When trying to put on size, supplements can make a difference. But with the way the market is saturated with pills and diet solutions, how do you know which products to actually invest in?
Start with researching the brands – making sure they produce safe, high-quality, effective products. From there, it takes a little bit of understand how exactly muscle gain works to make an informed decision.
The Science behind muscle gain
We’re constantly looking for a way to optimize muscle gain. But when it comes down to it, you’ve got to put in the work and eat well. The two main factors behind muscle gain are resistance training and your overall nutrition.
Hypertrophy requires progressive overload and overreaching in training. You’ve got to demand more of your muscles than they’re currently doing.
The three primary ways to stimulate muscle gain through lifting are:
For best results, implement a combination of the three on a regular basis. The more you train, the more muscle you can build… to a point.
If all you do is work out without refueling and resting, your body will start to waste away. You’ll metabolize your own results and feel awful to boot. Therefore, you’ve got to be nutritionally sound.
The most important thing to do when trying to gain muscle (outside of working out) is to eat. Eat, eat, and eat more.
Being in a caloric surplus prevents your metabolism from slowing down by providing a constant supply of nutrition. Of course, this only yields muscle if you’re lifting. Sit on your butt and eat all day, and that’ll result in a different kind of weight gain. The two work in tandem to sculpt the body you crave.
While working out, your body is actually breaking down. You’re literally rebuilding the tissues inside of you to come back stronger. Fortunately, we’re a strong species that adapts accordingly.
But without the right tools to rebuild – AKA food – you’re left with a broken down house. Eating lean protein, complex carbs, appropriately timing sugar, good fats, and staying hydrated create a solid foundation for a lean, muscular physique.
Of course, this isn’t an article about general good practices for muscle gain. The real reason we’re here is for the supplements. When you’ve taken care of the basics, supplements can accelerate your results.
Here we’ll take a look at the best pre and post workout supplements for muscle gain.
Best pre workout supplements for muscle gain
BCAAs is an acronym for branched-chain amino acids. Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins, and certain ones come with a special chain. These chained acids – leucine, valine, and isoleucine – represent most of the free amino acid pool in your body.
As such, their presence stimulates protein synthesis. Taking BCAAs after a workout elevates your body in to a positive net protein status, preventing muscle breakdown and stimulating muscle growth. Try Performance lab BCAA for an effective 2:1:1 blend.
Taking creatine as a pre workout enhances the phosphocreatine system. This energy system provides energy for fast-twitch, explosive, intense exercise.
Basically – they make your big lifts bigger. Creatine itself raises anabolic hormone levels and slows the breakdown of protein, but it also fuels your workout. The heavier and more you can lift, the more muscle you can build. And that’s nothing but positive.
For increases in blood flow during your workout, take citrulline.
While arginine is the main driver of nitric oxide production, a compound that improves circulation to muscles (the pump), citrulline is responsible for creating it. The main issue with arginine is that it has a poor absorption rate when orally supplemented too…citrulline doesn’t have this problem.
Ultimately, taking citrulline as a pre workout helps elevate arginine levels naturally, upgrading your output every workout.
Looking to keep your gains intact? Glutamine is your go-to. As the most abundant amino acid, Glutamine is constantly being shuttled in and out of muscle to raise blood concentrations of growth hormone and bicarbonate.
These tactics are especially prevalent during intense training sessions, like ones that put on muscle. Problem is, you don’t want to use it all up. Getting more glutamine in your system ahead of time helps keeps your muscles from atrophy.
Best post workout supplements for muscle gain
Because it’s not about how hard you train, it’s about how fast you recover.
Nothing will top basic protein after your workout for muscle growth, because what truly drives growth is your total macronutrient intake.
Getting protein in immediately raises your total protein content while directly providing the nutrients needed to build muscle. Whey isolate is the most bioavailable version with the fastest absorption.
Casein, on the other hand, is a protein that requires a more extended release. Due to its structure, casein protein takes longer to digest.
This fact makes it the perfect solution for muscle growth if you work out at night. Even if you’re an early riser, taking casein after your workout can keep your protein balance positive if you’re not going to eat again for a while.
Your body wants carbs as fuel. Therefore, it stores them as glycogen within your muscles to keep your training strong.
Depleting glycogen obviously requires a recharge. Quick-digesting carbs, such as coconut water, are the equivalent of plugging your muscles back in. The faster you can recharge, the better you can recover, and the more muscle you can build.
Tart Cherry juice
Complete with melatonin and antioxidants, this little fruit packs a punch.
Melatonin helps us sleep and relax so our muscles can rebuild. And antioxidants reduce inflammation and stress caused by exercise, further aiding recovery.
For best results, take it soon after exercise.
What you eat around your workout can definitely trigger muscle growth. In fact, the hours before and after training play one of the biggest roles in mass development.
Use the above pre workout supplements to train harder, stay anabolic, and improve circulation. Your post workout supplements should be about getting nutrients in as quickly as possible to facilitate recovery. So if you’re looking to put on size, start fueling the fire.