Armed with your muscle-building workout and your gains-focused meal plan, you’re ready to bulk up. Getting big is a lot of work and you’ll want to give yourself every advantage you can.
When taken alongside a muscle-focused diet and exercise program, supplements are an excellent way to support your performance, recovery, and growth. Let’s take a look at the best supplement for size and success.
Best Muscle Building Ingredients
Protein synthesis is the creation of muscle protein, and this process is essential for gaining size. When muscle protein synthesis is greater than protein breakdown, you have a positive protein balance and an ideal environment for growth.
Whey protein contains the full spectrum of amino acids, the building blocks of muscle tissue, and it has been shown in several studies to be ideal for promoting protein synthesis and muscle mass. (1)
Branched-Chain Amino Acids
Often abbreviated as BCAAs, this supplement is made up of leucine, isoleucine, and valine. These amino acids are the product of protein digestion. As the building blocks of muscle tissue, branched-chain amino acids have been shown to trigger protein synthesis and support muscle growth.
One unique feature of BCAAs is that they are anti-catabolic or they prevent muscle protein breakdown due to intense training sessions, fasted workouts, and low-calorie diets. (2)
Creatine is naturally produced in the body from the amino acids glycine and arginine; however, it is quickly used up during physical activity since more than 90% is stored in muscle tissue. Creatine plays a unique role in helping you to build size because it is broken down into a usable form of energy called adenosine triphosphate or ATP.
Supplementing with creatine as a part of your pre- and intra-workout routine has been shown to increase strength and power output during your workouts. This boost in volume can support the workload needed to achieve muscle hypertrophy or growth. (3)
Zinc, Magnesium, and Vitamin B6 (ZMA)
ZMA is a mineral and vitamin blend of zinc, magnesium, and vitamin B6, all of which have been shown to support muscle building:
- Zinc is necessary for healthy growth hormone levels, a key factor in muscle repair and growth.
- Magnesium can support protein synthesis and lower inflammation in muscle tissue.
- Vitamin B6 helps with blood flow, nutrient delivery, and testosterone support.
All three of these ingredients are great on their own, but together they form a powerhouse of muscle-building nutrients. I’d argue that ZMA is far more important as a muscle builder because the effect it has on the quality of your sleep
Remember that growth occurs when you are getting shut-eye. When you skip on sleep, you miss out on growth hormone release, muscle repair, and essential processes for growth. Taken 30 to 60 minutes before bed, ZMA has been shown to improve sleep quality and length. (4)
Have you ever taken a pre-workout supplement and felt a sudden tingling rush down the back of your neck? Chances are that your supplement contained beta-alanine, an amino acid that is famous for that flushed feeling.
Beta-alanine is a must when you want to build muscle. First, beta-alanine has been shown to increase levels of carnosine, a compound that helps exercise performance. Created from the amino acids alanine and histidine, carnosine has been shown to increase exercise capacity and performance, especially during high-intensity workouts. (5)
Studies also show that when combining beta-alanine with creatine produces significant gains in lean muscle tissue. (6)
Supplements for Size and Success
Pre-Workout: In order to hit that ideal hypertrophy set and repetition range, you’ll need energy. A balanced pre-workout supplement will include fuel for body and mind such as caffeine and huperzine A.
Whey Protein: As soon as your workout is finished, be sure to reach for a whey protein blend shake. As discussed above, whey protein has been shown to kickstart recovery and growth.
Recovery Supplement: Bedtime means grow time. Ensuring you get at least eight hours of sleep each night is a necessity to recover and see results. Taking a sleep support supplement can help to maximize levels of growth hormone and protein synthesis, both of which are essential for results.
Do you have a line of supplements on your kitchen counter in preparation for bulking season? Which supplements have produced the best results?
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