Supplement Timing For Maximum Muscle And Performance

Max Riley
Written By: Max Riley
February 10th, 2010
Updated: June 13th, 2020
Categories: Articles Supplements
106.1K Reads
Now that you've researched popular muscle building supplements, it's time to learn proper supplement timing. Maximize your results today!

Proper Supplement TimingWhen it comes to supplements, timing is everything. You can research supplements until you’re blue in the face, but if you don’t now how and when to take them, you’re just flushing money down the drain. Proper supplement timing is an essential factor in maximizing your muscle and performance gains.

How many times have you heard the following: supplement X didn’t work for me, I got nothing out of it. You want to know a secret? Most pro natural bodybuilders use the same core supplements, and they use them for a reason. What is that reason? These supplements work!

So why is it that pro natural bodybuilders use supplements and find them effective, but so much anti-supplement hype exists? The answer is simple – the pros train hard, eat right and get enough sleep. Supplements exist to amplify the results from your efforts, but they are not magic pills. If you don’t have your act together, there is no progress for supplements to amplify. Zero times infinity equals zero. Even if you’re taking all the best supplements in the world, they can’t make up for poor training, diet and rest.

Now, back to the point of this article…supplement timing. Most supplement labels tell you how much to take, but they generally don’t tell you when to take the supplement. There is only so much space on a supplement label. In addition, supplements are used for different purposes, and may be recommended at different times of the day based on your needs.

This article focuses on one need, and one need only – building muscle. To maximize muscle gains, use the following supplement timing recommendations.

Supplements And Supplement Timing

Pre-Workout Supplements

For best results, don’t slam down a pre-workout supplement immediately before your workout begins. Most pre-workout drinks need at least 15 to 30 minutes to fully digest. Get your timing down, so you enter the gym ready to rock.

Post-Workout Supplements

Unlike pre-workout drinks, you should take a post-workout drink immediately after finishing your workout. You may need to get into the habit of carrying around two different shaker bottles – one for pre-workout and intra-workout drinks, and one for your post-workout supplements. Post-workout supplements are designed to give the body what it needs ASAP after a hard workout.


Creatine is best taken pre and post-workout. Taking 3 to 5 grams of creatine pre-workout helps to boost the body’s phosphate reverses, allowing for more energy, strength and a greater workout intensity. Post-workout creatine acts to replenish bodily phosphate levels lost during intense workouts. When loading creatine, you can also take it at various other times during the day.


Glutamine makes up approximately 60% of the free amino acids in skeletal muscle. There are indications that a higher muscular glutamine saturation contributes to improved protein synthesis, and can aid in maximizing potential muscle gains. It is recommended that you take 3 to 10 grams of glutamine pre and post-workout.

Whey Protein

Whey protein is a fast digesting protein source that is perfect at times of the day when your body is in a heightened state of protein synthesis, such as during a workout, post-workout or following a fasting period (after waking).

Carbs - Waxy Maize

Fast digesting carbohydrates function in an anti-catabolic manner. They help to fight off muscle loss, and are especially good to take pre and post-workout. Waxy maize is a popular bodybuilding supplement. It is a fast digesting carb source, and can be sipped on during a workout, and post-workout.


It is fairly common for a multivitamin to be taken first thing in the morning. With vitamins and minerals, the best time to take them is with a meal – any meal. Get in the habit of taking a multivitamin with your largest meal of the day. By doing so, you will insure that it is being digested properly and efficiently. Most vitamins are absorbed better when taken with whole foods.

Fish Oil

Like most bodybuilders, you’re probably taking multiple fish oil gels each day. Instead of taking your entire daily dose of fish oil all at one sitting, divide the gels up over the course of the day, taking some with each meal if possible.

Sleep Enhancers

Instead of taking a sleep enhancer right before bed, try and take this supplement about one hour prior to going to sleep. Give the sleep supplement a fighting chance to fully digest and enter your system.

Amino Acids

The term "amino acids" covers a broad spectrum of supplement products. In this case, we are talking about bulk amino acid supplements that contain numerous essential amino acids. Like fish oil, you’ll want to divide up your amino acid supplementation throughout the day. It is also very important to take amino acids post-workout, and first thing in the morning. During these times the body is in a heightened state of protein synthesis, and can benefit from a higher amino acid dosage.


Branch Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs) can account for 15 to 30% of your total energy during intense workouts. BCAAs also help with protein synthesis. Therefore, it is best to take BCAAs before, during and after your workout. Taking 3 to 5 grams pre and post-working helps fight off training induced catabolism (muscle breakdown), and works to maximize muscle recovery and new muscle growth.

Vitamin C

Divide vitamin C up into smaller doses over the course of the day.

