Not building muscle fast enough? Look first at your protein intake. Shoot for around 1g of protein per pound of ideal bodyweight. If you weigh 180 pounds, then eat about 180g of protein a day, but no less than about 100g. Don’t go more than about 4 hours without eating some type of protein. Focus on complete proteins like fish, poultry, meat, eggs and milk since they contain all the essential amino acids and are rich in branched-chain amino acids.
HOW TO TAKE: Take whey protein twice a day; 10-15g before workouts to kickstart protein synthesis and another 25-30g immediately after a workout to enhance recovery. Get another 25-40g of protein from an MRP (meal replacement) or a protein blend (casein and whey) either at breakfast, between meals or as a meal. (Drink shakes slowly to avoid gas and bloating.) The varying rates of digestion create a timed-release effect to continuously feed your muscles for hours. Get the other approximate 100g of protein you need from food.
Creatine is the king of all bodybuilding supplements to help you get stronger. Hundreds of studies have proven its effectiveness. Creatine helps to regenerate ADP (spent energy) back into ATP for increased energy output involving short, intense bursts of energy. That means you can lift 1-2 reps more than normal, stressing your muscles more to grow bigger, faster.
HOW TO TAKE: Take 15-25g of creatine for 5 days (loading phase), then take 3-5g daily to maintain muscle creatine saturation.
Studies have shown the amino acid L-glutamine helps athletes stay healthy, especially after strenuous exercise like running a marathon. It’s also been shown to increase growth hormone. Growth hormone is one of the body’s most anabolic (muscle building) hormones. L-glutamine is also important for neutralizing lactic acid build-up from strenuous workouts.
HOW TO TAKE: Take 2-5g of L-glutamine in the morning and/or take 5g after workouts for recovery.
When you drink a whey shake that has 25g of protein, you’re getting about 5-6g of branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs). These aminos are important for protein synthesis, muscle building and preserving lean body mass during a leaning down phase. You can get almost the same benefit as a much larger whey protein shake by just taking 5g of a straight BCAA powder without the concern of how long it will take to digest.
HOW TO TAKE: Take 5g of BCAAs before and 5g after workouts. You can also add to a drink that you sip during workouts. Mix BCAAs in a flavored drink to improve the taste.
Caffeine is an extremely popular ingredient for pre-workout formulas. It stimulates the central nervous system, helping you feel alert and focused. It also mobilizes body fat for use as energy, and has been shown to boost strength and intensity during workouts.
This amino acid is known for its “pump” effect due to its role in the synthesis of nitric oxide. Nitric oxide increases the diameter of blood vessels, which increases blood flow. This results in an enhanced muscle pump plus increased exercise capacity, endurance and recovery.
HOW TO TAKE: Take about 3g of L-arginine 45 minutes before workouts.
Beta-alanine is a non-essential amino acid that can delay muscle fatigue by keeping muscles from getting too acidic. It increases the level of L-carnosine in the muscles. Carnosine helps muscles soak up excess hydrogen ions released during intense exercise. Beta-alanine may help prevent muscle failure (“hitting the wall”).
HOW TO TAKE: An effective dose of beta-alanine is about 2g taken 3 times daily.Pre-Workout Formulas
HOW TO TAKE: Take 20-30 minutes before workouts — usually about 20g of powder mixed into water.
Tribulus terrestris is an herb containing steroidal saponins that may help the body increase its own ability to produce testosterone naturally. Research shows tribulus can increase luteinizing hormone by as much as 70%, thereby elevating testosterone production by as much as 40%.
HOW TO TAKE: 1,000 mg of tribulus that’s standardized for at least 20% protodioscin.
ZMA is a testosterone-boosting combination of zinc, magnesium and vitamin B6. Zinc and magnesium play a role in over 500 metabolic reactions in the body. ZMA has been shown to increase free testosterone and strength in training athletes, as well as improve sleep.
HOW TO TAKE: Take ZMA before bed on an empty stomach.