Best Supplements For Hardgainers – Gain Lean Mass

best supplements for hard gainers

Are you having trouble putting on muscle?

Are you meeting your daily nutritional goals but unable to gain mass?

If you answered yes to any or both of the above questions, then a supplementation program can definitely help.

These are the top 5 best supplements for hardgainers which will boost your efforts towards putting on some quality lean mass.

To make sure you are doing everything to put on the maximum amount of muscle refer to .

Top 5 Best Supplements For Muscle Gain

  1. Creatine
  2. Beta Alanine
  3. Whey Protein
  4. Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs)
  5. Nitric Oxide Booster

1. Creatine

Creatine is naturally produced in the body and it supplies energy to all of the body’s cells, primarily muscle cells1.

BENEFITS

Creatine has been widely studied and its benefits are backed up by various studies.

Here are 3 specific ways that creatine can boost your results in the gym:

  1. Bigger muscles: Supplementing with creatine increases muscle hydration and increases their size. Better hydrated muscles are stronger in the gym. This leads to boosted hypertrophy overtime2.
  2. Better athletic performance:  Supplementing with creatine has been shown to make an athlete both faster and stronger when involved in high intensity activity3.
  3. Faster post-workout recovery: A 2004 study done on experienced endurance athletes concluded that supplementing with creatine promotes complete recovery after intense exercise4

Creatine use has also been related with better brain function.

NEGATIVE SIDE EFFECTS

Since creatine drives water into the muscles, the main concern is dehydration.

Aim to take in at least a gallon of water per day when supplementing with creatine.

Creatine may not be safe if you have unhealthy kidneys.

There is evidence that creatine can further worsen the case for kidneys that are already damaged.

HOW TO STACK

There are many different types of creatine available.

Creatine monohydrate, creatine hydrochloride, creatine AKG, to name a few.

The most studied is creatine monohydrate. It also happens to be the most affordable.

A lot of creatine users go through a “loading phase” in which they supplement with up to 20 grams per day for a week.

They then drop to a maintenance level of 5 grams per day.

Research has shown that a “loading phase” is not necessary to reap the benefits from creatine.

I consume 5 grams of creatine monohydrate mixed in my post-workout shake.

Creatine has not been studied for its effects over the long term, and therefore I prefer cycling it for 6 weeks followed by 2 weeks off.

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2. Beta-Alanine

Beta-Alanine is a naturally occurring amino acid that is difficult to consume through diet alone.

BENEFITS

Beta-alanine is converted into carnosine.

Carnosine is an organic compound that is highly concentrated in the muscles.

Other than being a powerful anti-oxidant, carnosine also works to inhibit the build up of hydrogen ions during high intensity exercise.

Hydrogen ions are a major contributor to muscle fatigue.

An increase of carnosine in your body means an increase in strength, stamina, as well as muscular development5.

When supplementing with beta-alanine, I am able to train harder in the gym because of faster recovery time between sets.

NEGATIVE SIDE EFFECTS

If you have ever consumed a pre-workout supplement and felt a tingly feeling, it is because of the beta-alanine.

The technical term for this tingly feeling is paresthesia.

Paresthesia is a harmless side effect6.

No other negative side effects have been reported.

HOW TO STACK

A loading phase is usually recommended when supplementing with beta-alanine.

The loading phase is 6 grams per day for the first week, after which maintenance is 3 grams per day.

During the loading phase take 6 grams through 2 doses throughout the day.

During maintenance take the 3 grams before workout.

Beta-alanine is especially effective when stacked with creatine. A particular study revealed that a group of males supplementing with creatine and beta-alanine gained more lean mass and lost more fat compared to a group of males who supplemented with only creatine.

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3. Whey Protein

Whey is made from milk and is a by-product of cheese production.

BENEFITS

Protein is made up of amino acids, the fundamental building blocks of muscle.

If you want to build serious muscle, you will have to be getting in your fair share of quality protein.

I find it difficult to get enough protein through my diet alone.

Therefore, I fulfill my requirements through whey protein shakes.

A scoop of the typical whey protein powder provides about 20-25 grams of protein (about as much as a 100g chicken breast).

Whey protein is easily digested and provides the body with the resources to jump start the muscle building process.

Considering all you need is water and a shaker cup, supplementing with whey protein allows for a convenient source of protein on the go.

