How to Increase Muscle Mass With Supplements
30% of U.S. adults engage in muscle-strengthening activities such as weightlifting. There are many benefits of weightlifting. Not only will you strengthen your muscles but weightlifting comes with various health benefits, such as a decreased chance of getting type 2 diabetes.
But there’s one main reason why people lift weights — they love having a strong, toned, and muscular physique.
Have you been pursuing a strength training regimen and are still struggling to increase muscle mass? If so, it’s time to put less focus on what you’re lifting and turn your attention to what you’re putting in your body.
Here’s how to take supplements to get the results you want.
A Look at Nutrition and Strength Training
How does your diet help you gain muscle mass? Your diet must support your weight training regimen in these specific ways in order for you to see results:
- Build muscle
- Provide energy
- Maintain cell health
You get these benefits by consuming macronutrients, which include protein, carbohydrates, and fat.
While it’s true that strength trainers need to eat a significant amount of calories, you don’t want to gain unhealthy weight while you’re trying to get in better shape. That’s why the source of your diet also matters.
The best weight training diet consists of these categories:
- Protein — 600-800 calories/day. The best sources of protein include eggs, fish, whey protein, grass-fed meat, Greek yogurt, and nuts.
- Complex carbohydrates — 2,400 calories/day. Great examples of complex carbs include vegetables, beans, whole grains, brown rice, and oats.
- Healthy fats — 800-1,000 calories/day. Healthy fats include unsaturated fats, both polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. Great foods with high levels of healthy fats include nuts, oils, and fish.
Keep in mind, your diet may require variations from this recommended diet. Be sure to mention any specific health and lifestyle concerns to your doctor, dietician, nutritionist, or personal trainer.
Other Considerations That Generate Results
One of the myths of strength training is you only need to exercise and eat the right diet in order to see results. However, this often isn’t the case. That’s because there are a few other considerations to make in order to bulk up.
Here are a few examples.
Did you see results at first and notice that you hit a dead end? In order to continue bulking up, you need to give your muscles more resistance. This means you need to continually increase your weight load.
However, you shouldn’t make any sudden changes — increase your weight load gradually in order to increase muscle mass safely.
A bad habit that many weightlifters form is they lift frequently but don’t take enough breaks. Rest is essential for any strength training regimen. When your muscles properly recover from a workout, they will be better prepared to handle your next lifting session.
Avoiding rest time also comes with dangerous side effects. Since your muscles are fatigued, you open yourself up to injuries.
How often should you exercise and rest? Most lift for four days of the week and rest for three. However, some lifters only need to lift for only two days a week in order to maintain their health.
A common strength training technique is exercising specific muscle groups at a time. That’s because weightlifting is often not a full-body workout — you have to focus on exercising muscles individually in order to see results.
Even though the CDC recommends all adults engage in muscle strengthening activities, they also recommend adults also perform moderate to intense aerobic activity.
While the CDC only recommends you lift for two days of the week, they recommend you engage in aerobic activity for 150 minutes a week.
How do you squeeze this into a strength training regimen? Be sure to do aerobic activity before and/or after your lifting sessions. You can also devote specific days to cardio.
Why Take Supplements?
With the diet considerations out of the way, eating a great diet for strength training seems easy enough. So, why should you take supplements? There are a few reasons why supplements are recommended, on top of a healthy diet and exercise.
Ensure You Get Enough Nutrients
Face it, your diet is likely not perfect. You may plan on eating a healthy dinner — until your friends invite you to your favorite restaurant where you all chow down on wings and beer. Or, you don’t have time in the morning to make a bowl of oatmeal, so you settle for a sugary pastry instead.
Instead of getting down on yourself, take supplements. Even if your diet isn’t perfect, you still have enough nutrients to ensure you build muscle mass.
One of the drawbacks of eating for nutrients is you risk overeating. Even though most dieticians and trainers offer measurement and calorie requirements, it’s easy to cheat on your diet.
Taking supplements will ensure you keep your calories down while getting enough vitamins and minerals. This way, you can bulk up while slimming down.
Aids in Healing
As stated previously, strength training is more than exercising. Rest is one of the most important aspects of your weightlifting regimen. However, some people find it difficult to let their mind and body relax.
This is where supplements come in. Some supplements, such as CBD, may reduce anxiety, decrease pain, and improve sleep.
The Best Supplements for Weightlifting and Recovery
Now that you know the reasons to take supplements, it’s time to check out some supplement recommendations. Here are the best supplements to both increase muscle mass and aid recovery.
Studies have shown that protein contributes to building stronger and even bigger muscles. If you’re struggling to eat enough protein-rich foods, there are plenty of protein supplements available.
Popular options include casein, whey, and soy. Most weightlifters mix protein powder in their shakes and other beverages. You can also find supplements that contain the isolated protein from animal products.
Creatine another one of the most popular muscle supplements. It’s a molecule that produces energy for muscles. However, you can only get creatine from fish and red meat. Some weightlifters, such as vegans and vegetarians, will benefit from taking creatine supplements.
