Stacking Advice and Final Remarks
Well, this article is sort of a goodbye. It'll be the last planned article in this series, though I plan on doing some follow up based on breaking research and questions from people. So if you feel you are left with questions that should be common knowledge, I would appreciate to hear from you.
I believe I have supplied you with adequate information to judge and shop for supplements, so all that's left for me to do is provide you with some useful information as to how to use them and to what effect. The variations and combinations are endless, and as long as two of the products don't counteract each other, all combinations have some merit. I took the liberty of giving you a few of my favorites that will be well worth the money when used for the specific goals I made them for. These stacks are mere examples of possibilities, though I believe they will work for a majority of people. There is no need to take them literally if you choose not to, and as long as you can afford a few mistakes you'll always learn more from bitter experience than from any article I can conceive of. I will try to be as specific and detailed as possible as to how to get the maximal benefit out of each one, and I'm confident that if you are willing to give them a try, and take some of my information with you when buying the supplements, you will find you too are not such a hard-gainer as you thought. Let me remind you once again that all supplementation hinges on proper nutrition and rest. I can understand that these stacks don't work as well as intended, I will never accept that they do not work. Such a thing is only possible when you are not taking care of odds and ends. But to make a long story short, here are the stacks.
The Beginner Stack
For a beginner I believe that these supplements are all you need to start exhibiting extreme gains. Just the fact that you are starting out will no doubt spur incredible growth and provided that you are willing to put in the research and trouble that come with good training and nutrition, these supplements will limit your mistakes. In most cases I will recommend you take a multi vitamin year round. With changing nutritional patterns, providing a constant and sound base is necessary. Take one multi every morning after breakfast, this will give them a natural time-release system. Your body will know how to use these substances. Dessicated liver is measured in grains. Taking 120 grains in the morning and another 120 with dinner will provide additional vitamins and free-form aminos that keep the anabolic environment alive. A weight gainer is necessary, as long as you aren't overweight to begin with, in which case a quality whey protein may be better suited. The weight gainer is an excellent meal replacement or addition. With 600-1200 calories, enough protein and more carbs to insure optimal energy and absorption, this supplement will avoid shortcomings in your diet. Use it as a substitute meal when you can't squeeze in a meal every 2 and a half hours and after each workout session to recuperate energy expenditure. And last but not least, taking an extra 1000 mg of Vitamin C post-workout will keep energy high, up the immunity and exert anabolic effects upon other nutrients. Together these 4 supplements will form a solid base upon which to base your muscular body.
The Bare Necessities Stack
This is a stack for those of you who are far away from home, for college or work, can't afford big meals and definitely can't afford supplements. This stack is what I used personally to keep my gains going in times of budgetary deprivation. As a college-student, here or abroad, I often find myself strapped for cash. When that happens and it looks like I won't make dietary needs, I change my diet to an almost vegetarian one. Meals will consist of eggs, cheese, salami, bread, spaghetti and all I drink all day long is milk. Which I usually do anyway. But I never eat out, never eat junk and cut meat for cooking because of the cost. All these foods are cheap and will provide necessary nutrients in large quantities. On top of that I make sure I have my multi because of the limited variation in diet, so I'm never short on needed micro-nutrients. I take it with breakfast in the morning, as shown in the previous stack. Further more I spring for a B-complex vitamin which I take with lunch. The B-vitamins will optimize the use of carbs, protein and fats, better oxygen use and produce more aminos. If your diet is sufficient, all you are really lacking is a B-complex vitamin that will make sure you get the maximum out of you diet.
