What Are the Uses of Arginine for Bodybuilding?

Lee Johnson

The uses of arginine for bodybuilding relate to increasing blood flow and increasing the secretion of growth hormone. Research has confirmed a link between arginine and nitric oxide production: nitric oxide can cause increased blood flow. Bodybuilders believe that increased blood flow and extra growth hormone secretion leads to an increase in muscle mass when combined with exercises. Scientific research conducted into the subject, however, has found that use of arginine for bodybuilding doesn’t cause increased muscle growth. It does increase the amount of growth hormone found in the blood, however.

Raisins contain arginine.
Raisins contain arginine.

People use arginine for bodybuilding as a method of increasing the blood flow to their muscles. This is believed to occur because arginine is a precursor to nitric oxide, which has been shown to widen blood vessels. For this reason, patients previously taking anabolic steroids may be given arginine to help combat the high blood pressure commonly caused by steroids. Bodybuilders believe that the increased blood flow can improve their performance. In addition, the nitric oxide produced is believed to increase metabolism of fat and reduce cholesterol.

Arginine can help people gain muscle mass and increase muscle definition.
Arginine can help people gain muscle mass and increase muscle definition.

Another reason that people use arginine for bodybuilding is that it can lead to increases in the production of growth hormone. Growth hormone is a chemical which encourages the body to grow, which is of primary concern for bodybuilders. Growth hormone prompts the body to divert calories into the production of proteins required by the muscles as opposed to fat. The most receptive people to growth hormone can achieve a 15 percent increase in muscle mass as a result. These results can only be achieved if the increased levels of the hormone are combined with regular muscle-building exercise.

Research into the effects of arginine for bodybuilding has generally had inconclusive results. Most research takes a group of bodybuilders and sets them on an identical training regime and diet, giving one half arginine and the other half a placebo. These studies have found no major improvement in terms of muscle mass for the group taking arginine, indicating that the supplement does less than it purports to. Growth hormone levels within the blood do increase in bodybuilders taking arginine, however.

Arginine is a semi-essential amino acid that is not produced naturally by the body. It can be found in foods such as chocolate, raisins, and peanuts. The amino acid is part of many processes in the body, including hormone secretion and immune system defenses. It can also help to regulate salt levels.

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Discussion Comments


Arginine has many benefits for bodybuilding, many of my bodybuilding buddies take it. But I urge people to read reviews of arginine supplements before buying one. Some of them are not very good quality, some don't work or some pills are too large.


Those who have high blood pressure and who take high blood pressure medications know that these medications prevent heart rate from increasing too much. It's fine when I'm resting, but this proves to be a big disadvantage while exercising and lifting weights because I cannot put in as much effort. In order to do cardio exercises and burn fat, it's necessary for the heart rate to be above a certain point.

I take arginine for this reason. Not only does it help regulate blood pressure, but it also pumps more blood to my heart and helps me work out more easily.

I did check with my doctor before starting this supplement though and everyone should do the same.


I take l-arginine for improved energy before workouts. I can workout longer when I take l-arginine and I think it helps me recover after workouts as well. I used to have to take a 2-3 day break after my workouts to rest and recover. I had a lot of muscle aches and fatigue. Now, one day is enough, sometimes even that is not necessary. My fatigue and aches have really decreased. I suppose this is due to improved blood circulation. I highly recommend arginine for bodybuilders. I actually recommend it for everyone who needs more productive workouts.

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