The Game-Changing Supplements We Swear By That ACTUALLY Work! – Tucson Personal Trainer Blog

The secret weapons I use personally on a DAILY basis…

When I began my fitness journey, I was told that I NEEDED supplements. I fell for all the ads, and all the hype.

Results? None.

After a number of years, I got so jaded that I stopped taking EVERYTHING (I even stopped using protein powder for a while!). As time went on, I began to learn some things; there were reasons these supplements weren’t ‘working’ the way I had hoped. My intention with this page is to save you the years of struggle I went through so you can learn how to use supplements correctly… and get great results doing so!

*IMPORTANT Disclaimer* Neither I nor any other idiot on the internet is qualified to diagnose, treat, or cure any disease or illness. This page is simply what I use after years of trial-and-error. My wife is also a serious lifter and has been a medical professional for over 40 years, so much of this information is influenced by her research as well. Your results may vary. It is recommended that you seek medical advice before you start using any supplement(s).

*IMPORTANT Disclaimer 2* This page contains affiliate links. Our business earns commissions when you click the links below. Some of these companies sponsor my blog and YouTube channel. I DO NOT SIGN AFFILIATE AGREEMENTS WITH PRODUCTS I DO NOT PERSONALLY USE AND/OR BELIEVE IN. If you do not wish to use these links, no worries! Simply open a new browser tab and search for these products on your own. I promise not to cry myself to sleep tonight (ok… maybe one small tear).

The Principles

First and foremost, when you hear the word ‘supplement’, your first question should be, “Supplemental to what?” The answer is simple: ‘Supplements’ are ‘supplemental’ to good training/nutritional habits. In other words, if you’re just starting to lift weights, you probably don’t need the 350mg of caffeine that is in a typical scoop of pre-workout beverage (as a matter of fact, you probably don’t need pre-workout at all. More on that later). And if your daily nutrition regimen is a hot dumpster fire, you probably won’t get great results from nutritional supplements. Your best bet is to start with a coach or a nutritionist to get on a solid eating/training program. This will accomplish 90% of your results, then you can refer back to this page to get the other “secret weapon” 10%.

Secondly, although supplements are somewhat regulated by FDA, much of their work begins after the product enters the marketplace. In many cases, companies can start producing and selling supplements without even notifying the FDA. This means that what is on the label is not necessarily what is in the container. It’s not until something shady is discovered that the FDA cracks down. The only real solution is to purchase products that are independently tested by third-party laboratories. The majority of supplements we recommend do this (the few that don’t have been around forever and come from reputable companies).

Just like anything in life, quality matters.

We’ve divided this post into two categories: Workout Performance and General Health.

Let’s get to work…

Workout Performance…

Protein – Legion Athletics Whey Protein

Click Here (or the photo above) and use coupon code “PROTOCOLSC” at checkout to get 20% off your purchase.

We put this one first because it’s one of THE most important. Many nutrition novices quickly discover they do not get enough protein from their normal food intake. And you’ll be hard-pressed to find an adult over the age of 30 who has an awesome body composition, who does so without the use of protein supplements (not impossible, just very difficult).

Protein is satiating (keeps you from getting hungry shortly after eating) and helps build/preserve muscle tissue. There are a lot of cheap, junky protein powders on the market, so we have several requirements for the protein we suggest…

  • Grass-fed whey
  • No junk fillers (more common than you might expect)
  • No artificial sweeteners (stevia only)
  • Independently tested by third-party labs
  • Not ungodly expensive

There are only a small handful of companies that meet all those requirements, and Legion Athletics is one of them. We have been using this protein for over 5 years and love it!

Pre-Workout – Legion Athletics Pulse

Click Here (or the photo above) and use coupon code “PROTOCOLSC” at checkout to get 20% off your purchase.

Time for some straight talk: You probably don’t need pre-workout. As a matter of fact, you’re probably already taking in too much caffeine (most Americans do). Speaking for myself, I can count on one hand the number of times I use a pre-workout supplement per year. I use it before my most intense workouts, and when I do take it, I use ¼ of a serving. Anything more than that destroys me, and my sleep, for the next 24 hours.

Caffeine is a drug, and the devil is in the dose. Tread carefully. If you insist on using a pre-workout, I recommend one that is stimulant-free. Legion also makes one of these. Click Here to check it out.

In summary, pre-workout is probably unnecessary. Post-workout, however, is a totally different story…

Post-Workout – Legion Athletics Recharge

Click Here (or the photo above) and use coupon code “PROTOCOLSC” at checkout to get 20% off your purchase.

I have been using creatine for over two decades. The peer-reviewed research has spoken on this muscle-building supplement, and the gym-bro world agrees. It’s been used and studied in sports medicine since the early 90s… if it didn’t work, someone would have called BS on it by now.

I use one scoop Legion Recharge after every workout. It has 5 grams of creatine, as well as 2.1 grams of BCAAs to help reduce soreness, aid muscle repair, and improve insulin sensitivity.

Hydration – Liquid IV

Click Here (or the photo above) to check it out on Amazon. Another common problem we see in folks just starting out is being perpetually dehydrated. This is especially an issue during summer months, but is also important all year around. Many people just don’t like drinking plain water. I personally don’t get it, but whatever. If jazzing up your water is what gets you to drink enough (as long as you’re not adding calories or caffeine), then I suppose that’s better than being dehydrated.