The Power Stack
This is a stack I designed especially for a powerlifter I trained a while back. It will work wonders for strength athletes and bodybuilders seeking bigger lifts. The intake is geared towards increasing available strength when training. For starters take your ZMA as directed on an empty stomach 30 minutes before bed. The overnight testosterone increase and high Zinc/Magnesium levels will provide a solid base of power. Motivation is high and that has to be the first concern. In this case there is no need to load the creatine, so you will not be going on a loading phase. You will start immediately on 2x5 grams daily. Take your first dose in the morning, and drink some juice about 20-30 minutes after ingestion. When training rolls around make sure you get the other 5 grams of creatine and 1000 mg of Vitamin C roughly an hour before you hit the gym. This will give you all the energy you need, and will boost your lifts by a possible 25 percent. You'll feel stronger, fatigue slower and lift bigger. I added a weight gainer to this stack to avoid depletion of macro-nutrients. Taking a shake twice a day, between meals, and after your workout will make sure the ultimate anabolic compound - food - is present throughout the day. This too will make sure that the other supps are used what they were meant for. One precaution on this stack, take a workout drink along, preferably with high-glycemic sugars in it. The creatine will make your mouth dry, and the sugars in the drink will replete glycogen as you go, enabling you to train longer and harder and keep producing big lifts.
The Mass Stack
This stack is geared toward the average recreational bodybuilder going on a bulking phase. The goal is to give you as much mass as possible with no more fat gain than is necessary to attain that growth. Take a multi in the morning with breakfast, use the Weight gainer for additional meals (you will need 6 or 7 meals, post-workout included) especially the one after your workout. The B-complex is best taken either before a large meal or with lunch, provided your workout is in the afternoon or evening. Taking it later than lunch would make it less effective as the B-vitamins are mainly used to render protein more effective. And finally the creatine, both in this stack as in the two following stacks, will require loading. 3 doses of 7 grams spread evenly throughout the day (one after the workout with your shake) for about 5 or 6 days will insure that enough of the creatine will be absorbed by overloading the space around the cell. Homeostasis will do the rest. Now maintain use at two times 5 grams daily for 6 to 10 weeks, depending on how long you notice gains from the stuff then cycle off for about 4 weeks, before recommencing. The other products can be taken year round. The difference between creatine for strength and creatine for mass is that you will be taking your second dose not before but after your workout in your shake. Here the creatine is used for recovery, taking up more water and restoring energy and not so much to improve short-term energy expenditure.
The Ultimate Mass Stack
This one is for the more dedicated bodybuilders, or those who don't mind spending the extra money for the extra gains. It looks like an enormous stack, but the truth is its very inexpensive all together and has a very synergistic effect. It's basically the same as the last stack, only now we add in extra Vitamin C, ZMA and dessicated liver. These are relatively cheap things, that will save you on some foods. The need for vegetables and fruits decreases, leaving more room for calorie-dense foods for more gains. Basically you copy the previous stack to the letter, but now you will also be adding 1000 mg of Vitamin C to your post-workout shake, taking ZMA on an empty stomach 45 minutes before bed and drinking your last shake 15 minutes before bedtime. As for the dessicated liver, use 120 grains three times daily, evenly spread. Like say, breakfast, lunch and dinner. Believe me when I say this stack is all you need for incredible gains. All the expensive stuff they try to sell you are merely knockoffs of these supplements, sometimes a little better, often worse, but always too expensive.
Get as big as Greg Kovacs in 30 days! Just kidding... (c) Avidan
The Advanced Mass Stack
This stack is for the few. It takes a knowledgable, educated and above all experienced bodybuilder to get the maximum out of this stack. I don't think many people know how to use prohormones yet. First of all you need to be aware of the possible side-effects and secondly you need to know how to get the best benefits out of it. With the price of prohormones you need to have the nutritional information down that can give you the 15-pound gains prohormones can give you, otherwise a mere 4 pounds will not justify what you pay for these supplements. I don't believe anyone needs prohormones except advanced bodybuilders, but it's a personal choice always. Not just for beginners wishing to take, but also many advanced bodybuilders that choose not to take them.
To stack this, take your multi in the morning with breakfast and your B-complex with lunch take 500 mg of Vitamin C at breakfast and lunch and another 1000 with your postworkout shake. On top of 4 solid high calorie meals, you'll need 3-4 shakes. One after your workout, one before bed, one midmorning and possibly one in the afternoon if you can't prepare a snack then. Take dessicated liver at 150-180 grains with breakfast, lunch and dinner. Do not use the ZMA yet. Load creatine as indicated for 5 days and maintain at 5 grams daily, postworkout. We'll start on the prohormones: Take a dose of your Nor-component in the morning with breakfast and another one at dinner. For diols take 2x250 mg and for 19-Nor take 2x500 mg.
