Muscle-building supplements can give you an edge when it comes to muscle growth and performance. They are not magic and will not do the work for you. Do not even think of taking them unless your training and diet are on point. I like to think of supplementation as the extra 5% boost once everything is done right. Ask yourself these questions before trying supplementation.
- Are you training with adequate intensity and volume?
- Are you eating a healthy whole food diet?
- Are you sleeping enough?
- Are you drinking enough water?
If you answered yes to the above questions, then you are ready to think about trying a few supplements to give you that edge. If the answer was no, get the fundamentals right first before wasting money on supplements.
#4 HMB (hydroxy-beta-methylbutyrate)
This supplement is great for those who like to perform High-intensity resistance training (HIT). It can help to speed recovery post HIT training by reducing skeletal muscle breakdown. This effect allows you to train with increased frequency. The total volume of training is what is most important when wanting increased muscle growth. So by decreasing the amount of downtime between sessions, you may see increased results from your training. It would be best if you took HMB at least 60 minutes before exercise for the best results. A loading dose also seems necessary. HMB should be taken daily for two weeks before seeing maximum results.
Beta-Alanine is a naturally occurring amino acid found in the body. It has been shown to improve endurance during resistance training. It slows the onset of “The Burn” that you feel. Think of how it feels 15 reps into a set of bicep curls. A study showed that supplementing Beta-Alanine before training sessions increased the time to exhaustion by up to 19%. This supplement is one of the primary ingredients in pre-workouts. It’s responsible for that pins and needles feeling. To get the most out of beta-alanine, you should take 4-6 grams 15 minutes before the workout.
Your body uses creatine as energy during intense physical activity. If this amino acid is already in your muscles naturally, why do you need more? Taking an extra 5 grams(1 tsp) a day has been clinically shown to increase muscle size, strength, and endurance. The idea here is to increase the amount of creatine stored in muscle tissue through supplementation. Coupled with consistent training, physical performance will improve as a result. Creatine is one of the most thoroughly studied supplements and consistently shows ergogenic benefits without the side effects. Everything in moderation, of course. Creatine has to be processed through the liver and kidneys. Do not take more than 20 g daily. If you are going to take only one supplement, take this one.
Although not technically a supplement, you cannot build muscle without protein. It is the building block of the cell. If you are training and hope to build muscle, protein has to be the priority. Try to get some with every meal and snack. .7 to 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight is what you need to consume daily. For a 150 lb athlete, this would look like 105 to 150 grams of protein per day. Consume a protein at least 2 hours post weight training session. You want that protein-muscle synthesis to begin as quickly as possible for maximum recovery. Ideally, you want to get all your protein requirements through whole foods. If you cannot, for some reason, combine 50 g of your favorite protein powder with milk for an easy post-workout shake.
The Bottom Line
No supplement will be of any help if you are training like a bitch. It will also not get you the body you have always dreamed of. Supplements will give you a small boost in performance once your training and nutrition have been figured out.
- Train most days of the week
- Eat a healthy whole food diet
- Get plenty of sleep
- Drink plenty of water
Once you have the above habits in place, then and only then should you think about supplementing an already kick-ass lifestyle. It is easy to want a shortcut to training, but we all know there is no such thing. Work hard and be consistent. Act like you are the person you want to be, and someday you will be!! Better every day!!