The concept behind building muscle is very simple. When you work out, you are effectively creating miniscule tears in your muscle fibers. During recovery, your body repairs these tears, building the muscle up bigger and stronger so that it takes more effort to tear them the next time. While a simple concept, it takes time, energy, and continual dedication to build and maintain muscle mass.
Not only do you have to maintain a challenging workout routine, to really gain muscle mass you also need to balance your nutrition accordingly, making sure you get enough calories and calories from protein to provide your body with the tools and building blocks it needs to rebuild your torn muscles. Calculating and counting your macros will help you to build muscle and meet your goals more effectively, but luckily there are some specific supplements that can help with your progress, too. If you’re stuck in a rut or new to the world of muscle building, consider adding any of these five supplements to your routine to help your body build more muscle.
The first supplement you should consider adding to your routine is creatine. Creatine is one of the most well-researched workout supplements on the market, and one of the most popular. It’s inexpensive and easy to find on its own or in a blend with other ingredients. Creatine is a natural substance found in the body, and provides muscles with energy. While the human body can produce its own creatine and small amounts can be obtained through food sources (think beef), supplements can provide your muscles with significantly more than your body can produce.
Much research shows that creatine has a significant effect on improving muscle strength, which leads to building more muscle mass. Creatine also induces muscle cells to hold more water, which can trigger more muscle growth responses. Some studies have also proposed that the increase in exercise performance due to creatine supplementation actually increases secretion of growth hormone and testosterone, as the creatine subjects had higher hormonal responses when compared to the placebo group. To get even more out of this testosterone boost, try also including a testosterone support supplement like HexoFire Labs Delta Prime, which helps support your body’s natural testosterone production.
Battling for position at the top of the list is protein. Protein is essential for muscle building, and provides the essential amino acids needed for muscle protein synthesis. While this is an integral part of muscle building, we list it second only because it is possible to get enough protein to facilitate your muscle building goals without supplementation. However, depending on diet restrictions, time, or even diet preferences, it can sometimes be tough to fit it all in.
Daily protein intake for muscle building should be roughly 0.5 – 0.9 grams per pound of body weight. To supplement your dietary intake try using whey protein post workout, which is easily digested and absorbed, and has high amounts of leucine, an important essential amino acid for muscle building. To get those last few grams in at the end of the day, use casein protein, which is slow to digest, giving your body nutrition and preventing muscle breakdown while fasting during sleep.
Beta-alanine is an amino acid like alanine, but not quite the same. Beta-alanine helps to build muscle by reducing fatigue, and potentially improving performance, by increasing muscle carnosine levels. Carnosine has been shown to play an important role in the pH regulation of the muscles, helping to reduce the acid that is thought to be the cause of muscle fatigue.
Studies on beta-alanine have shown that it improves exercise performance by delaying fatigue and increasing time to exhaustion. Being able to push your muscles harder during your workouts is how beta-alanine helps to build them. Research is ongoing, but as it is easily found in many supplements, it’s worth giving a try to see if it works for you.
This amino acid is commonly found in Nitric Oxide products, as it is a secondary pre-cursor to Nitric Oxide. Nitric Oxide is thought to be beneficial for muscle building due to its properties as a vasodilator, widening blood vessels to increase blood flow and theoretically provide more oxygen and nutrients to working muscles. Studies have seen L-citrulline improve athletic performance in endurance sports such as running, cycling, and kayaking.
Another similar compound, l-citrulline malate, however, has also been seen to reduce muscle soreness from resistance training when taken before a workout. While study results have been mixed and research is still ongoing, one study found that participants felt significantly less muscle soreness in the 24 – 48-hour period after their workouts than the placebo group, helping to build muscle by helping it heal faster.
While most of us have a cup of coffee to warm up our brains in the morning, caffeine can have a much more targeted effected on muscle building. Studies have shown that the energizing effects of caffeine can help users push harder and with more focus during their workouts.
One study reported that after consuming caffinated beverages, resistance trained men were able to perform significantly more repetitions before failure, experienced lower perceived exertion, and a greater mental readiness to focus then men in the placebo group. Caffeine can be found in many pre-workout supplements, but if you’re only looking for the energy and focusing effects, an 8oz cup of coffee before you head to the gym will also do the trick!
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