Why Use BCAAs For Bodybuilding?

When it comes to achieving your bodybuilding goals, every edge you can give yourself counts. Diet and exercise are the foundation of a legendary bodybuilding physique but supplements have also become commonplace in the industry. Bodybuilding supplements have come a long way since the days of only using protein and creatine. Now you can find a wealth of ingredients to push you to achieve your muscle-building goals. Branched-chain amino acids are one of the best bodybuilding supplements because they are the very building blocks of muscle tissue. Let’s take a look at their benefits and how you can use BCAAs for bodybuilding.

Benefits of BCAAs for Bodybuilding

While there are 20 amino acids in the human body, only three are essential for muscle building and sports recovery: leucine, isoleucine, and valine. Here’s what the science says about these three essential amino acids as it relates to bodybuilding:
  1. Exercise Performance
  2. Building Muscle
  3. Prevent Catabolism
  4. Recovery

1: Exercise Performance

Building muscle mass starts with getting in a great workout. Even with caffeine, a lot of people crash in the middle of their workout. BCAAs have been shown to prevent this mid-workout fatigue. One study demonstrated that BCAAs alleviated mental fatigue [1] and subjects were able to perform exercises longer.

2: Build Muscle

As mentioned above, BCAAs are the building blocks of muscle tissue. Studies show that consumption of branched-chain amino acid supplements triggers protein synthesis [2] – the formation of muscle protein – and creates an anabolic or growth-based environment. When your goal is muscle mass for bodybuilding, anabolism isn’t an option; it’s a requirement.

3: Prevent Catabolism (Protein Breakdown)

Not only does taking BCAA supplements help to promote muscle growth but it also protects from muscle breakdown. For many bodybuilders, the first half of the season is spent getting as big as possible. For the latter half, in preparation for hitting the stage, bodybuilders focus on getting cut or leaning out. This requires more cardiovascular exercise and a cut in calories. This decrease in calories sets the stage for potential protein catabolism or breakdown. BCAAs have been shown to protect muscle tissue [3] from breakdown during low-calorie diets and fasted training.

4: Sports Recovery

After a workout, when you’re resting and recovering, is when muscle growth occurs. This is why post-workout nutrition is so important. BCAAs ensure sports recovery in a few ways: First, BCAAs help to repair the microtears in muscle tissue; thereby promoting growth. Second, BCAAs also help you to avoid overtraining a muscle. One of the symptoms of overtraining is muscle wasting, which is the last thing you want when you’re a bodybuilder. Finally, BCAAs have been shown to reduce muscle soreness [4] letting you get back in the weight room faster.

When to Take BCAAs for Bodybuilding

If you have your sights set on the bodybuilding stage, there are a few times I would recommend taking BCAAs each day:
  1. Pre Workout
  2. Intra Workout
  3. Before Bed

1: Pre-Workout

Whey protein is a great pre-workout option, but depending on your training schedule, BCAAs might be the better option. Use BCAAs before a workout if you are training fasted or if you are saving the extra protein calories for a post-workout shake.

2: Intra-Workout

BCAAs can support your workout performance by alleviating fatigue. BCAAs also protect your muscle tissue from breakdown should you be exercising in a fasted state.

3: Before Bed

While most bodybuilders use casein before bed to stimulate protein synthesis and growth hormone release, if you are in your cutting phase, you’ll want a low-calorie option before snoozing. BCAAs contain only a few calories – usually less than 15 calories per serving – making them an ideal way to promote recovery and growth while you sleep. There’s no doubt that of all the supplements on the market, BCAAs are ideal for bodybuilding as they have been proven to promote muscle growth, protein from protein breakdown, and support recovery.
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