Hack Beast Mode
To pack on the muscles, you need to get three things right—diet, exercise, and choose the best bodybuilding supplements.
Yes, you can add muscle by going to the gym every day and pushing yourself as hard as possible. But without the right nutrition and dietary supplements to back it up, you’ll find yourself stalling or, worse still, completely burned out.
Increasing muscle mass means working hard and doing the job properly. It’s a good idea to plan ahead so you can be confident that what you’re consuming will give you the energy to perform your workouts beyond your comfort zone and repair torn muscle fibres rapidly.
Enter muscle growth supplements.
Eating nutrient-dense foods is essential if you want muscle gain, and ditching high-fat foods is also a must. The bottom line? You need to make sacrifices to look muscular.
It’s not just the time you spend in the gym that matters—it’s also the time you spend preparing your meals and the nutritional supplements you take.
Bulking and cutting: the lowdown
This includes the bulking and cutting phase, where you will eat nutrients that will help bulk you up and pack on muscle before switching to the shredding part of the process. This is where you’ll focus on losing as much fat as possible while maintaining muscle mass developed during the bulking phase.
This phase can take anywhere between three and six months. The food you consume during each phase is pretty much the same, just the amount of food you’ll need to adjust.
Although there are two different cycles, we’re specifically looking at bulking here a.k.a the muscle building phase.
Read: Bulking vs. Cutting: What is the difference? for top tips and insider information.
Nutrition for muscle gain: what to eat
To really pack on muscle, you’ll need to concentrate heavily on meat proteins like fish, poultry, and beef.
You should also look at dairy products such as cottage cheese and yoghurt. Plus, you’ll need carbs to boost your energy: whole grains, cereals, rice, and quinoa are excellent sources.
Your diet should also contain essential vitamins and minerals, so chowing down on plenty of fruit and vegetables is crucial.
Try healthy snacks like seeds and nuts to keep yourself going between workouts. As mentioned earlier, you’ll need to make some sacrifices, like limiting or ditching alcohol and cigarettes.
Watch out for food packed with added sugars, too. Oh, and deep-fried foods should largely be considered off-limits due to the risk of potential health issues if you eat them too much.
If you can, you should also steer clear of incredibly fatty foods and sugary drinks. The rule of thumb here is…look after your body, and it will look after you.
Eating the right food is the backbone of your nutritional needs and supplements will enhance the diet by giving you the additional nutrients you need to push your body harder.
Read: Our guide to these 10 epic foods to eat you need in your diet to bulk up to keep your energy levels up and maximise your gains.
What about steroids?
In an attempt to build bulkier muscles quickly, some bodybuilders go reaching for the steroids as a fast-track to success.
Unfortunately, very few people do the maths before taking steroids and see the dangerous path they're treading.
Anabolic-androgenic steroids are a synthetic form of testosterone (the male sex hormone). It's currently illegal to possess, import or export anabolic steroids with the intent to supply them, whether you're selling them or just passing them on.
Legal issues aside, the potential side effects from trying to build muscle this way are horrendous.
Weight gain, skin issues, mood swings, hair loss and loss of sexual function are just some of the issues caused by steroid abuse.
The main reason for bodybuilding should be to improve your health, and choosing steroids would be seen as a backward step. So, natural alternatives are the way forward.
The best supplements for muscle growth
When you’re looking for muscle-building supplements, keeping an eye out for options that have stood the test of time and will work in harmony with your body is essential.
Let’s look at the essentials and discuss exactly why you need the best muscle-building supplements.
Body-boosting supplement contents…
1. Whey protein
If there’s one product you can guarantee is used by every serious bodybuilder, it’s whey protein. In fact, it's considered by many to be one of the world’s best muscle-building supplements.
There’s no argument about the body-boosting potential of supplementing with whey: it’s packed with essential nutrients and amino acids that help with muscle-building.
Supplementing with whey protein powder is easy as there are so many ways to take it, and of them, most are highly palatable.