When taking your andro take it 45 minutes before a workout. For 4-diol it's a personal choice. Between 300 and 500 is most effective. For 5-diol I would definitely take 500. Use the stack for 6 to 8 weeks. On the last three days take your ZMA and continue use for 2 to 3 weeks after. Take it as indicated in the previous stack.
The Obesity Stack
In general the motto of bodybuilding is "Build it, shape it, shred it" in that order. But for the grossly obese it's best to cut down to a comfortable 15 percent body-fat before attempting large meals that are needed for growth. Carrying too much extra weight will inhibit energy and stunt your stamina. So it's best to use a stack like this to get you started.
Keep your meals to 3 a day maximum, plus two shakes and cut calories from carbs. Calculate 10 calories per pound of LEAN bodyweight and stay below that number. In midmorning and mid-afternoon consume a shake with 30 grams of whey protein, preferably an isolate. Supplement with a good fat-burner that contains at the very least an ECA stack and HCA (like Hydroxycut. For short periods of time (2-3 weeks) cycle on and off chitosan. This will inhibit fat absorption, always temporarily cutting high-calorie fats out of your diet, but never long enough to be unhealthy. A multi vitamin will be needed, because I agree that obesity may be a glandular disease, but is always partially the result of unhealthy nutrition. This stack will work great for most people seeking to lose a lot of flab in a short time. It will not get you ripped however, but everyone has to start somewhere.
The Summer Fat Loss Stack
Looking good to go cruising for chicks as it's called, is what most aspiring bodybuilders seek and just a bit of excessive fat will stand between them and their dream. Well, here is your stack. Use a good fat-burner. Some of my favorites are Xenadrine, Hydroxycut and Animal Cuts. All three are very effective when taken as prescribed with no noticeable difference between them in outcome. Diet will be most important in this matter. I suggest you read my article on fat-burners for info on both. Keeping calories beneath 10 per pound of bodyweight is a must. Cut most calories from carbs. When your carb level goes below your protein level, it's time to supplement with glutamine to avoid robbing of the muscle-protein stores. Supplementing it at a rate of 3 or 4 times 5 grams, evenly spaced between meals will go a long way to preserve hard-earned muscle-mass. Remember to give yourself at least 16 weeks to diet down and stay motivated, because dieting can be a depressing matter.
Big Cat's Competitive Fat Loss Stack
Opinions will differ widely on this, but they all have one thing in common. They are expensive. Most competitive builders will go all out for dieting down because coming in ripped and as big as possible is all that matters come crunch time. I find that for my style of dieting, and again I refer you to my article on fat-burning if you want to learn what that style is, that this stack works best. It is very expensive and I don't really recommend it for those of you that aren't competing or need to get in shape in a real hurry. It's not that it has a lot of products but two, namely glutamine and HMB, are costly.
Again, any decent fat-burner goes. They all match up when taken in prescribed doses, but I have recently found that taking 3 instead of 2 packs of Animal Cuts far outweighs any other fat burner I've ever taken. I have to warn you that this will easily become expensive and since most people diet longer than I do, I can't speak of the possible risks of these high doses. I'll usually take my fat-burner three times daily, use a multi with breakfast and B-complex with lunch, as I always do. I supplement chromium at 2 doses of 400-800 mcg depending on how close I get to competition. One dose a half hour before lunch and one a half hour before dinner. I find that chromium works for me, but I will add that this is not so for everyone. Chromium only works for people who are deficient. Even when taking the most available chromium (picolinate) your body will only absorb it when it needs it. I take a whey shake, 30 grams, Three times daily as meal replacement and two solid meals, usually breakfast and lunch. I'll often add a fourth shake after a heavy workout. As soon as my carbs drop below my protein intake I will supplement with 4 times 5 grams of Glutamine, generally between meals or with a whey shake when I'm low on carbs. And finally the HMB: I take 3 evenly spaced doses of 2 grams on workout days and 1 gram on non-workout days, pretty much throughout the dieting phase. For me it takes only 8 weeks to get into contest shape, other take longer, so you understand my worries about the cost. You'd be best to keep HMB for the last 8 weeks of however long you diet. A little tip for fellow competitors, start a creatine loading phase at 4 days out to come in full and big, and consuming a bit of low-glycemic carbs and a bit of extra potassium in the last week can't hurt either, but beware of overdoing it or starting too early, as this will ruin your chances in the competition.
