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Muscles aren't only for guys, so it stands to reason that muscle-building vitamins aren't either. That being said, there is a technique to putting supplements together in a way that nourishes your workouts (and your gains) without confusing your stomach. You must build gradually, allowing your body to acclimate before adding to your stack. Begin with these five fundamentals for a solid foundation.

1) Protein

Protein is extremely necessary. You consume chicken and steak, but unless you supplement with protein powder, you're not on the fast route to muscle building. Getting protein to your muscles as soon as possible after an exercise improves protein synthesis and, as a result, muscular development. But which protein should I use? Current research, such as a study done at Baylor University (Waco, Texas) and published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research in 2006, demonstrates that supplementing with a combination of whey and casein proteins after working out results in the best gains in lean muscle growth. Learn more!

2)  Creatine

This well-known supplement is the second most vital component of your new strategy. Creatine, which is naturally produced by muscles, has been reported to promote significantly greater gains in strength, fat-free mass, and performance primarily of high-intensity exercise tasks," writes Richard Kreider, PhD, in a February 2003 study published in Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry on the effects of creatine and exercise. It also improves endurance and aids in the production of the pump that makes your muscles seem so full at the conclusion of a workout. Learn more!

3) Zinc Magnesium Aspartate (ZMA)

You might be thinking, "Wait a minute, I already receive zinc and magnesium in my daily multivitamin." And you do, but not nearly enough. The most convincing research on ZMA to date, published in the Journal of Exercise Physiology in October 2000, discovered that participants who took the supplement had greater levels of two muscle-building hormones: testosterone and insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1). Zinc is also known to have a role in protein synthesis, while magnesium has an impact on the pathways that regulate muscle development. Learn more!

4) Arginine

This gas created by the body dilates blood vessels, and bigger blood vessels indicate increased blood flow, which amounts to more nutrients, vitamins, and other beneficial substances reaching the muscles. The drawback is that you can't simply take a NO pill and expect your muscles to expand. To raise your NO levels, you must consume arginine, an amino acid that the body converts into citrulline, another amino acid, and NO. Learn more!

5) Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs)

This alphabet soup consists of three necessary amino acids (those that the body cannot synthesize and hence must be consumed) with similar molecular structures that are eaten together for maximum impact. When it comes to muscle growth, leucine is the standout among the three amino acids (isoleucine, leucine, and valine) since it both raises insulin production, an anabolic hormone, and promotes protein synthesis. Taking all three BCAAs combined, on the other hand, is beneficial since they are quickly converted to glucose, sparing muscle glycogen and amino acid reserves while providing an additional burst of energy when working out. Learn more!

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