There’s nothing better than downing a protein shake after a heavy gym session, and it’ll get to work almost instantly. It’s one of those supplements for muscle growth that will help to repair the torn muscle tissue, build stronger, more robust muscles, and give you more performance-boosting energy (if you take a pre-workout, but more on that later).
Proper muscle recovery is essential if you want to grab those gains and move on to the next level of building muscle mass.
FYI: Whey is a complete protein source for increasing strength and reducing body fat. Protein is one of the macronutrients that supports your overall health. No matter what your age or gender, you’ll need to supplement with whey protein if you want to get stronger and get to your target goal as quickly as you can.
Whey protein isn’t just for bodybuilders either—athletes in many sports use it to build their strength and endurance while making sure their body is adequately repaired before they push harder.
It’s also great for reducing injuries, as it helps strengthen muscle tears for them to perform a more challenging session next time. As it’s a complete protein source, the amino acids contained in whey powder are easily digestible, which means they work quickly and efficiently. So after a heavy workout, you can be guaranteed there will be no delay in the muscle-building process.
What Is Whey Protein?
Whey protein comes from the cheese manufacturing process, which produces whey when the water is removed.
As a supplement for muscle growth, whey protein is highly valued in the world of sports because it contains all nine essential amino acids your body cannot produce by itself. So, taking them in an all-in-one supplement is of huge importance if we want to stay ahead of the game.
Whey protein contains essential amino acids for muscle building and plenty of other nutrients to boost other key elements in your body. The most crucial amino acid is BCAA (branched-chain amino acids). This epic amino acid is essential for rapid muscle building and repair.
As whey protein contains a high percentage of leucine, there’s also plenty of BCAA. Whey protein also has a high percentage of antioxidants, like cysteine, which is excellent for fighting inflammation.
The different types of whey protein
There are three main types of whey protein. Each one provides tremendous benefits for those looking to improve their physique and physical fitness.
The most popular is whey protein concentrate, which is a whey protein that has had water and some lactose removed. Due to its minimal processing, it’s considered the most beneficial type of whey protein to your health.
Whey protein isolate is more processed than concentrate, as lactose, fat, and carbohydrates are removed. It tends to be the whey protein of choice for those who are lactose intolerant. It has a higher percentage of protein but fewer overall health benefits.
Did you know? Whey protein hydrolysate is pre-digested and already broken down into amino acids. The bonus with this type of supplement is that it absorbs into the body quickly (because it’s already been broken down). As a result, it can be more expensive than other types of whey.
The many benefits of whey protein
Whey protein is often described as a wonder supplement due to its many health benefits. It’s fast-working, too, which means it’ll work on your sore muscles instantly, so many people like to take whey protein supplements before and after a workout to ensure they have some in their system from the word ‘go’.
Anyone who wants to take their fitness to new levels should take advantage of the many benefits of whey protein.
It helps to build healthy muscle
As mentioned (we’ll say it again because it’s important), whey protein powder is the perfect source of nutrients and amino acids to support a heavy training schedule.
It's considered to be the perfect muscle-building supplement and is excellent for helping to increase muscle mass. It’s excellent for repairing muscle tears and helping to build healthy muscle tissue with resistance training. As it contains essential and non-essential amino acids, whey protein is absorbed into your system very quickly and gets to work immediately.
Eating a balanced diet and getting rich whole protein sources into your system from your food is essential for building muscle, strength, and endurance. But supplementing with whey protein will give you an added edge for getting those big gains.
It improves recovery times
Moving more quickly towards your target is essential when setting out on any fitness journey. Although you have to allow rest and recovery days to allow your muscles to repair and function properly again, there are ways to speed up the process.
One of these is by consuming whey protein and blasting your muscle fibres with amino acids to make the repair process occur quickly and efficiently. Taking whey protein as a supplement will help with the recovery process as it will help repair damaged cells and tissues and boost your metabolism.
