Shake it up Baby, Now: DIY Pre, Intra, and Post Workout Shakes

how to build muscleMichael Bluth: What have we always said is the most important thing?

George Michael Bluth: Breakfast

Michael Bluth: Family

George Michael Bluth: Oh, right. Family. I thought you meant of the things you eat.

This dialogue commences the first episode of the funniest show on TV, Arrested Development.  Evidently, George Michael has to get his facts right.

Even if Michael did mean the things you eat, then George Michael would be wrong.  Dead wrong.  Even more wrong than Tracy Anderson.

how to build muscle

Tracy Anderson loves to lift "heavy" weights.

The Most Important Meal of the Day

Just to let you know, the most important meal of the day isn’t breakfast.  People seem to think it is just because it’s the first meal you eat every day.

With that logic, this means that the last meal of the day could equally be as important; since, well, you know: it’s the last thing we eat in the day.

Either way, both are wrong.

The real most-important-meal-of-the-day is your pre, intra, and post workout shakes.  Everybody asks me what I put in mine, and in this mini-tutorial, you’re not just going to learn what I put in my most-important-meal-of-the-day, but you’re going to learn what to put in your own.


Recipe to Cure Your Appetite For Destruction

Drink 30 Minutes before Working Out

  • 20g of Whey Isolate
  • 5g of BCAAs
  • 5g of Creatine Monohydrate
  • 1/2g of Sea Salt
  • 200mg of Caffeine (if training in the morning)
  • 2g of Beta Alanine (optional but awesome)
  • 500mL of Water

Drink While Working Out

  • 30g of Whey Isolate
  • 5g of BCAAs
  • 20g of Leucine
  • 2g of Beta Alanine (optional but awesome)
  • 1-2L of Water

Drink Immediately After Working Out

  • 70g of Whey Isolate
  • Dextrose (for amount, see below)
  • 5g of Leucine
  • 5g of Creatine Monohydrate
  • 200mg of Caffeine (if training in the morning)
  • 15g of Glutamine (optional but awesome)
  • 500mL – 1L of Water

The Dextrose Amount

Since I have an aerospace engineering background, I like to use math equations.  Here’s how to calculate how many grams of dextrose to use:

how to build muscle

So, if you performed a workout that had 3 sets of 10 on four different exercises, then you’d have performed 120 reps in that workout.  Let’s also assume that you weigh 180lbs.  Thus, the calculation would look like so:

how to build muscle

Why Use All These Supplements?

Here’s the deal: you don’t need all of these to gain muscle.  In fact, all a complete beginner needs is dextrose, protein, and creatine.

“You don’t need these supplements to gain muscle, but they are optimal.” – Tweet This Quote

With that being said, these supplements are optimal for gaining muscle.  Since the pre, intra, and post workout shakes are the most important meals of the day, I don’t mess around.

Let’s break these bad boys down:

Whey Isolate

More protein ingested means more protein synthesis.  Building muscle depends on protein synthesis.  A positive protein synthesis means you are building muscle tissue, while a negative protein synthesis means you are breaking down muscle tissue.  The protein helps keep protein synthesis positive.


Ingest these for the same reason you ingest the whey isolate.  The benefit of the BCAAs is that they are only used in the muscle.  This helps deliver energy specifically to your muscles during training, and helps keep them in a positive protein synthesis.

Creatine Monohydrate

Probably the most studied supplement.  It helps blunt myostatin (myostatin tells your body to stop building muscle), as well as gives your muscles explosive energy.

Sea Salt

Sodium in the blood helps you get a better pump.  The pump helps you build muscle (this isn’t bro science anymore; just go talk to Brad Schoenfeld).  Also, sodium helps load leucine into the muscle.


This bad boy gives you energy, helps burn fat, and helps blunt the fat cells from being affected by insulin.  This means: little to no fat is gained due to carbs in post workout window.  This only applies to the morning.  In the evening, your body does this naturally.

Beta Alanine

Besides giving your body a tingly feeling, it helps you flush out the burning in the muscles and allow you to get in a few more reps in every set.  This can be the difference between 0 and 20 extra reps in a workout.


Stay hydrated my son.


Leucine activates mTor, which in turn tells your muscles to build/rebuild.  Although, I’ve simplified the science drastically, it seams that leucine is the most important amino acid for building muscle.  If you have the extra money, invest in leucine after protein, dextrose, and creatine.


Carbs are one of the most important nutrients if you goal is to build a lot of muscle, fast.  They spike insulin, which in turn makes the body anabolic.  Some bodybuilders literally inject insulin via needles in order to build more muscle.  Stick with dextrose and you’ll be able to have the same effect.

Any health food store has this stuff, and it’s cheap as hell: approximately $3/lb.


New research shows that this saint works with leucine and sodium in order to load leucine into the muscle cells as fast as possible.  It’s also great for gut health if you get lots of protein farts or feel bloated often.

Wrap Up

If you are cheap and want to optimize muscle building, then don’t skip the most important meal of the day: workout shakes.  Start with protein, creatine, and dextrose, and then move on to things like leucine, BCAAs, and glutamine, and you’ll look like a freakin’ rock star.

If the formulas above give you a headache, then let me calculate them for you by joining my online coaching program.  For less than the price of 2 personal training sessions, you get a custom, done-for-you plan that’ll help you build more muscle in the next 6 months than you have in the previous 6 years.