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Supplements for Bulking Up

By Lydia Stephens

Whether you are preparing for competition or simply bulking up for beach season, adding supplements to your workout program can help you build muscle. While supplements should never take the place of proper nutrition, quality supplements can aid in protein synthesis for muscle growth while reducing muscle fatigue, says David Robson, certified personal trainer and owner of Elite Physique Training Studio.

Whey Protein

The amino acids in protein are the building blocks of muscle. An adult trying to gain muscle mass should be getting 0.6 to 0.9 grams of protein per pound of body weight per day, according to Caryn Honig, registered dietitian at Rice University. Take whey protein to fill in the gaps, especially before and after workouts, as whey protein is absorbed quickly by the muscles.


L-glutamine is the most abundant amino acid found in muscle tissue and aids in muscle recovery. Your body's stores of glutamine drop during illness or after intense workouts as it provides energy for the immune system. (Ref. 3) Often, whey protein manufacturers add glutamine to their powdered shakes. Or, you can add flavorless powdered glutamine yourself to prevent muscle loss and assist in protein metabolism.


According to Roberta Anding, R.D., a clinical dietitian in sports medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, using creatine supplements before a workout may benefit those looking to gain muscle mass through weightlifting. Creatine energizes your muscles, allowing you to work out for longer periods, and it hydrates your muscle tissue. While your body naturally produces enough creatine to sustain day-to-day cellular function, supplements may help with muscle growth, says Robson.

Branch Chain Amino Acids

The three branched chain amino acids, or BCAAs, leucine, isoleucine and valine, make up a third of the skeletal muscle in your body. Your muscles metabolize these three amino acids for energy, sometimes breaking down muscle tissue in the process. Taken during and after strength training sessions, BCAAs may help build new proteins and assist muscle recovery. BCAAs may be purchased in capsule or powder form.

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