Supplementation is a controversial subject if anything, but 9 times out of 10 those with negative sentiments either haven’t used them or haven’t even trained at a high level at all.

Speculation is a dodgy policy at the best of times so on this issue I go by what I know and have experienced along with that of the bodybuilders I have trained.

Another thing that really gets under my skin is when the less informed confuse supplements and steroids. They are distinctly different as are cats from dogs.

Supplements are what I am discussing in this article.


The pictorial evidence provided should be sufficient to convince most level headed individuals of the merits of supplementation and sound nutrition.

Bodybuilding in the true sense of the word places a huge physical and psychological demand on the athlete.

In order to recover, the insurance policy of supplementation is a wise investment

Obviously one shoe does not fit all in this regard, but the basics will always apply regardless of your level. I really like the saying, ” keep it simple stupid”. Trying to get to technical will just tie you in an awful knot of confusion. Start with the basics and you can always tweak your approach.

Supplements can be divided into the straight nutritional side that include things like the various protein drinks, mass gainer drinks, meal replacement weight loss drinks, sports electrolyte drinks, carbohydrate loading drinks, vitamins and minerals etc.

Then we get what I call the performance enhancers and an example of this is Creatine Monohydrate. Creatine is one of the most researched supplements on the market. Does it enhance performance? Absolutely….with hard work! It is completely natural and taking creatine to a power athlete is like carbo loading to a road runner.  Creatine fuels the phosphagen energy system that is used for that all out effort, explosive stuff. It also adds volume to the muscle cells by holding extra water within the cells.  Creatine does not hold water subcutaneously (under the skin).

Creatine Monohydrate is a must in my arsenal.

But the supplement industry is like any other industry and there are many gimmicks and claims made. Trust me, there are no silver bullets.

Thermogenics are the “fat burners”, but without a very careful look at what you eat, they are as useful as a cup of strong black coffee, only a hell of a lot more expensive.

But here is the thing. I find these very useful when there is no kettle about and I need a little energy boost. Taking thermo’s after lunch is certain to leave me with insomnia at night. Is it good for you? No, not really, but get real, it’s certainly not going to have my liver in a panic and it definitely relieves the shattered feeling on stressful days.

Abuse can lead to adrenal fatigue and do not use them if you have blood pressure, anxiety or cardiac problems. Read the warning on the labels carefully, they are there for a reason.

Glutamine is great as a recovery supplement and compliments the creatine quite nicely. Glutamine is great for assisting the immune system, boosting growth hormone levels and volumising muscle cells. The point of bodybuilding is to increase muscle size, so it does just that.

BCAA’S or branch chain amino acids leucine, isoleucine and valine are great for adding an edge to muscle development. There is ongoing research into the benefits of BCAA’S on metabolism and hormones. Interesting, and having used BCAA’S I must say they get the nod from me.

Another amino acid combination is the L-ARGINE – L-ORNTHINE COMBO. This combo is really great to boost your own levels of HGH. Take it on an empty stomach 30 minutes before an intense workout and again on an empty stomach before bed.

All I can say is wow! On a low fat diet this really rocks. Sceptical, then try it. Intense fast training to failure + low fat, moderate carb, high protein + l-arg-l-orn = low bodyfat and ripped to shreds.

Don’t just hack your supplementation regime, this can back fire in a big way.

Step 1.   Establish what you want to achieve.

Step 2.   Set about researching which supplements can and should assist you.

Step 3.   Timing is everything. Specifically what do you use, when and why?

STEP 4.   List your expectations and be realistic.

STEP 5.   Review your results and amend your approach if need be.

The most important nutrient is the one that is cheapest. The one we can’t do without.

Water – the reason for life it’s self.

Water is the most important part of muscle, making up to 70% of its content. Dehydration by 1% can affect performance in the gym by up to 7%. A 4% loss will trash your efforts by up to 30%. So make sure you are properly hydrated, but do not go to extremes as over hydration can cause a condition called hyponatremia (diluted sodium levels), which can have dire consequences.

A water shortage will result in growth retardation for sure.

Here is the basic supplement regime for off-season quality muscle gain.This I have found to be most effective for me and the bodybuilders I have trained.  The results speak for themselves.

This is in addition to the designated meal plan pending age, weight, sex, body fat% and goal.


Creatine monohydrate 5gm upon rising

Breakfast:       40gm whey protein powder,50gm maltodextrin, 1 multi vitamin and mineral tab, 1 EFA’S (omega 3 and 6), 1 CLA 100mg(conjugated linoleic acid), 1 fat burner serving*

10am               Nutritional shake containing protein and carbohydrates(Anabolic Huge ) offseason only. In season whey protein and 20-50gm maltodextrin (depending on weight and bodyfat%).

Creatine monohydrate 5gm

Lunch:             1 fat burner serving*

3pm                 Nutritional shake as at 10 am .

4.30pm            L arginine/L ornithine 5000mg amino acid combo for HGH stimulation + 200mg nicotinic acid.

5pm                 Train- post workout nutritional shake as at 3pm.500ml sports electrolyte drink in summer.

                        Creatine monohydrate 5gm .L glutamine 5gm

Supper:           L arginine/L ornithine 5000mg amino acid combo for HgH stimulation.




3 litres of water throughout day.This excludes the water during workouts (only water when training), a mouthful every 5 -10 minutes.


If you are on a budget then go for these:


Weight gain:        1stCHOICE -Mass gainer drink (once a day) Post workout

2nd CHOICE – Creatine monohydrate.


Weight loss:         Eat unprocessed foods, high protein, low fat, moderate-low carbs, avoid sugar (sucrose).

1stCreatine monohydrate

2ndWhey protein. 


Michael McLoughlin owns Active Attitude Health & Fitness Centre in East London.  He achieved Springbok colours for body building in 1993 and competed at International level representing his Country. He won the IFBB SA Overall Bodybuilding title in 1999.    To date, Michael specialises in purpose specific training working with athletes over a variety of sports codes, from beginners to competitive level, incorporating mental skills training and body conditioning.    For more information on Michael, please visit