The Complete Guide to Magnesium for Bodybuilding

Everyone wants to pump up gains and get that dream physique. The importance of protein and weightlifting for achieving that goal should be emphasized. But have you considered the role of magnesium in bodybuilding?

Now you might be thinking, “Magnesium? Isn’t that just a mineral I learned about in chemistry class?” Trust me, magnesium is much more than just an element on the periodic table.

With so much conflicting information, it can be hard to know where to start. How much magnesium do you need? What are the best sources of magnesium? Which form to choose?

I’m going to demystify it and show you how this mineral can help take your gains to the next level.

What is Magnesium?

Let’s start with the basics. Magnesium (Mg) is a mineral, and the functioning of our bodies depends heavily on it. It is a cofactor in hundreds of biochemical reactions, many of which are essential for our existence.

It also affects other vitamins and minerals, so magnesium is necessary to experience the potential benefits of vitamin D supplementation. (1)

Our bodies can’t produce magnesium or any other mineral. We have to get them from our diet. It is abundant in green vegetables, nuts, seeds, and whole grains that absorb Mg from rocks, soil, and water as they grow. Supplements are also a legitimate way to meet your magnesium needs.

What Does Magnesium Do for You?

Magnesium is doing so many things for us – scientists state it is involved in over 300 bodily functions, so it would be impossible to list them all.

You must know that it helps regulate our heartbeat, control blood sugar levels, build strong bones, and boost our immune system. Magnesium is required for muscle function. It supports muscle relaxation after contraction, preventing cramps and muscle tightness – usually the most common problems of athletes and highly active individuals in general.

That’s not all about magnesium and muscle. It has roles in protein metabolism as well. (2)

What are the Overall Health Benefits of Taking a Magnesium Supplement?

Taking a magnesium supplement can have a range of health benefits, including:

  • Supports bone health: Magnesium is key to strong bones and helps in the absorption and metabolism of calcium. Adequate magnesium intake has been linked to increased bone density and a lower risk of osteoporosis. (3)
  • Regulates blood sugar levels: It may regulate insulin sensitivity and glucose metabolism, which can help prevent and manage type 2 diabetes.
  • Improves heart health: This mineral regulates heart function and can lower blood pressure, reduce the risk of heart disease, and improve overall heart health.
  • Reduces anxiety and depression: It is essential for healthy brain function and has been linked to reduced symptoms of anxiety and depression.
  • Improves sleep quality: Magnesium may regulate our natural sleep-wake cycle, thus improving sleep quality.
  • Reduces inflammation: Anti-inflammatory properties of this mineral directly prevent chronic diseases, many of which are caused by long-term inflammatory processes of low intensity.
  • Migraine prevention: As someone who has migraines with aura, including vision changes, speech difficulty, and numbness, I can confirm that taking Mg regularly can help both when a migraine occurs and reduce its frequency. (4)
  • Boosts digestive health: Magnesium aids bowel movements and can alleviate symptoms of constipation.

Does Magnesium Have Any Benefits That are Specific to Bodybuilding?

I wouldn’t necessarily single out any magnesium benefit as strictly specific for bodybuilding because both bodybuilders profit from general benefits and vice versa.

Two benefits closely related to bodybuilding, but again useful for every other gym goer and athlete, are: muscle cramps prevention and enhancement of exercise performance.

By preventing cramps, increasing muscle strength, accelerating recovery, and reducing fatigue, magnesium will undoubtedly positively affect your results.

When you read articles about creatine, you probably heard about ATP (adenosine triphosphate), the primary source of energy for muscle contractions at the cellular level. Studies have shown that Mg has an impact on ATP production too. (5)

What are the Different Types of Magnesium?

There are many different types available on the market. Each one has unique properties that make it suitable for specific health concerns. In this section, I’ll briefly analyze the most common types of magnesium.

  • Magnesium citrate

A study conducted almost 20 years ago showed a high absorption rate of this type, so it is often used as a general magnesium supplement because of that feature. (6) Citrate is especially beneficial for digestive health and can alleviate constipation.

  • Magnesium oxide

Magnesium oxide is a combination of magnesium and oxygen. It is a cheaper, less bioavailable form, meaning the body does not easily absorb it. Due to poor absorption rate, Mg oxide shouldn’t be your only source of magnesium but rather a short-term option to alleviate heartburn and constipation. It naturally comes as a powdery substance.

  • Magnesium chloride

Magnesium plus chloride is probably the best multi-purpose supplement based on Mg. It is highly absorbable and is the form most often used for topical application. Although the evidence about magnesium absorption through the skin is inconclusive, all those who want to apply it directly to the site of muscle soreness and cramps should go with Mg chloride. Of course, it is also available as a capsule and tablet.

