If you've been at the muscle-building game for a while, you know that it's not just training that can make gaining more efficient. Specific supplements can supercharge your efforts in the gym and the muscle gains you get from every workout.
The supplements we're going to talk about here are the real deal, and they work well together, especially for bodybuilders who train with intensity.
A no-brainer, right? Well, you need to consider a few specifics. To build muscle you gotta have excess protein—no negative nitrogen balance or gains stop and/or reverse—but should you use whey or casein? How about egg? The egg is considered the perfect food, and for good reason: It's got a little of everything, including quality aminos and anabolic fat. But casein has built more muscle in the lab, and whey has a higher biological value.
We think those protein sources are all excellent and work synergistically, so we often use a combination powder like Muscle-Link's Pro-Fusion, which contains whey, micellar casein and egg protein with only six grams of carbs per serving. Whey gives you a fast anabolic blast, while casein's slow release complements it with an anticatabolic effect.
Timing: Drink one to two scoops in water between solid-food meals and an hour before your workout. You can also use it to supercharge solid-food meals with more protein and before bed as a slow-release overnight anabolic and anticatabolic booster.
2. Branched-Chain Amino Acids:
Studies show that taking about five grams of BCAAs before an intense workout can curb the release of the stress hormone that eats muscle tissue. We also like to take BCAAs before any type of cardio because of that anticatabolic effect. Plus, we keep a big bowl of amino acid caps handy so we can grab three or four whenever we think about it to keep our nitrogen balance positive.
The amino acid leucine, which is prevalent in most BCAA supplements, has been shown in recent studies to have the most anabolic effects on muscle hypertrophy. Research also indicates that BCAAs are especially important for the over-40 bodybuilder.
Timing: Take four BCAA caps before training and before cardio. Also, solid food digests slowly, so take a few with meals—if you don't use a protein drink—so you get aminos into your bloodstream faster.
Kraemer, W.J., et al. (2003). The effects of l-carnitine l-tartrate supplementation on hormonal responses to resistance exercise and recovery. J Strength Cond Res. 17:455?462.