When people think about bodybuilding supplements, their minds quickly shift to focusing on just protein supplements, such as protein powder and protein bars, however there is more to consider here and you should factor in supplements to be utilized at varying points of the day, not just post-workout supplements.
Bodybuilding is executing consistent lifestyle choices each day, week and year – at a daily level, factors that need to be considered are both workout focused supplementation and recovery supplementation. The workout focused nutrition must address maximizing each training sessions, by being able to lift maximal loads and being sufficiently fueled to complete the workout.
The other crucial period within the day is the recovery phase and ensuring the muscles recover as quickly as possible. Fast muscle recovery is key for the body to develop and allows you to train the muscle at maximal intensity as soon as possible. This is important, as many would argue the key for fast muscle growth is training frequency, combined with training intensity.
When it comes to preparation for the workout, it’s important to ready the muscles to lift heavy weights as this will stimulate and breakdown more muscle fibers, which leads to hypertrophy (muscle growth). In order to increase strength levels in your workout you need to stimulate the body’s central nervous system, which in turn up-regulates the body’s motor neurons. A great way to do this is by increasing your adrenaline levels. Caffeine is a great way to do this and ultimately increase strength levels. A meta-analysis was carried out on this in 2010, examining thirty four studies found caffeine to have a positive effect on muscular strength levels (1)
l’arginine benefits are extensive when it comes to workout supplementation. Getting blood to the muscle is key for expanding the fascia of the muscle so it is able to facilitate growth. L’arginine supplementation enhances this effect within your workout when you train by acting as a vasodilator, which expands the blood vessels allowing more blood to reach the muscle causing the fascia to expand. Vitamin B3 –or niacin – works in a similar way, however be warned not to take too much niacin too soon as this can lead to a ‘niacin flush’: severe flushing of the skin across the body.
Whey Protein concentrate
Whey protein concentrate is not heat treated and micro-filtered, meaning that the protein is not harmed during the purification process meaning the quality and purpose of nutrients being digested are optimized. The benefits of whey protein post-workout and as a means of muscle recovery aid lie in its ability to act rapidly on the body and the muscles. Furthermore if accompanied with a high-glycaemic sugar the digestion and absorption process will be even quicker, for this purpose I will often use maltodextrin powder.
Creatine is found naturally within the body, is made up of amino acids, glycine and arginine, however additional supplementation of creatine can have a profound effect on the body’s ability to produce strength and power output for increased bouts of time. This is because it increases the re-synthesis rate of the body’s necessary energy supply; adenosine tri-phosphate (ATP), meaning more repetition can be performed before reaching muscular fatigue. This is great for athletes who require any degree of intense strength or power output, such as rugby players or weight lifters.
training leads to inflammation of the muscles and other tissue within the body, giving rise to free radicals, which can cause cellular damage. Antioxidants provide the necessary support to help with neutralizing this environment, detrimental to cellular health in excessive amounts.
Warren GL1, Park ND, Maresca RD, McKibans KI, Millard-Stafford ML. Effect of caffeine ingestion on muscular strength and endurance: a meta-analysis. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2010 Jul;42(7):1375-87.