As it’s absorbed quickly, whey will get to work instantly and get the repair process moving as quickly as possible. It also helps your glycogen stores to recover by enabling them to fill quickly, so you’ll be ready to go again before you know it. Because of its anti-inflammatory properties, it also helps to reduce oxidative stress and reduce cellular damage, making the recovery process much quicker.
Too much inflammation can lead to muscle pulls or serious injury—so the sooner you can reduce the inevitable muscle soreness—the sooner you can progress towards rapid muscle growth.
It helps to reduce your body fat
You can expect your body fat to drop if you’re following a strict, healthy diet packed with essential proteins, carbs, healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals. This is especially the case when taking on a tough and regular exercise routine. Adding whey protein as a supplement to your diet can help to reduce your body fat in several ways.
Yes, as it’s low in calories and great for reducing hunger, so taking a whey protein shake will not only help with your workouts—it will also keep the hunger cravings down.
Whey protein also has a high thermogenic effect on your body, so your food will be easier to digest, and you’ll burn more calories. The more energy we use, the more calories we’ll lose.
It also helps by replacing fat with muscle, so you have a higher percentage of muscle and a lower percentage of body fat.
It can lower your blood pressure
Extensive studies show that regular whey protein consumption can help support your heart health.
This is due to the high number of healthy nutrients it contains, especially the milk protein peptides, which are great for cardiac health and have been shown to lower blood pressure.
Another ingredient that helps with blood flow is the amino acid l-arginine. This magic ingredient helps to raise the levels of nitric oxide in your body, in turn, widening your blood vessels and increasing blood flow to lower blood pressure.
It helps with performance
Having a decent amount of whey protein in your system will help to improve your exercise performance, strength, and endurance.
Taken regularly, whey will work with your body to make you stronger and more resilient to strength training. You’ll be able to put in a better quality workout at the gym—and with that will come a growing confidence in your ability to crush your goals.
Look at whey protein as your own personal assistant that will look after you and keep you going over the long term of your exercise schedule. Epic.
It’s great for bone health
Among the essential nutrients and vitamins in whey protein are calcium and vitamin D, which are necessary for keeping our bones healthy and strong. Whey protein also helps with calcium absorption, which also promotes bone health. As we get older, we can expect our bones to decline naturally, and with this comes specific ailments that limit the function we had when we were younger.
One way to deal with this is to top up on the nutrients we need for bone health and take plenty of resistance training to train our muscles and keep our bones actively working.
Side effects of whey protein
High whey protein doses can cause side effects such as stomach aches, nausea, bloating, reduced appetite, tiredness, and headache—so it’s essential to stick to the recommended dose.
Protein intake is necessary for building muscle, but you can reach your goals through natural food sources alone. When it comes to supplements for muscle growth, research shows that the quality of your protein can have a greater effect. And, whey protein is considered one of the highest-quality sources. Go get it.
When you’re heading into the gym, you want to be completely energised and focused. It’s not always possible, of course, as quite often you might be tired due to a heavy work shift, or staggering in first thing in the morning after a bad night’s sleep.
Enter the mighty pre-workout. A good pre-workout supplement can boost your energy levels and get you focused and ready to smash your workout—even on the days when you don’t feel like it.
What Are pre-workout supplements?
Pre-workout supplements are designed to boost your energy, focus, and performance to help you power through intense workouts.
You usually take them around twenty minutes before an activity to get a lift before you begin so you can push hard and go big.
They typically come in powdered form, which is mixed with water before an exercise session. Pre-workouts are packed with energy-boosting ingredients like caffeine, beta-alanine, l-carnitine, and citrulline to give you a quick boost while preparing your mind for the workout ahead. A decent pre-workout should also increase your endurance, VO2 max, and exercise performance.
What are the benefits of pre-workouts?
Taking a pre-workout supplement has numerous performance-boosting benefits—and not just for kick-starting your exercise.
