Types of Supplements for Bodybuilding
You have been hitting the gym, lifting heavy. You are determined to see some major gains. You want look awesome on the beach and hit that big PR you have been aiming for. Although you are happy with your progress so far, you want more.
And you want it fast, right?
You already dialed in your nutrition with tons of added calories and lots of protein, but now you are looking for the best supplements to take your bodybuilding efforts to the next level.
Here are a few of my favorites for building muscle quickly and helping manage some of the aches and pains that come with lifting heavy.
Useful Supplements for Bodybuilders
For muscle building and improving body composition, whey consistently out performs any other type of protein powder available. Whey is one of the two proteins found in milk (the other is casein). When cheese is made, whey is the liquid left over. Whey is a complete protein containing all nine essential amino acids needed for health and muscle building. It is also easily and quickly absorbed, ensuring all the protein you take in is being used by your body as needed (1).
But, whey protein doesn’t just contain random amino acids, it is high in a specific amino acid called leucine that actively promotes muscle growth by stimulating the release of muscle building hormones (2). A comprehensive literature review of all the research on body composition and whey protein found that the addition of whey protein helps with overall weight loss, fat loss, and promotes an increase in lean body mass. The effects were particularly significant when whey protein was combined with resistance exercise (3). The bottom line is adding whey to your day can help you build muscle and get lean.
Caffeine has been extensively studied for its ability to boost performance for endurance training and high-intensity exercises. It is very beneficial for aerobic exercise, but since bodybuilding is anaerobic, the research results for caffeine are mixed.
A 2009 study evaluated caffeine use in collegiate football players during an anaerobic weight lifting activity. The athletes took a caffeine dose of 5 mg/kg of body weight or a placebo and completed three anaerobic exercises 60 minutes later. Perceived exertion, heart rate, and blood pressure were measured. Fifty nine percent of the participants who received caffeine saw improved performance in a bench press and a 40-yard dash. There was no difference in perceived exertion, heart rate, or blood pressure (5).
Another study took a look at the impact of caffeine on a one-rep max exercise. Twenty two participants took 6 mg/kg of caffeine or a placebo one hour before exercise. They then completed a one repetition max bench and leg press. There was no effect of caffeine on muscle strength or endurance when compared to the placebo. The perceived effort was also the same for both groups. Based on this study, researchers concluded that caffeine does not increase strength or endurance for weight training (6). Meanwhile, another study showed the exact opposite result with weight training and caffeine. The caffeine group was stronger than the placebo group (7).
Branch-Chain Amino Acids
Amino acids are the building blocks of protein and therefore the building blocks of muscle. There are three specific amino acids, referred to as the branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) that are particularly beneficial for weight lifting and muscle building. These BCAAs are leucine, isoleucine, and valine. When taken during or after a workout they have been shown to increase muscle synthesis, reduce soreness, and improve endurance (10).
A 2010 study examined the impact of BCAA supplementation on muscle soreness after a squat workout in 12 female participants. The participants drank 100 mg/kg of body weight of BCAA or a dextrin solution before completing seven sets of 20 squats each. The muscle soreness peaked on days two and three, but the level of soreness was significantly less in the BCAA group. The BCAA group also maintained leg strength, when compared to the placebo group. Researchers concluded that BCAA may help mitigate some muscle damage and soreness that occurs after strength training exercises