Bodybuilding 101: When Should You Start Taking Supplements?

You probably just joined a gym a couple of weeks ago; and you’re now wondering when you should start taking supplements. Just like the other muscle-bound dudes on the training floor.

Perhaps you are too reluctant to ask anyone what they are swigging and should you start shopping for those powders or pills too?

Actually, some supplements may be helpful to speed up your way in attaining a more lean and muscular physique. However, there are lots of things that you should consider first before making any purchase.

For all you know, those glossy ads in the pages of fitness magazines or websites that you have been repeatedly browsing in the past few days are total gyps and a terrible waste of your hard-earned money.

Before you could answer the question “when should you start taking supplements”, there are other concerns that you must settle with yourself first. Before knowing the when you must first determine the why, the what, and the how.


Why Do You Need to Take Supplements?

If you have the proper diet, a comprehensive workout program, and a resolute healthy lifestyle in place; you can actually get into a good physical shape without taking an ounce of sports nutritional. You just need to patiently and persistently sculpt your body in the most natural way possible.

However, if you are aiming for a radical body transformation from being flabby or skinny to downright brawny in the shortest time possible, then you could consider taking those so-called fat-burners, muscle-builders, or athletic performance enhancers.

Just make sure that whatever clinically formulated products you will take have already been proven safe and effective, so you better do your research. Some unbiased online forum can be useful when doing your due diligence before making your choices.


What Are the Supplements You Should Consider?

Take note that you are only supplementing because it was already determined that your diet is not giving you copious amounts of natural substances that optimize muscle growth and preservation. As well as reduction of visceral and subcutaneous fat in your midsection.

What you need are supplements that will boost your energy and stamina for intensified training. Increase the rate of protein synthesis and nitric oxide circulation in your skeletal muscles; and aid in the recovery, repair, and development of myofibrils or muscle protein strands.

Here are some of the basic supplements that can catalyze said functions:


1. Creatine

While this nitrogenous acid can be produced by your own system and can also be obtained from protein-rich foods such as beef, salmon, and eggs; your body can actually use higher amounts during weights or resistance training.

It is because of its essential role in the production of adenosine triphosphate or ATP, which is the main source of muscular energy for flexing and contraction.

No wonder, it is the most popular supplement for bodybuilders and athletes that require brute strength or a sudden burst of energy during training and competitions such as gymnasts, sprinters, wrestlers, and football players.

Creatine is widely accepted as safe and effective. In fact, it is one of the few supplements legitimately allowed by the NCAA and the International Olympics Committee (IOC) for their contestants.

One of its perceived benefits is that it apparently stimulates satellite cells’ activity while increasing their myonuclei, which causes muscle hypertrophy and muscle fiber damage repair, respectively.


2. Whey Protein


This is one of the very few organic foods that contain all 9 essential amino acids; said to be the building blocks of protein, the primary macro-nutrient needed for muscle formation.

It is naturally derived from cheese production wherein it was separated from one of the other main protein of cow’s milk called casein. Whey is the leftover liquid material once the milk coagulated, while casein became the main component of cheese.  

Other supplements that deserve your consideration include BCAA or Branched-Chain Amino Acids, Glutamine, and Fish Oils. However, we will no longer elaborate on these substances.


How Do You Take Supplements?

First of all, you should only take them when you already have a sound fitness program in play. Meaning, any sports and bodybuilding supplement must be taken in conjunction and not in lieu of a sensible diet and a steady workout regimen.

These powders and pills are not like multivitamins you take daily whether you are living an active or sedentary life. They are called bodybuilding or sports supplements for a reason. It’s like having a scuba gear; you only wear them when you go sea diving and not on the way to your office.

Having the right dosage is, of course, also pertinent not only to get the best gain out of these supplements but also to have your money’s worth.


When Should You Start Taking Supplements?

As mentioned, when you already have an established fitness regimen.

In fact, if you are a newbie to bodybuilding or has been away from training for quite some time; it is better to start supplementing when you already have been working out regularly for at least 4-6 weeks.

By then, your muscles are already primed for faster and greater growth.

As for the timing and frequency, it all depends on what kind of supplements you are going to take. Some are best taken several minutes before hitting the gym (pre-workout); some can be taken during the workout (intra), while others are best after training (post workout).

Others still can be taken in the morning or before bedtime.

Besides reading the label, it is always best to consult a medical practitioner or a professional gym instructor before starting out on any supplement. Especially if you have a pre-existing medical condition or below the age of eighteen.



A final word of friendly advice: Don’t be sucked in by marketing hype and grandiose promises touted by various vendors on TVC, print ads and online. Don’t be captivated as well with the long list of ingredients emblazoned in many suppliers’ so-called proprietary blends.

Chances are some of those “miracle” components have not been subjected to highly conclusive and unbiased clinical tests.

It’s better to stick to amply proven substances like the ones mentioned here, or better yet, ask people with first-hand experiences in taking bodybuilding or sports supplements.

When do you think you should start taking supplements? Leave a comment below.

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