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Muscle Building Supplements: Don’t Forget the Basics



Staff Member
Aug 11, 2010
Whey protein. Creatine. Nitric Oxide. BCAAs.

If you’re like me, and obsessed with building muscle, you’ve probably taken each of these supplements. They are cost effective, and help you to train stronger, longer and to look better. But I want to ask you a question:

How often do you consider your overall health?

Sure, you eat right and train hard. You are healthy. No doubt about that. But are you as healthy as you could be? I know, I know. I am starting to sound confusing. Let me explain what I mean.

A Muscle Building Supplement Story
I have been training for over two decades. During this time I was obsessed with muscle building supplements. I wanted the best whey protein, and the latest research on creatine. I wanted to know what supplements would boost my testesterone and growth hormone levels.

But I never thought about the basics…supplements for overall health. Supplements that I should be taking, but wasn’t. Supplements like a quality multivitamin, a supplement for joint health and essential healthy fats (fish oil and flax seed oil). I was trying to build muscle, but wasn’t giving my body 100% of the necessary building blocks to function properly on all levels.

You see, nutrition and muscle building is easy. You need to start from the ground up. First, you begin with supplements for overall health. Supplements that provide ALL the necessary vitamins and minerals you need to pack on mass. Supplements like fish oil that assist with proper heart and brain functioning.

Then, once you have prepared a healthy foundation, it’s time to add the muscle building supplements. But I had this all wrong. More than that – I was ignoring the basics. I was trying to run a muscle car using the worst possible fuel.

Muscle building is an exciting and life changing process, but it is also hard on the body. Major changes are taking place. You are lifting heavy weights, tearing down muscles over and over again, rebuilding them stronger each time. If you don’t provide you body with the basics, as you age, you are opening the door for your body to break down.

This is exactly what I had been doing. Years passed by, and slowly – despite my training and diet – my age started to catch up with me. I wasn’t feeling like my old self. I had less energy, and more aches and pains. And I didn’t feel mentally alert and aware.

Supplements for General Health
Don’t be like me. Don’t ignore the small stuff. Make sure you focus on supplementing with the basics. Here are some supplement “basics” I strongly recommend you consider:

A Multivitamin. Not just any multivitamin. A quality multivitamin. And along with this, I would also recommend supplementing with some addition Vitamin C. The vitamin requirements of anyone who partakes in intense training is higher than a sedentary person. Training depletes vitamin stores in the body. These stores need to be replaced to allow for optimum energy levels and recovery times.

A good multivitamin product will fill in all the “holes” in your diet. The multivitamins listed here are designed for athletes, bodybuilders and anyone who trains hard. A good multivitamin is often one of the supplements that’s overlooked, but is one of the most important. What’s the point of having a good diet and training program without backing it up with a solid multivitamin?

Fish Oil. Fish oil, or healthy essential fatty acids, should be a staple for anyone that trains hard. Healthy oils and essential fatty acids are well known for improving overall health, vitality and brain function. But healthy oils also play an important role in muscle building and fat loss. A Danish study proved that supplementing with the correct ratio of essential fats can increase stamina, improve muscle development, speed recovery and improve cardiovascular function.

Joint Health Supplement. Muscles aren’t the only thing in the body that takes a beating from hard, intense cardio and weight training. Every time you train with weights, go for a run, or play sport you’re putting your joints under pressure. Weight training is especially hard on the joints! To get the most out of your training schedule and protect yourself from joint injuries you need to take care of your joints. Joint health supplements can help protect your joints from damage, and help you recover from a joint injury.


Sep 16, 2010
Agreed. After a few years of lifting, and now returning to the "heavy" lifting, I'm planning on paying close attention to these points. Although I've always taken a multi-vit & 3-6-9's I'm starting to wonder if it's enough. Any recommendations on "cost efficient" packs? Something that contains joint health as well. I've never believed in BCAA's, but have understood that they're "building block supps. What's the difference between BCAA & EAA's? Should I be consuming both?

I see there's new forms of delivery in reference Glutamine. Is L-Glutamine still the best?


Oct 17, 2010
I've never believed in BCAA's, but have understood that they're "building block supps. What's the difference between BCAA & EAA's? Should I be consuming both?

