Let’s face it, choosing supplements is tough. I’ve been in the weight training game for over 20 years and the last 3 to 5 years have been the most confusing in terms of choosing supplements.
There are just so many supplement companies competing for your hard earned dollars that the supplement world has turned into a circus.
Try reading the first 10 pages of any top muscles building magazine and you’ll quickly realize how fierce and confusing the world of supplements are.
Long gone are the days when Weider used to rule the supplement world. For those of you who remember, Weider was the only brand that was available and the choice wasn’t all that great. Today there are hundreds of companies and Weider has all but disappeared. I guess that’s a good thing since some of the supplements today are far more advanced than the old muscle builders of the 80’s and early 90’s.
However, supplement marketing has turned into a circus and everything you read is over the top. Everyday, I get emails from very confused, aspiring weight trainers asking for advice on what supplements they should be taking for increasing size and strength.
With that in mind, I’ve decided to put together a short list of what works and how to take them. But, before I get into that, I want to stress that all supplements are a waste of time unless you have your 1) Training program in place and; 2) Diet in place. If you don’t have these two in place, please don’t waste your time and money hoping that supplements will magically get you huge because they won’t. If you are having trouble getting your diet into place, please see this page:
Alright, let’s find out what supplements actually work for increasing size and strength. I’ve tried each of these supplements over a 12 week period so I know, without a doubt that if they are used in conjunction with a well laid out meal plan and weight training routine, they will work wonders for you.
Here are the supplements and how you should use them:
Take 5 to 10 grams a soon as you wake up with 2 glasses of water. I’m currently using EAS glutamine and it seems to do the trick. Stick to a reputable brand and you should be ok. Just remember to get at least 400 grams because this stuff goes pretty quick. These go for about $30 Canadian.
Very important. I swear by Animal Packs by Universal Nutrition. Take one pack as soon as you’ve finished your breakfast. It says to take two packs daily if your on a hard training schedule but I think one a day is plenty. These go for about $40 Canadian.
An absolute must if you want to increase size and strength. I use either Dymatize Xpand or Nutrabolics NOZ. Both of these work like magic and expect huge strength gains after 3 to 4 weeks of steady use. I take a serving before and after training. Goes for about $60 Canadian. Try reading our creatine guide here.
I’m convinced this supplement works. I’ve used Endthil CR for over 15 weeks and in different tests to know it works. It’s about two bucks a tab but worth it if you want to get big and strong. A 30 day supply will go for about $75 Canadian. I take two tabs 30 minutes before training. However, try using one tab per day for the first 10 weeks. You can expect to see results after 4 weeks of steady use.
Weight Gain Powders
When I was a skinny tooth pick, I used weight gainers more than pure protein powders to pack on the pounds. I used two servings of weight gainers with about 800 per serving each day. This did the trick and I added body mass very quickly. I’d recommend you use something like Dorian Yates’ MBF for your weight gain needs. Although other brands such as CytoSports Cytogainer, Interactive Mammoth, or ProLabs N2 Large will work just fine.
Have one drink first thing in the morning, (after you’ve finished your glutamine), and one as soon as you’ve finished working out. You can expect to see results after 2 to 3 weeks of steady use.
Remember, drink two (at the most) weight gain drinks each and every day until you start gaining weight. However, you must be careful to monitor your body because you can pack on a lot of fat if you’re not careful. Try reading our skinny guys guide to weight gain here.
I don’t use weight gainers anymore because I have a hard enough time keeping the weight off than putting it back on. I strictly use protein powders these days for my protein supplement needs. I’m currently using Dymatize Mega Milk and Cyto Sports Muscle Milk. I love the taste and results from each product.
My servings are as follows:
• As soon as I get up;
• Immediately after training;
• Before I go to bed.
This set up works absolutely great.
These are my tried and tested supplements that I stand by. Use the above supplements and schedule and I’m positive you’ll gain strength and size after 4 weeks of steady use.
I usually have one or two “experimental” supplements that I use to see if they work. Currently, I’m trying Muscle Tech’s Gakic and Anator P-70. All I can say is that I’m pretty satisfied with the results. However, I’m still testing these supplements out before I can say with certainty that they work. I’ll be posting my reviews on these supplements shortly on the web site.
Points To Remember
• Don’t bother with supplements until you have your diet and training down and know it’s working. Generally 3 to 4 weeks of steady training and nutrition is enough to start taking supplements. When I take a break from training (3 to 4 weeks), I don’t start with supplements until about 3 weeks into my routine and nutrition.
• Give a supplement at least 8 weeks before making up your mind. I laugh every time I go to a supplement review board on the internet because these comments are hilarious. The other day I read a comment that said someone only gained 4 pounds over a week and a half on a certain supplement, so it was “garbage”. The strongest steroid will not allow for that kind of growth! Stay away from these boards and do your own homework.
• Follow the directions on the label. After you’ve followed the directions for at least 6 to 8 weeks, adjust the dose and times to match your needs (provided it’s working). Always do a bit of homework on the supplement. First question you should ask yourself is this “What studies have been done to prove the claims”. Make sure the claims are accredited.
• Stick with brands that are reputable. These companies have more to lose if their products don’t work. Fly by night companies are suspect.
I’ve recently read an outstanding resource by Jeff Anderson called “Home Made Supplement Secrets”. This is a must read for those of you who are interested in adding supplements to your program. I was quite surprised to actually find out what “really” goes on behind the scenes within the supplement indursty. Jeff also provides supplement recipes for most of the popular supplements on the market today. He gives you the ingredients and where to find them. I was very surprised that you can make your own popular supplements for 1/3 of the cost!
I’ve reviewed Jeff’s book at: Home Made Supplement Secrets Review
To go directly to Jeff’s site, click here.
The most important lesson here is to stick to what works. Follow the directions and make sure you are consistent with your intake, otherwise, the supplement won’t help in any way.
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All the best,
Blake has been weight lifting for about 28 years now. He's 45 years of age and started seriously training when he was 18 years old.
Blake is the founder of Building-Muscle101.com, a successful fitness website that has been around for more than 15 years.