Let’s dive in.
Increased energy level
A pre-workout will give you a big energy boost, empowering you to kick your workout off in the way you mean to continue. Pre-workouts will give you the boost you need to sustain maximum effort throughout the exercise and really push for that burn.
Enhanced exercise performance
Through a combination of the energy boost and enhanced mental focus, you’ll get a better quality workout by taking on more sets of better quality reps during your training session.
A quicker recovery
A decent pre-workout will also include ingredients that will promote a faster recovery. That means you can get back on the training horse and reach (or even smash) those fitness goals faster.
Higher nitric oxide levels
The more nitric oxide levels you have, the better the oxygen delivery around your body. A quality pre-workout will consider this and contain ingredients such as l-arginine and citrulline, which, combined, will push your NO levels to the max.
The side effects of pre-workouts
Side effects from pre-workouts can take shape if you take too high a dose. Always stick to the recommended amount.
If you exceed the recommended dose, you may experience digestive issues, an irregular heartbeat, and a rise in blood sugar levels—especially if you choose a pre-workout that is loaded with caffeine.
Always talk to a medical professional if you have any underlying health issues that may be affected by taking a pre-workout.
Creatine is one of the world’s most studied supplements for muscle growth. And because of this, we recommend you push it to the top of your body-boosting supplements list.
It’s one of the most widely talked about supplements in the gym, as it offers a treasure trove of benefits for enhancing exercise and building serious muscle. Taken in sensible doses, creatine could prove to be your most potent weapon for bulking those muscles.
What is creatine?
Creatine is a naturally occurring substance that is made in the liver, kidneys, and pancreas. It’s converted into creatine phosphate and stored in the skeletal muscles, which are used for short bursts of energy.
Creatine is perfect for high-intensity, short-duration exercises like lifting weights or sprinting. We have a limited amount of natural creatine in our body—but by topping your levels up with supplements, you can give yourself an added energy reserve.
It works by helping to make ATP (adenosine triphosphate), the main energy source for your body. So, the more creatine you have in your body, the more energy reserves you’ll have. Creatine improves your exercise endurance, helps to build strength, builds muscles, and reduces fatigue as well as injury.
The benefits of creatine
Creatine is one of the most studied supplements in the world. Let’s look at some of the main benefits of weaving creatine into your training regime.
One of the main reasons athletes take creatine supplements is to get an added energy boost while getting a swift, sharp boost of energy.
You’ll find creatine will push you to new levels. Bodybuilding, sprinting, and cycling are three sports where you can expect colossal energy, strength, and endurance improvements. More reps and more sets mean more gains. It's a win-win.
Helps you to tolerate more intense activity
The most challenging workouts are the ones that will give you the best body-boosting benefits. Unless you push to your limits, you won’t make any gains—so using creatine to help you push past the barriers will give you a significant advantage.
If you take creatine regularly, you’ll discover you can push harder and for longer during the most intense workouts.
Creatine can help you increase strength by enabling you to push harder through your workouts.
You’ll be able to recover faster, too, which means you can move onto the next level quicker—which means harder resistance training and heavier weights.
You can take creatine before or after a workout—or even both. If you take creatine after a workout, you’ll replenish your stores, which are usually depleted during training. Some people take half a dose of creatine before exercise and the remaining half afterwards for the best results.
Reduced muscle soreness
Creatine has been shown to help reduce DOMS or delayed muscle soreness. It helps with your workout recovery instantly—and the quicker you recover, the sooner you can work the same muscle groups again.
Reducing muscle fatigue means your muscle cells will start to repair quicker, and muscle growth will happen more rapidly.
The side effects of creatine
Creatine should only create side effects if you take too high a dose. Always make sure you stick to the recommended dose, as there’s a limited amount of creatine your body will allow you to add to your creatine stores.
Issues such as muscle cramps, stomach upsets, and dizziness will rear their ugly head if you take way too much. So, enjoy—but go easy.
