When it comes to lifting for size and strength, boat loads of iron and buckets of sweat are summoned. Over the past eight years of bodybuilding I’ve resorted to three primary muscle building supplements, that have stood the test of time, and support muscle growth directly and indirectly.
In no particular order, here are my personal top 3 muscle building supplements to build into your bodybuilding budget:
Creatine is made from the three aminos arginine, glycine and methionine, creatine is technically is an amino-acid supplement, not an individual amino. There has been endless debate on whether to take creatine pre or post workout or both and which protocol works best.
During my research and experience, I’ve found that post workout creatine supplementation is more effective then pre-workout and does not require the traditional 5-day loading phase. For best results, take a dosage of creatine in your protein-shake immediately after a workout to prepare you for your next workout.
One way creatine boosts growth postworkout is by increasing levels of insulinlike growth factor-1 (IGF-1) in muscle. Whether you weight train or not, creatine has many other general health benefits: It guards against heart disease, provides antioxidant protection, can ease chronic fatigue syndrome, shields the brain against damage and can guard against skin damage.
I continue to use the original creatine monohydrate but most supplement products market multiple forms of creatine together these days.
DOSE: Bodybuilder over 200-pounds should consume 5 grams in the morning and 5 grams after a workout. Bodybuilder under 200-pounds should consume 2.5 grams in the morning and 2.5 grams after a workout. I recommend supplementing with creatine all year round and to only take a break when you go on vacation. This approach allows you to say “loaded” all year round and avoid the 5-day loading cycle.
The combination of zinc and magnesium aspartate plus vitamin B6 has been shown to increase anabolic hormone levels, include free testosterone and IGF-1, that could otherwise be suppressed in hard-training athletes.
ZMA can improve your quality of sleep. Enhanced recovery from workouts due to sleep efficiency, increased anabolic-hormone levels, and greater gains in strength and power are the reported benefits of ZMA supplementation.
DOSE: Follow the label recommendations and take on a empty stomach 30-45 minutes before bed. Don’t mix with any form of dairy. Most products contain 30 mg of zinc, 450 mg of magnesium aspartate and 11 mg of B6.
Top Muscle Building Supplement #3: Caffeine
It’s as simple as having a large black cup of coffee or an espresso 60-minutes before you workout. Caffeine not only acts as a stimulant to increase workout intensity but it’s an effective fat-burner due to it’s ability to increase the release of fat from fat cells.
Research that caffeine immediately boosts muscular strength and power output when taken one hour before workouts. I take caffeine before my cardio and weight training workouts.
While certain communities advise against excessive caffeine use, newer studies show that your body can tolerate up to 400-800 grams of caffeine per day without adrenal fatigue. Caffeine has a powerful antixoidant and has been shown to guard against neurodegenerative diseases.
DOSE: For fat loss, take 100-300 mg every four hours. For mental acuity and focus, try 100-200 mg every four hours. For strength and power, take 200-400 mg one hour pre workout.
Your turn to share your knowledge: What are your top 3 muscle building supplements?
Let us know what dosages you have experimented with, side effects and brand recommendations. Look forward to hearing your experiences.