Supplements For Beginners
"I'm just getting started with lifting. What should I take?"
This is probably the most frequent question that any supplement retailer is asked. The first thing to consider is your age.
If you are 18 or younger you probably don’t need anything other than hard work and a lot of food. You need to consume quality calories and make sure that you get enough protein to feed your muscles. You will want to take in about 1 to 1.5 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight per day. This is not talking just about supplements. This is total protein intake per day. You need to know how much protein you are getting from your meals.
For example: If you are 150 pounds you need to consume around 150 – 225 grams of protein each day split up into 5 meals. You will see that for your main three meals it is not that hard to do. The challenge is eating a couple of chicken breasts at 10am or 3 pm. That is typically where protein powders, MRP’s ( meal replacements ), protein bars and other protein supplements come in to play. Also, you need to look consider calories, carbs and fats when designing your meal plans.
You are just starting out – let’s keep things as simple as possible. You will be more likely to stick with a plan if it is simple and not too expensive. If you determine that you need to supplement your protein intake it is best to do it with a protein powder.
Whey proteins are very popular because they work and they get into your system quickly. You will probably be taking a couple of shakes per day to help meet your requirements. Ideal times to take these are during or right after your workout and as a mid day snack. For one of those in-between meal-meals you could also use a Meal Replacement (MRP). MRP's give the correct ratios on protein, carbs and fats to mimick an ideal muscle building meal.
So – protein is your first supplement.
If you are training several times per week and / or doing heavy cardio though sports you can be depleting nutrients and minerals faster than you can replace them. If your body is deficient then you are not getting the full benefit of your training and you can be losing muscle rather than gaining it. Your body is a machine. If one part is not functioning properly it affects the whole unit.
Finally, after your workouts your body goes into overdrive trying to recover from the beating that it has just taken. This is when muscles are built. Nope – it’s not in the gym, it’s the hours after the gym that make the final decision on your muscle building. The meals that you eat, the rest that you get and the nutrients that are rushing to your screaming muscles.
Glutamine is an amino acid that is found in your body naturally. It is also one of the first to be depleted during strenuous activity. Supplementing with glutamine will aid in recovery and therefore lessens the soreness that you feel after your workout.
For those who are 16-18 that wraps it up. If you are 15 or under you are better off just working hard and eating right. These two things will do more for your physique than any supplements will – no matter what your age is.
Now, for those who are 19 and over:
The same progression of supplements will apply as above. For those looking to add size we can include a few more supplements that will help you in your quest for muscle.
Creatine is another product that is found naturally in our bodies as well as being found in many of the foods that we consume. It is used to supply energy to the muscles. Creatine is a naturally occurring compound in the muscle tissue; when converted in the muscle tissue to phosphocreatine during exercise, it can provide sudden bursts of energy. Insufficient amounts of phosphocreatine could result in a fatigued feeling in the muscle. Creatine provides enough energy to delay to onset of fatigue. It is a synthesized metabolite that is a powerful energizer providing instant energy and strength with better endurance and helps to maintain optimal levels of ATP production during intense exercise. Creatine will help you gain lean muscle mass and even burn fat as well.
Creatine Monohydrate was the original form of creatine and works very well. It does require loading ( taking more product to the first week to saturate your muscles ) and can cause stomach cramping for some users. It is inexpensive and works well. Newer forms of creatine include Creatine HCL and Kre-Alkalyn. Most creatines are taken post workout. Some creatines are mixed with stimulants as a pre-workout, such as N.O Xplode, and are taken before your workout.
There you have it. If you are a beginner these are the must haves for gaining muscle mass. We hear of a lot of guys that buy all of the above as well as GH products, testosterone boosters, HMB, ZMA etc, etc … If they get good results they have no idea of what helped them so they keep shelling out $300 a month to keep the results coming.
Get these basics first and go from there.
Two more things that needs repeating:
- Diet, a solid training regimen and plenty of sleep will do more to get your muscles growing than supplements and
- Keep a log or training journal each time you train. This will help you to set goals, stay motivated and will force you to push yourself each time you hit the gym. Good Luck - welcome to a very rewarding sport.