Muscle gain is an extremely complex process that is influenced by training frequency and intensity, as well as nutrition and a host of other biological functions.
Designing a supplement stack for muscle gain, then, requires a consideration of each involved aspect.
Ideally, you want a collection of supplements that will improve the quality of your workouts while making sure that you have a solid nutrient intake to allow for proper recovery.
To keep things orderly here, we’ll look at performance and recovery supplement stacks separately.
You should understand, however, that both types of supplement will work together to encourage muscle gain.
All of the supplements on this list have been picked because they can be found at most stores and are relatively inexpensive.
Before we look at the supplements that can be stacked to improve your workouts, it should also be mentioned that most commercial pre-workout supplements contain at least one stimulant.
If you would like it, you can also include 200mg of caffeine in your pre-workout routine.
- Creatine – While there are plenty of touted ergogenics (substances that increase strength and power) creatine is by far the most thoroughly researched and solid backed in its class.
Creatine works by giving your body a ready source the cellular fuel called ATP and has very few side effects.
Because it keeps your muscles readily fueled, daily creatine supplementation of 3g has been shown in repeated studies to increase muscular power and endurance.It is true, however, that creatine does not have an acute effect but is instead based on saturation.
This means that you could technically take it whenever is convenient for you, you just before a workout.
Including it in your pre-workout, however, usually makes your daily dose easy to remember.
- Nitrate – While nitrate can be purchased under this obvious title, it can also be found in beetroot juice.
In fact, it may be easier to find the juice than another form of this particular supplement.
Once nitrate is converted into nitric oxide, which happens fairly quickly, it has been shown to increase endurance in long-duration aerobic workouts.
The average dose is about 500mg.
- Sodium bicarbonate – If this one sounds familiar, that’s because you probably already have it in your house; Its baking soda.
This incredibly common substance can increase muscular endurance by preventing the dreaded “burn,” created when your muscles become overly acidic.
Be warned, though: If you mix nitrate with sodium bicarbonate in the same drink, it can be slightly explosive.A dose of 200-300mg/kg of body weight taken 60-90 minutes before exercise is the usual recommendation.
You should assess your tolerance, though, since baking soda can cause severe gastrointestinal distress.
Also, since a large portion of it is made of sodium, people with hypertension should be careful when considering supplementation.
One GREAT stim-free pre workout supplement I recently got a chance to test out is made by a company called Transparent Labs.
Among other ingredients, Transparent Labs stim free pre workout contains 3 G of high quality creatine, helping to fuel your workouts and help DRAMATICALLY with recovery.
Click Here to read my review on it to learn more.
Again, these supplements are intended to speed recovery and prevent muscle loss.
Somewhat counter-intuitively, though, they generally work best when taken before your workouts.
- HMB – While the amino acid leucine has shown potential when it comes to stimulating muscle growth, it is fairly particular when it comes to actual effectiveness.
Its metabolite, HMB, however is much more forgiving.
Taken daily, 1-3g of HMB has been shown to prevent muscle loss and slightly encourage muscle growth.
Typically HMB is taken 30-45 minutes before a workout.
- Citrulline malate – Citrulline is a very interesting amino acid.
Not only has it been shown to increase athletic performance when taken an hour before the workout, but it effectively reduced muscle soreness two days later.
The usual dose is 6 to 8g.
- L-Carnitine – Many studies have demonstrated that the amino acid carnitine has the ability to increase performance during power-based workouts and preserve muscle mass after the activity.
Carnitine also reduces fatigue and muscle soreness.
The Transparent Labs stim-free pre workout contains Citrulline Malate AND several other ingredients that help with recovery.
As mentioned at the onset, though, muscle growth is largely influenced by nutrition.
When you exercise, you are damaging your muscles.
In response to that damage, your body not only repairs the muscles but also makes them stronger than they were before in preparation for the next onslaught.
If the proper nutrients are not available your muscles will not improve.
In fact, your body could begin to turn on your muscles as fuel if your diet is really lacking.
While some of the recovery supplements covered above can protect your muscles, you still need to provide your body with the protein needed to build more muscle fibers.
Depending on your situation, it may be difficult to eat enough lean protein during the day to meet this goal.
Protein supplements, then, are a convenient solution.
There are many different types of protein supplements – attained from both plant and animal sources – but whey and casein are the most widely used.
Ideally, you would stack both whey and casein since they tend to fit different nutritional needs.
Whey is absorbed into your body quickly, provided a ready source of proteins and contributing to a healthy body composition.
Casein, on the other hand, breaks down more slowly and has a different amino acid profile – making it better suited for recovery periods.
Many users take whey during the day as a snack and casein before bed to fuel muscle recovery during the night.
Although casein is not a stimulant, some of the calories found in it as used for energy production rather than just muscle synthesis.
If you prefer not to invest in two separate protein products, you can also purchase blends.
These conveniently mix the two proteins to give you a complete nutritional supplement.
Transparent Labs makes a GREAT 100% grass-fed whey protein isolate, and is suitable for any guy looking for an effective post workout drink.
The Bottom Line
Frankly, this just scratches the surface on the available products that claim to increase muscle mass.
These recommendations, however, include only those supplements that have solid scientific prove behind them.
Although there are many so-called “testosterone boosters” which could theoretically increase muscle mass, they are unreliable.
All of these supplements, though, will do nothing if you aren’t working out.
Your muscles need to be progressively challenged to stimulate growth.
These substances will help, however, once you give them something to work with.
Top 3 Body BuildingAffiliate Disclosure