I see there's new forms of delivery in reference Glutamine. Is L-Glutamine still the best?
The BCAAs-isoleucine, leucine, and valine- are all essential amino acids that make up about 35% of the amino acids in muscles tissue, and can also be used for energy. Studies confirm that under conditions of stress, injury, or exercise, a disproportionately high amount of the BCAAs are required to maintain nitrogen balance. Studies also indicate that leucine is used up to two or more times than the rate of isoleucine or valine. Many formulas on the market will typically have about twice as much leucine as the other BCAAs. BCAAs have a history of use in hospital situations where patients were in stressed states(burn victims, surgery, trama, starvation). Intravenous feeding of BCAAs is used to stimulate protein systhesis and nitrogen balance.

During the 1980's, sport nutrition companies picked up on this clinical practice, and reshearch on animals and athletes revealed that the BCAAs are used for energy. They hypothesized that taking supplements of BCAAs would then compensate for BCAAs used for energy, promote muscle growth, and growth hormone release and insulin release. Although athletes widely used BCAAs; there are no good studies performed using them with athletes.

Dosages of BCAAs vary depending upon the products available. Some products contain just BCAAs, other have a few more ingredients, and still others contain a full sprctrum of 18 amino acids with extra amounts of the BCAAs plus cofactors. Athletes, especially bodybuilders, report muscle growth and strenght benefits when taking effective BCAA formulations. However, BCAAs are not just for power athletes. On the contrary, endurance athletes can also benefit from BCAA supplementation. Reshearch has determined that as much as 90% of the total daily leucine can be used for energy purposes in endurance athletes. This means that several that several times the normal amount of protein needs to be eaten to maintain nitrogen balance. But, an alternative method can be to fortify the base diet of food protiens with a BCAA type supplement. New reshearch has also demostrated a benefical effect on endurance when BCAAs are ingested before and during exercise in a beverage form.

How much of the BCCAs are Needed?

The exact answer to this question has not been determined as of yet, but the following will offer guildlines based on available reshearch and experience. You can either take a combination formula of just the BCAAs and a few confactors; take a full spectrum amino acid along with the BCAAs; or take a full spectrum amino acid supplement with extra BCAAs. Formulations with BCAAs, Vitamin B6 and Glutamic Acid are best. Supplemental amounts of BCAAa should range from 1.5 grams to 6 grams for Leucine, and 800mg to 3 grams for isoleucine and valine. Confactors should be present, like vitamin B6(pyridoxine),and glutamic acid. Split dosage over 2 servings per day. Take 30 to 60 minutes before exercise, directly after exercise on training days, and along with meals to fortify base proteins on non-training days

BCAAs may complete for absorption with other amnio acids like tyrosine, phenylalanine, and methionine. If you are taking supplements amounts of amnio acids, do so in the evening and mornings, at least 3 hours before BCAA supplement intake.

Taken from ISSA Preformance Nutrition Guide

As for glutamine I swear by it. I have not gotten sick while supplementing with glutamine

Glutamine is a non-essential amino acid found in proteins. It is formed from glutamic acid by the addition of ammonia and vitamin B6. It is a neurotransmitter in the brain and can be converted back to glutamic acid in the brain, where it is essential for brain function. Glutamine is an energey source in the brain and a mediator of glutamic acid and GABA activity. Glutamine is also vital to immunity function. New studies show that cell replication in the immume system requires glutamine. However most glutamine is made in the muscles, so your muscles have to supply a large amount of glutamine to the immune system, Over supplementation of glutamine can contribute to the ammonia load, and use of glutamine alphaketogutarate is recommended as an alternative, Supplemntal use of free form L-glutamine by athletes is known to have strong anti-catabolic effect that neutralizes the cortisol which accompanies strenuous exercise. Cortisol is highly catabolic. L-glutamine additionally plays an active role in recovery and healing process. Supplemental glutamine has reportedly been taken in dosages ranging from 500 to over 20,000 milligrams per day during peroids of high stress. Dosages in commerical supplements typically range from 1 gram to 10 grams. Use with caution

Taken from ISSA Performance Nutrition Guide
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