When you need medical advice, you visit a doctor who has trained for years and practiced for decades. When you need financial advice, you go to an accountant with similarly lofty credentials. So when you need supplement advice, guidance on which compounds work best, shouldn’t you turn to a pro? We thought so, which is why we asked six professional bodybuilders which supplements are critical to their efforts to augment their mass and get them lean.
Mark Dugdale has maintained his aesthetic physique since he turned pro in 2004, and this has helped him land contracts with magazines and supplement companies. Dugdale credits much of his success to his supplementation and hardcore discipline in the gym: “I’m very much a whole-foods guy in terms of the cornerstone of my nutrition, but I do rely on several supplements. I push my body to the limit, and adding supplements to a sound whole-food program has been very beneficial.”
Dugdale’s Favorite Supplements:
Nutrex Research Lipo 6X and Lipo 6 Black: These are Dugdale’s two favorite fat burners, and they are particularly essential when he’s prepping for a bodybuilding show. “I like to take one for a week and then the other for a week, alternating until my show,” he says. Lipo 6X contains caffeine, synephrine and yohimbine, among other active ingredients. Lipo 6 Black contains proprietary blends, including a fat-oxidation stimulator and another one that activates brown adipose tissue.
Nutrex Research Volu-Gro: “I follow a low-carbohydrate diet year-round,” Dugdale says. “But in the off-season, I supplement with Volu-Gro before I work out.” He explains that this carb-based product helps charge his body with fuel for his training. You can also use the product after workouts and in the mornings for sustained energy.
Vitamins and Minerals: “The rest of my supplement regimen consists of nutrients that many athletes are deficient in,” Dugdale says. He takes zinc, magnesium, a broad-spectrum antioxidant, curcumin, vitamin D, a green drink and fish oil.
Hidetada Yamagishi goes by the nickname Hide (pronounced HEE-day) with his American fans and friends. He turned pro five years ago in his early 30s. Now, at 37, he has become a veteran competitor, having competed in more than 20 pro bodybuilding shows. Lately, he’s been competing in virtually every pro show, including the Arnold Classic and Mr. Olympia. “My supplement regimen emphasizes growth and recovery,” he explains. “I have to stay in shape year-round to compete in all these shows.” Yamagishi says that he doesn’t have an off-season because he doesn’t get good long-term results by going off his diet and supplement programs. “I grow when I’m training for shows,” he says.
Yamagishi’s Favorite Supplements:
Gaspari Nutrition Anavite: “I use Anavite to make sure I’m getting all the necessary vitamins and minerals for growth,” Yamagishi says. Anavite also contains natural anabolic ingredients. For best results, he recommends that you take two three-tablet doses, one before bed and another before training or first thing in the morning.
Gaspari Nutrition SuperPump250: “About 30 minutes before I start my workouts, I take SuperPump250 to enhance my workouts,” Yamagishi says. This nitric-oxide product improves workouts by delivering more oxygen to muscles and increasing focus in the gym.
Gaspari Nutrition IntraPro: Right after he finishes training, Yamagishi takes three scoops of IntraPro, for a total of 75 grams of pure whey isolate. “Whey isolate is quickly digested, which means that it starts the recovery and muscle-building process more quickly than slower-digesting forms of protein,” he says.
Gaspari Nutrition MyoFusion: Before bed, Yamagishi also takes MyoFusion, a time-released form of protein. “When I take MyoFusion, I know that I’ll have amino acids in my system for an extended period,” he says. Yamagishi takes three scoops for a total of 75 grams of protein, mixing it with 6 ounces of water or milk per scoop.
Jorge Betancourt has already had a long career by bodybuilding standards, winning the Teen USA title in 1989 and the Teen Nationals title in 1990. Since then, Betancourt has launched his own training business and supplement company, Betancourt Nutrition. “Early in my career, I had more time to focus on my dieting and training,” he says. “Once I entered the business side of the fitness industry and began to start a family, staying in shape and maintaining a proper diet became much more difficult.” Betancourt says that his supplement regimen helps him maximize his performance and physique while leading a busy lifestyle.
Betancourt’s Favorite Supplements:
Betancourt Nutrition Big Blend: “I developed this product because I have a sweet tooth, especially when I’m dieting,” Betancourt says. “Big Blend is a great protein snack that tastes more like a dessert than a protein product.” Each two-scoop dose contains 44 grams of protein, and it can be taken before and after workouts or at other times during the day when you want protein without many calories.
Glucosamine and Chondroitin Sulfate: “One of the downsides of my years of lifting heavy day in and day out is the injuries that I’ve accumulated in my joints and tendons,” he says. Betancourt uses glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate to help support his joints so that he can continue to stay in shape.
Betancourt Bullnox: “This product is designed to increase muscle pumps and performance in the gym,” Betancourt says. Active ingredients include creatine, beta-alanine and taurine. He takes one to two servings of Bullnox 30 minutes before training.
Betancourt Bullrush: “Bullnox and Bullrush were formulated to boost testosterone to improve results from intense workouts,” Betancourt says. Bullrush is the follow-up to Bullnox, containing citrulline malate and other ingredients to enhance pumps and reduce lactic acid.
