Written by Tim Rigby
In competitive bodybuilding, there is an annual “bulking up” phase, where the focus is strictly on adding size through appropriate training protocols and consuming strategic supplements. Things like definition and shape take a back seat for now, as they usually are a stronger consideration in the later stages of winter. For now, making the most out of your hard work in the gym involves capitalizing on muscle-building supplements like the various forms of protein, along with glutamine, branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) and the relatively new yet old faithful known as beta-hydroxy beta-methylbutyrate (HMB). Ideally, an individual who trains with sufficient intensity to build muscle will reap the synergistic benefits of all four in combination; nonetheless, each work very effectively unto themselves as well. Let’s look at each of these four muscle-builders in detail:
This macronutrient is the essence of who we are, and if we add more muscle and increase our size, then our level of protein requirements logically increases. You can consume protein in a full gamut of types including whey isolate, whey concentrate, egg, milk, soy, collagen and vegan. Each of these has a biological value (BV) which refers to the efficiency with which the amino acids from the protein are assimilated into your bloodstream. The base BV of 100 is represented by egg protein, and the highest BV of 153 is represented by whey isolate. These days, protein conveniently comes in many forms such as supplemental powder, ready-to-drink (RTD) boxes, bars, cookies and other snacks.
Standard Dosage: 30 to 40 grams per serving
The most abundant amino acid in the human body has a significant role in building muscle. Glutamine was originally consumed only post-workout as a means to promote muscle growth, but more recent scientific literature has demonstrated its use pre-workout in order to stave off muscle catabolism (i.e. breakdown) from intense training. This is because glutamine is constituted with 19 percent nitrogen and is the primary transporter of nitrogen to your muscle cells. Glutamine is in fact in such abundance in your body that 61 percent of your skeletal muscle is comprised of it. Glutamine is especially useful during the bulking phase of your fitness regimen as an adjunct to protein.
Standard Dosage: 5 grams per serving, twice daily
What’s so special about branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs)? They happen to be the first amino acids that get absorbed after training, kick-starting your muscles on the path to growth. They’re a trio of powerful aminos which go by the names of leucine, isoleucine and valine. Leucine is particularly powerful as it’s the “ignition key to anabolism” and should be consumed almost as soon as you complete your training. By consuming all three BCAAs after intense exercise, you actually put yourself in a position where you can enhance protein synthesis by up to 30 percent. The ideal ratio is two parts leucine to one-part isoleucine and one-part valine. Stop wondering if they work – they do – and take your BCAAs today!
Standard Dosage: 5 grams per serving at a 2:1:1 ratio
Here at Fitdeals.ca, we love it when a supplement quietly just does its job at being highly effective for muscle building (and in the case of HMB, strength gain as well). While HMB (a metabolite of leucine, by the way) doesn’t share the same limelight as protein, glutamine and BCAAs, it’s a potent supplement you should take if you’re serious about mass building. From the time it was developed for mass consumption some 25 years ago, it has done nothing but pass every test and succeed in building muscle. Be patient with HMB since its muscle building properties don’t happen overnight – but rest assured that as the weeks and months go by, you’ll be thrilled with the results it delivers.
Standard Dosage: 1 gram, three times daily