Q & A With Clayton South - April 2005!

This Q and A contains information on the importance of nutrition, supplementation, and how to get greater gains. Find out what suggestions can help you get the muscle without the damaging injuries...

[ Q ] I've been working out for about a year and have focused mostly on my diet. Now, I want to begin using supplements to make even better gains, but I'm not sure what I should use.

I've been reading your articles for the past year, and they've helped me a lot. You've recommended creatine in the past, and it's supposed to build muscle. Do you think I should take creatine at this point in my bodybuilding career? If so, what kind?

    A. I'm glad that you started with the right focus. Nutrition is not the only variable that you must manipulate to make gains, but it is certainly the most important.

    If it's a choice between eating right and working out right, you should definitely choose to eat right first, because if you don't eat right you won't get any gains, whereas you can still see some gains by working out incorrectly if your diet is sound.

    Bodybuilding magazine propaganda notwithstanding, creatine monohydrate is still an excellent and inexpensive supplement that will deliver excellent results for an excellent price.

    However, while creatine delivers great results, is fairly cheap, and has been proven safe for long-term use, using regular creatine monohydrate on its own is like choosing to drive a bicycle instead of the latest luxury sports utility vehicle - it just doesn't make sense if performance is your goal.

    Regular creatine monohydrate on its own should be used by only the most budget conscious athlete; if you have the money you should use creatine monohydrate with other supplements like nitric oxide, antioxidants, ribose, taurine, potassium and glutamine.

    These are all great supplements to use after you have developed a quality supplementation plan that centers around a multivitamin and protein powder.

    But, expense is a problem. It will cost you a lot to use all of these supplements separately. Fortunately, there is a product that not only gives you creatine monohydrate, but also ribose, glutamine, NO2, and antioxidants. And, best of all, it's reasonably priced. The product is Krush4, by AllMax Nutrition.

    I recommend Krush4 to my personal training clients because it works, and I recommend it to you for the same reason.

    Synergy is a key concept to understand if you want to make solid bodybuilding gains.

    Simply, synergy is achieved by using several ergogenic compounds together. The sum of the results seen when using several products together is greater than the sum of the results when using each product individually.

    Supplements are best used when your diet is sound. Because your diet is sound, I recommend incorporating a quality creatine product into your supplementation plan. Give Krush4 a try.

[ Q ] I'm taking Anavol, by NxCare. It contains creatine alpha-ketoglutarate, glutamine alpha-ketoglutarate, and citulline-malate.

I noticed in your article about pro-hormone replacements that glutamine alpha-ketoglutarate is a glutamine precursor. Should I take glutamine with this supplement to achieve additional benefit? I want to get the most of the supplements available to me.

    A. Glutamine is important because it is the most abundant amino acid in the body, and it helps to prevent muscle breakdown by maintaining the free-amino acid pool.

    Much of the glutamine that you ingest is converted into glucose and then used to power muscular contractions. Simply, you burn glutamine, and thereby muscle tissue, at a steady rate throughout the day. This is why glutamine supplementation is critical for everyone - whether you exercise or not.

    Using a product with glutamine precursors will not ensure that you are getting enough glutamine to satisfy your requirements. The requirement for glutamine will vary depending on physical fitness level, activity level, body mass, and diet.

    I recommend that you use a quality l-glutamine product to ensure that you are getting enough glutamine. Glutamine is a fundamental supplement for hard-working athletes, and its use should supersede the use of any designer products like the one you mention.

[ Q ] I am 19 years old, 5'11 and weigh 140 lbs. I have made small gains from whey protein and the right diet, but I want to start a supplement stack. With so many different supplements out there, it is hard to choose the right one and know that I am not wasting my time and money. Could you suggest a stack?

My goal is to be to 170lbs, and I don't care if some of it is fat. After all, I am pretty skinny right now. Creatine looks like my best option, because I can't find a legit supplier for d-bol. I care about my long-term health, but I want to set myself up for success with the right stuff.

    A. First, I want you to define the concept "right diet." How much are you eating? How many calories? How many grams of fat per day? Protein? Carbohydrates? What kinds of food are you eating? Steak? Chicken? Fish? Salad? When are you eating? What is your post-workout nutrition plan like? What types of fats are you consuming? What types of protein are you eating? What types of fat are you consuming?

    As for d-bol? Give me a break. I don't mean to be rude, but you have no business even thinking about d-bol or supplements unless you can answer these basic questions correctly in detail.

    If you want to use supplements, great! I suggest a quality weight-gainer. You could use creatine to try to gain weight, but a lot of it will be water weight. The point is: eat a lot, and use a weight-gaining supplement.

