So, you’ve made the commitment to take your gym routine to the next level. You’ve already mastered the basics—you’re hitting the weights consistently and you’re eating right—and now you’re wondering what supplements will help you reach your goals faster.
It’s no secret that supplements are an important part of any fitness regimen. They provide essential vitamins and minerals to help fuel your body and keep you fueled throughout your workout. But, which are the best bulking supplements?
So, bulking is a part of a fitness journey where people focus on building muscle mass. They do this by eating more calories and doing strength training exercises. The idea is to take in more calories than needed, so the body can use the extra nutrients to grow muscles and help with recovery.
Now, supplements can be super helpful during this bulking process. They provide important nutrients, boost performance, and help muscle gain.
In bodybuilding, there are three main stages: bulking, cutting, and maintenance. For those competing, preparing for contests can be like a fourth stage.
Bulking is all about gaining muscle. You eat more calories than your body needs for a while, usually 4-6 months. These extra calories help your muscles grow bigger and stronger when you’re lifting.
Then comes cutting, or shedding the fat. In this phase, you slowly reduce your calorie intake and do more aerobic exercises. That way, you can get rid of the extra fat from bulking and show off those defined muscles.
When cutting, bodybuilders eat fewer calories than their bodies need, which makes it harder to build more muscle. So, the goal in this phase is to keep the muscles you already have, not to gain more.
What Is a Bulking Supplement?
Supplements can be really helpful when you’re trying to bulk up at the gym.
Before we get into naming our top 5 and going into details lets name a few and explain how they can help:
Provide essential nutrients: Supplements can supply your body with the necessary nutrients, like protein, vitamins, and minerals, that are crucial for muscle growth and repair. For instance, protein powders help you meet your daily protein requirements, ensuring your muscles have what they need to grow and recover after a workout.
Increase energy and performance: Some supplements, like pre-workout formulas, contain ingredients such as caffeine, beta-alanine, and creatine, which can help improve your energy levels, focus, and endurance during your workouts. More energy and better performance mean you can train harder and longer, leading to better results.
Speed up muscle growth: Supplements like creatine and branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) can help increase muscle growth by enhancing muscle protein synthesis and reducing muscle breakdown. Faster muscle growth means you can see the results in muscle strength.
Improve recovery: Post-workout supplements, containing ingredients like BCAAs, glutamine, and electrolytes, can help speed up recovery by reducing muscle soreness and fatigue. Quicker recovery allows you to get back to the gym and train more consistently.
Optimize hormone levels: Some supplements, such as ZMA (zinc, magnesium, and vitamin B6), can help maintain optimal hormone levels, like testosterone, which plays a key role in muscle growth.
Best Supplements for Bulking Up
Protein Powder Supplements
When it comes to bulking up, the easiest way to get your protein fix is with supplements. Protein will help you build muscle, and you can get a lot of it from natural sources like eggs, chicken and fish. But it can be hard to get enough from food alone — especially if you’re trying to put on lots of size — so supplements may come in handy. Protein consist of things called amino acids which are the building blocks of muscle tissue, and keeping that in mind, not all Protein Powders are equal.
The first type of protein supplement you should consider is whey protein. Whey is a fast-digesting source of protein that’s absorbed quickly, which means it’s great for putting on muscle fast. It’s usually found in powder form and can often be added to smoothies or shakes as a post-workout meal or snack.
Another popular supplement is casein protein. This supplement is made from the same type of protein as whey but is digested much slower and has a longer-lasting effect in the body. It’s good for taking before bedtime because your body digests it gradually throughout the night — helping build more muscle as you sleep!
Finally, mass gainers are another type of supplement that can help with bulking up in the gym. These supplements are made from a blend of carbohydrates and proteins, which helps with muscle development and keeping energy levels high. Mass gainers are quite calorie dense so they’re great for people who have trouble gaining weight naturally through food alone. If you’re hard gainer, you’ll want to look for a protein powder with a high carbohydrate inclusion.
Creatine is one of the most popular supplements for bulking up, and it’s been scientifically proven to help increase muscle mass while improving performance in the gym.
Creatine is an energy source that helps power contractions in your muscles when you’re lifting weights. Supplemental creatine provides your muscles with more fuel, allowing you to lift heavier weights and build muscle more quickly. Plus, creatine also helps reduce fatigue so you can workout for longer periods of time without getting tired.
Types of Creatine
There are several types of creatine available on the market, so it’s important to understand which type is best for your goals. Creatine monohydrate is one of the most popular forms because it’s cheap and easily absorbed by your body.
Other forms include creatine citrate and creatine ethyl ester (CEE). Each form has its own benefits, so it’s important to do research before deciding which one to use.
Natural Testosterone Boosters
You may have heard of natural testosterone boosters, they’re very popular in the bodybuilding community for those that dont want to get into anabolic steroids. Natural testosterone boosters are supplements that work to increase your body’s production of testosterone naturally, giving you an edge when it comes to gaining muscle mass.
Elevated testosterone levels can contribute to muscle gain by:
Enhancing muscle protein synthesis: Higher testosterone levels can increase the rate at which your body creates new muscle proteins, leading to improved muscle growth and recovery.
Reducing muscle breakdown: Testosterone may help decrease the rate of muscle breakdown, allowing you to retain more of the muscle you’ve built.
Increasing strength: Higher testosterone levels can contribute to increased strength, which enables you to lift heavier weights and stimulate more muscle growth.
Improving workout performance: Elevated testosterone levels can boost energy levels, reduce fatigue, and improve overall workout performance, allowing you to train harder and longer.