  • Magnesium lactate

Since our blood cells and muscles produce lactic acid, a mix of magnesium and lactic acid causes the least side effects. Therefore, it is recommended to all those who must take in an exceptionally high amount of magnesium daily due to various health conditions. Magnesium lactate does not trigger that many digestive problems. Excellent bioavailability makes it great for the same type of patients.

  • Magnesium malate

Magnesium malate includes malic acid, and one study even showed that it has the best absorption rate, although more research is needed. (7) It is usually taken as a supplement with a meal. It does not have a laxative effect like some other types. A sour taste characterizes it.

  • Magnesium taurate

Taurine is an amino acid and popular bodybuilding supplement. Alone, it helps with problems related to the cardiovascular system and diabetes, and all these benefits are even better when mixed with magnesium. Numerous studies have proven this, but their shortcomings are the subjects. All research was done on animals, not humans, so until new research confirms the benefits of Mg taurate, we cannot be 100% sure.

  • Magnesium L-threonate

If you have never heard of threonic acid, it is a substance that occurs as a byproduct of the breakdown of vitamin C. Combined with magnesium, it gives magnesium L-threonate – one of the most absorbable types. It is potentially helpful for a wide variety of brain disorders.

  • Magnesium sulfate

Epsom salt has become quite popular over the course of the last few years, but do you know what it is? The thing you use as bath salts to fight muscle soreness and stress is actually a combination of magnesium, sulfur, and oxygen. It is called magnesium sulfate, and there is no evidence that it will benefit your muscles if you dissolve it in bathwater. It can also be taken orally. (8)

  • Magnesium glycinate

This is another amino acid-magnesium mixture. The amino acid glycine and magnesium primarily have calming properties and can promote sleep. People suffering from depression and insomnia often opt for this type. The bioavailability of magnesium glycinate is very good.

  • Magnesium orotate

Magnesium orotate is a lesser-known form that should not deter you from using it. Initial research shows a wide range of benefits, including improved heart health, mood, mental health, and many other things. Orotic acid is a natural substance involved in the construction of DNA. The fact that it is a substance of this type has a positive effect on the absorption rate.

Which Type of Magnesium is Best for Bodybuilding?

There is not just one best type of Mg for this purpose. If I had to choose three types of magnesium for bodybuilding, I would go with taurate, glycinate, and orotate. 

Magnesium taurate is a great option for athletes because it combines an amino acid many gym-goers use separately. 

Glycinate is my choice because rest and sleep are just as crucial as diets and workouts, sometimes even more important. During sleep, muscles regenerate and grow while the body restores energy for the following effort.

Magnesium orotate is the preferred choice of athletes and bodybuilders because it participates in energy production, among other things.

If clinical trials in the future prove the benefits of Epsom salt, Mg sulfate will become an indispensable part of every bodybuilder’s routine because the presumed advantages of that form are downright fantastic.

It’s worth noting that the best form of magnesium for bodybuilding may vary depending on individual needs and goals. Consult a nutritionist before starting any supplement regimen, especially if you are a competitive bodybuilder.

How Much Magnesium Should a Bodybuilder Take?

The general recommendation for adult men is around 400 mg, while women should aim for about 300 mg. However, as a bodybuilder, you may need to consume more magnesium to support your active lifestyle, whether you are a man or a woman.

I can’t tell you exactly how many milligrams of magnesium you need because many factors influence it, but we can follow the rule of thumb. About 3 to 5 mg of magnesium per pound of body weight should meet your needs. That amount may seem excessive but remember that only about 35% of the dietary magnesium consumed is absorbed by the body. (9) The percentage varies based on the type of Mg and your GI tract, but that is an average.

What Time of Day is Best to Take Magnesium?

Timing doesn’t really matter as long as you take it consistently and follow the recommended dosage.

Schedule taking magnesium supplements at the time of day when you are sure you won’t forget that task. It can be first thing in the morning, with a meal, or before bed.

If you still want to connect timing with benefits, consider the primary reason for taking the supplement. Take it before bed if you want a calming effect on the body and a better night’s sleep. On the other hand, taking magnesium in the morning may help improve energy levels and support exercise performance, especially if you’re taking a form of magnesium that supports energy production.

Should You Take Magnesium Every Day?

Yes, you should consume magnesium every day since it is safe and effective for healthy adults. Although bones store magnesium and calcium, their storage capacity is relatively small, and the rest is excreted through urine and feces. (10) So, you need to replenish your levels regularly. Plus, many health benefits associated with magnesium are only achieved with regular, long-term use.

