Supplements for Muscle Growth: What To Take And When
You squat, you bench, you curl your way to a better body each and every day you set foot in the gym. Your goals are set, you drive up more weight for more reps. You are a disciplined hard worker who accepts nothing less than the best from your workouts and nutrition strategies. Sets and reps are counted and documented as well as grams of protein and carbs. Unfortunately you sometimes find that your gains have slowed or stopped or perhaps even regressed! You need that extra boost. You need a good supplement strategy to get you on the road to gains once again. But how much and when do you take them?
This guide will lay the foundation for a solid supplement program; one that is detailed and tactfully assembled for maximum benefit. It will be perfectly timed for the greatest results and even spelled out for the beginner to the advanced bodybuilder. So if it is mass that you seek, grow on this!
First let us list and describe the supplements used in this schedule. A thorough explanation is a must regarding timing and dosages. As with all workout and supplement programs, please consult your doctor before beginning.
As the “Big Man on Campus” of supplements whey is a staple of any supplement program. Easily digested, portable and effective, whey is a must for anyone seeking gains in lean muscle mass. It will serve as a foundation to this supplement program.
Protein powders in general are great for when you have no time to fix a meal or need extra protein without downing another chicken breast or steak. Whey is a convenient way to feed the muscle and boost gains especially when you need it most.
Whey Protein Timing:
Regarding timing and dose whey is most effective when taken as follows (note: most dosages in this article will be for a bodybuilder weighing around 200 pounds):
- 20 grams upon waking in the morning: Your body has fasted for up to eight hours or more, so it is imperative that you down a shake first thing when you wake up. This will shut down the catabolic state you may be in and get you on that road to growth once again. Now, you want the protein to get in rather quickly so no complex carbs or fats, just protein, some simple carbs and a few other things (which we will get to in a moment). Your body will thank you for the surge of amino acids!
- 20 grams pre-workout: It is time to get the levels of aminos in the bloodstream up once again. Taking whey prior to your workout will ensure that your muscles will have a steady stream of protein during your workout so that it can actually begin the rebuilding process early.
- 40 grams post-workout: This is prime time to get a quickly digested protein in the body along with about twice the simple carbs (80 grams). No later than 30 minutes after a workout down this cocktail along with a few other ingredients to boost insulin levels which will stimulate protein synthesis by driving glucose and amino acids into the muscle.
Another well known and effective supplement is creatine. As it gets converted into creatine phosphate in the muscles, which produces energy for contractions during training, supplementing with creatine can ensure that levels of it are topped off. Plus, creatine will force more water into the muscle cells creating an anabolic environment increasing protein synthesis. For strength and size it can’t be beat!
- 3-5 grams pre-workout: Taken with a moderate amount of complex carbs and 20 grams of whey protein taking creatine at this time will guarantee your levels are filled up.
- 3-5 grams post-workout: Within 30 minutes after training combine creatine with 40grams of whey protein and 80 grams of simple carbs to get a potent growth producing shake. After training your muscles are screaming for nutrients so why not give it to them? The insulin response from the simple carbs will also shuttle that creatine right into the muscle.
Another convenient protein source, casein protein is slow digesting so it will be digested and released into the bloodstream at a steady rate feeding the muscles over a longer period of time. Whereas whey is used for rapid absorption, casein is used when you need protein to “stick around” a little longer, maybe between meals or for when you know you will not get in another meal for awhile.
Casein Protein Timing:
- 20 grams post-workout: Take in 20 grams of casein along with your other post-workout supplements. Whey is used to get instant nourishment to the muscles while casein is taken for when the whey is digested and the muscles still need aminos for recovery. This will also help you stay satiated until you eat your post-workout whole meal.
- 20 grams in the middle of the night: Since it is slow digesting, you can also benefit drinking a shake in the middle of your sleep to ensure your body is getting the protein it needs. During sleep the body is basically fasting and this may cause your body to dip into a catabolic state. Ingesting a shake at around three or four hours after going to bed will guarantee your quest for mass is still on track. Now, you may have to set your alarm, but hey, it is all for a good cause.
Glutamine is considered a long-term commitment. Though not as noticeably effective as creatine, glutamine has many unseen benefits. As one of the most plentiful amino acids in the body, glutamine assists in recovery by helping muscle cells take up glycogen after a workout, boosting growth-hormone levels and maintaining immune function so you can stay healthy. It can also help delay fatigue during a workout so you can turn up the intensity for a longer period of time. The digestive system requires so much glutamine to function that it will take it from muscle tissue so supplementing is a no brainer.
