Let’s get one thing perfectly clear before we start talking about supplementation, all right? No amount of supplements will be able to outperform the negative effects of your shitty diet, or your mediocre workout routine. Supplements are just that, supplements. If you want to cut, you need to eat fewer calories, if you want to bulk up, you need to eat more.
If you want to be strong, follow a powerlifting program, and if you want to build muscle, then train like a bodybuilder. Just don’t think that you can eat whatever you want, train like your girlfriend, and expect supplements to get you the body of your dreams. Now that you understand this crucial piece of information, here are the supps that can take your fitness game to a whole new level.
Protein, of course
Whey protein is your foundation, the pillar of a good diet, and the essential supplement in your collection. It’s also the supplement you don’t want to take out of your gym bag, much like the other ones on this list. Quite simply, whey protein is the purest form of protein on the market and the most potent one.
Being a derivative of dairy products, whey is made during the cheese-making process, and is full of healthy protein and branched chain amino acids every athlete needs in his diet. Depending on your daily macronutrient requirements, you want to supplement your diet with one to two scoops of whey, preferably right after training. While the idea that there is such a thing as the “anabolic window” has been disproven by the scientific community numerous times, it doesn’t hurt to get your protein in when the muscle-protein synthesis is highest.
Creatine monohydrate, if you’re serious
Creatine is one of the most researched supplements on the planet, if not the most examined supplement in existence. With thousands of studies done on the effectiveness, dosage, and possible side-effects of the popular workout enhancer, it’s safe to say that you should not only be drinking it, but that you can rest assured it’s perfectly safe.
Before you hop on the hype train, bear in mind that this is not a wonder supplement. It’s just creatine, you won’t become Superman. What you will gain, though, is better power output, higher strength gains, and your muscle cells will swell up with water making you look bigger. This is good, it will give you the foundation from which you can speed up the muscle-building process. Supplement with no more than five grams every day and you’re good to go.
Magnesium for maximum recovery
It’s not just about macronutrients or benching 225lb for reps, building muscle is also about adequate micronutrient intake. One of the most important micronutrients for your general well-being, as well as total-body recovery and repair, is magnesium. Now, due to the extremely poor bioavailability of magnesium-rich foods, taking magnesium supplements is a must for an athlete with any kind of goal in his life.
Not only does magnesium help your CNS (that’s your central nervous system) recover from the workout, but it also helps you absorb all other nutrients you get from your diet. With increased bone health, minimized stress and anxiety, and less fatigue overall, you can attack the next training session with power, endurance, and dedication. Magnesium, use it.
Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAA)
Another supplement that can promote recovery, only this time during your workout, is BCAAs. Branched Chain Amino Acids have been used by athletes for decades, helping them push through tough strength and bodybuilding workouts and maximize their muscle-building potential. How, you ask? BCAAs have been shown to have anti-catabolic effects, so they prevent muscle breakdown while increasing energy levels.
But you get enough of these amino acids in your diet already, why supplement? Because you’re a beginner, okay, and you need all the nutrients you can get. BCAAs are especially useful for those trying to tone down but don’t want to lose any of their precious muscle mass. You can use this one on your off days as well to maintain lean body mass while shedding fat.
The good old multi-vitamin
Last but not least, we have your essential supplement to go with your every steaming cup of Joe in the morning – the multi-vitamin. You might think that getting all of the seven essential vitamins in through diet alone is easy, but you would soon find out that you’re oh-so-very wrong. Again, bioavailability is the main culprit here, and besides, just imagine having to squeeze in seven vitamins every day on a hectic schedule.
It just doesn’t click. So instead, have a strong multi-vitamin at the ready to kick-start your day, strengthen your immune system, and support all healthy bodily processes – building muscle and preventing poor performance included!
Supplements should be an essential part of every lifter’s arsenal, but they shouldn’t be the primary part. Only with proper training and nutrition can supplements begin to display their positive effects, and help you take your fitness game to the next level. So: eat, train, supplement, and repeat.