November 21, 2023
Embarking on a muscle-building journey involves more than just hitting the gym and lifting weights. While a
well-structured workout routine and a balanced diet are foundational, supplements can be valuable tools to support
your muscle-building goals. In this beginner's guide, we will explore the basics of building muscle with supplements
and provide insights into some key players in the supplement game.
Entering the world of fitness supplements can be daunting, but you're not alone. Many beginners find themselves in
the same position, eager to explore the benefits supplements can bring to their muscle-building journey but unsure
where to start. Recognizing the potential benefits of supplements demonstrates a commitment to achieving optimal
results in your workouts. The following workout supplements can help you add muscle mass, maintain energy levels
during exercise, and expedite your post-workout recovery.
No matter your level of experience, whey protein powder is a must-have supplement for every bodybuilder. The body can
digest whey rapidly to deliver all nine essential amino acids to the muscles during the most crucial period for
muscle growth. Whey is also rich in the BCAAs leucine, isoleucine, and valine, which provide the necessary building
blocks for muscle protein synthesis. Leucine, a pivotal catalyst in this process, kickstarts the mechanisms for
constructing muscle protein, utilizing other amino acids as the foundation for further growth.
Consuming whey protein before a workout provides your muscles with a readily available source of amino acids during
your workout and may help prevent muscle protein breakdown. However, aim for a relatively small serving when using
whey protein as a pre-workout supplement to avoid digestive discomfort. Taking whey protein after a workout rapidly
delivers amino acids to support muscle recovery and growth during the optimal post-exercise window. Many individuals
combine their approach and take whey protein pre- and post-workout to provide a continuous supply of amino acids,
offering pre-workout support and optimizing the recovery process afterward.
Dosage: 10-20g pre-workout; 20-40g post-workout.
Creatine monohydrate, often shortened to simply creatine, stands out as one of the most extensively researched and
effective muscle-building supplements ever. Scientific studies show that creatine increases muscle mass and boosts
muscle strength. Many incorrectly believe that creatine only causes water weight gain, but this is a common and
persistent misconception. Creatine draws water into muscles, which signals muscle cells to increase protein
synthesis, resulting in genuine, long-lasting muscle growth.
Creatine is also crucial for providing muscles with a swift energy source to fuel muscle contractions. It increases
the body's phosphocreatine stores, a form of stored energy in the muscles that enhances the production of adenosine
triphosphate (ATP). ATP is the primary energy currency of cells, and an increased supply of creatine enhances its
availability, allowing for more efficient energy production. Boosting ATP synthesis sustains muscle contractions and
supports the energy-demanding processes involved in lifting weights. Over time, this translates into substantial
gains in both muscle strength and size, emphasizing the pivotal role of creatine in optimizing physical performance
and fostering muscular development.
Dosage: Most people start with a five- to seven-day loading phase, taking 20g per day divided into four or five
doses. After that, take 3-5g of creatine split into pre- and post-workout doses.
The trio of branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) includes leucine, isoleucine, and valine. Among these, leucine takes
center stage in the realm of muscle growth. It activates muscle-protein synthesis within muscle cells and mitigates
muscle-protein breakdown, thereby enhancing the potential for muscle growth. Leucine also boosts insulin levels—an
anabolic hormone that helps transport glucose, amino acids, and creatine to muscle cells.
While leucine holds particular significance, it's crucial to recognize the importance of all three BCAAs. Muscles can
use BCAAs for energy during workouts, enabling you to train more intensely without rapidly fatiguing. BCAAs are
unique in that you can take them before, during, and after exercise. Consuming them in the morning helps thwart
muscle breakdown while promoting an anabolic state, incorporating them during workouts provides an energy boost, and
taking BCAAs after workouts aids in enhanced recovery and muscle growth.
Dosage: BCAA dosages vary by person. Start with 1.5g and adjust based on your needs and tolerance. Some individuals
take up to 5g of BCAA supplements at a time, while others experience optimal results with lower doses.
Beta-alanine is an amino acid that enhances exercise performance during resistance training. It works by combining
with naturally occurring histidine to increase carnosine levels. Carnosine acts as a lactic acid buffer in muscle
cells, helping to regulate pH levels during exercise. Too much acidity contributes to muscle fatigue and a decline
in performance. Increasing carnosine levels can delay the onset of muscle fatigue and allow for extended periods of
high-intensity exercise, leading to greater muscle stimulation and growth over time. Interestingly, beta-alanine
supplements are more effective at increasing carnosine levels than direct carnosine supplementation. The body has to
break down carnosine into its individual parts before reassembling it after digestion, which degrades its
Dosage: Research shows that beta-alanine works best with a loading phase of 4-6g per day divided into doses of 2g or
less. Doing this consistently for at least two weeks can increase muscle carnosine concentrations by 20-30%. After
four weeks, muscle carnosine concentrations may increase by 40-60%.
Note: Some individuals may experience a harmless and temporary tingling sensation known as paresthesia when taking
larger beta-alanine doses.
Glutamine is the most abundant amino acid naturally occurring in the human body and is a fundamental building block
for recovery and muscle growth. It helps buffer fatigue-inducing chemicals triggered by intense exercise, including
lactic acid, ammonia, hydrogen ions, inorganic phosphates, potassium ions, and adenosine. Buffering these
metabolites delays fatigue, which allows you to push through more repetitions during your workouts.
Performing more reps during your workouts is great for building muscle, but it also typically means more soreness
afterward. Doing more work than you’re used to can also lead to muscle damage and prevent you from working out as
often as you’d like. Glutamine helps address these issues in two ways. It is a building block for protein synthesis
and aids in muscle repair. It also has anti-inflammatory properties that help mitigate exercise-induced muscle
soreness for a faster recovery.
Dosage: Most individuals experience the best results with around 5g of glutamine. Start with 1.5g of glutamine up to
three times per day.
While not directly a muscle-building supplement, omega-3 fatty acids, commonly found in fish oil, play a vital role
in reducing inflammation. Intense workouts can cause excessive inflammation, hindering recovery and muscle growth.
Omega-3s can reduce inflammation, thereby mitigating exercise-induced muscle damage and potentially preventing
excessive muscle tissue breakdown. They also foster a healthier environment for muscle repair by promoting the
anabolic process and protein synthesis. Additionally, omega-3s’ anti-inflammatory properties support joint health by
maintaining the integrity of synovial fluids that lubricate joints and facilitating the repair of joint tissues.
Omega-3s can also enhance your overall physique by improving fat metabolism.
Dosage: Fish oil capsules are the most common omega-3 source. PureBulk carries 1000mg fish oil softgels. Take two per
day for the best results.
Although all fitness enthusiasts can benefit from beta-hydroxy beta-methylbutyrate (HMB), it’s one of the best
muscle-building supplements for beginners. HMB is a derivative of the BCAA leucine and provides a protective shield
against muscle breakdown to foster a conducive environment for muscle growth. Additionally, it enhances the
fat-burning processes within the body. Scientific research shows that HMB significantly increases muscle mass and
strength, particularly in those who are at the novice stage of their fitness journey.
Supplements can be a powerful tool to build muscle faster and recover from workouts better when paired with a
well-rounded diet and consistent exercise routine. Before incorporating any new supplements into your regimen, meet
with a healthcare professional or a nutritionist to ensure they align with your individual needs and goals. With the
right combination of supplements, nutrition, and exercise, you can lay a solid foundation for muscle growth and
embark on a fulfilling journey to a stronger, healthier you.
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