Only the best make it to the finals. (c) Avidan
I hope some of my stacks inspired you to get creative or experimenting with a few elements of them. As this was my last article in the series, I really hope you enjoyed them all and learned a few things. I certainly enjoyed writing them for you and my only wish is that it really helps a few people out.
Have no fear though, I'm still at the source of breaking information and you guys will be the first to know if anything comes up. And of course all questions and suggestions are still welcome. Of all the things I presented you with, I hope the one thing you carry with you is that you have to be critical and open at the same time. I'm only presenting you with facts, and I don't expect you to take my word for anything I say. I'm well aware of people who would deny me the pleasure of informing you. Such is the price of success I suppose. If something works, there are already ten people working to discredit it. Criticism about my prohormone advice and resurfacing concerns about dessicated liver are popping up all over the message boards. I assure you that liver endured this thrashing when the Iron Guru Vince Gironda recommended them in the 50's and 60's and they'll survive this new round too. Proven methods never die. But just to set things straight: Dessicated liver does not contain toxic materials. First of all cold processing removes most toxicity, added to the fact that a healthy bovine specimen rarely gets anything toxic in his liver except if he is injected with steroids (they eat grass people!) and that the part you get in dessicated form is glandular substance and not the actual filter of the liver. So the stuff is perfectly safe. If however you do have some concerns, stick to a reputable brand like Universal. Fact remains that liver is an effective and cheap supplement that no real bodybuilder should be without. And if others are willing to listen to discrediting reports from people who have an interest in more expensive products, that is their business. As a glandular liver substance it contains P450 as well, which will protect and strengthen the liver.
As for my prohormone advice, let's just say I haven't heard any complaints from the people that followed it and gained 15 pounds. I'm always careful to advise people to get educated before they use them and be aware of their side-effects, but the responsibility lies with them. I can't lie and say they don't work, when I'm living proof that they do. They aren't for everyone, but I supply the advice, I don't make up people's minds. Sorry to say so, but a green-eyed monster can lash out pretty badly. I expect the badmouthing will come to an end some day too, and those that did make remarkable gains won't even remember, nor will those that didn't listen. This isn't a battle for who can give the best advice, it's just advice. I think I taught you enough critcical skills to go out there and decide what's the truth. Whether that means you believe me or shy away from me, as long as in the end you are bigger and healthier, I did my part.
Just to get that off my chest. And with that rant I finish my articles, just like that. Before I leave you to digest these last bits of information I would like to thank a few people for their support. My bro Denny for helping me start the Hellhearts and being my favorite test subject, the Hellhearts for being there, my dad for giving me access to his medical library and his personal input without which my articles on vitamins and amino acids would not have been so comprehensive. Further more all the people who wrote me with questions and constructive critiscism that has helped me to offer a more complete vision of problematic circumstances, and especially Mark in Great Britain (MarkA), Louie in Montreal (LBo) for always pushing my knowledge to the limit and of course David in kansas (Fitforlife) for giving me insight and most of all support when I was new to the message boards. And of course all on the message boards helping me out to some extent, Here is to the HH: Dorian, Joehagy, Big Red, Danny, fitnessman and Fitforlife. We've had our differences, but we make up for it by offering a variety of views. And a special thanks to Big John for the endless email discussions about basketball, pro bodybuilding and supplements.
Not to forget the people who gave me this opportunity to write this comprehensive material and publish it somewhere where a world-wide bodybuilding audience can read it, I'd like to thank Bodybuilding.com for the special care especially Ryan DeLuca. I hope this is merely the beginning of a great partnership.
Goodbye... for now.