- 7-10 grams upon waking in the morning: This will be taken with your small whey shake mentioned above. Again, this will be absorbed quickly to help get your body out of a catabolic state it may have slipped into overnight.
- 7-10 grams pre-workout: This will help you workout longer and keep up your intensity.
- 7-10 grams post-workout: Again, taking glutamine after a workout will help with glycogen uptake to quickly start the recovery process and get you in that anabolic state.
- 7-10 grams 30 to 60 minutes before sleep: This is another great opportunity to protect your hard earned muscle right before you go to bed. This taken with the small casein shake will help fend off the nightmare of catabolism.
Branched Chains Amino Acids (BCAAs)
BCAAs leucine, isoleucine and valine are used for fuel during intense workouts thus preventing your body from scavenging hard-earned muscle for energy. At other times of day BCAAs help stimulate protein synthesis and ward off cortisol, the catabolic hormone.
- 5-10 grams upon waking in the morning: BCAAs first thing in the morning is just another weapon in your arsenal to ward off the catabolic effects of fasting most of the night. Your body can readily utilize BCAAs as fuel while whey and glutamine quickly get to muscle tissue.
- 5-10 grams pre-workout: Again, taking BCAAs before a workout can fuel the body with energy so you can spare muscle tissue and it will also keep you in an anabolic state for growth.
- 5-10 grams post-workout: This will enhance protein synthesis and depress the catabolic hormone cortisol which can enhance muscle breakdown and limit testosterone’s effect on muscle growth.
Readily converted to Nitric Oxide (NO) in the body arginine is a powerful supplement with a host of benefits. It allows more blood flow to muscle by dilating vessels to allow more nutrients in such as amino acids and glucose as well as hormones like growth hormone, testosterone and insulinlike growth factor-1 (IGF-1). Also, having a greater water delivery into the muscle cells means an increase in protein synthesis, which, in turn, spells more muscle growth.
- 2-3 grams upon waking in the morning: At this time arginine will dilate blood vessels to shuttle in the nutrients of other supplements.
- 2-3 grams pre-workout: This will enhance the natural increase of growth hormone before a workout.
- 2-3 grams 30-60 minutes before sleep: This is another time to take advantage of the burst of growth hormone as arginine will only enhance this effect.
As a proven hormone booster Tribulus Terrestris can increase testosterone from cholesterol in the testicles. It also has the ability to enhance the firing of nerves in muscle for increased strength during workouts. If you need that extra boost in power before a workout Tribulus delivers.
Tribulus Terrestris Timing:
- 250-500 mg pre-workout: Get that extra surge of testosterone before heading to the gym.
ZMA (the combination of zinc magnesium plus vitamin B6) has been shown to increase IGF-1 and testosterone levels. Zinc has very powerful recovery benefits and magnesium will actually calm the nervous system down so the body has an easier time resting. The better you sleep the more opportunity your body has to grow.
- 30-60 minutes before sleep: 30 mg of zinc, 450 mg of magnesium, and 11 mg of B6.
Antioxidants have the ability to rid the body of free radicals which are produced from periods of severe stress such as from an intense workout. It is wise to supplement with vitamins C and E to combat this damage and keep your body in an anabolic state.
- 500 mg of vitamin C at your post-workout whole meal: Vitamin C will help with joint health and immune function.
- 200-400 IU of vitamin E at your post-workout whole meal: Vitamin E has the ability to reduce muscle cell damage and helps with recovery. This antioxidant is also important for skin, nail and hair health.
Supplement Schedule For Muscle Growth
So there you have it. All of your supplement questions answered from timing to dosages, now you can get on the road to growth. This may seem like a lot to “digest” right now, but if you are new to supplements start by taking some whey protein at the specified times of day and then experiment with the others to see what will work for you. Everyone is different so some supplements may be a better choice for you than others.
Just make sure you are eating a bodybuilding friendly whole food diet because without it supplements will not save the day. Eat plenty of complex carbs such as potatoes, wheat pasta, rice, wheat bread, and oatmeal along with lean proteins such as lean beef, turkey, chicken, eggs and fish. In no time you will be on your way to a bigger self.