HMB is one of the most exciting but misunderstood supplements around. If you use it right, you’ll see real benefits to this fantastic muscle-sparing compound. To avoid missing out on results you’ve already worked for, we suggest reading on…
We’re going to be discussing HMB for bodybuilding – what it is, what it does, and how to use it – and why you should be using it.
We’ll also cover how leucine and BCAAs relate to HMB and why a high-quality HMB and BCAA supplement combination, like our favorites Performance Lab’s SPORT BCAA and Fat Burner, can provide benefits – especially when taken together!
Stick with us if you’re here to make the most of your muscle and keep it when you need it most: during a cut.
What is HMB?
HMB is a metabolite of Leucine that is particularly important to the muscle-sparing process. When your body is at a calorie deficit, your body’s levels of HMB tell it whether you’re getting enough protein and if it needs to break down muscle tissue.
This is an oversimplification (because the science is intense), but it should already catch your attention…
…Long story short, HMB levels are key to preserving muscle mass and combatting catabolism, supporting healthier muscles.
The potency of HMB compared to its Leucine counterpart is crucial to why you would take it as a supplement by itself. HMB is around 2,000% more potent per-gram than Leucine when it comes to supporting muscle during a cut.
The inconvenient part? You’re only going to be able to convert around 2-10% of Leucine into HMB in the body, which means that traditional BCAA or Leucine supplementation has benefits – but they’re limited. Independent HMB supplementation is going to be necessary to get the best results which is why we recommend a specific product like Performance Lab SPORT Fat Burner, which contains pure HMB.
HMB is also an interesting compound in some other areas where it supports normal performance and recovery during stress. This stress might be overtraining, calorie restriction, or other metabolic stresses.
The benefits are extensive, so let’s dive right in…
What are the Benefits of HMB Supplementation?
It’s important that HMB is a Leucine by-product. This is the amino acid that has the most importance to the muscle building process, where Leucine levels are an indicator of protein intake. Your body uses Leucine to signal “protein abundance” – giving your muscles the green light to grow.
This is important when we look at a cut because HMB is the aspect of Leucine metabolism that says, “we’re in a calorie deficit but you don’t need to cannibalize the muscle yet”. This is key when cutting, when muscle-loss can seriously change your physique.
There’s no point getting massive if you’re going to look flat, weak, and small because of a bad cut. HMB is a way of slowing down any muscle loss, maintaining performance in the gym, and supporting the possibility of muscle gains during fat loss.
HMB supplementation allows you to provide this muscle-sparing signal right from the start with much more potency than Leucine. This means a more effective weight-cut with a simple supplement.
These are all central to producing the best possible physique. The leaner you get and the more muscle you have, the greater the risk of muscle loss during a cut.
Protect yourself properly with a high-Leucine supplement like the Performance Lab SPORT Fat Burner, which provides HMB directly, or the SPORT BCAA with 1500mg of HMB-producing Leucine.
Muscular Damage, Repair, and Growth
Beyond simply sparing muscle during a cut, HMB, and its parent, Leucine are both tied into different aspects of the recovery/growth process. HMB provides a greater stimulus to recover; this reduces muscle damage and supports short-term strength benefits.
Leucine is more towards the “growth” side of recovery and growth. It provides the key signaling materials for effective muscle growth.
HMB was shown to produce 70% improvements in muscle protein synthesis, while parent Leucine was 110%. HMB was more muscle-sparing, while Leucine was more muscle-building.
The combination for a cut is absolutely key, where Leucine is likely broken down to HMB and supports muscles – both for performance and to reduce muscle-wastage.
Between the muscle damage prevention and support to muscle protein synthesis, there’s a clear role for Leucine – and HMB – in an effective cut. It means performing and looking your best throughout.
HMB Can Support Blood Sugar
Finally, HMB is going to support normal functioning in a bunch of different health markers during a cut. This is important because of the stress associated with the hard, grueling cut we see with a lot of bodybuilders.
During this process, HMB seems to be able to improve blood sugar and thus insulin sensitivity. This is going to need far more study, but it seems to be a great way of addressing the metabolic challenges that come with the bulking/cutting cycle we see with many bodybuilders.
This process can carry metabolic risks, which HMB seems well-suited to regulate. When you’re switching from a bulk to a cut, there’s a significant benefit to controlling blood sugar levels and improving insulin sensitivity.
In a nutshell, future gains will be based on how you handle your hormones now.
Of course, if you have insulin issues, you should always speak to your doctor first before beginning any supplementation.
This is a key way of setting yourself up for better health and performance in the future, just like our next benefit…
How to Use HMB Supplementation for Bodybuilding
So how do you use HMB?
The first thing is to realize that you can take it as a specific supplement or receive it from the breakdown of Leucine in a calorie-restricted environment. This means that you can use HMB specifically or play with a Leucine-rich BCAA supplement to gain the anti-fatigue benefits.
This is up to you. A slower cut benefits more from BCAAs due to their versatility and a healthy dose of HMB, while a faster cut needs to focus on HMB to keep muscle mass. If you’re on a harsh cut, you don’t have the luxury of building muscle – you need to focus on keeping what you have!
In a slow cut, 6g of total Leucine should provide a muscle-sparing and even muscle-building stimulus. This includes all the food you eat, but you’re also going to want to use a high-quality supplement like the Performance Lab SPORT BCAA to top yourself up and make sure you’re hitting optimum levels.
You can take HMB as well to support the muscle-repairing and sparing processes while you focus on other things – a combination of both is usually the best choice.
During a hard cut, you should be placing more focus on HMB specifically to support muscle protein synthesis and preventing your body eating up your hard-earned muscle tissue.
Combining HMB with Other Supplements for Better Results
We strongly recommend combining Leucine and/or HMB with your creatine intake.
These compounds all synergize and have additional benefits to muscle gains, muscle-sparing, and even exercise performance. They add up to a significant boost to all the things that matter to any bodybuilder worth their salt: strength, size, and recovery between training sessions.
The science is clear that the best way to build muscle mass is to perform at your best as often as possible, producing better workouts and more stimulus to grow. Even on a cut, this is important, since intensity is a key factor in maintaining your muscle mass even while training volume is low.
This means combined supplementation can improve strength performance, cellular hydration, and energy-abundance. Combined with leucine/HMB, you’re guaranteed to see significant benefits and you can get this from the Performance Lab SPORT Pre-Workout (1250mg creatine) and Performance Lab SPORT Post-Workout (1750mg creatine).
You should also consider combining with an effective multivitamin like the Performance Lab Whole-Food Multi. Using a high-quality multivitamin to combat deficiency is step one, while the energy-metabolism support of zinc, magnesium, and B vitamins all add up to supporting muscle mass and health during a cut.
Combining good nutritional support is always a good strategy. HMB and Leucine are key to this when every gram of muscle count!
Our Final Thoughts on HMB for Bodybuilding
The point you should be getting from this article so far is that HMB is going to be key for the maintenance of muscle, while Leucine is more important for adding mass, and BCAAs provide a balance.
HMB is the key to supporting muscle mass during a cut and only works even better when combined with other effective compounds – whether that’s in the form of creatine or a multivitamin.
Getting the best results in bodybuilding means paying attention to the details. Once you’ve built muscle, the fastest way to keep progressing is to keep it – rather than cannibalizing muscle during the cut process and having to build it again afterwards.
HMB offers a way to support your muscle gains when they’re under the most stress. Being prepared is the key to performance, and this makes a significant difference when it comes to a good cut!