With that said, if you’re training hard and heavy (especially in summer months), you are losing much more than just water. This is where rehydration supplements kick in. Honestly, I only use Liquid IV in summer months, or when I’m really feeling depleted (long runs, long hikes, long bike rides, etc.).

General Health

Multivitamins – I Don’t Take One

Time for a little straight talk you may not read anywhere else: You may not need to take a multivitamin.

Neither me nor my wife have taken a multivitamin in years.


A few years ago, we decided to do a little experiment: we stopped taking ALL our vitamin/mineral supplements for 6 months, and didn’t tell the Naturopath what we were doing. We then got comprehensive blood work to see what vitamins/minerals we were deficient in.

The results came back: My Vitamin D was low-normal, and everything else was fine. My wife’s results were similar. The doc said, “Everything looks good. Just keep taking what you’re taking and increase your Vitamin D supplement.”

I continued taking nothing except vitamin D ever since. Every blood test since then has been normal.

Will your results be just like mine? I suppose there’s only one way to find out.

With that being said, you’re going to be shocked by this statement… most of us don’t eat enough vegetables. One of my mentors Dan John recommends we strive to eat 8 different vegetables per day. The looks he gets from people when he makes that statement suggests he was asking them to donate a kidney. Although I generally do eat my veggies, there are times when traveling, or otherwise being off my routine, where that just doesn’t happen. So every morning, my regimen includes one scoop of…

Daily Greens – Amazing Grass Greens Blend

Click Here (or the photo above) to check it out on Amazon.

So, what’s the difference between a greens supplement and a multivitamin? The research is mixed. Those in favor say that the sourcing in green powders being whole-food-based (as opposed to the chemical poop-storm that is in your typical multivitamin) makes green powders superior. Those opposed say that greens generally lack the fat-soluble vitamins (A,D,E, and K) so they shouldn’t replace a multivitamin. I say if you’re relying on a multivitamin for your Vitamin D, you’ll be sadly disappointed at the results (see below for a better solution).

Is a green powder as good as eating all those veggies? I strongly doubt it. But a scoop of greens in the morning can’t hurt and will get you closer to the goal if your veggie intake is lacking. You should also seriously consider fixing your lack of veggie intake though…

I personally use the Amazing Grass brand. I’ve heard many people whose opinions I trust swear by AG1 (Click Here for that one). But the cost-to-benefit ratio is just too far off for me to make the switch (39 cents per serving with Amazing Greens vs $3.80 per serving in AG1). I suppose if your veggie intake is really that bad, maybe it’s worth it?

Collagen – Ancient Nutrition Multi Collagen Protein

Click Here (or the photo above) to check it out on Amazon. For years, I didn’t think I needed this stuff because I already use protein supplements. What I failed to realize is that protein powder doesn’t promote healthier joints, skin, nails, hair, and gut the way collagen does. As we age, this becomes more and more important. The reason we chose this one over the others is that Ancient Nutrition has 10 different types of collagen peptides sourced from multiple sources: beef, chicken, fish, egg shells, etc. Vs other brands that just use one. It’s also flavorless so you can add it to just about anything.

Vitamin D – Protocol For Life Balance

Click Here  (or the photo above) to check it out on Amazon. Here’s the deal, most of us (65% of all adults according to a study from the Cleveland Clinic) are deficient in Vitamin D. Not only does it do wonders for your nervous, musculoskeletal, and immune system… sufficient levels of Vitamin D have a huge impact on your body’s ability to absorb other nutrients. There are countless studies extolling the virtues of Vitamin D so I won’t rehash them all here, but I will say this: Every doctor I’ve ever spoken with who is worth their salt tracks Vitamin D with their patients.

Most practitioners recommend taking K2 with your Vitamin D to help shuttle it directly to the bones. For a while we were taking K2 in a separate pill… then we discovered Protocol For Life (no relation to our business). This one has everything in one bottle.

ZMA – Wholesome Story

Click Here (or the photo above) to check it out on Amazon. ZMA is another one of those ‘miracle supplements’ that, in my opinion, actually lives up to the hype. The main reason I take this stuff before bed every night is that magnesium has been shown to activate the parasympathetic nervous system which helps you calm down after a stressful day and drift off to sleep easier. Most American adults are deficient in magnesium, so I wonder if there’s a correlation between that and the fact that most of us don’t sleep very well.

They also claim ZMA boosts testosterone, aids muscle recovery, and boosts immunity. Does it really do all that? I doubt it. I just take it for the awesome sleep. The reason I recently switched to this brand is because it contains Magnesium Picolinate, and this has shown to be better for sleep than some of the other types. I took This One for many years prior with no issues.


There are other supplements Marie and I use, but they are for very specific things we’ve discussed with our medical providers, and are beyond the scope of what we’re trying to cover here. As I mentioned earlier, finding a trusted medical provider and following their advice is always the best way to go.


Jerry Trubman is a coach, clinician, author, blogger, and powerlifting state champion. With over two decades of lifting experience, he has devoted himself to seeking out better answers, and distilling them into practical programs that produce great results. Jerry has coached “Team Protocol” to 4 National Powerlifting Championships in the 100% Raw federation. He writes an internationally-read blog, and lives in Tucson, Arizona with his wife, Marie, and dog, Asher.

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