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Epic Sessions - Supplement suggestions for workouts and races


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By: Steve Born

Steve's nearly three decades of involvement in the sports nutrition industry, as well as more than 20 years of independent research in nutritional fueling and supplementation, have given him unmatched familiarity with the myriad product choices available to athletes. - Steve's Full Bio


Details of a supplement program

  1. While fueling (calorie, fluid, and electrolyte) should be the primary focus of all workouts and races, especially epic ones, the incorporation of an intelligent supplement program used prior to, during, and afterward will definitely assist in yielding tremendously positive results.
  2. The supplements suggested for use prior to an epic workout or race can be thought of as a preemptive strike dose, helping to prepare the body for the arduous task ahead, supporting its nutrient needs for the first hour.
  3. The products suggested for use prior to the workout/race and every hour during the workout/race will supply nutrients that, among other things:
  • Support efficient energy production from your calorie and oxyen intake
  • Help neutralize the negative effect of the numerous free radicals that are constantly produced
  • Assist in the removal of excess ammonia and its fatigue-casing effects
  • Aid in the prevention of lean muscle tissue cannibalization
  • The products suggested for use after the workout/race will supply nutrients whose primary purpose is to:
  • Replenish what has been depleted during the course of the workout/race
  • Help with the muscle-tissue reparation process
  • Support enhanced glycogen synthesis
  • Neutralize free radicals and minimize the damage that they can cause


I put this article together prior to the 2009 Highline Hammer cycling event, in response to the question, What supplements do you personally take before, during, and after a long, hard ride, an ˜epic' ride? Before I go into the details of my supplement program, let me first mention a couple of things:

1. Most of these supplements are ones that I take on a daily basis for general health benefits, though not always in the same amounts that I take for an epic ride such as the 130+ mile, mega-climbing Highline Hammer loop through Glacier Park.

2. I take the higher dose of all the supplements on a significantly long ride, such as the Highline Hammer, and I'll take the lower dose for less intense, less mountainous, shorter-duration rides (say, 3-5 hours).

3. These products, and the amounts listed, are what I use. I'm a pretty big guy (190+ lbs) so the amounts you should consider may be less than that, depending on your weight and activity level. Refer to the updated Product Usage Manual (PDF / 817 KB) (a.k.a. The Little Red Book) for suggested dosages.

4. The information I've provided in this article - in essence, the rationale for why I take these particular products - is but a sliver of what is available on the products and the nutrients they contain. Consider this information the Reader's Digest version and refer to the Hammer Nutrition website for more detailed information about each of these products.

5. Carrying and consuming lots of pills during a long bike ride is, to some extent, an acquired skill and it may take awhile for your body to learn how to take a number of pills on an hourly basis. Additionally, it may be more challenging if you're doing a more digestively challenging type of exercise such as running. If this is the case, simply start slow and increase the number of products you take - and the amounts of each product - gradually. Also, depending on the sport you do, it may be necessary to modify this supplement program in deference to the activity you're involved in.

6. My hourly intake of each of these supplements, with the exception of Endurolytes, doesn't change. Therefore, I'll make X number of baggies of these supplements, each baggie containing the identical amounts of each product. I use the small, reclosable bags that are available on the Hammer Nutrition web site to carry the pills, and the amount of baggies I make will, of course, be dependent on how many hours I'll be out there. Every hour I'll open up a bag and consume the pills.

7. My dose of Endurolytes oftentimes changes hourly (for example, what I need at 2 p.m. may be higher than what I need at 8 a.m., if only because the weather may be hotter). Therefore, I'll keep my Endurolytes separate from my zip lock bags of the other supplements. I use the plastic capsule dispenser that is sold on the Hammer Nutrition website to carry Endurolytes, and I'll dose them as needed.

30-120 Minutes prior to the workout/race

1-2 Race Caps Supreme - This product contains CoQ10 and ibenenone, which are key substrates in the Electron Transport Chain (ETC) process of energy production. Race Caps Supreme also supplies the minerals calcium, magnesium, and potassium. These minerals are chelated to malic acid, citric acid, aspartic acid, lysine, and glycine, most-to-all of which are involved in the Krebs Cycle process of energy production.

CoQ10 and idebenone are also tremendous antioxidants (as is the vitamin E in the product), and I consider taking this product prior to exercise as giving the body a head start on free radical neutralization.

1-2 Mito Caps - The mitochondrial support product provides, among other nutrients, acetyl l-carnitine (ALC) and r-alpha lipoic acid (r-ALA).

Among its many benefits, Acetyl l-carnitine (ALC) helps the body use the calories from fatty acids as fuel more efficiently, while also increasing the volume/amounts/activity of key substances that are involved in the complex process of producing energy from your food and oxygen intake.

