When it comes to bodybuilding, few subjects are more important or more hotly debated than the use of supplements. Dozens of supplements for endurance, strength and muscle gain can now be found on the open market.
For beginning bodybuilders, choosing the right supplements to increase muscle mass and support overall well being can be difficult. Thankfully, there are a handful of trusted supplements that are not only safe but also boast excellent benefits. Here are the top five bodybuilding supplements that newcomers should know about.
Creatine is one of the most well-studied of all bodybuilding supplements. It has been used for decades and is widely recommended by nutritionists and personal trainers because it is both effective and has an excellent safety profile. When paired with an appropriate workout routine, creatine has been proven to help men build muscle faster and increase overall energy during workouts.
Creatine is also a favored supplements because it’s easy to take and doesn’t carry a hefty price tag. To use creatine, bodybuilders simply add two to five grams of a creatine powder to their protein shakes prior to workouts.
Taking creatine in this way ensures that your muscle are saturated with its beneficial amino acids during your workout. On days when they aren’t training, most bodybuilders take the same amount of creatine with breakfast to maintain its positive effects.
Choosing a creatine supplement can be tough since there are so many products on the market. Try to do some research online before making a decision. This list of the top 10 creatine products is a good place to start.
Whey protein supplements and shakes are another long-time standard among bodybuilders and workout enthusiasts. Whey protein packs a high protein load that helps improve muscle recovery while increasing the body’s ability to synthesize protein.
It is generally used to help improve the body’s natural muscle repair abilities and can improve overall metabolism. Many bodybuilders also use whey protein shakes as an appetite suppressant to stave off hunger between meals.
Whey protein shakes are generally taken before and after workouts. Supplementing with a shake after workouts is considered particularly effective because whey protein is digested quickly and delivers a powerful punch of amino acids to skeletal muscles.
However, it’s important to remember that whey protein is a milk protein. Individuals who suffer from lactose intolerance may have to avoid traditional whey protein supplements but can often use whey protein isolate instead.
Branched-Chain Amino Acids
Popularly known as BCAAs, these amino acids are among the most important when it comes to building and repairing muscle tissue.
BCAAs represents a combination of three amino acids that include leucine, isoleucine and valine. While it’s possible to take each separately, experts recommend taking them together because they offer a wide host of benefits including:
- Increased energy,
- Better muscle growth,
- Decrease in post-workout muscle soreness and
- Regulation of cortisol, which is a hormone that can increase muscle breakdown and diminish testosterone.
BCAAs serve as an energy source during lifting routines, but there’s also evidence that they can provide long-term fuel for the body too. That means this supplement might be good for bodybuilders who also enjoy endurance workouts such as long-distance runs.
To get the best results from BCAAs, athletes take three to five grams with breakfast in the morning and another three to five grams of the supplement both before and after workouts.
Beta-alanine is a naturally occurring amino acid that isn’t essential to the human body. However, it has been proven to increase carnosine levels, which help to delay muscle failure and fatigue for more successful workouts.
Like creatine, beta-alanine has been linked with increased muscle gains in independent scientific studies. Beta-alanine is also linked to overall increases in muscle endurance, which means the ability to do more reps of exercises without significant increases in muscle fatigue.
Many bodybuilders now consider beta-alanine one of a handful of essential body-building supplements. It works particularly well when combined, or stacked, with creatine supplements. Most athletes who use beta-alanine take a dose of two to six grams per day. The dose is spread out during the day because the supplement can cause a tingling sensation in the skin if taken in a single dose.
Another amino acid, glutamine has been used by weightlifters and bodybuilders for decades. It is essential for good muscle function and actively helps to decrease muscle breakdown. This means that bodybuilders can workout for longer without fatigue and also enjoy decreased recovery time between workouts.
In addition to its muscle-boosting benefits, glutamine is also considered central to immune system health. It bolsters the immune system to allow for maximum overall health and fewer workouts missed due to illness.
Glutamine has also been shown to help increase growth hormone levels, which makes it a favorite among serious bodybuilders who don’t want to use separate growth hormone supplements. Experts recommend taking five grams of glutamine after waking up, after workouts and before going to bed at night. Doses can be increased over time from five to 10 grams.
When used responsibly, supplements can significantly increase muscle gain and fat loss for both new and experienced bodybuilders.
While there are a lot of supplements out there, newcomers are best served by sticking with tried-and-true formulas that provide results without compromising on safety. One thing to make sure and do is read up on supplements before you buy them.
Here is a quick list of sites to check out before you make any supplement purchases: