There is a debate that takes place every now and again on bodybuilding forums about what people actually take. Some people like to make assumptions that professional bodybuilders don’t always take the supplements they promote because they opt for other ‘chemical’ enhancers. Many amateurs and non-professionals have been known to argue over the benefits and even necessity of the various types of supplements on the market.
So what is the true answer?
Honestly it is difficult to determine what supplements bodybuilders take. But, by looking at what numerous amateurs and professionals say they take, we have a pretty good idea. The fact is that you don’t necessarily need supplements to build a phenomenal body; but they sure make the journey easier and faster.
Some people are quick to point at that using supplements is like cheating or other such nonsense. While that might have been a more realistic point decades ago when the market was flooded with products laced with illegal boosters, these days the supplement industry is a billion dollar industry. That change occurred because the level of science used to create supplements has reached a point where you can now safely improve on your body’s natural processes easily and safely.
The BIG List
So what supplements do bodybuilders take? By far most serious bodybuilders are using multiple items from this list. If you take the time to talk to them or read their training and supplementation programs you end up seeing a pattern on what is being used. Across the board if you look at top selling items in health and fitness stores, these items are always at the front of the line. Simply put that is because they work and are very effective.
- Whey Protein Powder
- Casein Protein Powder
- Creatine Monohydrate
- Nitric Oxide Boosters
- Branch Chain Amino Acids
- Fish Oil
- Green Tea Extract
- Essential Fatty Acids
In essence bodybuilding has become more of the sweet science than boxing. People have really applied the scientific method to increase our ability to change our bodies. Most of this effort has been spurred by the constant push of professional athletes across multiple sports to become bigger, stronger, and faster.
The byproduct for a smaller sport like bodybuilding has been a huge influx of supplements that naturally improve performance. That, combined with advancing training methods, is one of the reasons bodybuilders of today are so much more physically impressive than those of earlier generations. That is not to say that earlier bodybuilders weren’t impressive, but you didn’t see so many guys at 5 10″ walking on stage at 260 pounds shredded. The Austrian Oak tipped the scales at 235 in his day and stood at 6 2″.
Then and Now
If you look at what supplements bodybuilders were taking in the 70’s and 80’s, the list is a lot different than now. Even in the 90’s the list was shorter. Protein shakes were often home-made and a good multivitamin topped the list. Speculation by many people was the steroids were the supplement of choice at the time such as Dianabol.
Now some supplements try to mimic the effect that added testosterone created, but is a safe manner. By the same token other supplements are being used to refill the nutrients that are being used up in the body as they are being used to increase recovery.
A statement should be made that bodybuilders in the past worked with what was available. If someone like Arnold or even Lee Haney was starting in bodybuilding at this point and you asked them, “What supplements do bodybuilders take?” they would more than likely be taking everything from our list because they work so well.