4. Testosterone boosters
Testosterone is produced naturally in our bodies. In males, it’s made in the testicles and in women, it’s in the ovaries.
Too little or too much testosterone can affect your physical and mental health. From age 30, our testosterone levels start to decline naturally at around 1% per year.
As testosterone plays a vital role in our health, a decline in your ‘t-levels’ can cause health issues, including:
And it’s not just age that can cause our t-levels to decline. Other factors, including health issues, stress, too much alcohol, an unhealthy diet, and lack of exercise, can cause our testosterone levels to drop. If we want to stay mentally and physically fit, we must get our t-levels in check.
What are testosterone boosters?
A testosterone booster is a supplement that contains ingredients designed to raise testosterone levels.
Testosterone boosters are a natural way of turning the tide on declining t levels. Yes, the right t-booster will help you return to feeling younger, stronger, and more vigorous.
It's often overlooked as a muscle growth supplement—but it can't be understated just how important it is to keep your testosterone levels up if you're looking for serious muscle gains.
The benefits of boosting testosterone
When you hit the gym, you no doubt want to feel like you can stick at it all day. So feeling the effects of low testosterone levels will have a negative effect on our focus, strength, and endurance.
With this in mind, getting your t levels up and hitting it at 100% every time is the main aim of the game. Testosterone boosters can improve our overall health and get everything working as it should mentally and physically, including:
Better muscle-to-body-fat ratio
Working out and building muscle requires a certain amount of ‘feel-good’ factor, and hitting the gym in the right frame of mind and feeling younger than your years is a great place to be. The more muscle you pack, the lower your body fat.
Improved cardio health
Improved t-levels mean reduced blood pressure and a healthier heart. Your exercise routine will also play a part in this.
Testosterone is responsible for bone formation and density, and a low testosterone level can cause weak bones and injury. So, taking a booster will make your skeleton strong.
Stronger mental focus
Low mood, depression, anxiety, and fatigue are symptoms of low testosterone levels—so getting up again can restore vitality and an overall sense of well-being.
Stronger sex drive
Testosterone supplements can help increase the t-levels in your body, which can help boost your sex drive and other issues related to sexual function, such as erectile dysfunction.
The side effects of testosterone boosters
Testosterone boosters, which are made with natural ingredients, are unlikely to cause any side effects.
Still, if you take a higher dose than recommended, you may encounter issues such as stomach upsets and skin blemishes. So again, go easy.
5. Nitric Oxide Boosters
Nitric oxide is a gas that occurs naturally in your body. It helps to get an efficient amount of oxygen around your system by helping blood flow by relaxing blood vessels.
The more oxygen-efficient your body is, the better your exercise performance will be, so bodybuilders use NO boosters to get the most out of every workout.
It’s a vasodilator, which relaxes the inner muscles of your blood vessels. This results in the vessels widening, which increases blood flow, and lowers blood pressure.
What is a nitric oxide booster?
A nitric oxide booster is used as a supplement to raise your body’s NO levels. Unlike most supplements, the ingredients won’t contain the very thing you want to ingest.
Did you know? There’s no nitric oxide in nitric oxide supplements. What they contain are ingredients your body will use to convert to nitric oxide.
These substances are amino acids—like L-arginine and L-citrulline, which are scientifically proven to raise nitric oxide levels in the body. When combined, they’re a powerful force when it comes to raising NO levels.
You can also weave leafy green vegetables into your diet to increase your NO levels as they contain a high percentage of nitrates.
The benefits of nitric oxide boosters
There’s plenty of scientific evidence to show that raised levels of nitric oxide in the body can have many positive effects on our health.
They can improve your heart health
Studies show that NO supplements, such as l-arginine, help to widen blood vessels and improve blood flow—which, in turn, will help your heart to stay healthy.
This can positively affect those being treated for type 2 diabetes or with excess weight as well as anyone with cardiac issues and heart disease.