Are There Any Side Effects of Taking Magnesium?

While magnesium is generally safe, taking too much can cause digestive upset, including diarrhea, nausea, and stomach cramps. You probably won’t experience any side effects if you use reasonable doses. Your stool might become softer as a consequence of magnesium supplementation.

It is always best to consult with a healthcare professional before taking any new supplement. Your doctor will give you more information about possible interactions with medications and whether there are any implications for health conditions.

How to Tell if You Have a Magnesium Deficiency?

A magnesium deficiency can cause many problems. It is often challenging to connect it with symptoms immediately since numerous diseases and deficiencies can also cause the same symptoms.

Some symptoms are more common than others, such as muscle cramps and twitches, fatigue, high blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, anxiety, depression, and insomnia.

If you suspect you may have a magnesium deficiency, don’t try to guess your condition but ask your doctor to test your levels. If you’re found to be deficient, the doctor will recommend increasing your intake of magnesium-rich foods and taking a supplement.

Is Supplementing Magnesium Worth it for Bodybuilding?

In my mind, there is no doubt that magnesium supplements are worthwhile for bodybuilding. Because of all the benefits, bodybuilders and everyone else should take it. Whether talking about better muscle contractions, higher energy levels, reduced cramps, or all-around benefits, Mg supplements are very useful, especially if you’re not getting enough from your diet.

You have to remember one more thing – supplements are just that, an addition to a healthy diet, not a replacement. Focus on consuming magnesium-rich foods, such as nuts, seeds, and leafy greens, and use supplements to fill in any gaps.

How We Rate Magnesium as a Supplement for Bodybuilding: 4/5

On our scale, we rate magnesium a 4 out of 5 as a supplement for bodybuilding, while it is close to a 5 out of 5 for the general population.

Magnesium is an essential mineral that is vital to many bodily functions. However, the benefits of magnesium supplementation for bodybuilding are predominantly indirect, such as improved sleep quality and decreased inflammation, rather than direct muscle-building effects.

Furthermore, the effectiveness of magnesium supplementation may depend on various factors such as individual magnesium levels, the type of magnesium supplement used, and the dose taken. Nevertheless, magnesium is a safe and well-tolerated supplement that may offer numerous health benefits, making it a worthwhile addition to a bodybuilder’s supplement regimen.


Does Magnesium Affect Muscle Mass?

Magnesium can have a positive impact on muscle mass in a few different ways. First, it is involved in protein synthesis. Magnesium also plays a role in energy production, which is important for powering your workouts and building muscle. Additionally, it can help regulate levels of hormones that are all-important for muscle growth.

Nevertheless, you should not expect such visible changes as when using whey protein and creatine, not to mention anabolic steroids. The effects of magnesium on muscle mass may be more pronounced in people deficient in the mineral. So, while magnesium alone is not the key to building massive muscles, it can certainly be a helpful addition.

Does Magnesium Boost Testosterone?

Yes, magnesium boosts testosterone, both directly and indirectly. Increased magnesium intake may support testosterone production in males with low magnesium and testosterone levels.

Since bodybuilders generally have a high level of testosterone and rarely a very low magnesium level, the influence of Mg on testosterone will probably be more indirect. You will notice positive changes in testosterone levels because of better sleep quality, reduced stress, and adequate overall hormone balance. Also, the connection between vitamin D and Mg will positively translate to testosterone.

We need more research to understand the relationship between magnesium and testosterone fully.

How Much Magnesium Should a 200-Pound Man Take?

A 200-pound man could either opt for the recommended male dosage for magnesium intake, around 400 mg daily, or go with 3 to 5 mg of magnesium per pound of body weight. In that case, I would stick to 600 to 800 mg since 1000 mg could provoke side effects.

Can Too Much Magnesium Make Muscles Weak?

Muscle weakness may appear after low blood pressure and fatigue, which are early signs of taking too much magnesium. Breathing problems and tachycardia can accompany muscle weakness and are reasons to seek medical help. Hypermagnesemia can even lead to cardiac arrest and kidney failure, but this is extremely rare because you should take 5000 mg of magnesium daily for a prolonged period.

Should I Take Magnesium Before or After a Workout?

There is no definitive answer to this question, as the timing of magnesium supplementation can depend on individual needs and preferences. Some people may find it beneficial to take magnesium before a workout to support muscle function and prevent cramping. In contrast, others may prefer to take it after exercise to promote recovery and reduce muscle soreness. Ultimately, you won’t go wrong whether you take it before, after, or at any other time of the day.

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