Many fitness enthusiasts and every dedicated weight lifters wonder what it takes to have a more muscular looking physique. If you’ve hit the weights for years, but you’ve never really achieved the size, gains or muscularity that you envisioned then this article might have the answers to your problems. The purpose of this article is to focus on the supplement side of helping you achieve your goals. Supplements have their place in every lifter’s plan when used correctly. Unfortunately, many of us don’t use them correctly or buy the wrong items because of misleading advertising or a misleading store salesperson. Many of the largest companies are often the most misleading. This makes it difficult for the average consumer to make the right choices. These companies are effective at telling you what you want to hear so that you will buy their products regardless of the product’s place in your program.
Let me start by telling you what many don’t want to hear. There is not a supplement on the planet that will get you bigger without the help of consistent training and a solid nutrition program. If you aren’t willing to put in the work and not willing to discipline yourself at the table, your goal is just a dream. If you are willing to commit to those things first, then I’ve got some answers to help you reach the next step. There are three supplements that are “must haves” in your arsenal to pack on some quality size.
HIGH PROTEIN/HIGH CALORIE SHAKES
I get asked in the stores at least a few times each week, “What can I do to get big and cut at the same time?” The fact is there is nothing that can really accomplish that goal. In order to pack on quality size we need to create a calorie surplus. In order to cut body fat we need to create a calorie deficit. Therein lies a problem. Since the focus of this article is on adding size, the first supplement that I highly recommend is a high calorie, high protein meal replacement powder. Most of these products are marketed as “weight gainers” or “mass gainer shakes”. A typical gainer has 4 scoops to a serving. Look for a product that has at least 45 grams of protein and at least 70 grams of carbohydrates per four-scoop serving. Preferably the protein sources would be a mix of whey, egg, and casein to sustain an “anabolic” state for a longer period of time. I recommend doing a half serving 1 to 2 times a day and another half serving immediately following your workout.
BRANCHED CHAIN AMINO ACIDS (BCAA’s)
A recent study at the College of Charleston showed the power of Branched Chain Amino Acids. BCAA’s are the three amino acids most responsible for rebuilding and repairing muscle tissue because they are metabolized in the muscle rather than the liver. The theory is that as protein is broken down into individual amino acids, BCAA’s are used for protein synthesis, assuming that the individual consuming the supplement has adequate nutrition. In the study, 36 strength-training males were given either 14 grams of BCAA’s, 28 grams of whey protein, or 28 grams of carbohydrates. After 8 weeks, the group that supplemented with BCAA’s during their workouts gained twice as much lean mass as the whey protein group and nearly three times as much lean mass as the carbohydrate only group. Interestingly, the BCAA group also lost nearly double the body fat as the whey protein group. I suggest doing a minimum of 10 grams during your workout. If you want to accelerate gains, add them to water and drink on them all day in addition to during your workout.
Creatine continues to be one of the best selling products in the industry after all these years. It’s not an accident. Creatine increases ATP production and leads to more muscular energy. It is also a cell volumizer and more hydrated muscles will recover and grow faster. The knocks on creatine are two-fold. First, many think that as soon as you come off of creatine you lose everything. While there’s truth to the fact that you may lose the “pumped“ feeling and some of the muscle fullness, you will not lose all of it. Think of it as a two-step forward and one step back process. The other knock is a conversion to a byproduct called creatinine. This byproduct is harder for the kidneys to process and has been used as an anti-creatine call for years by some. There are three ways to get around this problem. The first is to increase your water intake while on creatine and only stay on creatine for only two months at a time. The other way around it is to buy a patented form of creatine known as Kre-Alkalyn. Kre-Alkalyn is a buffered form of creatine that does not convert to creatinine.
The most important thing to remember regardless of your goal is that hard work and consistency will outweigh anything else that you do. Consistency doesn’t apply only to the time you are at the gym. If you are not consistent with your nutrition and supplementation then you will never reach your full potential. As the proverb in the Bible says, “The soul of a lazy man desires, and has nothing. But the soul of the diligent shall be made rich.”