R-alpha lipoic acid (r-ALA) plays a major role in specific energy-producing functions within the mitochondria. It is also superb antioxidant, with the unique ability to neutralize both water- and fat-soluble based free radicals. Additionally, r-ALA is able to regenerate used up antioxidants, thus extending their activity (shelf life) in the body. Lastly, r-ALA assists in maintaining proper glucose metabolism.

Bottom Line: When you take Mito Caps you are providing two key nutrients that will help maintain optimal mitochondrial function, which is vital for energy production and overall health.

Thoughts on Mito Caps

"The longer you can stimulate the lifespan or health of the mitochondria, the longer you will live and the better you will perform in endurance events. Endurance athletes should realize how incredibly important it is to effect mitochondria and that everything formulated in this compound influences mitochondria cell biochemistry function synergistically and remarkably"

William Misner, Ph.D. - Direct of Research & Product Development, Emeritus

2-4 Anti-Fatigue Caps - Provides two nutrients - potassium/magnesium aspartate and OKG - that will help neutralize the negative effects of excess ammonia accumulation, which is arguably the primary culprit in premature fatigue.

2-4 Endurance Amino - Provides the primary amino acids - the three branched chain amino acids (a.k.a.BCAAs, l-leucine, l-isoleucine, l-valine) and l-alanine - that are used in the energy cycle during exercise. Plus, the BCAAs in Endurance Amino assist in replenishing depleted glutamine stores while also aiding in the prevention of muscle tissue breakdown. The latter helps to prevent excess fatigue-causing ammonia from being produced and accumulating. Additionally, research has shown that the intake of BCAAs prior to and during exercise may delay exercise-induced or central nervous system-induced fatigue. It is also believed that BCAAs may improve mood and cognitive performance.

On top of that, the reduced (metabolically active) glutathione component in Endurance Amino provides a number of benefits, primarily powerful antioxidant support.

3 Endurolytes - Provides a balanced supply of necessary electrolytes. Taking this product prior to a lengthy workout or race provides what I call a pre-emptive strike dose, meaning that you're taking care of electrolyte requirements prior to them truly becoming a necessity. This frees you from having to take the product during the first 30-60 minutes of the ride. The dose will be dependent on a variety of factors (weather, fitness levels, acclimatization levels, body weight, etc.), and what you've already tested in training.

Every hour during the workout/race

1-2 Race Caps Supreme - By taking this product hourly during prolonged exercise you will be replacing the spark plugs in the body, helping to ensure more consistent energy production throughout the workout. In addition, you will also be providing the body with powerful protection (via the CoQ10, idebenone, and vitamin E components) against fat-soluble-based free radicals.

1-2 Mito Caps - By taking this product hourly you will be maintaining optimal mitochondrial function, which translates into more efficient energy production and free radical neutralization (the latter, as is the case with the antioxidants in Race Caps Supreme, being especially important for recovery as well). Plus, the r-ALA component in the product helps maintain proper glucose metabolism, which is undoubtedly beneficial during exercise.

2-4 Anti-Fatigue Caps - By taking this product hourly you supply the body with potassium/magnesium aspartate and OKG, which help to neutralize the negative effects of fatigue-causing excess ammonia accumulation.

2-4 Endurance Amino - By taking this product hourly you provide the primary used-in-the-energy-cycle amino acids (the BCAAs). The BCAAs in Endurance Amino, along with the BCAAs that naturally occur in the soy protein component in Sustained Energy and Perpetuem, helps prevent the muscle tissue from being broken down to satisfy the 5% - 15% of the body's energy requirements. The result is less fatigue-causing ammonia to accumulate and less muscle tissue that will be broken down and needing to be repaired during the recovery process.

You also supply the body with l-alanine. The liver can convert l-alanine into glucose as needed (I like to think of it as an emergency energy supply), which the bloodstream transports to the muscles for energy. L-alanine also aids in the synthesis of pantothenic acid (vitamin B-5), which is needed for protein, fat, and carbohydrate metabolism.

Lastly, you provide the body with glutathione, which is one of the most potent antioxidants there is, with an Oxygen Radical Absorbency Capacity (ORAC) rating of 12,000+. Dr. Misner writes, Decline in endurance performance may parallel decline in glutathione concentrations imposed by the aging process. That alone makes taking glutathione during exercise sound like a very rational idea to me.

Glutathione also facilitates the transport of amino acids which, hypothetically, will assist in directing the amino acids in Sustained Energy and Perpetuem to wherever they're needed (one athlete reported that taking Endurance Amino is like supercharging Perpetuem).

