When entering the world of supplements, it can get incredibly confusing on what to buy and why to buy, especially if you are bodybuilding for muscle mass. Before purchasing any supplements, it can be good to learn a bit about them, what they contain and how they can help you boost muscle growth and develop a built body. There are 4 main supplements on the market and they all help you gain muscle in different ways. These 4 supplements include: protein powder, creatine, glutamine and beta-alanine. Of course there are also many other supplements such as testosterone boosts, nitric oxide and multivitamins that all contribute to muscle gain.
How Do Supplements Help You Develop Muscle Mass?
Before you understand how muscle building supplements work, you have to understand how muscles are built and was contributes to muscle growth. Muscles are developed through constant tension and damage that results from heavy lifting. When you workout, you make microscopic tears in the muscle fibers that then require repair, and little cells called satellite cells activate and repair the damaged fibers by adding addition nuclei to the already present muscle cells. This process is known as protein synthesis and results in the muscle growing in size and thickness. This is the reason why protein is important in any diet for muscle growth, and why bodybuilders need a substantial amount in order to maintain healthy muscles.
Supplements work in two main of ways to promote muscle growth, either by:
- Allowing more weight to be placed on the muscle by boosting the muscles total force,
- Or by aiding the repair and recovery processes that are required for building muscle mass
The most well known and most common muscle growing supplement is protein. protein is the basic building block of life and is the main and most important component that you should include in your diet for muscle growth, especially if you are considering a bodybuilding career. Protein is used by muscles to repair and recover through the process known as protein synthesis (as mentioned above) and helps provide bodybuilders with significant muscle mass. With that in mind, it should also be noted that individuals who do not get enough protein in their bodies can suffer horrific muscle pain and can even experience muscle atrophy (decay). Getting protein into your diet is therefore important and you will not develop muscle mass without it.
Protein supplements are excellent and are recommended by many professionals if you are struggling to get your daily intake of protein. They come in many shapes and sizes and there are loads of different types including whey (the most common), soy, egg and even vegan protein which utilities the proteins from plants in order to stimulate muscle growth. The recommended amount is 1 gram of protein for every pound of body weight, and it is important not to go overboard as you risk giving yourself other issues such as kidney damage.
Protein powder/bars should be consumed 20-60 minutes after a workout for maximum absorption, and you should always read the ingredients before purchasing, as some powders have a whole host of whacky ingredients that will hinder your potential for muscle development.
Creatine is one of the most popular supplements for building muscle mass and is present in a load of food, including meats, fish and (obviously) creatine supplements. Creatine is an amino acid that is made in the human body via the liver and is stored in muscles where it is only released during high-intensity movement, like bodybuilding. Because of this purpose, creatine makes a great supplement for building muscle mass as it provides the muscles with an addition boost. Creatine requires intense work and shouldn’t be taken unless you are bodybuilding or training professionally, as you may receive no benefits. Furthermore, it has been also noted that creatine is best absorbed when taken with carbohydrates, so remember to take creatine with a snack, like fruit.
Glutamine is a common supplement taken by many bodybuilders and has been shown to help stimulate muscle growth. Glutamine helps slow down the muscle-fiber breakdown that happens during a period of intense activity, like weight lighting, and therefore can improve your overall strength and endurance when training for muscle mass. As you will be feeling less burn during the workout, you’ll be able to push your body further and grow muscle faster. Glutamine has been suggested to enable this as it regulates the glycogen levels in the body, which is accountable for energizing muscles and boosting performance when necessary.
In addition, various other benefits have been found when taking glutamine:
- It slows down the muscle tissue breakdown which helps stimulate the burning of fat, rather than lean muscle, helping you develop and keep more of your muscle mass during workouts
- It has been found to have positive effects in the immune system, insuring a rapid recovery as less work is required from the immune system in order to repair the damaged muscle
- It can increase and enhance the growth hormone associated with muscle growth, and only 2 grams of the supplement is needed for it to have this effect
Beta-alanine (BA) is a naturally occurring amino acid that is absorbed into the body by a range of food that are high in protein. BA enhances performance when bodybuilding by increasing the intramuscular levels of carnosine, and BA supplementation can increase carnosine levels by 60%. This is very impressive and is an excellent way to increase muscle mass and promote muscle growth. When we workout and body build, our bodies become more acidic and as a result we produce lactic acid, which I’m sure you’ve heard of. This can cause immense pain in muscles, ruin muscle performance and can even lead to muscle failure, making muscle gains incredibly difficult. However, with the application of BA, bodybuilders are able to defer the acidification that occurs during intense workouts and can therefore maintain high muscle performance.
Bodybuilding supplements are incredibly useful and are an excellent way to boost performance in the gym. They act in various ways by either improving muscle strength or by improving the recovery and repair processes that follow after an intense workout, making them perfect for anyone trying to build muscle mass. There are a range of well-known and common supplements that are used by bodybuilders to help gain muscle, including protein powder, creatine, glutamine and BA, all of which have different but beneficial effects. Hopefully this article has shown you that supplements are not bad for the body and can benefit muscle growth in many ways, shapes and forms.