They can reduce blood pressure
The fact that NO boosters widen the arteries means that they can help to reduce blood pressure. Long-term use of NO-boosting supplements has even been shown to lower blood pressure and improve the blood flow and quality of oxygen around the body.
They can improve sexual function
Amino acids like l-arginine and citrulline are often used to treat such problems as erectile dysfunction as they can help to increase the blood flow to the penis.
They can improve athletic performance
Adding more nitrates to your diet and adding NO boosting supplements will raise your nitric oxide levels.
The effect of this will be that your blood vessels will relax, and your blood flow will increase. This will result in a better supply of oxygen around your body, allowing you to work harder for longer— and more efficiently, too. For bodybuilders, this means more strength, greater endurance, and bigger muscles.
The side effects of nitric oxide boosters
There should be little or no side effects to nitric oxide supplementation as the vast majority of these supplements should contain natural substances like l-arginine and citrulline.
But, taking too high a dose may result in stomach upsets, nausea, heartburn, and headaches.
The top 5 natural bodybuilding supplements to boost muscle growth
Maintaining muscle growth is about ticking the right health and fitness boxes. If you’re putting in a power-packed workout daily, you need the nutrition and best supplements for muscle growth to back it up.
So, here are our top five must-have supplements to help take your bodybuilding efforts to the next level.
Best for packing in the protein: Battle Ready Fuel Military Whey
This award-winning brand has one of the most pure, protein-packed whey isolates available. It contains 90% protein and no fillers.
It also comes in two handy on-the-go tubs, so it can easily fit into a gym bag. You’ll get 28g of protein and less than 1 g of sugar and fat per serving.
Best for raising testosterone levels: Testo Max
Testo-Max helps you to raise testosterone levels through a mixture of premium ingredients, such as D Aspartic acid,magnesium, zinc, and vitamins D. It's safe to use and because all ingredients are 100% natural, there are no side effects. Perfect for helping to get t levels up again to improve strength and performance.. It’s designed to increase both your physical and mental energy, as well as helping to burn excess fat and promote muscle growth. A real t-boosting double threat.
Best for raising nitric oxide levels: CrazyBulk Nitric-Max
Scientifically formulated with essential ingredients l-arginine, citrulline and beta-alanine, you can expect a huge energy boost and massively enhanced athletic performance from Nitric-Max.
It’s a premium NO booster designed to improve blood flow and oxygen circulation during workouts by boosting your natural nitric oxide levels to the extreme.
You’ll experience many benefits, from heightened energy and endurance to rapid recovery rates and mind-blowing pumps. Epiiiic.
Best quality creatine: Crazy Nutrition Ultimate CRN-5
Crazy Nutrition’s CRN-5 creatine formula is crafted with five grams of creatine plus electrolytes to help boost energy, support lean muscle mass, and maintain hydration, giving your muscles more strength to push out more reps and sets than ever. This epic supplement for muscle growth will support you with your pre-workout and post-workout.
Trenorol is a legal alternative to the steroid Trenbolone, and recreates its effects. It’s perfect for a pre-workout and works to give you immense muscle gains, awesome strength and power, as well as amazing physical conditioning. It’s also great for recovery.
DecaDuro is another from the Crazybulk range which is a fully legal and safe alternative to the steroid Deca-Durabolin.
It's a great pre-workout which will get you ready for the toughest session with its advanced anabolic formula which dramatically increases nitrogen retention, protein synthesis and red blood cell production. Ideal for improving strength and muscle gains. It will even soothe aching, sore joints.
Trenorol, Decatur and Testo-Max also come as a team as part of the Crazy Bulk bulking stack.
The supplements that will work best for you will be based on your personal goals.
To give yourself the best chance of building the physique you want, it’s essential to eat a healthy, nutrient-rich diet, push yourself harder than ever at the gym and take the best quality supplements to support you all the way. Now, go get it.
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