Victor Martinez has won the Arnold Classic (2007) and has placed as high as second at Mr. Olympia (2007), making him one of the best bodybuilders on the planet. “I’ve relied on products such as Dark Matter, Activite and Dark Rage to help give me the best results from my workouts,” Martinez says. Of primary importance is recovery. “I go to the gym twice a day on most days, and I train six days a week,” he says. “I need products that allow me to recover quickly, and that’s what MHP products provide.”
Martinez’s Favorite Supplements:
MHP Activite: “I take Activite for its vitamins and minerals, but I also [take it] for its enzymes to help break down the whole-food proteins I consume,” he says. Martinez takes two doses a day, one in the morning and one at a night with large whole-food meals.
MHP Dark Rage: “I take one scoop of Dark Rage before my workouts,” Martinez says. “But if you aren’t used to this product, then start with a half scoop. This is a really strong product.” Dark Rage boosts muscle pumps with arginine to drive nitric-oxide production. It also contains erythropoietin-stimulating agents to boost blood oxygen, enhancing performance and overall gains.
MHP Dark Matter: “After my workouts, I add my glutamine to Dark Matter, MHP’s postworkout product,” Martinez says. Dark Matter contains creatine, carbs and other active ingredients to help you recover from and grow after intense training sessions. He varies his dosage, taking three scoops per workout on days when he works out twice and taking four scoops on days when he trains once.
MHP Probolic: “A half-hour after I take Dark Matter, I take Probolic,” Martinez says. Probolic is a protein product that’s relatively low in carbs, designed to help keep you in an anabolic state for hours after your workouts. The product contains time-released proteins to provide continual delivery of amino acids for sustained muscle growth. Each scoop contains 20 grams of protein and 5 grams of carbs.
Ronnie Coleman is the most famous active bodybuilder on the planet, having won eight consecutive Mr. Olympia titles. “I haven’t really decided where or when, but I think you might see me up on a competition stage again in the near future, so I’m getting my body ready,” Coleman says. “When you train like I do, your body just needs a little help sometimes, and I’ve found that BSN’s products really work for me.” It doesn’t hurt that the company designed some of its products especially for Coleman’s needs.
Coleman’s Favorite Supplements:
BSN Advanced Mass Stack: “I’m a big fan of these products and have been since 2005, when BSN made this stack exclusively for me,” he says. Mass Stack is BSN’s N.O.-Xplode, CellMass and True-Mass. You can take them together or use them separately.
BSN N.O.-Xplode: Coleman takes N.O.-Xplode before every workout. “You can’t find a better preworkout product out there,” he says. Coleman takes two packets as one dose because his bodyweight is more than 300 pounds. “You’re not supposed to take that much, but there ain’t no one else like me, so I made an exception,” he says. Smaller bodybuilders should follow labeling instructions. The product comes in powdered form in individual packets or you can get the large multi-dose canister to adjust the dosage to your personal needs.
BSN Epozine-O2 NT: This product was designed as an anabolic mediator and an ergogenic plasma volumizer, helping you to perform better in the gym. “I take this three times a day: morning, noon and usually before bed,” Coleman says. He takes six to eight tablets three times a day, more than the recommended dosage. “Like I said, I’m big,” Coleman points out. Everybody else should follow labeling instructions, taking the product on an empty stomach.
BSN Syntha-6: “I love this stuff,” Coleman says, “especially the banana flavor, and I always take a four-scoop Syntha-6 after my training sessions.” He also uses Syntha-6 protein shakes throughout the day, especially when he’s traveling. Each one-scoop serving provides 22 grams of protein. Coleman’s four-scoop super-shake has 88 grams of protein.
Andy Haman has charted an unusual path to the pro-bodybuilding ranks. He earned his pro card in 2007 at the NPC Masters Bodybuilding National Championship in his early 40s. Since then, he’s parlayed that achievement into success with supplement companies and bodybuilding magazines. As for his own regimen, Haman uses a lot of protein supplements to make sure he gets all the protein he needs every day. “I’m trying to get down four or five meals with chicken, fish, beef and eggs every day,” he says. “Whew. I could never get in all the protein I need if it weren’t for supplements.”
Haman’s Favorite Supplements:
Dymatize Nutrition Elite Whey Protein Isolate: “It’s awesome!” Haman says. “I usually start my day around 7 a.m. with 78 grams of Elite Protein.” He likes it because it mixes easy and smooth with cold water. Each scoop contains 24 grams of protein with only 2 grams of carbs. It’s a great choice for bodybuilders looking for a low-carb protein product. Haman goes with three scoops.
Dymatize Nutrition Elite Fusion 7: This protein product offers something different than the basic Elite Whey: a time-released protein matrix that’s great for times of day when you want aminos in your system for long periods. “I like to take this product — especially the cookies and cream — before I go to bed around midnight,” he says. Haman says he chooses this product when he wants a few more carbs and more flavor.
Dymatize Nutrition Elite Protein Bars: Sometimes you want to eat your meals instead of drinking them. “I eat one or two Elite protein bars every day,” Haman says. “My oldest daughter, Daisy, says they’re ‘redonkulous.’” Each bar offers 16 grams of high-quality protein with 11 grams of carbs.