You see it all the time. People talking about supplements as if they are the single most important thing required when it comes to building muscle. Everyone wants to know what pre-workout the super shredded lifter uses, or what protein brand is used by the guy who can deadlift a small house. While supplements can not substitute things like discipline, hard work, healthy diet, and a general will to become more knowledgeable in the gym, they can help you grow muscle mass more effectively when those other things are also taking place on a regular basis.
First, we will cover a few different supplements that are great to take before working out. If you struggle to wake up early in the morning, or feel half asleep after a long day of work, it may benefit you to choose a pre-workout containing caffeine. Janet Rankin, PhD, professor in human nutrition, foods, and exercise at Virginia Tech, states that “studies have shown repeatedly that you can get improvements in performance, mainly in endurance-type exercise, with caffeine. You must be careful, however. While caffeine can help you have an increase in performance and reduced soreness, too much of it can cause dehydration and irritability. E.V. recommends staying at 300 mg or less per day, although 400 mg is still considered by many to be acceptable as a max. Next, while certain supplements work better for your own specific goals, citrulline (an amino acid) is a great choice for most. According to healthline.com, one of the effects of citrulline is increasing blood flow to body tissues. Upon conclusion of an experiment related to this supplement, it was noted that participants performed about 53% more repetitions after taking citrulline, compared to when they took a placebo instead. citrulline can also help combat muscle soreness in the days following your workout.
Next, we will cover a couple supplements that are great to take after your workout is complete. For the sake of it being so well known (yet so important) we will skip over protein. Today we will cover creatine monohydrate and glutamine. Creatine monohydrate is outstanding because it can be absorbed rapidly by the body. It helps create strength, power, and muscle size all in one. It is best taken post workout due to its ability to replenish ATP within muscle cells. Health Status informs that “ATP is the first form of energy to get used up as you go through each set”. Therefore, supplementing with creatine monohydrate helps restore those levels back to normal.
As far as glutamine is concerned, this supplement is excellent for increasing lean muscle mass and enhanced strength. glutamine, a non-essential amino acid, plays a strong role in protein synthesis. It is greatly reduced after a tough workout, so replacing it through supplementation can prove to be very beneficial to your fitness goals. With a higher glutamine level present in the body, the protein you ingest will be able to reach your muscles more effectively, which is the ultimate goal for increasing lean muscle mass. Many post-workout shakes contain glutamine, although it can also be taken in a single pill form.
At the end of the day, using the correct supplements with a consistent level of exercise throughout the week, can lead to increased progress. As mentioned previously, it is still very important to realize that spending hundreds of dollars on supplements is not a free pass to get around hours of hard work in the gym. If it was that simple, everybody would be walking around looking like Dwayne Johnson. Furthermore, although not always the case, many of the benefits that supplements provide can be received just by eating the correct healthy foods. Give one of these mentioned supplements a try, and see if you notice any positive changes!
Sources: healthstatus.com, healthline.com