Wondering how you can naturally bump recovery up? Be sure to get adequate dietary protein from leucine-rich foods such as meat and eggs.
Note: I did not receive any financial compensation for reviewing this product. The opinions expressed here are my personal ones and do not substitute for professional medical advice. Always check with your medical professional before adding supplementation to your routine.