3 Endurolytes (higher amount if weather dictates its necessity) - To keep the body's oil reservoir topped off, which helps maintain the optimal performance of many important bodily functions, in addition to helping prevent cramping.

Special Note: Race Caps Supreme, Mito Caps, and Anti-Fatigue Caps also contain the patented Enzyme Enhancement System", which helps with the absorption of the nutrients and may also aid in the absorption of the carbohydrate and protein components in the Hammer Nutrition fuels.

After the workout/race is over (with Recoverite)

Premium Insurance Caps - My dose after an epic ride is 7 capsules with Recoverite, with 7 capsules taken later with a meal. My typical suggested dose for lighter weight athletes after an epic workout is 4-5 capsules with Recoverite and 3-4 capsules taken later with a meal. Premium insurance Caps resupplies the body with the vitamins and minerals that have been depleted during exercise, including some key antioxidants such as beta-carotene, vitamins C and E, and the minerals manganese, selenium, and zinc.

1-2 Race Caps Supreme - For the antioxidant support from CoQ10, idebenone, and vitamin E, all three of which are also tremendous heart health nutrients.

1-2 Mito Caps - The r-ALA component provides significant antioxidant support while also helping to increase endogenous supplies of the key antioxidant glutathione. For additional antioxidant support, Mito Caps also contains ascorbyl palmitate, the fat-soluble form of vitamin C, and a small amount of vitamin E.

1 AO Booster (with another capsule taken with a later meal) - Provides a wide range of fat-soluble antioxidants - the entire vitamin E family (the 4 tocopherols and 4 tocotrienols), lutein (which also has eye-specific benefits), and astaxanthin, which is suggested to be up to 50 times more potent in its antioxidant capabilities than vitamin E.

During prolonged events you're burning a lot of fat (utilizing the calories to satisfy nearly two-thirds of your energy requirements), which means you're also producing a massive amount of fat-soluble free radicals. AO Booster is designed to neutralize the negative effects of excess fat-soluble free radicals, similar to how Super Antioxidant (below) helps to neutralize primarily water-soluble free radicals. Anti-inflammation is an additional benefit provided from the tocopherol/tocotrienol blend and the astaxanthin.

1-2 Super Antioxidant - Provides a variety of antioxidant nutrients, some of which also have circulation-enhancing benefits, which will help accelerate the clearance of metabolic waste by-products accumulated during prolonged exercise.

2-4 Endurance Amino - Even though the body is getting a significant bolus of BCAAs via the whey protein isolate component in Recoverite, I firmly believe that additionalamounts of these specific ideal-for-recovery amino acids is merited and beneficial. Additionally, I believe that providing the body with more glutathione at this critical time is also highly beneficial (in my opinion, any steps you can take to improve glutathione status in the body should be taken, especially after exercise). With Endurance Amino the body receives a nice dose of BCAAs and glutathione, complementing the BCAAs and the glutathione precursor amino acids in Recoverite.

1 Chromemate - Research suggests that athletes who consume chromium polynicotinate (Chromemate) along with ample carbohydrates within two hours of completion of exercise will experience a significant increase in the rate of glycogen synthesis compared to no supplementation.

I am a firm believer in the saying, How well you recover today determines how well you perform tomorrow. Taking a capsule of Chromemate with Recoverite is such a simple and inexpensive way to help maximize glycogen synthesis/ storage, which is an undeniably vital component in the recovery process.

1 Xobaline - Space limits me from listing all of the benefits that vitamin B12 and folic acid provide, though they are arguably best known for their role in the production of red blood cells. B12 and folic acid are also intimately involved in protein utilization and RNA and DNA synthesis, both of which have enhanced recovery implications.

Dr. Misner writes, There are virtually 100's of papers demonstrating the health benefits from folic acid and vitamin B12 in the cells, digestion, vision, hair, skin, immune system, musculoskeletal system, nervous system, oral health, and sexual system. It is a supplement I enthusiastically recommend and take every day.

1 Boron - Boron is reported to raise testosterone levels to normal physiological values in older men to normal levels that they had in their 20-30's. Supplementation with 10 mg of boron per day for 28-days increased testosterone levels in healthy males.

Note that Premium Insurance Caps contains 2.5 mg of boron per 7 capsules. Also note that females appear to not require as much boron as do males to attain optimal testosterone levels (3 mg/ day is suggested as being adequate).


There you have it, my epic workout/race supplement program. I hope it helps you as you put together your supplement program for your chosen sport. More information about all of these products can be found on the Hammer Nutrition website, or just call or email us& we'll be glad to help!

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