If you’re trying to bulk up and add some serious mass to your frame during your off-season, although bulking is by far considered more popular than cutting, actually building quality muscle mass whilst keeping your body fat levels in check is far easier said than done. In order to build muscle mass you need to be consuming fresh and healthy produce, drinking plenty of water, and working your butt off in the gym. Some people gain muscle mass easier than others but if you’re the polar opposite of this, and are a self-professed “hard gainer” you’ve probably found yourself growing pretty exhausted, physically and mentally, with the entire process. You may have struggled through workout after workout, choking down plate after plate of chicken, potato, and broccoli, only to find yourself lucky to gain half a pound over the course of several months. It’s easy to lose focus and become disheartened but sometimes all we need is a little help. If you’re happy with your diet and your training and consider them both to be on point, perhaps it’s your supplements, or lack thereof, that could be the issue. When used in conjunction with a healthy balanced diet and effective training program, supplements have proved extremely beneficial in the past, for a number of reasons. If muscle mass is your objective, here’s a look at the only mass building supplement stack you’ll ever need.
A pre-workout supplement
Building muscle mass is all about shocking the body and stimulating new muscle growth, and in order to do that we need to really put our bodies through their paces when we exercise. When we train we will be looking to lift heavy poundages, train to failure, and really push ourselves to our absolute limits in order to yield the most impressive muscle growth. On paper that’s pretty easy, but when you wake up feeling tired, lethargic, lazy, and unmotivated, sometimes you’ll need something a little stronger than a cup of coffee. For times like that, pre-workout supplements are absolutely perfect. These supplements contain natural stimulants such as caffeine and taurine, along with amino acids, vasodilators, minerals, vitamins, and more. They’re designed to provide temporary bursts of energy, as well as enhance mental focus as well. They often contain Nitric Oxide, which is a vasodilator which dilates the blood vessels, allowing more oxygenated, nutrient-rich blood to pass through them and be supplied to the muscles. This not only improves muscular performance, it also improves muscle pumps and vascularity, which looks more impressive. They come in a variety of different flavours, and are best consumed with cold water, on an empty stomach, around 30 minutes before training.
Creatine is a naturally occurring amino acid that is actually synthesized inside our own bodies. The problem is that the amount our bodies create is just not enough to be of any real benefit to us. When it comes to bulking up and building muscle mass, creatine is ideal as it also enhances your energy levels and workout performances in the gym. Creatine allows the body to produce more Adenosine Tri-Phosphate (ATP) which is the primary source of energy for the muscles. The more ATP we can produce and transport to the muscles, the harder they will work and the more efficient they will be as a result. Creatine also forces more water into the cells within the muscles, which causes them to swell and expand, which not only allows them to absorb more nutrients, but it can also give the muscles a bigger and more fuller look as well.
Well, we had to talk about whey protein at some point didn’t we? After all, whey protein is the most popular bodybuilding supplement in the entire world, and has been proven via multiple studies to contribute towards the growth and repair of muscle tissue in a number of different ways. Protein is essential for muscular growth and regeneration following intense periods of physical exercise, so a whey protein shake mixed with water for rapid absorption after your workout is a sure-fire way of giving your body exactly what it needs so it can begin repairing and rebuilding itself almost immediately. Look for a good quality whey protein, and if you can afford so, it may be best to opt for an isolate blend, or a hydrolyzed blend as the protein content is higher, and the absorption rate is faster. If not, a whey protein concentrate blend from a trusted supplier will still do the job.
A mass gainer
When trying to bulk up and build muscle mass, no matter how clean you eat, you will still need to be consuming more calories than you’re able to burn off if you wish to grow, and that is that. Consuming large quantities of calories and protein from whole food sources can be difficult and expensive, especially if you’re not used to eating large quantities. For this reason, a mass gainer supplement is perfect. Mass gaining supplements are enriched with protein, amino acids, vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that are extremely good for us. They’re also packed full of calories from healthy sources. One or two mass gainer shakes per day will count as two high calorie meals, and will help you to easily meet your daily macros in a convenient and delicious fashion. If mass is your goal, a mass gainer is essential, heck, the clue’s in the name.
When bulking and adding muscle mass, the idea is to build as much muscle mass as you possibly can, which will require you to keep your body in a constant anabolic (muscle building) state. In order to build muscle, the body needs protein, amino acid, energy, and other nutrients to do what it has to do to rebuild and regenerate muscle tissue following a workout. We do most of our growing when we sleep, providing our bodies have what they need, which is where casein protein comes into the mix. When we sleep, we go for around 7 – 9 hours with no food, which ordinarily would put our bodies into a catabolic state in which, starved for energy, not only would they stop repairing our muscles, they would actually begin metabolising our muscles and using them as an energy source. Keeping your body OUT of a catabolic state is essential, which is why casein protein is so beneficial. Casein protein is a slow-digesting, slow-release protein that will release a steady stream of protein and nutrients into the body as we sleep. Whey protein is fast digesting and fast absorbing, so after an hour or two, all of the protein and amino acids would have been used up, and in an hour or two the body would revert back to a catabolic state. Casein is released into the body over the course of several hours, keeping you in a constant anabolic state before waking up, and refuelling your body with a healthy and balanced breakfast.