5 Core Supplements For Bodybuilding
Exercising regularly is important for your overall health and is something everyone should do. In tandem with a healthy diet, it’s really not that difficult to achieve a reasonable level of physical fitness. However, if your goal is to really bulk up, you already know about the intense demands this can have on you.
You need a strict workout schedule - one that pushes you to your limits every time you step in the gym. It needs to be strategic and versatile in order to maximize your gains and prevent your body from adapting.
You need a strict meal plan - one that is constantly fueling your body with exactly what it needs at exactly the right time. And you need to dedicate the time it takes to fit these huge nutrition demands into your busy life.
If you’re ready to level up and take things further than your post-workout protein shake, you’ve come to the right place. These are 5 supplements every lifter needs to incorporate into their program to combat the stress workouts put on your system and to promote an ongoing anabolic state for muscle growth.
WHY NUTRITION IS SO IMPORTANT TO YOUR TRAINING
Nutrient supplementation aside, you know the basics: Protein is necessary to build muscle, Carbs are your body’s primary source of fuel for your workouts, Fats provide a host of benefits from keeping your immune system healthy to helping you burn fat and build muscle.
You also have a solid understanding of your basal metabolic rate and how many calories you need to consume in a day - depending on your goals, you probably break your meals down like one of these:
Eating enough of the right kind of food is a huge key to your success. However, as you raise the bar, you need to make sure your body is not only getting exactly what it needs, but that you’re actually metabolizing those specific nutrients.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU TRAIN
Calorie Demands Increase
As your body’s primary source of energy, Carbs are important for your ability to build muscle quickly. You don’t need carbs to synthesize protein for muscle gains - however, without the power carbs provide to you during your workouts, you’re going to end up lifting a fraction of the weight your body is capable of, and tiring out before you’ve really had a great workout. Strength and muscle gains come from pushing your body to it’s limit.
Logically, as you become stronger and your body is capable of handling more and more intense workouts, you are going to need to consume more carbs to keep up with your energy demands.
Blood Creatine Levels Drop
Without getting too deeply into it, Creatine is a substance found naturally in your body that provides your body with the power to handle those heavy lifts. Many bodybuilders use a creatine supplement to speed up the replenishment of their ATP stores (a high-energy molecule), increase performance during workouts and to build muscle and recover faster.
Naturally, as you complete your hard workout, these ATP stores become depleted and take time to bring back up to their optimal level.
Amino Acids Deplete
Amino Acids are crucial to your ability to grow stronger and build muscle. On a top-level view, Amino Acids are obtained through your body’s metabolic process of breaking down food protein. Once broken down into aminos, your body can then use them to repair tissue, grow your muscles, but also a host of other functions in the body from balancing hormones and supporting your immune system.
If your body struggles to find the aminos it needs from food sources, it will go into a catabolic state and start to break down muscle tissue protein in order to carry out its other functions. Your body burns through a lot of resources when you workout, and Amino Acids are certainly on that list - which is why people take a WHEY Protein supplement after workouts.
Risk Of Injury Increases
Besides performance, one of the main benefits of including supplements into your muscle building nutrition is to help your body stay healthy and recover quickly. Working out is a game of consistency - you may not always see progress, but the last thing you want is to have to fall off your routine because it’s taking you 3 days to recover each time, or even longer if you need to recover from an injury from pushing yourself too hard.
5 CORE SUPPLEMENTS FOR BUILDING MUSCLE
Note: Protein is not on this list. The matrix of Amino Acids you get from an early morning or post-workout WHEY protein formula is undoubtedly important to your gains - but you already know that. These 5 supplements are designed to zero in on specific nutrient needs to help you workout harder, recover faster, and see more progress.
Creatine is naturally produced by your liver and kidneys from three protein-building amino acids - and as 95% of the creatine in your body is stored in muscle tissue, one of its core functions is providing you with the raw power to lift heavy. Creatine is widely used to aid with muscle growth and to speed recovery times.
It boosts performance during workouts by replenishing your ATP levels which is where your muscles draw energy from to perform a contraction - when these levels get too low, you simply don’t have to power to lift those weights.
You can get creatine from food - such as red meats and fish - however much of it is destroyed when cooking.
Supplementing creatine monohydrate is an excellent way to make sure your body is getting enough to help push you through your rigorous workouts and recover faster.
How To Use It:
The standard recommendation is to take 5-7g/day. For best results, take before and after workouts, and in the morning on your rest days.
Beta-Alanine is a non-essential amino acid, meaning that it is also naturally produced by your body and by breaking down the protein you eat. It’s also perhaps one of the most underrated supplements in the world of strength training.
Carnosine is a dipeptide in your body that helps buffer lactic acid production in your blood which, otherwise, would leave you feeling fatigued, sore, and unable to perform optimally during your workouts.
Carnosine production is limited by the amount of Beta-Alanine in your body. For this reason, Beta-Alanine is described as a rate limiting precursor for carnosine - and having more of it in your body means training harder, for longer, without the game-crippling effect of lactic acid build-up in your muscle tissue.
How To Use It:
The amount recommended varies from person to person. Most people will benefit from a 2g serving prior to a training session. Serious bodybuilders may take this up to anywhere from 3-6g per day, however it would be advisable to spread this larger amount throughout the day. Research has also shown that as little as 1.6g can have a dramatic impact on physical performance.
Commonly found in many pre-workout amplifiers. Citrulline Malate is an endurance based supplement that helps delay fatigue in the gym by speeding up your body’s urea cycle, cleaning out ammonia produced by working muscles.
It also increases the amount of arginine in the blood - which means better blood flow to the muscles, contributing to your ability to work harder for longer.
How To Use It:
This can vary from person to person, however most people will feel the effects at a dosage of about 3g before their workout.
Simply put, Glutamine is the most prominent amino acid in your muscles (over 61%!). It’s main role is with protein metabolism and the maintenance of your muscles, making it especially important if you’re trying to cut down on bodyfat without losing any of your hard earned muscle mass.
During intense workouts, your glutamine levels are significantly depleted which has a negative impact on your strength, stamina and recovery. It can take up to 6 days for your Glutamine levels to return to normal, making this supplement a no-brainer for preventing yourself from backsliding on your progress.
How To Use It:
Bodybuilders should use about 10-15g per day, breaking it down into 3 equal servings first thing in the morning, after your workout and before bed. It’s a good idea to review the labels of other supplements you may be taking as they may also contain glutamine.
If you don’t feel like you need the same level of supplementation as serious bodybuilders, a 5g serving after your workout is a good place to start.
This is one of three essential Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAA), meaning that it cannot be produced by your body and must be obtained through diet and supplementation. It helps to preserve lean muscle tissue, increase energy during physical stress, and preserve glycogen stores in muscle tissue to help you get through your hard workouts.
How To Use It:
You are likely getting some of this BCAA from your diet and protein supplements, so you don’t need to add much to your stack. 3-4g before bed will help to increase muscle protein synthesis and increase blood amino acid levels while you sleep.
Your Key Takeaway
Adding these supplements to your workout stack is an excellent way to boost your performance and help you take your training to the next level.
But, if you have trouble even remembering to take your daily multivitamin, there’s not need to stress over the fine details at first. Many of these supplements can be found in a combined formula such as a pre-workout mix. As you continue to progress, you may want to start supplementing these separately so you can really dial in on what your body needs to keep pushing forward.