In the modern race for bigger, leaner and stronger muscles, supplementation has become a must for enthusiastic and competitive bodybuilders alike. As the scientific data about muscle building piles up, more and more brands and types of supplements show up on the shelves of fitness stores. And while the claims of some of them are rather suspiciously exaggerated, others have proven to have superb anabolic effects.
But efficient muscle building requires the use of anti-catabolic agents as much as it needs anabolic supplements – anti-catabolic supplements help you prevent or minimize the breakdown of your hard-earned muscle
Since our usual focus is heavily set on creating the optimal anabolic environment that would result with muscle growth, we sometimes forget about the importance of preserving muscle tissue and absolutely minimizing unwanted muscle loss, especially during periods of rigorous dieting. After all, if you can’t maintain your precious muscle, why bother building it in the first place?
To avoid that from happening, enter the world of anti-catabolic supplementation. These three bad boys will give your muscles all the anti-catabolic protection they could ever need and ensure that they’re looking their best all year around.
BCAAs or branch-chained amino acids refers to three of the most important muscle building blocks – leucine, isoleucine and valine. These valuable amino acids help promote muscle protein synthesis, prevent muscle breakdown and reduce fatigue, which makes them very important for athletes of all kinds, especially when on an extreme fat loss diet or during periods of long and strenuous trainings (before a competition).
In these cases, supplementing with BCAAs is a must – opt for a 5-gram dose three times per day. However, non-competitive bodybuilders can also benefit from smaller doses of BCAAs in the pursuit of faster progress.
One of the 20 naturally occurring amino acids in dietary protein, glutamine is a conditionally essential amino acid produced in the muscles. That being said, l-glutamine is the most abundant amino acid found in muscle tissue. Since creating an anabolic state translates to creating a positive nitrogen balance within the muscle cells and l-glutamine is a primary nitrogen transporter, glutamine supplementation is viewed as one of the cornerstones of optimal muscle growth.
The positive nitrogen balance caused by l-glutamine helps prevent muscle wasting and speeds up recovery, keeping catabolism away. On the other hand, whenever the body has a glutamine deficiency, such as during intense training, significant muscle breakdown will follow. To prevent this from happening, take 15 grams of glutamine per day, divided in three portions – before training, after training and right before you go to bed.
HMB stands for beta-hydorxy beta-methylbutyric acid, a metabolite of leucine, one of the essential amino acids we mentioned before. This nutrient has been shown to powerfully support the body’s natural ability to minimize the muscle breakdown that’s a typical side-effect of intense resistance exercise.
As a result of HMB’s anti-catabolic effect, your body’s ability to recover will increase significantly and your gains will soar. In addition, HMB can also help you burn fat while building muscle. However, keep in mind that the benefits of this supplement are most prominent in terms of strenuous and prolonged workouts which cause the greatest muscle damage but also offer the greatest potential for muscle growth. In such conditions, take 3 grams of HMB one hour before the workout. But if your workouts are not very intense, you won’t be able to feel the full extent of HMB’s potent anti-catabolic effects.
Of course, there is a myriad of other supplements that you could use to increase the efficiency of your workouts, and we encourage you to try them out, but since many bodybuilders feel like they need a biochemist degree to help them sort their way through all of the options, we would advise you to begin your journey with this powerful trio. And perhaps you’ll find out that these supplements are all you need to build the body of your dreams. Good luck!