You are on page 1of 5

Top Ten Supplements For Building Muscle

Page 1 of 5

Training Articles
Top Ten Supplements For Building Muscle
by Poliquin Group Editorial Staff
7/17/2013 2:47:47 PM

Get superior muscle and strength gains with smart, practical supplementation. There are certain nutrients that
can make an incredible difference in resultswhey protein, leucine, creatineand others that are well worth the
effort if you want an extra edge over your competition.
Before we get to the master list, its helpful to remember the behaviors that should be in place before starting to
supplement:

A whole foods nutrition plan with attention to macronutrient proportions is paramount.

A periodized training plan based on short- and long-term goals is critical.

http://www.poliquingroup.com/ArticlesMultimedia/Articles/PrinterFriendly.aspx?ID=1030...

6/8/2015

Top Ten Supplements For Building Muscle

Page 2 of 5

Training with the traditional multi-joint exercises lifted over a full-range will yield best results (full squats,
deadlifts, chin-ups, pull-ups, strongman, sprints).
Youve covered the basics of supplementation, ensuring your vitamin D, zinc, magnesium, and multivitamin
issues are taken care of.
#1: BCAAs & Leucine
Theres been a lot of hype about leucine lately, and for good reason since it can increase protein synthesis by as
much as 145 percent when you take it after strength training. And although leucine is the branched-chain amino
acid responsible for activating, mTOR, the primary muscle building pathway in the body, supplementing with
leucine alone is NOT the best plan.
Its better to take leucine-enhanced BCAAsthat is, BCAAs with leucine in a ratio of about 4 to 1 with valine and
isoleucinebecause this formula has been shown to be most effective for muscle building. When leucine intake
is out of balance with that of the other BCAAs, it can lead to an imbalance in the blood amino acid levels,
reducing the anabolic response.
The benefits of leucine-enriched BCAAs include less muscle damage, less pain from training, greater time to
exhaustion on all-out exercise tests, and greater muscle growth. Leucine-enriched BCAAs are especially
valuable for older trainees who have a harder time activating mTOR to build muscle.
Supplementation Tip: Load with extra BCAAs and taurine post-workout to further reduce soreness and
inflammation from particularly damaging workouts.
#2: Creatine
Creatine is the most researched performance enhancement aid available. Its your primary fuel for explosive,
high-intensity exercise, and supplementing with it has been shown to double muscle gains (one review found an
extra 2 to 4 lbs of muscle mass gained during 4 to 12 weeks of training in athletes).
Creatine also boosts strength development, enhances sprint and power performance, and leads to fat loss. A
recent analysis suggested that the long relied on loading dose of 20 grams of creatine for a week is subpar.
Optimal creatine stores can be achieved by taking 0.15 grams of creatine per pound of body weight. Then, a
maintenance dose of 5 grams of creatine a day can be used, however, you may want to load more frequently
than once every 4 weeks, especially if your training intensity and volume is high.
Supplementation Tip: Creatine is best loaded into the muscle if insulin is present, so take it with carbs or a
supplement that will stimulate insulin, such as fenugreek or alpha lipoic acid.
#3: Beta Alanine
Beta alanine is stored in the fast-twitch muscle fibers as carnosine, and this helps the muscle contract with more
force and prolongs peak performance. Another reason it enhances performance is that carnosine helps stabilize
muscle pH during exercise by eliminating excess hydrogen ions that make your muscles burn and ultimately
fatigue.
Athletes and fighters can benefit from beta alanine as it prolongs high-intensity performance. A review of the best
supplements for combat sport competitors suggest beta alanine will help fighters who experience more than 60
high-intensity bursts involving striking and grappling during a 5-round fight.

http://www.poliquingroup.com/ArticlesMultimedia/Articles/PrinterFriendly.aspx?ID=1030...

