Supplements

How To Build Muscle — 9 Top Supplements for Bulking

Bulking doesn’t have to be rocket science. There are plenty of ways to go about the bulk – and plenty of supplements that will help you get there too. Knowing which ones are going to be most effective for you can be the most difficult bit when choosing your supplements for bulking. Luckily for you, we’ve put in the hard work, so that you can leave that to your gym workouts.

First off, getting your diet right is key to bulking right. Good nutrition and a calorie surplus will see you making a clean bulk and limit the fat. Also, although eating right will take you a long way, training right will have you building up that muscle too. Check out this article for a strong workout for gaining muscle.

If you feel like you’ve got your diet and training spot on, but still are a way off your goals, then it’s time to start with some supplements. Here’s a list of what we’ve covered in this article, so that you can discover the best supplements for your bulk:

1. Mass Gainers

In order to gain weight, you need to consume more calories than you’re burning in a day. For some, this is relatively easy and packing in a few high-carb, high-fat meals is sometimes enough to gain those extra pounds. For others however, gaining weight from food alone can be a hard task.1

A convenient way to get in those extra calories on top of your normal diet is a weight gainer shake. With around 300-400 calories per shake, weight gainers are the perfect quick calories which are typically composed of high-quality protein, essential fatty acids and a blend of carbohydrates.

For example, our Weight Gainer Blend contains a total of 388 calories, 31g of protein and 50g of carbohydrate per shake. This will boost your calorie intake with quality nutrients, as well as aiding recovery after a tough workout to help build muscle.

 

2. Omega-3 and Omega-6

There are two types of fatty acids that are essential to a healthy body. Omega-3 and Omega-6 can’t be made by the body, so we have to make sure that they’re consumed as a part of our diet.2 Not only have they been linked to minimising post-workout soreness, but some evidence has shown a potential for omega-3 supplementation to enhance fat oxidation.3-4

You may be wondering why this supplement is important for gaining mass, but ensuring you’re performing at your peak means that you’ll be able to reach your goals. Also, making lean gains and preventing fat gain will mean you preserve more of your definition as you gain mass.

 

3. ZMA

ZMA is a trademarked combination of zinc, magnesium, vitamin B6 and aspartate. One study has claimed that ZMA could boost testosterone, strength, muscle mass and recovery time after exercise.5 Some have theorised that this is due to the supplement correcting a deficiency in zinc and magnesium that can lead to reduced testosterone levels in the body.6

If you think your diet could be lacking in zinc and magnesium, or that you suffer from reduced testosterone levels, then you might want to look into supplementing with ZMA to see a difference in your muscle mass.7

 

4. Creatine

Creatine is a supplement that’s already naturally found in the body. It’s stored in muscle as creatine-phosphate and used to produce energy (ATP) during short, intensive bursts of exercise. Taking an extra creatine supplement can increase the amount stored in your muscles, which improves anaerobic performance. That means that you can train all-out for longer, and recover between sets quicker.6

Creatine is a must-have supplement when it comes to bulking. It’s something that’s often present bulking supplements, however supplementing with a pure form of micronized creatine monohydrate is still recommended as you can control how much you’re taking.

This is one of the most frequently and deeply studied sports supplements. Some research has shown that creatine can quickly increase lean body mass, however this is mainly down to the water retention it causes. The real muscle gain comes from the fact that creatine can increase your performance in the gym by allowing you to squeeze out extra reps, or lift heavier. This compounds into long-term muscle gain, making it a must-have on your list for bulking.8

 

5. Whey Protein Powder

If you’re getting enough calories from your diet and don’t need gainer shakes, then ensuring that you take on board enough protein post-workout for muscle repair and maintenance is key. Whey protein shakes come in many forms and flavours, but the best are rigorously tested and come from high-quality sources.9

Our Impact Whey Protein comes from the same cows that produce your milk and cheese, which is the spray-dried to produce all-natural nutritionals. It’s been tested for quality and purity as well as being accredited by the Cologne List®. There are over 40 flavours to choose from, so you’re sure to find a few that you love.

A protein shake is a convenient way to ensure you’re getting enough protein, alongside a balanced diet. It’s the most commonly used supplement in the fitness industry, and for good reason. One serving of whey protein can have the equivalent protein content of a large chicken breast. In addition, the research indisputably shows that a combination of weight training and whey supplementation leads to an increase in lean body mass.10

 

6. BCAAs

Branched chain amino acids (BCAAs) is the name given to three essential amino acids that contain a side chain, hence the name.11 They are leucine, isoleucine and valine. Leucine is the key player, as it’s the anabolic trigger that kick starts muscle protein synthesis, while isoleucine and valine are added to the mix to offset the decreased blood concentration caused by leucine.12

The great thing with BCAAs is that they can be taken before, during and after your workout – basically, whenever suits you best. Supplementing with BCAAs during intense exercise may reduce protein degradation, leading to greater muscle mass gain – so sip away as you work out.1 It’s worth noting that you can get BCAAs from plenty of protein food sources too. However, BCAAs compete with other amino acids for the transport system around the body, so consuming BCAAs on their own may be more effective than consuming protein that contains BCAAs and other amino acids.13

7. Carbohydrates

Evidence shows that if you’re following a general fitness programme, then you should, typically, be meeting your carbohydrate needs already. However, as soon as you begin to increase your training sessions during your bulk, you might find it more difficult to sustain a healthy level.

