When you’re just starting a training program, making amazing gains is no challenge. You’re seeing huge increases in strength, bigger muscle definition, better endurance… They’re enough to keep your motivation high and your training program right on track.
But for bodybuilders and athletes who have surpassed that initial jump into the lifting world and aren’t seeing gains and progress quite as fast, how do you keep the gains coming?
Changing up your training program for something that offers a greater stimulus can be a good way because unfortunately with training, you can’t keep doing the same thing and expect new results.
Your muscles adapt to a stimulus and as goes the concept of progressive overload, you have to increase the stimulus if you want to keep making gains; it’s just the way muscle adaptation works. Basically, if you want to keep seeing improvements you have to tweak the factors that most influence muscle gain: rest periods, volume, and load.
Alternatively, you can take a new approach to maximizing gains by doing all of that plus adding in one of the best supplements for boosting recovery, muscle gains, and fat loss.
Because let’s be honest, bodybuilding is no easy sport and it takes a lot of consistency, hard work, and willpower, so the last thing you want to do when prepping for a competition or changing up your training program is lose your hard work.
How do you avoid that? It’s simple: HMB.
What is HMB?
HMB, more formally known as beta-hydroxy beta-methylbutyrate, is by no means new to the supplement scene, but its role as one of the most powerful compounds for supporting muscle mass and fat loss has meant that its presence has now been noticed—especially for bodybuilders.
Because it has powerful anti-catabolic properties, it can prevent muscle breakdown, increase workload, reduce and repair muscle damage, and improve muscle mass 1. Why wouldn’t you want to cash in on this?
But what exactly is HMB... aside from being the best thing for bodybuilders?
We’re all familiar with the muscle-building amino acid leucine; it’s the primary compound needed to stimulate muscle protein synthesis (MPS), and without it—or enough of it—you’re going to struggle with muscle growth and repair.
But HMB is not leucine. It’s actually a metabolic by-product of leucine produced during amino acid metabolism.
When leucine is metabolized, the majority of it—roughly 80%—is used for muscle protein synthesis. The remaining 20% is metabolized into two compounds: alpha-ketoisocaproate (a-KIC) and HMB. Of that 20% though, only about 5% makes it to HMB 2.
Because the conversion rate of leucine to HMB is so minimal, taking a leucine supplement in hopes of getting enough HMB to maintain and boost your gains isn’t going to cut it.
That’s why you see pure HMB supplements or HMB added to a pre-workout supplement. If you want the benefits that HMB has to offer, you need a reliable source.
Benefits of HMB for Bodybuilding
For novice lifters it’s pretty obvious that HMB can have a beneficial effect on both strength and hypertrophy, but what about for the lifting vets? Let’s take a look at why HMB is essential to any good muscle-building stack.
Reduces muscle protein breakdown
Muscle mass is huge for bodybuilders. You work endless hours overloading your muscles to achieve the best definition you can so when you hit the stage, you’re ready to take home a win.
But perhaps one of the biggest issues bodybuilders face when it comes to showtime is muscle breakdown. The cutting phase for bodybuilders, or any athletes, is no joke. It’s intense dieting, ramping up cardio, and hitting the heavyweight to get your body prepared.
One of the not-so-pleasant side effects of the cutting phase, however, is muscle loss. You’re not supplying your body with the fuel it needs to support muscle growth, which means sacrificing them could be on the table.
HMB comes in to protect your muscles and safeguard them against degradation during caloric deficits, fasted training, or just excessive work.
HMB is so effective for reducing muscle breakdown because it stimulates muscle protein synthesis via the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) pathway. This pathway, controlled by a series of hormones and growth factors, is also regulated by amino acids.
In most cells, leucine is the primary amino acid stimulating it, which is why omitting leucine from the diet can cause rapid inactivation of mTOR signaling 3.
But what is it about the mTOR pathway that’s so great?
mTOR is the main regulator of several components involved in protein synthesis, including the biogenesis of ribosomes. The process of protein synthesis requires sequential decoding of mRNA into proteins, which is performed on the ribosome.
Ribosomes are essentially catalysts for the formation of the peptide bonds that link amino acids together to form proteins 3. Without the ribosome, there is no protein formation and no protein formation means no muscle growth.
But that’s not it. Studies show that HMB may also participate in muscle growth by stimulating the expression of IGF-1 and augmenting the growth hormone (GH) response to high volume resistance exercise 4.
A 1996 study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology looked at the effects of 1.5 or 3g HMB per day in combination with 2-3 hour lifts 6 days per week for 7 weeks 5.
They found that HMB supplementation significantly decreased the exercise-induced rise in muscle proteolysis during the first 2 weeks of training, along with decreasing markers of muscle damage.
Not just that, but the amount of weight lifted also increased with HMB supplementation. Researchers concluded that HMB supplementation is beneficial for reducing or preventing exercise-induced proteolysis and/or muscle damage and increasing gains associated with resistance training.
Enhances fat loss
One of the other biggies where bodybuilding and HMB are concerned is with fat loss. Bodybuilders train to get big, but they also train to get lean because that’s when you can max out on muscle definition; you’re never going to win a competition being puffy and lacking definition.
But when the cutting phase starts, things can get intense, and compromising muscle mass to lean out can be a big issue. That’s why HMB is one of the best supplements to add to your stack. Its powerful anti-catabolic properties mean that you can shed fat without losing existing muscle mass.