6/8/2015

Top Ten Supplements For Building Muscle

Page 3 of 5

Enhanced maximal work capacity for a fighter is critical as one goes from performing strikes and grappling in the
standing position, to a maximal effort takedown, and finally to an active recover by stabilizing in the top position
on a fighter who is trapped underneath.
Supplementation Tip: Try a high-low dosing format of 4 to 6 g/day for 4 weeks, followed by 1.5 to 3 g/day for 4
weeks. Beta alanine goes well with creatine since they can both be dosed together.
#4: Carnitine
Carnitine has been relied as a nutrient that can help decrease body fat for years, even though most studies have
supported peripheral mechanisms to improving body composition.
For example, we know that taking carnitine can increase blood flow, leading to greater muscle recovery and
growth since more nutrients and hormones are getting to the muscles. Its been found to raise testosterone and
IGF-1 as well.
Recent research shows carnitine supplementation can also halt muscle loss that comes from inactivity, and a
2011 study showed that taking 2 grams of carnitine a day for 6 months increased work capacity by 35 percent in
athletes.
Trainees experienced a 44 percent lower buildup of muscle lactate and 55 percent less use of glycogen stores,
indicating that they were burning fat during intense exercise rather than glycogena highly favorable outcome
for enhanced performance.
Supplementation Tip: Carnitine also needs to load, meaning it should be taken with a nutrient that spikes
insulinomega-3 fats have workedor with carbs. In the 2011 study, participants took it with 80 grams of carbs
in doses daily.
#5: Caffeine
Caffeine is a superior supplement for enhancing performance to help you get massive. Theres evidence it may
raise testosterone, and it boosts focus and motivation, making it especially effective at raising physical capacity
when tired.
For example, when college athletes were sleep-deprived and took caffeine pre-workout, they self-selected
heavier loads and lifted more reps during a workout than when they trained tired with a placebo.
Caffeine can also help you recover faster, so its perfect if youre doing two-a-day training to make fast gains.
One study found that after doing a glycogen-depleting exercise trial to exhaustion, trainees who took carbs with 8
mg/kg/bw of caffeine post-workout and then did a second sprint interval test 4 hours later performed much better
than a group that drank only carbs. The caffeine-carb group went for 48 minutes, the carb-only group went for 32
minutes, and a placebo group went for only 19 minutes.
Supplementation Tip: For performance-enhancing results, be precise about how much caffeine you take. As
little as 3 mg/kg/bw has been shown to enhance power output on a bench press test (1 mg/kg/bwabout the
amount in one energy drink or one cup of coffee for a 176 pounderhad no positive effect).
The 8 mg/kg/bw dose used in the above study is enormous and will undoubtedly get you ready to tear it up in the
gym or on the track.
#6: Whey Protein
Getting adequate protein is critical for recoveryone study found that athletes who took whey protein were able

http://www.poliquingroup.com/ArticlesMultimedia/Articles/PrinterFriendly.aspx?ID=1030...

