One of the hardest parts of building a better physique is gaining weight.
Realising the sheer volume of calories required to add mass can be a daunting prospect, especially taking into account the high levels of protein a typical bodybuilder needs.
In order to achieve the required calorie surplus, many gym goers turn to weight gain supplements to gain mass. Options include whey protein, powdered oats, creatine and testosterone boosters, each developed for one purpose – adding mass.
But where do you start? What should be the first thing in your shopping basket, and what could you live without?
Without a doubt, the single most important tool an aspiring bodybuilder has in their arsenal, is whey protein. Protein is essential for building new muscle after you break it down in the gym – without protein, you will not grow. Unfortunately, achieving optimal levels of protein intake through whole foods alone is both difficult and expensive, which is why whey protein is so popular.
There are all sorts of whey protein available – high protein, lactose free isolates, high carb – and very often they are available at extremely competitive prices. Whilst you shouldn’t get all of your protein from whey, it’s a cheap way to supplement your protein intake.
We recently wrote about the benefits of whey protein.
Creatine is a great supplement that helps to build muscle quickly. It increases the body’s ability to rapidly produce energy, allowing a more intense and effective training session. It also increases the levels of muscle hypertrophy, which is when the body responds to damaged muscles by rebuilding them bigger.
In the first week of creatine supplementation, it is not unusual to see 1-2kg of increased body weight as well as a fuller, bigger look to your physique. This is due to creatine pulling water into your muscles. However, creatine is useful for gaining more than just water weight. Creatine can increase the activity of muscular satellite cells which play a huge role in the shuttling of nutrients the body requires to grow, this leads to increased protein synthesis and enhanced muscular growth.
Many people vastly underestimate the important role that a calorific surplus plays in building muscle. As a general rule, if you aren’t in a surplus of calories (taking in more than your body burns) – you aren’t going to gain weight.
There are 3 important groups of macronutrients that you should be keeping track of – carbohydrates, proteins and fats. For a detailed explanation of calories and macronutrients, and to find out how much you need to build muscle, take a look at our Beginners guide to bulking up.
Although not technically a weight gain supplement, the use of testosterone boosters can greatly increase the levels of free testosterone in the blood. Most testosterone boosters work by signalling the body to increase its own natural production of testosterone, in turn enhancing strength, muscle hypertrophy, appetite and protein synthesis. It’s very safe and used the world over by athletes who want an extra boost.
A guide to two of the most popular testosterone boosters, and an analysis of each of them, can be read here: Tribulus vs D Aspartic Acid.
Whilst there are certainly more weight gain supplements available than the ones listed above, most trainers won’t notice an incredible amount of weight gain with them. Just make sure you achieve the following:
• Ensure a calorific surplus is met
• Boost your protein intake from a quality whey protein blend
• Supplement your daily diet with creatine
• Use a good quality testosterone booster
Combine the above with a decent training plan, and you’ll find yourself on the right path to achieving your dream physique.