There are a few natural testosterone boosters on the market, but two of the best ones in my opinion are Tongkat Ali and Fadogia Agrestis.
Tongkat Ali, also known as Eurycoma longifolia, Longjack, or Malaysian Ginseng, is a plant native to Southeast Asia. It has been traditionally used as an herbal remedy for various health issues, including boosting energy, reducing fatigue, and improving sexual performance. In recent years, it has gained attention as a natural supplement for its potential testosterone-boosting properties.
Fadogia Agrestis is another natural supplement from Africa that’s been found to help with muscle growth. It works by boosting the amount of luteinizing hormone in your body, which then increases free-flowing testosterone levels.
The benefits of using natural testosterone boosters include an increase in muscle mass and strength, faster recovery time between workouts, improved libido and overall sex drive, and increased energy levels during exercise.
However, it’s important to note that these supplements do come with possible side effects such as acne breakouts, elevated heart rate and blood pressure. If you experience any adverse effects while taking these supplements you should stop immediately and consult with your doctor before continuing use.
When it comes to bulking up, pre-workout supplements can make a world of difference. Not only do they improve your energy levels, focus, and endurance during workouts, but those factors influence bulking, too.
Caffeine helps to reduce fatigue in order to help you push past your limits and increase your performance. Caffeine also helps to support the body’s natural ability to burn fat while working out, which contributes to muscle growth as well.
Beta-alanine is an amino acid that helps muscles working hard during a workout. It increases the buffer capacity of muscle cells and delays the formation of lactic acid build-up—which reduces the feeling of fatigue during an intense workout. It’s great for building strength and size over time.
Nitric oxide boosters
Nitric oxide is an important vasodilator (a substance that causes blood vessels to open wider) because it enables more oxygenated blood flow that helps improve performance during exercise and speeds up recovery time post workout—as long as it’s taken alongside with other supplements such as protein sources or creatine monohydrate. This increased oxygen flow also can help build muscle mass over time by delivering nutrients effectively faster.
These are just three examples of pre-workout supplements that have been proven effective for bulking up over time—caffeine, beta-alanine, and nitric oxide boosters—but there are many more out there.
Protein powder might be one of the first things that come to mind when working towards building muscle, but there are other supplements like BCAAs (Branched-Chain Amino Acids) that can also be beneficial.
What Are BCAAs?
To understand BCAAs, let’s start by talking about amino acids. Amino acids are compounds that have an important role in protein formation. There are 20 different types of amino acids that form various kinds of proteins in the body; 9 of which are known as essential amino acids – these must be obtained from food since your body can’t produce them – while the remaining 11 are non-essential – meaning your body can produce them on its own. Of these 9 essential amino acids, three belong to a special category called Branched-Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs); Leucine, Isoleucine and Valine.
Will BCAAs Help me Build Muscle?
The simple answer is yes! By combining BCAA supplementation with a healthy diet and consistent exercise routine, you can expect to see better results regarding muscle growth. Here’s why:
Muscle Protein Synthesis: Of all 3 Branched-Chain Amino Acids, experts agree that Leucine is especially helpful when it comes to building muscle since it stimulates the pathway responsible for muscle protein synthesis; this is the process by which proteins are produced to repair damage caused by strenuous workouts. As you’re working towards building more muscle, it’s important for this process to take precedence over its opposite which is muscle breakdown. This means having adequate supplies of BCAAs, particularly Leucine, helps ensure this balance is achieved.
Reduced Post-Workout Soreness: BCAAs also reduce the amount of damage caused by intense exercises. This lowers post-workout soreness allowing for a more consistent training routine no matter what goal you’re trying to achieve – including building more muscle; consistency leads to faster progress!
Clean Bulking Vs Dirty Bulking: Whats the Difference?
It’s important to understand the difference between clean bulking and dirty bulking when trying to decide on the best approach for you. Essentially either way, its about making sure you get enough calories.
Clean bulking is a slower, more controlled approach which involves setting a relatively small calorie surplus to help with muscle building over time. This means consuming mostly healthy whole foods, coupled with regular cardio sessions throughout the week. The slow and steady approach of clean bulking limits fat gain while still allowing for gradual muscle growth.
Dirty bulking is an all-out approach where you consume a lot of extra calories from high-calorie foods, including junk food, in order to help you bulk up fast. Rapid muscle growth can be gained with this approach, but it can also come with side effects like excessive fat gain and slower digestion of food.
I’m personally not a fan of the “dirty bulk” if Im being honest. An over consumption of junk food is never a good idea and keep in mind, its not just the calories you’re ingesting, its all the additives and unhealthy ingredients like trans-fats. Walking the “clean bulk” path will train not only your physical body but your emotional and mental bodies as well. Developing will power is a goal a lot of successful body builders develop over time, this then flows into other parts of your life.
No matter which supplements you choose to take on your bulking journey, it’s important to keep in mind that the most effective way to build muscle and size is to have a healthy, balanced diet that includes the right combination of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. It’s also important to get enough rest, stay hydrated, and remember to stay consistent with your workout routine.
The right supplements can help you get to your goals faster, but it’s important to remember that there’s no shortcut to success in the gym. By taking the right supplements as part of a balanced diet and workout routine, you’ll be able to get the gains that you’re looking for in no time.
Aidan is a certified personal trainer and former Managing Director of Progressive Supplements, a company specializing in plant-based and natural gym supplements. With a wealth of experience in health and wellness spanning two decades, he's dedicated to sharing valuable health and fitness insights to support your well-being.
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