Ease the Pain to Make the Gain

Before you close the page because you think this type of stack is only for those “old” guys who read M&F, consider this: Heavy lifting has been shown to initiate inflammatory processes that not only cause destruction of joint cartilage but also inhibit its rebuilding. So even if your joints move like well-oiled machines today, too much heavy lifting could make you move like the Tin Man well before old age sets in.

Sure, you can lighten your lifting load to protect your joints, but doing so will limit muscle growth. Instead of sacrificing your muscularity in favor of your joints, alternate your workouts between heavy and light days, and consider taking joint-health supplements regularly to protect them from the trauma brought on by heavy lifting.

Best supplements for joint health

  • Fish oil
  • Glucosamine
  • Curcumin

Click through to find out just how these supps can help you protect your joints, and how much of each you should be taking.

1. Fish Oil

It may come as a surprise, but if there’s one supplement every bodybuilder should take, it’s fish oil. Fish oil? Yes, and here’s why: It contains the omega-3 fatty acids EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), both of which provide anti-inflammatory effects in addition to a slew of health benefits. These include reduced risk of heart disease and stroke, improved immune and brain function, prevention of muscle breakdown, enhanced muscle growth, and increased fat-burning. Studies show that fish oil supplements also reduce inflammation and pain associated with arthritis, and that as little as 1,200mg per day of EPA and DHA can provide these benefits.

Most fish oil products, however, contain only about 18% EPA and 12% DHA, or 30% total omega-3 fatty acids. Since a 1g capsule provides about 300mg of omega-3s, you need at least 4g of fish oil total per day. Go with 2–3g with breakfast and dinner for joint protection, muscle growth, fat loss, and overall health.

2. Glucosamine

Found primarily in joint cartilage, glucosamine is a combination of the amino acid glutamine and the sugar glucose. When you take glucosamine, the body incorporates it into molecules called proteoglycans, which help maintain joint integrity and repair damaged cartilage. Research also suggests that glucosamine may stimulate cartilage-producing cells known as chondrocytes to build new cartilage, alleviating the symptoms of joint wear and tear.

Studies over the past 25-plus years confirm glucosamine’s effectiveness at reducing joint pain. A recent study indicated it was as effective as ibuprofen for relieving knee osteoarthritis symptoms—good news, as ibuprofen and similar nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs have been shown to inhibit muscle growth. Try 1,500–2,000mg of glucosamine per day, divided into 2–3 doses. If you already experience joint pain, it may be 6–8 weeks before you notice improvements. Consult your physician before taking glucosamine if you’re diabetic or allergic to seafood.

3. Curcumin

Curcumin is the active ingredient in turmeric, a spice used in many curry dishes. Research shows it relieves pain and inflammation in patients suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, and that it’s superior to some NSAIDs at alleviating inflammation after surgery. A University of Arizona (Tucson) study found that rats given turmeric extracts after being injected with an arthritis-inducing solution had an almost 70% reduction in cartilage destruction compared to rats given a placebo. Scientists discovered this was due to the curcuminoids’ (active curcumin molecules) ability to inhibit a protein that instigates chemical steps in the body that result in inflammation.

Curcuminoids also provide antioxidant properties, which protect against free-radical damage. In one study, adding curcumin to a test tube with isolated muscle cells caused them to grow at a much faster rate, indicating that curcumin may enhance growth. Take 200–500mg of turmeric standardized to 95% curcumin 2–3 times a day.

4. Supp Stack

Take these supplements to prevent joint pain and maintain joint health:


  • Fish oil – 2–3g with breakfast and dinner
  • Glucosamine – 1,500–2,000mg divided into 2–3 doses
  • Curcumin – 200–500mg 2–3 times per