Bodybuilding supplements continue to grow in popularity with almost 85% of U.S. gym-goers taking a sports supplement of some kind. We all want to build muscle fast, but with so many different supplements out there it can be difficult to establish which are going to help and which are a complete waste of money.
In this guide, we’ll take a look at the ten most important bodybuilding supplements that you need if you’re looking to pack on muscle fast. Let’s dive straight in.
Protein is the most important supplement when it comes to building muscle. You should aim to get as much of your protein as possible from food, but when you’re trying to consume enough protein for bodybuilding, that can be difficult.
It’s recommended that anyone trying to build muscle should try to consume between 1.6-2.2g of protein for every kilogram of bodyweight. This should also be spaced out evenly throughout the day to maintain a steady supply of protein to where it’s needed.
That would mean that a 90kg individual might need to consume almost 200g of protein a day. It might not sound like a lot, but that’s 800g of lean steak a day. Even if you have an appetite, it can stretch the wallet.
Protein shakes are a great way to get good-quality proteins fast. Most protein shakes deliver around 23-28g of protein per serving so they’re great to have in between meals. You can also use them around your training when you might not want to eat a large meal.
When choosing your protein supplement always be sure to check the label. Many protein powders use fillers and large amounts of sugar, which can be detrimental if you’re looking for a chiseled physique.
Creatine is the most researched bodybuilding supplement there is. It is naturally found in the muscle cells where it is stored as phosphocreatine. It helps the muscles to produce energy by creating adenosine triphosphate (ATP).
As we exercise ATP gets broken down to produce energy. We can only make as much ATP as our phosphocreatine stores allow. Simply put, the more phosphocreatine you have stored in your muscles, the harder your muscles can work.
Taking 5g of creatine daily can help to make sure that your muscles have the maximum amount of phosphocreatine ready for when you work out. The harder you can work in the gym, the more muscle mass you can expect to gain.
Your muscles aren’t the only part of your body that stores phosphocreatine, your brain does too. As a result, creatine supplementation can also help brain function.
Creatine is naturally found in meat, fish, and some dairy products. You’d need to eat around 2-3lbs of steak a day to get 5g of creatine, which is why supplementing creatine is a key part of most bodybuilders’ daily regimen. Creatine is an absolute must if you are vegetarian or vegan.
If you’ve ever tried a pre-workout and felt a tingly sensation all over your body, then that is beta-alanine. Beta-alanine is a non-essential amino acid that is found naturally in the body.
Our muscles contain something called carnosine that allows them to perform for longer periods. Beta-Alanine is one key component of carnosine. By taking Beta-Alanine you increase the amount of carnosine that the body can produce and therefore increase your sports performance.
Beta-alanine, along with carnosine can be found in meat and fish products, however, for optimum performance, it is recommended that you consume around 3-6g of Beta-alanine 30 minutes before working out. This means that whole-food sources aren’t ideal.
As a result, Beta-Alanine is one of the most popular ingredients in pre-workouts like the ones you can buy at Wilsonsupplements.com.
4. Citrulline Malate
Citrulline is an amino acid that is also naturally produced in the body. Citrulline works by helping to widen blood vessels and increase blood flow around the body. From a bodybuilding perspective, this means that oxygen and essential nutrients can get to your muscles quicker when you need them most.
Citrulline can be found in some foods such as cucumbers and watermelons, but to get enough to maximize its benefits, it is recommended to use a citrulline supplement. Taking citrulline can help you to boost your performance while you are in the gym and also help reduce muscle soreness after training.
Caffeine is an undervalued tool of bodybuilders. Of course, it is used for its stimulating properties. Caffeine is used in most pre-workouts because it increases alertness.
In addition to this, it also increases thermogenesis. This is great for when you’re trying to build lean muscle and lose unwanted fat. By raising your body temperature, caffeine helps your body to burn more calories.
It is important to assess your tolerance before diving in at the deep end. Some pre-workouts contain almost 500mg of caffeine, which is the equivalent of around 6 shots of espresso from Starbucks!