Joint Health

Joint health supplements are best taken before bed and early in the morning.

Fat Burners

Many fat loss supplements are taken twice daily. It is often recommended that you take your first dosage early in the morning, and your second later in the afternoon. Because fat loss supplements often contain stimulants and/or caffeine, it is best not to take the in the early evening or before bed.

The Supplement Timing Plan

Use the following sample supplement timing plan as a template to assist you in developing your own personalized supplement timing approach:

Meal 1 – 7 am

  • Whey Protein
  • Fish Oil – 1000 mg
  • Amino Acids
  • Vitamin C
  • Joint Health
  • Fat Burner

Meal 2 – 9: 30 am

  • Fish Oil – 1000 mg
  • Amino Acids
  • Vitamin C

Meal 3 – Noon

  • Fish Oil – 1000 mg
  • Amino Acids
  • Vitamin C

Meal 4 – 2:30 pm

  • Fish Oil – 1000 mg
  • Amino Acids
  • Vitamin C
  • Fat Burner

Pre-workout – 30 minutes prior to working out

  • Pre-Workout Supplement (Nitric oxide, pre-workout proprietary blends, etc.)
  • Creatine – 3 to 5 grams
  • Glutamine – 3 to 10 grams
  • BCAAs – 3 to 5 grams

During Workout

  • Whey Protein
  • Waxy Maize
  • BCAAs

Post-Workout – Immediately after working out

  • Post-Workout Blend
  • Whey Protein
  • Creatine – 3 to 5 grams
  • Glutamine – 3 to 10 grams
  • Waxy Maize
  • Amino Acids
  • BCAAs – 3 to 5 grams

Meal 5 – 5:30 pm

  • Multivitamin (Assuming your post-workout meal is your largest of the day)
  • Fish Oil – 1000 mg
  • Amino Acids
  • Vitamin C

Meal 6 – 8 pm

  • Fish Oil – 1000 mg
  • Amino Acids
  • Vitamin C

Pre-Sleep – One hour prior to going to bed

  • Sleep Enhancement Supplement
  • Joint Health
Posted on: Sat, 04/02/2016 - 21:42

Wow. You recommend 6 grams of Fish Oil a day. That will get expensive. I wonder if you have personally experienced the need for this amount or if its from something you've read elsewhere.

Nice write up though.

I always wonder if I need to take extra BCAA when they are in my protein shake that I take pre and post workout.

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Mon, 04/04/2016 - 10:04

While 6 grams is supposed by research to decrease muscular soreness, it is not necessary nor recommended for general health improvements. Research has shown time and again that 2-3 grams of EPA+DHA/day is the necessary amount for promoting a multitude of health improvements. See here for additional info:

There's no need for BCAAs in a postworkout shake as protein has all of the necessary amino acids to maximize muscle protein synthesis. Also, there's no immediate need for a postworkout shake if you've recently eaten just before training (or had a shake in this case). See here:

To quote from my article above if you don't want to read the whole thing: "If your house doesn’t have anabolic windows installed then you’re missing out. These things are guaranteed to fend off catabolism even in the worst of conditions.

In all seriousness though, bros have been trying to jump through the anabolic window ever since the first curl was completed in the squat rack.

We know from research conducted on the subject that the muscle protein synthesis (MPS) response from a mixed macronutrient meal lasts anywhere from 3-4 hours and cannot be re-stimulated due to the refractory nature of circulating amino acids.[2]

However, it should be noted that carbohydrate utilization is generally higher after exercise given the upregulation of GLUT-4 which functions as a glucose modulator across the cell membrane.

From a physiological standpoint, if you’ve eaten a meal within 60-90 minutes of training, then there is no immediate need to ingest protein after your training session due to the high levels of amino acid availability from previous meals.[2]

In the end, if you choose to train in a fasted state or there is an extraordinarily large gap since your last meal (5+ hours), then it would be wise to ensure you have a fast digesting protein source such as whey."

Posted on: Mon, 04/04/2016 - 19:20

Thanks for the reply bro. That was very informative. This is the first time I've heard someone say that there's no need to drink a PWO shake if you already had a protein shake or meal recently.

But I have to admit, it makes total sense. If the amino acids in protein are absorbed by your muscles between 3g - 10g an hour (depending on the type of protein) than there should be plenty of amino acids circulating in the blood stream for at least 2 or 3 hours after consuming over 30 grams of protein in a meal or shake.

I've been trying to not spend so much on supplements and this is probably one area I can save... by not drinking so many protein shakes. Thanks man! Cheers!.

Posted on: Tue, 02/19/2013 - 20:09

I like to start work out , I am all way lazy I like some things keep me going

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