In today’s day and age it is next to impossible to go throughout an entire day and not see or hear about supplements that are supposed to help you build muscle. Whether you are a man or a woman, beginner or fitness enthusiast extraordinaire, seemingly everyone would like to put on at least a little more lean muscle, and why not? An increase in lean muscle has numerous benefits to one’s health, appearance, self esteem and overall quality of life.

Because we are constantly bombarded about the next greatest muscle building supplement ever, I am going to discuss a few supplements/areas that, regardless of your “newbie” or “veteran” status with building muscle, could be beneficial. There are 3 main categories that need to be addressed: Sleep, exercise and nutrition (supplementation).

Sleep: The Importance of Rest and Recovery in Muscle Building

Sleep gives muscles the time and impetus necessary for proper recovery. Human growth hormones and melatonin, both of which play a role in tissue recovery and immunity, are heavily synthesized during sleep. Human growth hormone stimulates growth, cell reproduction and regeneration. Its biggest spike is right after you fall asleep [1].

It is commonly believed that you get stronger while in the gym. This is simply not true. While working out, you cause microscopic tears in the muscle fibers, so you are actually breaking your muscles down. The most beneficial time for your muscles to repair and grow is when they don’t have to be responsible for anything else, hence while you are sleeping.

Exercise: Build Muscle Fast With Proper Exercise

One of the very best ways to build muscle mass is to do resistance training (that’s true for all you women out there too!). For instance, if your workouts only focus on aerobic exercise, you’re missing a key component of overall fitness, according to Gaining muscle mass offers plenty of benefits for everyone. Strength training increases lean muscle mass, which helps your body burn calories more efficiently and improves your quality of life [2].

“Proper” exercise is the key. If you are not lifting weights with the correct form, load, repetition and set count, along with the proper rest periods, you might have a hard time gaining the amount of muscle you would like to. Not to mention, you are most likely putting yourself in harm’s way and greatly increasing your chance of injury. While there are way too many theories on the best exercises for building muscle, and gimmicky products that make outrageous claims about building muscle, I highly recommend seeking the guidance of a certified fitness professional to design a program specifically tailored to your goals and your body. This is the best way to prevent improper training and get the best results.

Nutrition: 1,000,000 Muscle Building Supplements and Counting

Protein powders, creatine, weight gainers, testosterone boosters, tribulus terrestris, meal replacement shakes, L-Arginine, DHEA, Beta-Hydroxy-Beta-Methylbutyrate (HMB), pre-workout supplements, etc. Which one(s) should you use, are some better than others? The answer is, absolutely some are better than others, and those should be the ones you look at using first.

Listen, the simple truth is that your body is going to respond very best to a quality supplement along side of following a well balanced nutrition plan. This means that once you have your nutrition under control, it is time to find the best supplement(s) for you! That being said, not all supplements are created equal, but when you find the right one it can help you break through that plateau that is holding back your progress. Supplements should, however, be used to do what their name implies, and supplement your nutrition, and not be the building blocks of your nutrition.

Of the above mentioned muscle building supplements, protein powder, creatine and HMB are three that seem to perform well.

While it can sometimes be difficult to get the required amount of protein through whole food, especially if you are a vegetarian, a good quality protein powder can be a life saver. After all, protein is the building block for muscle. And yes, there is vegetarian, gluten free, and lactose free protein powders to suit everyone’s needs!

Aside from protein powders, in scientific studies: A 2003 review of studies on 250 nutritional supplements, published in the Journal of Applied Physiology, concluded that only two—creatine and HMB—had evidence to support their use as a lean muscle builder. In fact, lean gain with creatine and HMB was double that of a placebo, according to researchers [3].

What about Pre-Workout Supplements for Building Muscle?

It is also very popular to take a pre-workout supplement. The proposed benefits of these types of supplements range from increased focus, bigger pumps, more strength, more vascularity and delayed fatigue. All of that sounds pretty good, right? Of course it does, and it could all be yours when you find the best pre-workout supplement for you!

Here are six key ingredients you will want to look for in a quality pre-workout supplement that can give you more energy, blood flow, and enough strength to get a few more reps than you did before (critical to building muscle):

  • Creatine: Assists with force of muscular contraction.
  • Beta-Alanine: Boosts production of Carnosine, which helps equalize muscular acidity (removal of lactic acid) via removal of excess hydrogen ions.
  • Caffeine: Increase training drive, focus, and decreases fatigue.
  • Tyrosine: Increases release of catecholamines (epinephrine and norepinephrine).
  • Phenylalanine: Increase performance with resistance training and muscular output force.
  • Arginine: Vasodilator that increases the amount of blood flow to the working muscles [4].

Regardless of what supplement(s) you decide to include in your daily routine, make sure that you fully research the product before you start using it in order to find the best fit for you. There are possible side effects with just about every muscle building product out there, but the more informed you are about them, the safer and more effective the product should work for you. Work hard, eat right, supplement safely and good luck on your muscle building journey!






About The Author

Fitness and health is what I live for! I have been working professionally in the health and fitness industry for well over a decade and I am continually striving to learn as much as I can! My passion for the industry is beyond measure! I have a B.S. Degree in Health Promotion and Education and multiple national certifications including; Certified Personal Trainer, Corrective Exercise Specialist, Performance Enhancement Specialist, Certified Nutritionist and much more. I have experience working with individuals from general weight loss to rehabilitation to sports performance and everyone in between. I was a high school and collegiate athlete and played sports ranging from soccer to competitive bodybuilding. I continue to be as active in sports as I can be on a regular basis. Being outdoors as often as possible is a must for me. I have had many wonderful opportunities to work in different health clubs throughout Utah and I currently run my own personal training business (which is very exciting for me)! I am truly blessed to be able to have a hand in helping individuals create and implement positive changes in their lives each and every day!

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