6/8/2015

Top Ten Supplements For Building Muscle

Page 4 of 5

to produce more force during the second workout after a muscle-damaging morning workoutand it can
maximize muscle gains from training.
For instance, in a study that compared having experienced athletes take either 3 g/kg/bw/day of whey protein or
soy protein found that the whey group gained 2.5 kg of muscle compared to the soy group that only gained 1.7
kg of muscle.
Whey outperforms all other protein sources because it is fast-digesting, meaning it will counter protein
degradationthis is why athletes were able to better maintain performance during two-a-days with whey. Whey
contains a high concentration of leucine, and closely mimics human milk, which in the early stage of lactation is
about 90 percent whey, making it less allergenic than whole cows milk or casein protein.
Supplementation Tip: Emerging research supports a protein change theory that found that when initial protein
intake is below 1.5 g/kg/d, the most strength and muscle is gained when participants increase protein by more
than 50 percent over what they previously consumed.
Try periodizing your protein, taking as much as 3 g/kg/d to coincide with hypertrophy training cycles. Then, opt
for leucine-enhanced amino acids during strength or power cycles to provide variety and support continued
adaptation.
#7: Carbohydrates
Few studies have compared the benefits of different carb-to-protein ratios in strength athletes, so its unclear to
what degree carb supplementation influences muscle development. The few things we do know are as follows:
Carbs are not imperativea recent study showed strength-trained males working out in a glycogen-depleted
state didnt compromise protein synthesis during moderately heavy training. In addition, limiting your postworkout supplement to whey protein can help you increase growth hormone and IGF-1 for greater fat loss. If
getting lean is your primary goal, avoid carb supplementation and rely on whole food carbs eaten post-workout.
If youre lean and insulin sensitive, theres no reason not to take carbs. A universal finding of studies surveyed
support a carb-to- protein ratio between 2:1 and 1:1, typically yielding significant muscle hypertrophy among fast
twitch fibers, and overall improvements in body composition.
In a recent study of bodybuilders, giving trainees a continual carb infusion during a workout resulted in greater
force output and increased time to exhaustion on isometric strength exercises over a placebo trial. Performance
was enhanced because the carbs provided a continuous glucose energy source to the muscle.
Supplementation Tip: Some people prefer fruit juice over a supplemental carb powder for post-workout carbs.
For a high-glycemic index juice when trying to pack on muscle, try pineapple or grape.
If youre goal is fat loss, opt for fibrous carbs that are antioxidant richthink green vegetables and purple, blue,
and red fruits such as berries.
#8: Fish Oil & CLA
Fish oil and CLA are both anabolic and will significantly enhance the outcome of your work in the gym. Both are
fatty acids: Fish oil is made up of the omega-3 fats EPA and DHA, while CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) comes
from whole-fat dairy and meat.

http://www.poliquingroup.com/ArticlesMultimedia/Articles/PrinterFriendly.aspx?ID=1030...

6/8/2015

Top Ten Supplements For Building Muscle

Page 5 of 5

In a study of middle-age adults, 4 grams of fish oil a day increased protein synthesis and the muscle building
pathway mTOR by 30 percent. This led to 2 percent gains in muscle masssmall, but relevant since no exercise
was done in this study.
CLA has shown greater muscle gains: A 7-week study of men who took CLA while training gained 1.4 kg muscle,
and lost a kilo of fat more than a placebo group. Researchers think CLA enhances the metabolism during sleep.
Supplementation Tip: Take fish oil post-workout to reduce muscle soreness and inflammation. Get dietary CLA
from pastured, organic dairy and beef. Grass-fed and wild animals have 2 to 3 times more CLA than grain-fed
animals.
#9: Citrulline
Citrulline is an amino acid that raises arginine and nitric oxide, enhancing blood flow and the delivery of nutrients
to muscle. Citrulline also enhances energy levels by removing waste products like lactic acid and ammonia,
meaning it can increase your high-intensity work output. In addition, by raising arginine levels, you can increase
growth hormone and IGF-1, both of which are instrumental in muscle building and tissue repair.
Supplementation Tip: Take citrulline pre-workout for enhanced blood flow and energy levelsyoull get a nice
muscle pump as well. Try it with caffeine and tyrosine to simulate the nervous system when sleep deprived.
#10: Glutamine
Glutamine is an amino acid that provides fuel for rapidly dividing cells, enhancing hypertrophy and boosting the
immune system. Intense training significantly depletes glutamine, and studies of elite athletes, especially
endurance athletes, show that they are more likely to get sick after an event due to reduced glutamine levels.
Practical reports show glutamine can enhance glycogen resynthesis, reduce soreness and inflammation postworkout, aid in injury recovery, and have a muscle building effect. Glutamine can also be used by the brain as an
energy source, making it useful when you are transitioning to a low-carb diet or trying to deal with cravings for
high-carb foods.
Supplementation Tip: Try dosing glutamine multiple times a day (8 x 10 grams has worked well for elite
athletes in mass gaining phases). Try 2 grams of powdered glutamine in water anytime you feel a craving
coming on.
Copyright 2015

http://www.poliquingroup.com/ArticlesMultimedia/Articles/PrinterFriendly.aspx?ID=1030...

6/8/2015