Muscular Development: “My Top 5 Most-Needed Supplements AND WHY” By PJ Braun



The Following Article was originally published in Muscular Development Magazine in March 2023. It is the sixth in a series of articles written while PJ Braun was in prison. You can find previous and future articles in this series here. At the end of this article, you will find an addendum not included in the original publication where PJ reflects on the content of this article.

I decided to write an article on the products I miss the most. I’ve been locked up for about a year, but it wasn’t something I thought I’d put into writing until I had a conversation with one of the lieutenants, who said “Hey Braun, I saw a bunch of your workout videos on YouTube, you look way different.” I laughed and said, “Yeah, I am smaller and fatter now, thanks.” My work ethic is the highest it’s been in years, but lack of access to a proper diet and the right supplements has limited my potential.

When I think about all I was doing on the outside just to look somewhat lean and muscular by pro bodybuilding standards, I realized that I was creating the most ideal situation for my body to thrive on limited rest and food, tons of stress, and quick workouts. I figured out all the best tools for my needs and maximized them. Now that I went from all of that to nothing, it’s been a constant struggle. No weights, limited protein, and no supplements besides a multivitamin. Because of this, I am working out as hard as I can as often as I can, but still not looking great and feeling really beat up! So, if I could add five supplements to make this experience super productive and less like prison, it would be these:

1. Testosterone Cypionate

I have used Pfizer Test Depot for 10 years now and at 200mg a week split into two 100mg doses, I feel like a million bucks. I have gone as high as 400mg the past couple of years, but 200mg is all I would need to make the gains I want to me, keep the muscle I’m trying to preserve, and recover faster. 10 years ago I did a YouTube series titled “Project Small” where my old partner and I chronicled my experiences coming off steroids after 10 years of intense use. I did it through a medical provider that started with a protocol of 250 mcg of HCG daily for 40 days; 50mg of Clomid twice a day for the first 21 days; and 1mg of Arimidex every third day for the entire first 40 days. I did not feel great during that protocol and couldn’t wait to get back on HRT treatment, especially after I saw how low my natural testosterone was. At the time, I was not willing to keep feeling so crappy and happily got back on TRT to get my test range back up to an optimal level. 

Now that I have been off testosterone nearly a year and having done no PCT at all, I feel pretty crappy. I am tired all the time, super sore all the time, and way more body fat than I want considering how hard I’ve been working out. The “upside” is literally no sex drive, which works out great here, lol. I can’t wait to get back on [HRT] when I get out. Forget feeling like a 42 year old; I probably have the testosterone level of an 80-year-old!

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2. Growth Hormone

I have been using Serostim for nearly 10 years and it’s the key to shutting down the aging process. When I first started Serostim it was after retiring from competition. During my competitive career I only used Chinese GH. I went from blue tops to red tops to yellow tops, etc; all for like 200 bucks a kit of 100 IUs. I now realize: IT WAS ALL FAKE! As soon as I did Serostim for the first time, I decided to start with 4 IUs a day. After a few weeks I was so swollen with water, and was waking up with my hands contorted in these crazy claw-like numb positions: I had to completely stop! I waited a few weeks then started over at 1 IU daily, slowly working my way up to 3 IU daily. Anything more than that caused the swelling to come back, but 2 IUs daily was awesome. I have stopped numerous times over the years and each time I do within the first 8-10 days I would lose some water weight, flatten out, and start getting sorer. All my old injuries come back and as time went by, I would gain more body fat. Taking 2 IUs daily is incredible for anyone, but especially anyone over 40. My body is so achy, and I am holding fat in places I never did before. I hate it!

3. GlycoLog by Blackstone Labs

I have said for years this is the product I am most proud of. A glucose disposal agent that works so efficiently that we have had numerous diabetics do testimonials on how great the product has been for them without ever asking. I am not a doctor and don’t make medical claims; these are just experiences that customers have shared. There is a great video on YouTube that I did with longtime IFBB Pro and top Figure competitor Gennifer Strobo. She’s been diagnosed with Type-1 Diabetes and says Glycolog changed her life. I encourage you to check it out. They feed us mostly carbs here and I could really utilize the insulin management and glycogen loading. After taking the product for years I forgot how sensitive I am to carbs, and it sucks!!

4. Probiotics

I have been a major advocate of probiotics for nearly 20 years and have talked about my experiences with IBS, H. pylori bacteria as well as the profound effect that probiotics have had on my mental health. I know it’s hard to believe, but the “Mind-Gut Connection” is incredible. This is not something I am making up. There is so much literature from the best doctors in the world on the role of the microbiome and its importance in everything we do. There are plenty of great products out there. After being off probiotics for a while, I have had a lot of stomach issues. I feel very bloated and sluggish and it’s frustrating. I have tried eliminating certain foods from my diet, but it’s still something I know I will just have to accept until I get out.

5. Isolation by Blackstone Labs. 

Pure. Whey. Isolate. Man have I taken this for granted all these years! Super bioavailable protein that digests quickly and makes it easy to meet my protein requirements. It’s very difficult to get enough protein here. My goal is to hit 200 grams per day, which would have been easy in the free world. I have access to health shakes from the commissary, but each one has 20 grams of sugar and the protein is a blend of mostly milk protein and a little whey concentrate. Now you see why I could really use that Glycolog and probiotic combo! I am definitely lactose intolerant (although I am never giving up cheese!) and the protein shakes I mentioned sit in my stomach heavy. Without them I would really struggle to hit 200 grams, so beggars can’t be choosers. You have to eat protein to grow!

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Honorable mention: I work out every day at 5:00 a.m. on 3 scoops of Folgers instant coffee. It would be awesome to have some Blackstone Labs Hype and Dust Reloaded to boost those early workouts, but I don’t feel that’s as important as the top 5. I would also love to have some Liposomal D3, Gear Support and Blackstone Labs Fish Oil as well.

Like I said before: “Beggars can’t be choosers.” This is prison, and I am happy to be training all. I am much healthier than when I first arrived and I’m ready for some serious gains when I get out!

Before I go, I just want to add a congratulations to Hadi Choopan for winning the Olympia and Derek Lunsford for coming in second. Both are former 212 guys, and this sends such a great message! I can’t wait to see the photos.

Until next time, I love you all. 

Peace out, bye!

Instagram @pjbraunfitness

Editor’s Note (May 2024): Prior to posting this article, PJ Braun was requested for comment and asked to reflect on the content of this article. This was his response. It has been edited for clarity.

Wow, this is a cool one to reflect on because first of all, Hadi isn’t even Mr Olympia any more, Lunsford is, and he looks to be the man to beat again this year! If I were a betting man, I would bet on him to take it again. I guess we will see in a few months. Now, on to the top 5 list of my supplements.

Let me share with you how much of a mess I was when I got home. My weight was 263 lbs and I was soft. I had bloodwork done the first day I was out and it ended up being the worst blood I have ever had. My total testosterone was only 164 and my Free test was only 3. Not to mention my estrogen and all other important hormones were extremely low. It was like my body was just giving up. On top of that my hematocrit was 60, my A1C was 5.7, and my total cholesterol was 228 with the good cholesterol at only 30. I got back on everything on this top 5 list and now my weight is 240, my total test is around 1400 and the free test is astronomical haha. The hematocrit is down to 50 because I donated blood.

I am now experimenting with a very high dose of grape seed extract to see if it stays in check without the blood donations. The A1C was 5.4 and my total cholesterol dropped 40 points! I am still a work in progress, but I feel and look infinitely better. I am excited to share it all with you sooner rather than later! I hope you enjoy following along!