The most important step you can take in order to start growing new muscle is to get a handle on the basics — training, diet, and recuperation. Once those are in order, though, and once you start making some gains, it’s time to consider whether or not certain supplements might help your muscle-building efforts.
How to get stronger fast on just about any lifter’s frame.
In order to build muscle, you need to take in around one gram of protein per pound of bodyweight on a daily basis. For a 150-pound man, that means you’re going to be eating about 150 grams of protein each day, and that can be a lot to choke down depending on your appetite. Many guys just can’t stomach the idea of slogging down cups of yogurt or slabs of chicken and beef, and for them, protein powders can be a real boon to gains.
With about 25 grams of protein and 100 calories per serving, protein supplements make it as easy as stirring powder into water to boost your daily intake. Today’s protein supplements generally taste pretty good, too, and many brands now carry varieties that are all-natural, free of artificial flavoring and sweeteners.
What’s more, scientific studies are showing that protein supplements can actually help increase protein synthesis in your body, which means more muscle over time.
For more than 20 years now, creatine has been the go-to supplement for natural bodybuilders looking to gain muscle and strength quickly. Creatine is stored in your muscles as phosphocreatine and can provide immediate energy to hard-working muscles when you’re training, which means longer sets and bigger weights over time. That’s the classic recipe for progressive resistance training and long-term muscle growth.
Creatine has also been show to improve hydration within muscle cells, which not only promotes quick weight gain that can make you feel and look better, but also creates a more anabolic environment. All of your body’s processes work better in the presence of sufficient water, and that idea applies especially well to muscle growth and energy production.
Study after study has show creatine to be safe and effective, which is why it reigns near the top of the bodybuilding hierarchy after all these years.
Branched-chain amino acids — leucine, isoleucine, valine — are three of the eight essential aminos, meaning that our body requires them but cannot manufacture them from other nutrients. We must get BCAAs directly from the food and supplements we consume.
While BCAAs are plentiful in animal products like eggs and meat, they have special properties that may make it worthwhile to boost your intake through supplemental forms.
In particular, studies have found that branched-chain amino acids can help you both increase your rate of protein synthesis and slow your rate of protein breakdown, either during a workout or when dieting. The usual recommendation is to take 5-10 grams of BCAAs before you work out to reap the most benefit.
It may not be “sexy” in the world of muscle-building, but your first priority with any lifting or nutrition program should be to enhance and maintain your health. Unfortunately, many bodybuilders take extreme measures with their workouts and diets in order to gain muscle, and that can actually leave us short on some key nutrients. Our efforts, ironically, can make us malnourished.
To help cover our bases, including a good multivitamin and mineral supplement is a great idea for most lifters. This will help ensure that we’re hitting all of our Recommended Daily Allowances (RDAs) and give us the best chance to stay healthy and keep training hard.
Not for Everyone
As solid as these supplements are, some lifters want to avoid consuming anything beyond normal food, and SOME lifters just can’t tolerate these substances due to health reasons or personal preferences.
Before you introduce any new supplement to your program, talk to your doctor and let him know what you have in mind. Together, you can decide whether the supp is likely to cause you any problems.
When it comes to building new muscle, though, it’s hard to beat these four staples of the bodybuilding world.