When starting off your bodybuilding journey, it is normal to want results fast. To help achieve faster muscle growth, most people start looking into using bodybuilding supplements. You may find yourself a bit overwhelmed by the number of different bodybuilding supplements available in shops and online. There are literally hundreds of different supplements available, so which ones are the best for beginners?
Before we get into that, as a beginner, before even worrying about what bodybuilding supplements you should be using, you first need to make sure you have the following nailed down:
Training correctlyIf you don’t train correctly, you will not build muscle. To build muscle you need to lift heavy weights, but you also need to use good form and your workouts should last between 45 and 60 minutes. If you aren’t yet training correctly, you should first get it right before using supplements. If you need any assistance with your training you can refer to this article.
Ever heard the saying “muscles are made in the kitchen” or “results are 80% diet and 20% exercise”. There is a lot of truth to this. No matter how dedicated you are to your training, your body will not be able to build muscle effectively if you are not consuming enough calories and protein. New muscle fibres cannot be built from thin air, your body needs the correct nutrients in order to build new muscle. For more help on eating for muscle growth, you can read this article.
Once you are confident that you are training and eating correctly you can then start looking at bodybuilding supplements. Below you will find our top 5 bodybuilding supplements for beginners in South Africa.
#1 – Whey ProteinProtein is the building block for muscle. If you don’t consume enough protein your body cannot build muscle. Although there are many different forms of protein available, whey protein is king. It is fast absorbing (1), making it the ideal protein to use post workout and there have been multiple clinical studies done proving its effectiveness at helping build muscle and strength, and helping with fat loss (2).
Whey protein is high in protein and low in calories, if you have a fast metabolism and struggle to gain weight, you can also make your own weight gainer shakes with whey protein. You can read more about that here.
Dosage: Research suggests that 30 grams of whey protein post workout is the ideal amount to initiate protein synthesis and help repair muscle damage that was caused through intense training (3). It is best to consume whey protein within 30 minutes of completing your workout.
#2 – Creatine
Creatine is probably the most researched supplement out there. Creatine is a naturally occurring amino acid and is found in many of the foods we eat such as beef, pork, and fish. Multiple studies have found that consuming creatine increases muscle mass, strength, and exercise performance (4, 5).
Although there are many different types of creatine available, almost all studies were done on creatine monohydrate. This form of creatine is very cheap and works. You can pick up a 1-kilogram tub of creatine monohydrate for around 200 bucks. This is enough to last you around 6 months.
Dosage: Taking creatine is simple. Take 5 grams everyday with some water, that is it. Some people recommend a loading phase of 20 grams creatine daily for the first week, this is however not necessary.
#3 Branched-chain amino acids
BCAAs consist of 3 essential amino acids, namely, leucine, isoleucine, and valine. These three amino acids are found in protein rich foods such as meat, eggs and milk. Studies have shown that consuming BCCAs can help with muscle recovery, prevent muscle breakdown, improve protein synthesis, muscle growth, and strength (6, 7).
Dosage: When supplementing with BCAAs you should aim at getting around 3 – 5 grams a day before your workout.
Branched-chain amino acids are an extremely effective supplement and should be included in any beginner bodybuilding supplement stack.
Pre-workout supplements are designed to help you train harder, increase blood flow into the muscles, and help with recovery (8). Training harder, an increased amount of blood flow carrying nutrients into the muscles, and faster recovery all help build muscle.
Although there are many different ingredients that are used in pre-workouts, you will generally find most pre-workouts contain a decent dosage of caffeine to help with energy levels, and nitric oxide boosting ingredients such as L-Citrulline or Glycerol to help increase blood flow and muscular pumps. More expensive pre-workouts may also contain many other ingredients such as creatine and BCAA’s to help with strength and muscle recovery.
The type of pre-workout you take will depend on what you are looking for. If you are looking for some extra energy and a decent muscle pump, then a pre-workout with caffeine and L-citrulline will suffice.
#5 Testosterone booster
It’s no secret, when it comes to building muscle, testosterone is king. Studies have shown that higher testosterone levels lead to faster muscle growth and strength gains (9).
Testosterone levels in males peak at around the age of 25 and then slowly start to decline. At around the age of 35 to 40 this decline is accelerated to the point where your levels can go down by up to 10% a year.
While not every beginner needs worry about using a testosterone boosting supplement, if your testosterone levels have started to decline, your muscle building and strength gains could benefit greatly by getting your testosterone levels back to optimal levels.