For beginning bodybuilders, and especially drug-free newbies, supplementation is an important but oft overlooked piece of the bodybuilding equation. Whether due to lack of information, lack of education or lack of financial means, many bodybuilders – and those just getting into any type of fitness regimen – skip these vital weapons in any training arsenal. I can’t stress enough that muscle gains DO NOT HAPPEN IN THE GYM. The exact opposite is true. When you work out, you’re destroying your muscle fibers. Increase in size only occurs when your muscles heal, adding additional fibers to strengthen those that have been destroyed. In order for muscle cells to properly strengthen those fibers, you’re going to need proper nutrition, rest and supplementation. During the bodybuilding contest prep phase, nutrition becomes even more important.
When dieting down for a contest, your body is constantly in a state of nutritional deficit. In order to lose weight, you must be burning more calories than you’re consuming, therefore you’re eating less, and simply by cutting back on your food intake, you’re cutting back on the nutrients you’re taking in. Nutritional deficits are the worst thing you can do to your muscles, so in order to combat any unnecessary muscle loss, you must increase the amounts of nutrients your body receives through supplementation.
There are several supplements I swear to, both during the contest-prep phase and in the offseason:
- Universal Nutrition Animal Pack - This multi-vitamin should be the foundation of any serious bodybuilder’s diet. Scroll down for a list of the nutrients contained in these ready-to-consume packs. Yeah, there are a lot of pills to swallow, but it’s what your body needs to survive the torture you’re putting it through in the gym. This should be taken once a day, 365 days a year.
- Universal Nutrition Animal Pump – This stuff will make you a monster. It contains creatine, nitric oxide boosters, energy boosters and anti-oxidants. As the name rightfully states, this stuff is essential for producing that pump that is the goal of anyone hitting the weights hard, day in and day out.
- Universal Nutrition Animal Nitro – Amino acids increase protein synthesis and aid in muscle recovery. Therefore, they’re a post-workout essential. These packs are consumed immediately after your workout to kick the recovery into high gear.
- Hydroxycut Hardcore – A no-nonsense fat burner will help keep your metabolism chugging. During periods of decreased caloric intake, your body will want to store fat as a survival method. You can counter that with a good blend of caffeine and other metabolism-boosting compounds. IMPORTANT: Although still readily available, ephedrine is listed on the BANNED SUBSTANCE list of most natural bodybuilding organizations, and the use of the substance will void your drug-free status. Be sure to check the labels of any fat burner before you buy.
Your body may have different needs, and you’ll certainly want to tailor your supplements to your personal goals. Be smart and educate yourself on the effects and risks of consuming any bodybuilding product. Also, be sure to purchase your supplements from a reputable source.
The topic of the next blog post will be actual in-the-gym training, with a focus on types of exercises and number of reps and sets as well as proper rest and recovery techniques.