When you’re trying to get jacked you want all the gainz now, right? Sure you do. Everyone does.
To do that, you need to focus on three basic things of muscle growth…
A caloric surplus on workout days.
Progressive overload in the gym.
But there’s also a fourth thing you can add to help pack on pounds of lean muscle; supplementation.
Anyone that has ever stepped foot into a supplement store will know there are waaaay too many options to choose from. You’re bombarded with misleading advertisements for weight gainers, testosterone boosters to weird herbs all promising to build lean muscle.
The sad state of things is that most of the supplements don’t do anything but waste your money.
Now you’re probably asking yourself “Why are weight gainers and testosterone boosters a waste of money? More testosterone and calories equal more muscle, right?”
Yes and no.
First, the weight gainers. Typical weight gainers pack a 1000 calories into one shake. Taking in that many calories on top of everything you eat is a recipe for gaining fat, not muscle. Being a natural lifter your body has a limit to how much muscle it can produce. This is limited by your body’s protein synthesis capabilities.
Even if you consume more protein, your body can’t produce more muscle than it’s capable. Now if you’re on anabolic steroids this goes out the window. Anabolic steroids increase your body’s protein synthesis which allows you to pack on muscle quickly. While that may sound awesome, the downsides of steroids are far too serious to ignore.
Long story short, more calories from weight gainers will not increase the amount of muscle you put on, it’ll only increase your waistline. To put on quality lean muscle all you need to do is eat 200-300 more calories than your maintenance level. That’s literally an extra protein shake and a banana a day.
Testosterone boosters, while they sound promising, are a complete waste of money. Technically they will increase your testosterone by 20-50% it’s not going to elevate it to levels that would make the muscle building process any easier or faster .
Increasing your testosterone levels and still being within the “Normal Range” is not going to do anything worth spending your money on. You’d be much better served spending your money on these three scientifically proven supplements that are worth every penny if you want to get jacked.
This might seem obvious, but there’s no denying the role protein plays in building lean muscle.
Aim for 1.8-2.0 g/kg of bodyweight daily. A lot of Bro-Scientist will tell you to eat more but studies show otherwise. A study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition found no differences in body composition, strength or resting hormonal concentrations in strength athletes consuming either 1.8g/kg or >2.0 g/kg over a 3 month period .
So for the 90 kg male, you would want to aim for 160 -180g a day. You can go for more but the results won’t come any faster. This comes back to the limit of muscle your body can produce.
While most of your protein should come from lean sources like chicken, turkey, beef, and fish; getting this much protein for some people can seem like a Herculean task. This is where protein powders come in. One scoop can add around 25g of protein to your diet easily and quickly.
Since there are a million different brands of protein powder you’ll want to look at the nutrition label and ingredients list. A good quality protein will have low cholesterol (<20mg) and have whey isolate as one of the first ingredients.
The 3 most popular protein poweders on the market our:
Whey Protein - Which is ideal for a post workout shake due to it's fast absorbing nature
Casein Protein - This is the slower absorbing protein powder, making it ideal for just before bed, or in between meals.
Plant Based Protein - Whey and Casein protein powder is derived from milk, therefore not suitable for Vegans. Plant Based Protein powder is the alternative. The rise in Veganism over the recent years has meant supplement companies have invested money into improving these shakes, and they're now available in serveral different amazing flavours.
Creatine is one of the most intensely studied supplements out there. But how many people know what it actually does? Well, besides retain water.
Creatine is not a steroid. It's not even a hormone. It doesn't make you gain muscle either.
What it does is give you a bigger gas tank.
Let me explain.
Your muscle uses Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP) to contract the muscle during exercise. After ATP is used it turns to Adenosine Diphosphate (ADP). ADP is all but useless until it gets converted back to ATP.
The turnover from ADP to ATP is the limiting factor in how many reps you can do. When ATP gets low your muscles don’t have the “gas” to lift the weight anymore.
Creatine floods the muscle with the raw material needed to turn ADP to ATP. Hence the bigger gas tank and more reps you can do.
Some people swear by a loading phase where they take double the dose (10g) for a week or so. This is a waste of money. Even though creatine isn't expensive, what you don't retain you'll just pee it out.
The better way is to take the recommended dose of 5g of creatine monohydrate a day. You'll retain more that way and you won't have to chew it on the way down. Some people like to take it with grape juice to use the insulin spike which pulls the creatine directly into the muscle. Honestly, there is no reason you need to. You could just take it with your post workout shake or with water at any time of the day.
One of the only downsides of creatine monohydrate is its lack of being easily dissolvable in liquid. If this bothers you, opt for micronized creatine monohydrate. This version packs all the benefits of regular monohydrate and the added bonus of being easily dissolvable.
Another benefit of creatine is that it's not only useful for building muscle, but it can also provide benefits during a fat loss campaign. After all, it's just an energy source that allows us to work out harder for longer.
If you’re in the market for a cheap workout booster, look no further than caffeine. While most people use it to start their day, caffeine also has benefits to the muscle building process.
In the gym, strength trumps all. If you’re strong you can lift heavier weights which puts more stress on the muscle and this results in bigger muscles.
Caffeine has been shown to improve the strength of trained athletes when lifting weights . A study done on highly trained male athletes with 5mg/kg of caffeine showed a significant increase in performance for the chest press .
Elevated levels of caffeine can appear in the bloodstream within 15-45 min of consumption, and peak concentrations are evident one-hour post-ingestion . So if you’re looking to get the most out of your caffeine, down a cup of coffee or your pre-workout about an hour before you hit the gym.
Performances benefits for caffeine were no longer apparent after 4 weeks of supplementation . If you like your energy drinks or drink coffee like water, you’ll want to cycle off every month or so. Taking a week off will help increase the effects once you start drinking black gold...I mean coffee again.
Combining these three proven supplements with a workout program aimed at strength and progressive overload will lead you packing on pounds of lean muscle without the extra layer of belly fat.
As always, if you have any questions drop them down in the comments section and we'll get back to you as soon as we can - Happy muscle building!
 Storer, T. W., Magliano, L., Woodhouse, L., Lee, M. L., Dzekov, C., Dzekov, J., Casaburi, R., & Bhasin, S. (2003). Testosterone dose-dependently increases maximal voluntary strength and leg power, but does not affect fatigability or specific tension. The Journal of clinical endocrinology and metabolism, 88(4), 1478–1485. https://doi.org/10.1210/jc.2002-021231
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Dave is an Online fitness coach specialising in fat loss, muscle gain and body transformations. Dave has helped many people develop an understanding of fitness and has helped transform many lives. He is also a top writer on "Quora" with over 2 million answer views. To transform your physique now visit him over at aesthetic-physiques.com.