Also, be wary of when you use caffeine during the day. If you use caffeine before a workout late in the evening it could interrupt your sleep cycle.
SARMs stands for selective androgen receptor modulators. They work in much the same way as anabolic steroids but come with much fewer side effects. SARMs are much more effective than your typical OTC supplements, but it is important to realize that they are considered performance-enhancing drugs, and they are banned by most athletic commissions.
There are several different SARMs available including:
- Ostarine (MK-2866)
- Ligandrol (LGD-4033)
- Testolone (RAD-140)
- Ibutamoren (MK-677)
- Cardarine (GW-501516)
They all have slightly different functions, but some of the main benefits of SARMs include:
- Increased lean muscle mass
- Improved endurance
- Better recovery
- Increase in strength
- Better fat loss
- Increased testosterone
As you’ll notice, the benefits are very similar to what you’d expect with anabolic steroids. However, unlike steroids, SARMs only target the androgen receptors in the body and so the potential side-effect is greatly reduced.
Some SARMs can still be toxic to the liver as well as suppress natural testosterone production so it is important to take the necessary on-cycle and post-cycle support when using SARMs.
N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC) is mainly used as on-cycle support for people taking SARMs. This is because NAC plays a key role in making glutathione. Glutathione is the main antioxidant produced by the body. It helps to neutralize free radicals and fight off cellular damage.
Many supplements, and even large amounts of protein, can put unwanted strain on the liver and kidneys so taking NAC is a great way to make sure that your liver and kidneys retain their optimal function.
When it comes to bodybuilding, good quality sleep is essential. The most popular for helping individuals get good quality sleep is ZMA, but its benefits don’t end there.
ZMA stands for zinc magnesium aspartate and it is made up of three different ingredients in specific quantities:
- Zinc monomethionine – 30 mg
- Magnesium aspartate – 450 mg
- Vitamin B6 – 10–11 mg
All three ingredients are responsible for several key roles in the body and bodybuilders have been taking advantage of them for several reasons.
While research is still emerging, many believe that ZMA can help to increase sleep quality, help with recovery and increase testosterone levels.
Branched-chain-amino-acids (BCAAs) and essential amino acids (EAAs) are sometimes confused as the same thing. Both of them are great tools for endurance and recovery, but one might just be better than the other.
BCAAs are made up of three key amino acids:
These three amino acids are an essential part of muscle building, however, for them to be effective, they need the presence of other essential amino acids. EAAs contain these three amino acids as well:
Simply put, EAAs have a more complete amino acid profile than BCAAs. BCAAs still have their place. They can help reduce muscle breakdown and provide more energy during workouts. They can also help to prevent muscle soreness after workouts.
The main difference is that the effectiveness of BCAAs depends on the amount of the other essential amino acids that are already present in your body. This becomes an issue for anyone who is working out in a fasted state or is on a low-protein diet.
All in all, BCAAs and EAAs are a great way to help stay energized during early morning training. They’re also a great quick go-to recovery drink for immediately after training. If you’re going to choose one, then you may as well take advantage of the full amino profile of EAAs.
10. Maca Root
The maca plant has become increasingly popular over the last few years. It is traditionally used to enhance sex drive and fertility, but more recently it has found its way into the hands of bodybuilders.
As well as being highly nutritious and containing flavinoids that help to boost your mood, maca might also help to boost your energy levels.
Studies on the effectiveness of maca root extract are limited, but one small study found that taking maca extract for 14 days improved the time it took cyclists to complete a 40km bike ride.
Finding the Best Bodybuilding Supplements for You
When it comes to choosing the right bodybuilding supplements for you it is important to have your goals set out in front of you. Some supplements are designed to help with weight management while others are designed to help you wake up!
Always remember that supplements are not intended as a replacement for a good diet, proper rest, and a solid training routine. Supplements won’t turn you into superman overnight, but they can help you push your training to the next level.
For more health and lifestyle content, be sure to check out our other articles.