Bodybuilding Supplements that Work
Frankly, most of the bodybuilding supplements out there plain DON’T work. Many are just hyped up through heavy advertising. Many more have come and gone, and more will come and go. So, what really works? Simple, the top bodybuilding supplements that have been tried and tested over time.
Fortunately, there are safe and legal muscle building supplements that have proven to work consistently over the years. The science and technology of nutritional supplements has improved has truly advanced, and made it possible for natural (drug-free) bodybuilders to make better gains than ever before. While we cannot tell you the best bodybuilding supplements that will work for you as each individual is different, it is safe to bet on what has already been proven to work consistently.
Of course, this is not to say that new products are all just fads. Once in a while there emerges something that takes the world by storm, even in the world of bodybuilding. In any case, even the old proven ones were new at one time. Just avoid making yourself into a human tester of anything new.
The best way to supplement your bodybuilding diet without breaking the bank is to keep it simple and stick to the basics. Here are the top bodybuilding supplements that proven to work again and again over the years:
Protein is to the bodybuilder what good quality rock is to the mason. Protein supplements help bodybuilders achieve their daily required intake (measured in grams per pound of body weight) without spending countless hours in the kitchen or gobbling down chicken, turkey and fish all day.
Protein supplements come in three forms mainly:
- Protein powders
- Protein bars
- Protein cookies
Of the above three forms, protein powder is the most popular as it is convenient and versatile (it can be made into various shakes and snacks). One of the best sources of bodybuilding protein ever discovered, and so far the most popular is whey protein. Whey’s benefits, however, go beyond the nutritional. This protein is also rich in vitamins and minerals, has detoxification qualities, and helps in lowering high cholesterol.
Whey easily tops all muscle building supplements and should be part of the nutritional program of anyone who wants to build muscle. Even better, whey has no (known) side effects.
However, some experts say that that protein blends may work better because they supply your body with different types of protein, some being fast-digesting and others slow-digesting. Whey is a fast-digesting type of protein while casein is slow.
This is considered the granddaddy of muscle building and strength training supplements. It is also perhaps the most extensively researched. The only reason we put it second to protein is because you need protein first and foremost to build muscle, or nothing else will work.
Creatine is one of the most effective legal bodybuilding products ever discovered. Since its initial appearance in the early 1990s, it quickly cut a reputation for bringing very quick, noticeable results.
Not only does creatine help increase muscle mass, it also provides you with extra energy and strength during exercise. Of course, more energy and strength during exercise means more intense workouts, resulting into even bigger muscles.
Known as L-glutamine, this is one of the best bodybuilding supplements but also one of the most underrated. Bodybuilders particularly need to supplement it because the body cannot produce the amount it requires during intense exercise, yet it gets quickly depleted. Research has shown that after intense workout, the body’s glutamine levels reduce by as much as 50%.
Insufficient available glutamine may cause, catabolism (muscle breakdown), which may be prevented by supplementing.
Glutamine supplementation can minimize muscle tissue breakdown and improve protein metabolism. It has also shown to also have cell volumizing effects.
4. Pre-Workout Supplements
Success in your sports or muscle building goals is often proportional to the quality and quantity of your workouts. This means doing one or two more reps when your body is already screaming “stop!”. How are you able to do this?
Well, perhaps the most important component is the power of your mind. Focus is key to success in virtually anything. The other equally important aspect is energy. The two go together. Without energy you can lose focus and without focus you can lose energy. How can you boost these two important aspects of your training? By taking pre-workout supplements.
5. Branched-Chain Amino Acids
We have previously held that most people do not need amino acid supplements, apart from glutamine (#3 above). However, we have reviewed this position some, because essential amino acids and especially branched-amino acids (BCAAs) are extremely important.
For the regular guy or gal who simply wants to “tone” or stay in shape, these may not be necessary. But for the athlete or fitness buff who wants to take his/her physique or performance to the next level, BCAAs should be in your repertoire.
6. Multivitamin and Minerals
For the human body to perform at its optimum or peak potential, it must be feed with a variety of nutrients. This includes the macronutrients (proteins, carbohydrates and fats) as well as micronutrients (vitamins and minerals).
Intensive training that bodybuilders put their bodies through can very quickly deplete the available nutrients. If your body is deficient in just one essential of vitamin or mineral, this could prevent you from reaching your growth potential.
Also, modern mass farming, pollution, transportation, and storage have compromised vitamins and minerals in our food. It is therefore essential that bodybuilders supplement their daily vitamin and mineral intake.
The easiest and quickest way (so you don’t have to pop multiple pills throughout the day) is to take a good, natural (without synthetic additives) multivitamin with minerals.
7. Post Workout Meal
Any experienced bodybuilder or trainer will tell you about the “post workout window of opportunity”. Previously, this meant the meal taken within the first hour after an intensive weight training session. This has been discounted as just a myth, and as long as you don’t wait to long after your workout (most expert say up to four hours) you should be okay. Still, many trainers will tell you that this is one of the most important meals, if not the most important meal for the bodybuilder. Why?
Because nutrients are drained from the body and muscle-wasting hormones are raging through the system. You therefore should replenish those nutrients and rehydrate your body as quickly as possible. How?
The quickest way is to “drink” the nutrients through a good post-workout shake.
8. Nitric Oxide Supplements
Nitric oxide supplements are now among the hottest bodybuilding supplements. Also known as arginine or l-arginine from the amino acid it is derived from, nitric oxide is said to increase blood flow as well as increase blood vessel diameter. This, it is believed, causes better muscle “pumps” during and after workouts.
9. Weight Gain Supplements
That one would desire to gain weight may seem odd in today’s world. But gaining weight is not always unhealthy. But the goal is to gain healthy weight in the right places. Also, some people (sometimes called hard gainers) actually find this extremely challenging, which might seem like a good thing but is really not. Weight gainer supplements can help both the hard gainer to put on some quality mass.
10. Prohormone Supplements
In 1998, baseball superstar Mark McGwire rocked the sports world and caused a storm when he admitted using a prohormone androstenedione, or andro for short. Not long afterwards, the world of prohormones would change, possibly for ever, with sports organizations and the FDA banning these supplements. Today, the only prohormone not yet banned by the FDA in the US is DHEA. Prohormones should be used with care and people in competitive sports should avoid them.
Update: Not long ago, a supplement considered to belong in the human growth hormone or prohormone category entered the the US market. It would soon become a hot item after a couple of sports celebrities were linked to it. That supplement is called deer antler spray, or IGF-1.
* None of the statements on this page have been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Please consult a healthcare professional before starting a new supplement especially if you are pregnant, nursing, have known health condition or on medications.