Beta-alanine is an amino acid that reduces fatigue. This will help you get the physical and mental energy needed to exercise more. Like creatine, beta-alanine is mainly found in meats such as fish and poultry. If you’re a vegetarian or vegan, you’ll likely need to take beta-alanine supplements.
Keep in mind, more research is needed on taking beta-alanine for muscles. But one study on cyclists found that beta-alanine supplements increased their total work performed by 13%.
Some weightlifters are struggling to not only gain muscle but also gain weight. If this is the case, there are weight gaining supplements available. These supplements contain protein and other calorie-inducing ingredients.
Keep in mind, the caloric content of these supplements vary. It’s important to talk to your doctor before taking weight gainers to ensure that they won’t interfere with your health.
In addition, it’s recommended you stay physically active while taking weight gainers. Taking weight gainers should be a last resort; in other words, you still can’t gain weight when eating a higher calorie diet and are lifting weights 2-4 days a week.
Beta-hydroxy beta-methylbutyrate (HMB) is a molecule that your body produces when you consume the amino acid leucine.
HMB is important because it’s responsible for the beneficial effects of protein. Daily HMB supplements have been shown to enhance protein synthesis, decrease muscle damage, and increase muscle mass.
Branched-Chain Amino Acids
Branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) contain three core amino acids: leucine, isoleucine, and valine. These assist with recovery, making muscles feel less sore after a workout. In addition, they protect muscles even after workout recovery.
BCAAs are found naturally in animal products such as meat, dairy, eggs, and fish. That’s why many strength trainers, such as vegetarians and vegans, will need to take BCAAs.
Cannabidiol (CBD) is a cannabinoid in the hemp plant. While more research needs to be done on the effectiveness of this compound, the research that has been done is positive. Frontiers in Neurology recently did a study and found that CBD can decrease inflammation in the body.
What weightlifters and trainers have also been saying about CBD is positive. For one, CBD doesn’t impact muscle gain and strength. Rather, it aids muscle recovery. Many say that CBD reduces the pain and inflammation they experience after a strenuous workout.
Another natural pain relief option is kratom. The kratom leaves are taken from the plant Mitragyna speciosa, which is native to Southeast Asia. Kratom works with your opiate receptors to reduce pain.
Kratom is often sold in powder form so you can put the kratom in teas or other beverages. There are also kratom capsules available.
Glutamine is an amino acid that also helps to increase the amino acid leucine in your system. This not only decreases muscle breakdown but also aids the immune system. In addition, when you take glutamine before a workout, it can increase growth hormone levels.
However, there’s debate about glutamine and weightlifting. There are few studies that claim it’s effective, but many strength trainers swear by this supplement. What experts suspect is your body uses glutamine as fuel, which will result in you having more energy when you lift weights.
Nitric Oxide Boosters
Nitric oxide (NO) is found naturally in your body and helps dilate your blood vessels, allowing more blood to pass through your organs and muscles. This will ensure the nutrients you’re consuming reach your muscles, resulting in more energy and better results.
Carnitine is both used as a muscle growth and weight loss supplement. While carnitine doesn’t directly affect muscle growth, studies show that it could reduce delayed onset muscle soreness, which benefits muscles during recovery.
For weight loss, the supplement may not be as effective as you think. In a review of people with obesity, those who took carnitine only lost 2.9 more pounds than those who didn’t take the supplement. Still, it’s worth adding this supplement to your diet.
ZMA is actually a combination supplement, comprising of magnesium aspartate, zinc, and vitamin B6. This vitamin is used for a variety of reasons; for bodybuilders, it can benefit recovery and sleep.
If you’re not the type of person who wants a cup of Joe before a workout, then you can always take caffeine supplements.
There’s not much explaining to do here — caffeine can boost your energy, making it possible to achieve some extra gains during your workout. For best results, take your caffeine supplements before your workout.
Should You Use All of These Supplements?
There are a lot of supplements on this list. Should you use all of them? Only use the ones you need or the basics.
For example, maybe you’re confident you get all of your nutrients from food, but you want something to aid in workout recovery. If this is the case, you can get away with only taking CBD or kratom.
If you’re really not sure which supplements to take, just stick to the basics: protein and creatine. Protein fuels muscle growth and creatine helps your muscles work harder for longer. And isn’t that really all that weightlifters need?
How to Pick Out Your Supplements
Now that you know the best supplements to take, how can you identify the best quality supplements?
First, pay attention to the ingredients. Avoid supplements made with heavy metals and any supplements made with extra sugar. There’s a chance these ingredients aren’t listed in the ingredients section, so find a supplement that goes through additional third-party testing.
Second, pay attention to their claims. While supplements have positive research, there are few supplements actually proven to aid in bodybuilding. If the brand makes too drastic claims, they’re probably shady.
Increase Muscle Mass With Supplements
Are you struggling to increase muscle mass? You may need to add supplements to your diet. If that’s the case, you should try Etanicals for CBD and kratom. Both supplements can aid in recovery and Etanicals only uses real and safe ingredients in all of their products.
Do you need more exercise advice? Head on over to our working out section!