    Your limited supplement and nutrition knowledge will ensure that you get hurt if you start injecting or swallowing steroids.

    Nutrition is the fundamental determinant of bodybuilding success. Eat poorly, look poorly. Eat well, look well. You become what you eat. If you don't weigh very much, you need to eat more; it's a simple matter of your metabolic rate.

    Calculate Your RMR

    This calculator will use 5 different popular methods for determining your RMR. It will also give you the average of all five answers so you can get the best possible number.

Select Your Gender:
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Enter your bodyfat percentage IF you know it. If not, leave it blank.

    So eat. Eat a lot. And, forget about the steroids... period!

The Bodybuilding Steroid Dilemma: How To Get Off Steroids.
If you need help getting off steroids, see your doctor and bring this article as well as some of the papers I mention above.
[ Click here to learn more. ]

[ Q ] I read your articles and I find them to be very instructive. I want you to recommend a supplement to help retain muscle mass during extreme dieting.

Yes, extreme dieting is stupid, but I've got a fight coming up and I need to lose fifteen pounds. I have three weeks to do it, and dropping weight through water tricks won't do - my body does not function at all if it's not full of water, and I want to win.

    A. You readily acknowledge the inherent stupidity of extreme dieting and so lecturing you on the matter would be like preaching to the choir. You want a list of supplements to prevent the loss of lean muscle mass? No problem. Here are several that may help; they are listed in order of importance.

    1. Whey protein supplement
    2. L-glutamine powder
    3. ZMA
    4. Tribulus Terrsestris

    A quality whey protein supplement is critical when your body is in a negative energy balance due to carbohydrate restriction.

    Your body acquires the required amounts of glucose via two means: diet and muscle-tissue breakdown. When you restrict your carbohydrate intake, the body will break down metabolically expensive muscle tissue for amino acids that can be converted into glucose.

Amino Acid Metabolism!
Our current examination of proteins and amino acids will cover the metabolism of the protein we eat, dietary protein, and catabolic situations in the body.
[ Click here to learn more. ]

    This process is known as gluconeogenesis. Whey protein supplies the necessary amino acids to prevent muscle loss under these extreme conditions.

    L-glutamine is the most abundant amino acid in the body and it helps to maintain the free amino acid pool. This amino acid pool is critical for healthy immune function, for the same reasons listed above: glucose powers muscular contraction.

    Glucose is incompletely broken down into various chemicals and the product of this process is lactic acid - the chemical responsible for the "burn" that roughly correlates to muscular failure and a decrease in muscular efficiency to do work.

    Glutamine is often converted to glucose, and in this way prevents catabolism (via gluconeogenesis) from breaking down valuable muscle tissue.

    ZMA is a good supplement when in a negative energy balance, because zinc helps the manufacturing of a critical fat shedding hormone that builds and maintains muscle mass: testosterone.

    Tribulus Terrestris helps to stimulate the release of leutenizing hormone, and this helps to increase unbound levels of testosterone. Unbound testosterone, and not total testosterone, is the key to achieving muscle growth.

    I said that the above supplements "may help" because supplements can go only so far in preventing catabolism. Nutrition is the chief determinant of muscle gain or muscle loss, and if your nutrition plan is such that it forces muscle loss, the best that supplements can do is minimize loss, not stop it all together.

[ Q ] I want to say "thank you" for the excellent articles you have written for Bodybuilding.com. You have helped me a lot.

I'm looking to increase muscle mass. I have been using your workout in "The Ultimate Mass Building Workout", but I'm confused because there are only three chest and two bicep exercises slated in your program. Why is that?

    A. The size of the muscle group being trained dictates the number of exercises to which it is subject. And, while overkill seems to the today's standard practice, I still don't recommend deviating from the size-work relationship.

    Exercise is about one thing: efficiency. It's about the efficiency of the bodies leverage systems, the ability of a muscle to do work, and the ability of the said muscle recover from that work. Everything is mathematical.

    So, if you can achieve a result by doing three exercises, why choose to do nine instead? By achieving the same result with three exercises, you get the same result in 1/3 of the time. And, once a muscle is fatigued it's fatigued. Once a muscle fiber is stimulated, it's stimulated. Work beyond this and you'll work your CNS and inhibit your ability to recover.

    What Does CNS Mean?
    The central nervous system (CNS) consists of the brain, spinal cord, and meninges (the surrounding membranes).

    The bottom line? Get into the gym, stimulate the muscle, and then go home. And, get it done as quickly and as efficiently as possible. Make the most of every exercise, eliminate the waste, and then focus on your recovery.