Hardgainer Muscle Building, Part 2: Supplementation!

Hardgainers need not worry any longer. Part 2 of this 4 part series covers supplementation for real musclebuilding. Try it and leave your skinny past behind.

Welcome back to my series on going from skinny to buff. Part one covered nutrition. In part two, we are going to talk about supplements. What are they, how should I take them, and which ones are right for me? I hope to cover all of this and get you on your way to your musclebound future.

What Exactly Are Supplements For?

It seems in the past decade or longer, supplements have been as much a part of bodybuilding as weight training. The preconceived notion appears to be that if you take this supplement or go buy that supplement, you are going to be guaranteed to add 14 pounds in 14 days, or bench 500 in three months.

My friends, it isn't that easy. Don't get me wrong. Supplements are wonderful and you are more likely to benefit if you have them. You simply just can't rely on them, however.

Let's look at the word supplement. The first definition of the word supplement is "something added to complete a thing, make up for a deficiency, or extend or strengthen the whole."

Let's look at your body as the thing that needs to be complete. To meet your muscle-building goals and to complete and strengthen your body you need three components. You need a balanced training program, you need a thorough and proper nutrition plan, then, and only then, you can use a supplement program to complete the whole.

If you are not training properly, and if you aren't following a good diet plan, the supplements are not going to do what they are meant to do. Now that it is understood about how training and nutrition are necessary for supplements to work, let's move on.

Pay A Visit To The Doctor

Every label says it, and it is true. Before you undertake any supplement program, you need to talk to your physician. I can't recommend or guarantee that any product will work for you specifically because I don't know your background or your medical history.

Your doctor will know your condition, allergies, etc. Therefore, he or she can tell you if you can take any supplement that you are considering or if you need to stay away from it. Before placing the order, go make an appointment.

Which Supplements Do I Need?

Now, we can talk about which supplements you need to get you started. There are more than 8,500 products on Bodybuilding.com. It is hard for anyone to choose from such variety.

I am going to cover the supplements that I took as my essentials. I honestly do not think I would have been as successful as I have been if it wasn't for these three supplements.


Supplements This is probably the most underrated supplement of them all. That is why it is the first on my list of essential supplements to take. For the human body to perform to its true and highest potential, it must be fed a large and complex variety of vital nutrients.

Your body needs these nutrients just to survive anyway. If you are not taking them, how can you possibly gain muscle, be stronger, and get bigger? You can't. When you go to order your products, I want you to look for a quality multi before you move on to any other product.

Whey Protein

Now you can get your protein from your nutrition, but whey protein goes a long way in helping you meet your bodybuilding destiny. Whey protein comes from milk. You can get all types of protein from beef, meats, fish, and dairy products such as cottage cheese and eggs.

Whey protein has the highest value in providing branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs), which result in building and retaining muscle tissue. Taking in a protein shake makes it much easier to meet your protein requirements and life was much simpler on me because I just had to take thirty seconds to make a shake and I could go on with my day. After training, your protein levels become depleted. Taking a whey product goes a long way to improve recovery.

Man drinking during workout

Vitamin C

I know what you are thinking. "I am already taking a multi. Why do I need more Vitamin C?" As taxing as bodybuilding is on the physique, you need more Vitamin C to help with the recovery process. Most athletes take in 3 grams per day. That was what I took.

It went a long way with my recovery, supported my healthy immune system, and kept my testosterone levels within an already normal range. I also learned later on that Vitamin C can support healthy stress levels. With bodybuilding, college, work, and other things going on in life, I needed help with stress. I think we all could.

What Supplements Do I Want?

Now if this was all it took, then the supplement industry wouldn't be as prominent as it is today. There is more to it, but now we are at the point that we start building our supplement program based on our individual wants and needs.

I took more than these three supplements, but not as often as my everyday products. I am going to go over which ones I took that helped me, and which ones I take now.

Creatine Monohydrate

Creatine has stirred a lot of controversy over the years. Anytime supplements are mentioned, this is normally the first one to enter people's minds. For me, it worked and I loved it. More than 95 percent of creatine is stored in muscle tissue.

Produced in the liver, pancreas, and kidneys, it helps give muscles its ultimate energy, ATP (adenosine triphosphate). It is produced naturally in the body, but creatine products go a long way to help you gain size and strength.

Most creatine products have what is known as a loading phase where you overload the body with creatine. This is followed by a maintenance phase which lasts a few weeks. Follow the label's directions for best use and results.


L-Glutamine can be found in many sources including protein powders, beans, meats, fish, poultry, dairy products, and, of course, L-glutamine supplements. The body relies on glutamine as cellular fuel for the immune system.

Man doing squats

It can help minimize muscle breakdown too. Since you are going to be training hard and heavy, you are going to benefit greatly from this product.

Nitric Oxide

Nitric Oxide products weren't even on the market when I first got started. They didn't take off until 2002. If they had been, I would have used it and I use it today. Now you can't open a magazine without seeing a NO ad. They are everywhere.

Nitric Oxide (NO) is a free-form gas that is produced in the body and is used by the body to communicate with other cells in the body. To produce nitric oxide, enzymes in the body break down the amino acid l-arginine.

They increase the blood flow and deliver more nutrients to the muscles. They also help enhance the pump that we are all looking for after an intense workout.


OK, we have now covered nutrition and supplementation. Next time, I am going into my training philosophies and give a sample split I used to get me started on my journey. Email me at rock23@bodybuilders.com for any comments or questions you may have.

Main | Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4