NEGATIVE SIDE EFFECTS 

Consuming too much protein has been associated with diarrhea, nausea, headaches, and even bloating.

Whey protein is very safe, but don’t go overboard.

HOW TO STACK

The best time to consume a whey protein shake is around workouts.

I take one serving pre-workout and one post.

This allows for better energy during the workout as well as better recovery after.

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4. Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs)

BCAAs are the three amino acids Leucine, Isoleucine, and Valine.

They make up more than a third of all muscle protein.

BENEFITS

Research has shown that BCAAs enter your brain through the blood stream and inhibit serotonin production7.

This allows for better mental endurance during a workout.

Also, during a workout your body is breaking down molecules for energy. Amino acids are being depleted from the muscle cells.

Supplementing with BCAAs lessens the effects of lost amino acids and allows for better muscular endurance and recovery.

NEGATIVE SIDE EFFECTS

Some negative side effects of supplementing with BCAAs may include a loss of coordination and extreme tiredness after the workout.

HOW TO STACK 

BCAAs are best taken around workouts.

If you take BCAAs before or during a workout you will have better endurance and less muscular fatigue.

If you take BCAAs after a workout, they will work to inhibit catabolism, i.e. the breakdown of muscle.

I prefer the powder form of BCAAs to the pill form. I mix a serving with water and sip on it through my workout.

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5. Nitric Oxide Booster

Nitrogen (N) and oxygen (O) combine to form nitric oxide.

Nitric oxide (NO) plays a role in many of the body’s processes including blood flow, immune response, and brain function.

BENEFITS

Supplementing with an NO booster allows for increased blood flow to the muscles8.

This allows for the enhanced delivery of both nutrients and anabolic hormones.

An NO booster results in longer muscular endurance as well as better post-workout recovery.

NEGATIVE SIDE EFFECTS

Some negative side effects of supplementing with an NO booster may include blurred vision, abdominal pain, or extreme fatigue.

HOW TO STACK

NO boosters provide arginine which is then converted into nitric oxide.

The typical NO booster provides anywhere from 2-5g of arginine.

The recommended consumption is usually 3 servings a day.

Upon waking, before workout, and before bed.

My Personal Stack

I have not used an NO booster, but here is a list of the supplements I do use based on personal preference and experimentation:

Bonus Tip

The following is a recipe for a shake that helped me put on quality mass FAST.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 3/4 cup quaker rolled oats
  • 1 scoop whey protein
  • 3 grams beta-alanine
  • 5 grams creatine

Instructions:

  • Add ingredients to a blender
  • Blend until smooth consistency

Each shake brings in over 700 calories!

When I was looking to gain mass, I would drink two of these a day.

Final Word

A supplementation program will prove pointless without an adequate nutrition plan in place.

Make sure to put together a proper nutrition plan before even thinking of purchasing any supplements.

You can email me if you need any advice.

Obviously a workout program is key as well.

Check out my best workouts for mass that will help you overcome lagging body parts.

There you have it, the best supplements for hardgainers to help you gain mass!

Are any of your favorite supplements missing from the list?

Have you seen results with any of these supplements?

REFERENCES

  1. Entry “creatine” in Merriam Webster Online Dictionary
  2. Brose A. et al. “Creatine supplementation enhances isometric strength and body composition improvements following strength exercise training in older adults“. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci.
  3. Burke DG et. al. “Effect of creatine and weight training on muscle creatine and performance in vegetarians“. Med Sci Sports Exerc.
  4. Santos, R. V. et al. (2004) “The effect of creatine supplementation upon inflammatory and muscle soreness markers after a 30km race“. Life Sciences.
  5. Harris RC. et al. “The absorption of orally supplied beta-alanine and its effect on muscle carnosine synthesis in human vastus lateralis“. Amino Acids.
  6. Stout JR. et al. “Effects of 28 days of beta-alanine and creatine monohydrate supplementation on the physical working capacity at neuromuscular fatigue threshold“. J Strength Cond Res.
  7. MJ, Gibala. “The Regulation of skeletal muscle amino acid metabolism during exercise“. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab.
  8. R, Bescos. et al. “The effect of nitric-oxide-related supplements on human performance“. Sports Med.

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Comments

  1. says

    I always use whey protein and drink it immediately post workout. It has helped me gain lean muscle mass and lose fat. I’m going to try beta alanine on your recommendation. Thank

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