To gain lean, healthy muscle mass and maximum energy fuel for workouts, good sleep, lifting with proper form, and eating wisely are all the first weapons to reach for in your arsenal. Sleeping is when we repair and build muscles but you need amino acids, minerals, and vitamins to do all that. But knowing how to supplement wisely can help you yield both faster gains and to prevent fat acquisition while you put on lots of muscle.
In truth, most body building professionals started out with a trainer, probably an expensive one, who taught them the best supplements to take to get faster lean muscle gains. Being bodybuilders ourselves, we can save you the cost of an expensive trainer and give you our top supplement picks for building big muscle faster.
Among the best ones are creatine, green drinks, whey protein, and beta-alanine.
Green drinks give you all the nutrition and energy you’ll need to power through workouts and build resilience at a cellular level. Green drinks are packed with B vitamins that help you convert all the food you take in into clean energy fuel. The rich array of antioxidants in vegetables and green drinks also help to decrease inflammation reduce oxidative stress on the body during workouts.
Green drinks are packed with energy-yielding nutrients that help you build strength and resilience at a cellular level from vitamins to trace minerals, phytochemicals, and good-for-you natural iodine in foods like spirulina, chlorella, and seaweed. All these nutrients heal the body at a cellular level and keep you strong, hydrated, and fortified for lifting.
Look in any bodybuilder’s gym bag, and you’re bound to see a bottle of creatine there. That’s because creatine is one of the most proven lean gain supplements on the market. Creatine helps fuel your muscle cells with ATP, which means you can keep you pushing past limits so you can lift more, lift longer, and achieve faster gains. It has also been found to boost IGF-1 production, the key hormone for lean muscle gains when you rest and repair after workouts.[i]
Creatine also helps boost water content in muscle tissue, which gives muscles a more pumped- up appearance. This is why bodybuilders start loading their stacks with more creatine before shows. Creatine also exerts protective effects upon muscle tissue during workouts and has proven in studies to help lifters achieve more reps and lift heavier weights during workouts. In one meta review of 22 studies, creatine was found to boost strength by 8% and maximal reps by 14%.[ii]
In fact, studies show that creatine can double mass muscle gains when compared to weight lifting alone.[iii]
There is no compound more studied for muscle mass building than whey protein. Whey is an important source of proteins and amino acids the body needs to build massive muscles. Whey protein is proven to help stimulate muscle protein synthesis more than other products like casein or soy proteins. Even in studies on elderly individuals, whey protein has proven to stimulate muscle growth by 70% as well as improve strength, aerobic capacity, and metabolic health markers.[iv]
Whey also helps boost muscle growth while enhancing fat loss—so you don’t put on fat mass with your muscle mass.
Beta-alanine is a naturally occurring non-essential amino acid that is converted into, carnosine, a dipeptide that helps reduce fatiguing acid in the muscles during lifting sessions. In studies, beta alanine has proven to help users push past extreme limits, for example, to complete 22% more squats at 70% of one rep max after 30 days of supplementation.[vi] In another study, non-lifters who adhered to beta-alanine for 8 weeks increased significant muscle growth.[vii]
Caffeine is one of the most tried and true energy supplements on the market, if used correctly and not abused in extremis. Caffeine can help reduce fatigue, improve energy level and increase motivation to train. It also decreases perceived exertion, helping you push harder on those off days when everything might seem too much effort. You can use caffeine via coffee, caffeine supplements, and many pre-workout formulas that include caffeine to help you perform at maximum capacity.
Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs)
BCAA supplements are a popular supplement with bodybuilders for a reason. Packed with branched chain amino acids like leucine, valine, and isoleucine, these supplements are proven to stimulate protein synthesis, which leads to increased muscle protein synthesis and big lean muscle gains. Studies show BCAAs protect the muscles from damage during lifting sessions, enhance lean muscle gains, and yield more energy and endurance for long workouts.[viii]
All of these supplements will give you the energy and endurance you need to push through increasingly more challenging workouts and help you achieve major lean muscle gains in no time.
- Burke, D. G. (2008). Effect of creatine supplementation and resistance-exercise training on muscle insulin-like growth factor in young adults. International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, 18(4): 389-98.
- Rawson, E.S., et. al. (2003). Effects of creatine supplementation and resistance training on muscle strength and weightlifting performance. Journal of Strength Conditioning and Research, 17(4): 822-31.
- Earnest, C. P. (1995). Effects of creatine supplementation on body composition, strength, and sprint performance. Acta Physiology Scandinavia, [email protected]): 207-9.
- Bell, K. et. al. (2017). A whey protein-based multi-ingredient nutritional supplement stimulates gains in lean body mass and strength in healthy older men: A randomized controlled trial. PLoS One.
- Baer, D. J. et. al. (2011). Whey protein but not soy protein supplementation alters body weight and composition in free-living overweight and obese adults. The Journal of Nutrition.
- J. Hoffman, et. al. (2008). β-Alanine and the hormonal response to exercise. International Journal of Sports Medicine, 29(12): 952-958
- Abady, H. et. al. (2014). The effect of eight weeks of β-alanine supplementation and pyramid resistance training on carnosine and IL-8 in non-athlete men. European Journal of Experimental Biology, 4(1):404-409
- Kim, Dong-He, et. al. (2013). Effect of BCAA intake during endurance exercises on fatigue substances, muscle damage substances, and energy metabolism substances. Journal of Exercise, Nutrition, and Biochemistry, 17(4): 169-180.
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