As carbohydrates are the body’s primary source of energy, it’s essential that you’re getting enough to fuel your day. They also control the release of insulin, which shuttles the nutrients you consume into the muscle cells – this means maximising muscle growth.6

There are so many option when it comes to supplementing with carbohydrates, which is mainly depending on whether you want fast-release energy, slow-release energy, or both. You can add Instant Oats to your shakes for a source of slow-release carbohydrates. For fast release, perhaps after a workout, you may want to consider fast-acting carbs such as Waxy Maize, Maltodextrin or Dextrose.1

 

8. Tribulus

Tribulus is a natural plant which is thought to increase testosterone levels.14 It’s been used in bodybuilding since the 1970s, when Bulgarian powerlifters popularised the supplement by attributing their success to the herbal extract.15

It’s been speculated that tribulus naturally increases luteinising hormone levels, leading to increased testosterone production. This, in turn, is associated with increased strength and muscle mass. More research is required to record its effectiveness for building muscle mass, but you could always ask the Bulgarian powerlifters, or give it a try for yourself.16

9. Multivitamins

Vitamins are essential compounds that take part in important roles all around the body – from metabolism regulation to protecting cells from damage. While there’s no evidence to suggest that taking high doses of vitamins will improve your performance or muscle building advantage, vitamin deficiencies can potentially compromise your gains.1

Of course, you should get what vitamins you can from eating a balanced diet. However, some research has shown that even if you eat really well, you can still miss out on some vitamins. To avoid this, you can invest in a good multivitamin supplement for a convenient way to make sure you’re getting all the vits you need to make gains.17

 

Take Home Message

These supplements are a great starting off point for making serious gains, but don’t expect it to happen overnight. Bulking, like any fitness goal, takes graft in the gym and in the kitchen. Make sure that your diet is supporting your training and use these supplements to bring the gap and boost your results.

 

Our articles should be used for informational and educational purposes only and are not intended to be taken as medical advice. If you’re concerned, consult a health professional before taking dietary supplements or introducing any major changes to your diet.


1 Kreider, R. B., Wilborn, C. D., Taylor, L., Campbell, B., Almada, A. L., Collins, R., … & Kerksick, C. M. (2010). ISSN exercise & sport nutrition review: research & recommendations. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition7(1), 7.

2 Kaur, N., Chugh, V., & Gupta, A. K. (2014). Essential fatty acids as functional components of foods-a review. Journal of food science and technology51(10), 2289-2303.

3 Buckley, J. D., & Howe, P. R. (2010). Long-chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids may be beneficial for reducing obesity—a review. Nutrients2(12), 1212-1230.

4 Jouris, K. B., McDaniel, J. L., & Weiss, E. P. (2011). The effect of omega-3 fatty acid supplementation on the inflammatory response to eccentric strength exercise. Journal of sports science & medicine10(3), 432.

5 Brilla, L. R., & Conte, V. (2000). Effects of a Novel Zinc-Magnesium Formulation on Hormones and Strength. Journal of Exercise Physiology Online3(4).

7 Chang, C. S., Choi, J. B., Kim, H. J., & Park, S. B. (2011). Correlation between serum testosterone level and concentrations of copper and zinc in hair tissue. Biological trace element research144(1-3), 264-271.

8 Cooper, R., Naclerio, F., Allgrove, J., & Jimenez, A. (2012). Creatine supplementation with specific view to exercise/sports performance: an update. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition9(1), 33.

9 Hoffman, J. R., & Falvo, M. J. (2004). Protein–which is best?. Journal of sports science & medicine3(3), 118.

10 Devries, M. C., & Phillips, S. M. (2015). Supplemental protein in support of muscle mass and health: advantage whey. Journal of food science80(S1), A8-A15.

11 Yoshizawa, F. (2012). New therapeutic strategy for amino acid medicine: notable functions of branched chain amino acids as biological regulators. Journal of pharmacological sciences118(2), 149-155.

12 Wolfe, R. R. (2017). Branched-chain amino acids and muscle protein synthesis in humans: myth or reality?. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition14(1), 30.

13 Shah, S. H., Crosslin, D. R., Haynes, C. S., Nelson, S., Turer, C. B., Stevens, R. D., … & Gorroochurn, P. (2012). Branched-chain amino acid levels are associated with improvement in insulin resistance with weight loss. Diabetologia, 55(2), 321-330.

14 Qureshi, A., Naughton, D. P., & Petroczi, A. (2014). A systematic review on the herbal extract Tribulus terrestris and the roots of its putative aphrodisiac and performance enhancing effect. Journal of dietary supplements, 11(1), 64-79.

15 Pokrywka, A., Obmiński, Z., Malczewska-Lenczowska, J., Fijatek, Z., Turek-Lepa, E., & Grucza, R. (2014). Insights into supplements with Tribulus terrestris used by athletes. Journal of human kinetics, 41(1), 99-105.

16 Antonio, J., Uelmen, J., Rodriguez, R., & Earnest, C. (2000). The effects of Tribulus terrestris on body composition and exercise performance in resistance-trained males. International journal of sport nutrition and exercise metabolism, 10(2), 208-215.

17 Biesalski, H. K., & Tinz, J. (2017). Multivitamin/mineral supplements: Rationale and safety–A systematic review. Nutrition, 33, 76-82.



Dawid Lyszczek

Dawid Lyszczek

New Product Developer & Food Technologist

Dawid Lyszczek is an expert new product developer, food technologist, nutritionist and personal trainer. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Human Nutrition, master’s degree in Food Innovation and Level 3 Certificate in Personal Training. Dawid specialises in evidence-based body-composition nutrition and training for both amateurs and physique athletes, and has been involved in sports nutrition and weight training for over 15 years. Dawid is also a former competitive bodybuilder, UKBFF British finalist in “Intermediates Over 90kgs” Class of 2013, as featured in Flex magazine.

Dawid’s academic area of interest has involved both the role of meal frequency on body composition, and also functional food development, which you can find out more about here.

In his current role, Dawid bridges the gap between sports nutrition and food technology, bringing in academic experience backed by real life practice that produces results.

You can find out more about Dawid’s experience here.


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