If you’re into a solid training regime that puts you through regular, gruelling sessions in the gym, you will want to know that your body is getting the most out of it all.
Unfortunately, you can push yourself as hard as you like, but you won’t get very far if your diet isn’t on point. You can only maximise the gains you make by fuelling the body with what it needs.
Though this can and should be done through real food in a rounded, healthy diet, supplementation plays a very important role. Supplements can be used to boost overall health across a range of markers, to aid in speedier, more efficient recovery, or to liven you up pre-workout so that the time you put into your training is well spent.
You will always want to make sure that you are on a decent multi-vitamin. Bodybuilders will have greater nutritional demands than most people, so having these as a bit of a safety net, insurance policy is always a good idea. Iron and other minerals are also a wise choice for much the same reason.
However, there are some supplements that are specific to improving training intensity and recovery that I would highly recommend.
The four supplements listed below may help you gain more muscle during a hypertrophy phase and retain more muscle during a caloric deficit, boosting your recovery and giving you the edge in the weights room.
The best bodybuilding supplements include:
1. Whey protein
Protein powders in general are an easy, convenient way to bring your protein intake up to desired levels. Given that most bodybuilders need in excess of 180 grams of protein per day, protein supplements like these are almost a necessity.
All protein powders will work to a point. Soya and pea proteins are great plant-based options, and bovine collagen is workable for people looking for an added, meaty nutritional extra.
However, whey protein powders are so ubiquitous that they are cheap and easy to source. They are complete proteins, meaning that you will get every amino acid you need to build good quality muscle mass.
Creatine aids in the creation of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the energy your muscles use during intense exercise. Creatine monohydrate is the most effective form, and can help you to find the energy you need for those extra couple of reps which will make all the difference for hypertrophy.
We all know that caffeine gives us energy. This makes it a handy pre-workout supplement, giving you the extra kick that you need in order to hit the gym as hard as you want to.
As well as giving you this buzz, caffeine also decreases your overall perception of fatigue and is even a mild form of pain relief. Adding caffeine to your pre-workout routine, either as a supplement or as a regular cup of good old-fashioned coffee, will allow you to push yourself to limits previously only dreamed of.
Branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) consist of three of the amino acids found in protein. These are leucine, isoleucine and valine.
You will get them in most protein sources, especially animal-derived sources such as meat, poultry, eggs and dairy.
Research has shown that BCAAs play a major role in hypertrophy during bulking phases. They also help to reduce atrophy, or muscle loss, during caloric deficits. Though you will get a fair helping of them if you eat a diverse range of protein-rich foods, supplementation has proven to improve these effects.