If there’s one topic that’s on every newbie’s mind, it’s supplements. Pretty much every beginner lifter I’ve ever talked to has drilled me on what pills, powders, and “magic” potions I took to get big. The answer? There IS no magic bullet! Don’t fall for shady companies’ claims that you can gain ten, twenty, or even thirty pounds of muscle in a matter of weeks – they’re only saying that to sell you worthless crap.
That being said, there are definitely a few products that are worth your while. As long as you’ve got your nutrition dialed in, these time-tested supplements will give you a cost-effective boost to your recovery and gains. Without further ado, here are the top five supplements for building muscle.
Creatine has got to be the most well-researched, proven supplement around. Athletes have been using it since the 1950s, and just about every clinical study has shown it to be helpful for muscle building and strength.
What exactly is creatine? It’s a naturally-occurring acid that’s abundant in just about every type of red meat. In fact, you could probably get more than enough if you ate, say, ten to fifteen pounds of beef per day. Since that’s horribly impractical, your best bet is to just take the stuff in powder form.
Creatine works by helping your cells to generate adenosine triphosphate – or ATP – more quickly. This stuff is pure cellular energy, and faster regeneration means you can pump out more reps on any given set. An extra rep or two may not seem like much, but over the course of a few months’ training, that’s some serious growth.
If you haven’t jumped onto the BCAA bandwagon, now’s the time! The branched-chain amino acids include leucine, valine, and isoleucine. These three building blocks have been shown to turn on your body’s muscle-building “switch,” especially when taken during and after your workouts.
There are quite a few expensive BCAA products, especially the ones that come in pill form. Fortunately, you can save a boatload of cash by buying the powder from online bulk retailers. This will probably be your most expensive supplement, but it’s well worth the price if you can afford it.
I know what you’re probably thinking. “Fish oil is a HEALTH supplement, it won’t help me build muscle!” If that’s the case, you really need to reexamine your program. How can you expect to make great, consistent gains in the gym if you’re not meeting your basic needs? Adding new muscle tissue is an extremely taxing process, and your body won’t cooperate unless you give it everything it needs to grow – and then some.
Plus, Omega-3’s aren’t only important for cardiovascular health. The right balance of fatty acids is critical for the production of testosterone, growth hormone, and other critical muscle-building molecules. A steady supply of fish oil can also help to reduce inflammation and keep your joints and tendons ready to rock on your heaviest exercises.
There are plenty of naysayers when it comes to caffeine, but I love the stuff. When I’m trying to pack on mass, it gives me that extra bit of mental edge to eek out rep after rep. When I’m dieting, it’s also the one thing that can really carry me through workouts on low or no carbs.
Coffee is particularly awesome if you’re trying to lose fat. For one thing, it’s an excellent appetite suppressant. Not that I’m saying you should go anorexic to get lean – but even a well-planned diet can get rough. Furthermore, some studies have shown that coffee’s got additional compounds which make it even better for fat-burning than caffeine alone. Finally, coffee can give you great clarity of mind, something that’s often lacking when your calories and carbs are low.
I saved the best for last! I know I said creatine was the most proven “supplement,” and that’s because I hardly consider protein powder a supplement at all. I think of it more as a convenience food and post-workout necessity.
Whey has one of the most bioavailable proteins on the planet, which means that more of it goes towards building muscle, and less towards waste. It also digests insanely fast, and it’s the best thing to combine with some glucose in your post-workout shake.
A quality protein powder can also make for a good meal replacement, but be wary; it can actually spike your insulin as much as a piece of bread! If you’re going to use whey in place of meat, fish, eggs, or other whole foods, make sure you combine it with a decent amount of fat. I don’t care what your goals are, you do NOT want to spike your insulin when you’re not training.
Article by Sixpackfactory’s Muscle Building Expert and Top Fitness Model Justin Woltering. Get more info on Justin at: http://www.justinwoltering.com/