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The Bodybuilding Pyramid

Updated on June 11, 2011

     It has been sometime since the FDA designed the Food Pyramid, and it has been revised to reflect research and popular thinking regarding dietary needs. It is upon this idea that the Bodybuilding Pyramid is founded. This pyramid is written with more than the average joe in mind, and every level builds on the one before it. This is written for the person who is yearning for one more inch on the guns, more ab definition firmer glutes, and who is never satisfied with mediocrity.

      Forming the base of the pyramid, and indeed the foundation is a good daily multi vitamin, and protein supplements. A good multi provides a trained athlete with all the vitamins and minerals needed, that may be missing in food. Many also included green foods, antioxidants, and even joint support in them as well. A good multi is often likened to “cheap insurance,” and it keeps your bases covered. The lack of a good multi may make one prone to long term deficiencies in critically needed vitamins and minerals, especially the trace minerals. My personal favorite is Alive! By Nature's Way,and can be used by men or women.

      Protein supplements are critical for the trained athlete for several reasons, most notably muscle building. Just try and grow without enough of it! The rule of thumb is 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight per day. So if you weigh 180 pounds, your optimal intake would be 180 grams of protein. Some bodybuilders have gone as high as 2.5 grams per pound of bodyweight, but this is rather excessive. Unless your trying out for the next Olympia, stick with the lesser amount.

      Different types of protein have varying digestion times. Whey protein is completely broken down in about 2 ½ hours, and is optimal for post workout recovery. Egg proteins have a 4-6 hour digestion time, and casein will be closer to 8 hours. A protein blend will often have a mix of whey, egg and casein. Casein protein is most often taken right before bedtime. Optimum Nutrition's Gold Standard Whey, NitroCore 24, and Casein are great examples of quality whey, protein blend, and casein supplements.

     On the next level of the pyramid are creatine, amino acids, and fat burners. One can not neglect, the base of multi vitamins, and protein intake, while adding on the supplements on this level. Creatine is a good cell volumizer, and add some size and strength to the typical user. It is better in short explosive weightlifting situations, rather than for the Boston Marathon. Users of creatine must also increase water intake, as creatine draws water into muscle cells, and can slightly dehydrate users. Luckily this condition is very easily avoidable. Green Magnitude by Controlled Labs, and Neovar by Applied Nutriceuticals, are two personal favorites of powdered and pill creatines, respectively.

      Adding in additional amino acids is also very common. Glutamine taken post workout, is used to prevent muscle sureness. Branch chain amino acids (BCAA'S) are essential, and can't be synthesized by the body. Arginine is a great vasodailator, and can be converted to nitric oxide gas, giving one a “pumped” feeling during weightlifting.

      Fatburners are also a part of the second level of the bodybuilding pyramid. Fatburners often contain stimulants, and thermogenics, to raise body temperature. Many people are tempted to turn to these products for a “quick fix” to their weightloss issues, but that is NOT the case. Unless the user is under 15% body fat, minimal visible results will likely occur. Additionally, due to the stimulants contained, excessive use may cause adrenal fatigue. Used properly however, they are a great tool to lose “that last 5 pounds.” Slim Xtreme from Anabolic Xtreme is a leading product in this category.

      The third level of the pyramid contains pre-workout products, and mass builders. Pre-workout products often contain creatine, arginine, and caffeine, for energy, and a pump during a workout. These are a great tool to get amped up for workouts, but only a few truly provide long term muscle building results. Hemodraulix from Axis Labs is one such product.

      Mass builders(non hormonal type) are also often referred to testosterone boosters. Unlike every other supplement listed thus far, these can NOT be used by women, unless you like the idea of kissing a bearded lady. Not my cup of tea, as I like my women like I like my coffee; sweet and carmel colored. Mass builders often contain herbs, and closely guarded formulas, to boost testosterone, and protein synthesis. These products can also give a leaning effect, whilst building mass. These products do not hold their effects of long term periods, and are often cycled on and off. MassFX by Anabolic Xtreme is a leader in this category.

      The final category is that of prohormones(PH's). These oft misunderstood, and misused supplements, are the final word in legal mass gaining. I like to compare their use to putting forced induction or nitrous oxide on a racecar. It can be done, but not by the novice, and carefully, or you might blow the motor. PH's are no different. Users may gain up to 20 pounds in a month, depending on training, diet, the compound used, and other factors. However, the tradeoff is that cycle support, and post cycle therapy MUST be used, to counter the effect of the extra “boost” on the body natural capacities.

      In closing, the bodybuilding supplement pyramid is a guide to physical excellence. Follow the levels in order, building on the one before, with a solid diet, dedicated training, and consistency, and your chiseled physique in nearly assured.

Comments? Questions? Love it, or hate it, let me know! Jchannell (at)


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      jchannell 8 years ago from Somewhere between Texas and Mexico

      thanks for the comment Chip! I've been involved with the supplement industry for a few years now, and have learned a ton. Feel free to link to, copy, use, or distribute this. Please do give proper credit if you do though.

      Thanks for dropping by!

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      chip 8 years ago

      Very impressive! I found this article informative and interesting. there are a few typo's which could be misinterperated but the author clearly has a vast ammount of reliable knowledge. thank you for taking the time to write this. i truely do appreciate it!