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How to Use Tribulus Terrestris for Bodybuilding

author image Janet Renee, MS, RD
Janet Renee is a clinical dietitian with a special interest in weight management, sports dietetics, medical nutrition therapy and diet trends. She earned her Master of Science in nutrition from the University of Chicago and has contributed to health and wellness magazines, including Prevention, Self, Shape and Cooking Light.
How to Use Tribulus Terrestris for Bodybuilding
Tribulus terrestris extract comes in a standardized formula. Photo Credit TongRo Images/TongRo Images/Getty Images

Athletes are often on the lookout for supplements that may give them an edge in the gym and in competition. Tribulus terrestris is a plant commonly used in Ayurvedic medicine that has become known as a bodybuilding supplement, according to the book "The Protocol: The Best Supplements for Building Muscle Mass" by Arnold Sturtz. Only take supplements under the guidance of a sports physician or other qualified practitioner.

Boosts Strength and Muscle Gain

Manufacturers claim T. terrestris boosts testosterone and lean mass and triggers the release of nitric oxide, a gas that helps blood vessels expand and deliver oxygen to working muscles. While animal experiments showed an increase in testosterone, human studies failed to replicate this effect. However, authors of a study published in the March 2014 issue of the Journal of Dietary Supplements theorize that the nitric oxide release may be responsible for the other physiological effects.

Pre-Workout Supplement

How you take T. terrestris depends on your goals, writes Sturtz. Bodybuilders looking to enhance their performance in the gym via increased nitric oxide production use T. terrestris as a pre-workout supplement. For this purpose, athletes typically take it 30 to 60 minutes prior to their workouts, on an empty stomach. Some bodybuilders combine T. terrestris with creatine by mixing both powders together in 16 ounces of juice and drinking prior to workouts, according to the book "The Protocol."

Cutting and Bulking Cycle

T. terrestris is purported to increase lean mass, although human studies showing this potential benefit are lacking. According to "The Protocol" bodybuilders, you take T. terrestris to increase lean mass when bulking and to retain lean mass during a cutting cycle. For these purposes, it's taken three times daily, 30 minutes before meals. Work with your sports physician for guidance on dosage.

Supplement Side Effects

There are no published reports of serious adverse side effects associated with T. terrestris use. However, taking this supplement may cause flatulence, nausea and abdominal discomfort, according "The Protocol" book. These side effects are typically mild and often subside with continued usage. Combining T. terrestris with other performance-enhancing supplements may increase the risk of side effects. Avoid taking it if you have a history of kidney or liver problems.

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