There’s evidence supporting the role of HMB supplementation in regulating adipose tissue function, which includes fatty acid oxidation, lipolysis, and adipokine secretion 6.
Studies find that it may do this in 3 ways 7:
- Increasing muscle cell's oxidative capacity by altering oxidative enzymes that increase fat oxidation
- Exerting a "stabilizing" effect on myotube membranes and decreasing levels of lactate dehydrogenase (LDH), which is especially beneficial during strength training as it may protect against some of the associated injuries
- The effect of HMB on cellular creatine kinase (CK) suggests it might enhance the expression of certain muscle-specific proteins
Essentially, protecting against muscle breakdown and racing up fat oxidation occur simultaneously.
A 2009 study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research looked at the effects of HMB supplementation on 22 resistance-trained men using 3g per day or a placebo for 9 weeks 8.
Results showed an increase in combined average strength measures of 1.6%, but when considered in isolation, leg extension 1RM increased by 9.1%; that’s in addition to small decreases in fat mass.
Another study looked at the effect of HMB supplementation on body composition and exercise performance in 16 elite male rowers. Participants were given either 3g daily of HMB or a placebo for 12 weeks while following the outlined training program.
Not surprisingly, the group supplementing HMB showed performance improvements, but also saw greater fat loss than the placebo group 9.
How Much HMB Is Enough?
There’s ample research supporting the use of HMB for sustaining muscle mass and reducing fat mass, but how much is enough to actually see the results you want?
Based on available research, 3g seems to be the average (and ideal) amount to improve performance and fat loss. Both studies mentioned previously show positive results on muscle mass, strength, and fat loss using 3g per day for 9-12 weeks 8, 9.
Another 2001 study looking at the effects of 3g HMB for 8 weeks in 70-year-old adults participating in resistance exercises 5 days a week found greater increases in lean mass and body fat loss compared to the placebo 9.
It seems like a pretty solid consensus across the board that 3g HMB supplementation is ideal for eliciting the most positive effects, which should ideally be split into 3-1g dosages taken throughout the day.
On training days, take one dose immediately before or after your workout (after if using a pure supplement), with the other two doses taken with meals. On non-training days, split your dosages between your three meals.
However, you also want to consider that maybe you’ll see the most benefits from stacking HMB with other performance-boosting supplements.
That’s what Burn Lab Pro does. It stacks five unique ingredients—forskolin, cayenne pepper extract, HMB, GTF chromium, and black pepper extract—to maximize your results.
The ingredients work synergistically to give you maximum muscle growth, enhance performance, and accelerate fat loss. It’s the most powerful stim-free fat burner on the market and a must-have for bodybuilders.
Compromising muscle mass is the last thing you want to do when you’ve spent hours in both the gym and the kitchen - training, dieting, and cutting to get your body in the leanest and best shape possible.
And while there’s no conclusive decision as to how HMB can affect highly-trained individuals, HMB is definitely worth a try.
By reducing exercise-induced muscle damage and speeding up the recovery, it means you can train harder and with more intensity, yet still hold on to your hard-earned muscle.
So, if you want to maintain your gains through the most gruesome workouts and the toughest cuts, HMB is your guy.
- K Durkalec-Michalski, J Jeszka, T Podgórski. The Effect of a 12-Week Beta-hydroxy-beta-methylbutyrate (HMB) Supplementation on Highly-Trained Combat Sports Athletes: A Randomised, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Crossover Study. Nutrients. 2017; 9(7): 753.
- A Molfino, G Gioia, F Rossi Fanelli, M Muscaritoli. Beta-hydroxy-beta-methylbutyrate supplementation in health and disease: a systematic review of randomized trials. Amino Acids. 2013 Dec; 45(6): 1273-92.
- X Wang, CG Proud. The mTOR pathway in the control of protein synthesis. Physiology (Bethesda). 2006 Oct; 21: 362-9.
- JR Townsend, JR Hoffman, AM Gonzalez, AR Jajtner, CH Boone, et al. Effects of β-Hydroxy-β-methylbutyrate Free Acid Ingestion and Resistance Exercise on the Acute Endocrine Response. Int J Endocrinol. 2015 Feb; 856708.
- S Nissen, R Sharp, M Ray, et al. Effect of leucine metabolite beta-hydroxy-beta-methylbutyrate on muscle metabolism during resistance-exercise training. J Appl Physiol (1985). 1996;81(5):2095-2104.
- Y Duan ,L Zhang, F Li, et al. β-Hydroxy-β-methylbutyrate modulates lipid metabolism in adipose tissues of growing pigs. Food Funct. 2018;9(9):4836-4846.
- W Cheng, B Phillips, N Abumrad. Effect of HMB on fuel utilization, membrane stability and creatine kinase content of cultured muscle cells. FASEB. 1998 Mar; 12(5):A950.
- JS Thomson, PE Watson, DS Rowlands. Effects of nine weeks of beta-hydroxy-beta- methylbutyrate supplementation on strength and body composition in resistance trained men. J Strength Cond Res. 2009;23(3):827-835.
- MD Vukovich, NB Stubbs, RM Bohlken. Body composition in 70-year-old adults responds to dietary beta-hydroxy-beta-methylbutyrate similarly to that of young adults. J Nutr. 2001 Jul; 131(7): 2049-52.