To put on the most lean muscle mass and build the greatest amount of strength while maintaining the least amount of bodyfat, you need to train hard and smart, and follow a solid nutrition plan. And to really take your results to the next level, a smart supplement plan is a must-have.
But a smart supplement plan doesn't mean grabbing a jug of whey protein and a container of creatine and taking them willy-nilly. Sure, whey and creatine are crucial supplements for building size and strength, but knowing what other supplements to take them with to optimize their results can make a big difference . . . emphasis on big.
We know that the main reason you train is to build serious size. This mass stack will ensure your success at maximizing your muscle growth. Use this stack (minus the casein) within 30 minutes before workouts and 30 minutes after workouts (with the casein) and the results will follow.
1. Whey Protein
The starting material for the perfect mass stack is pure whey protein. The fastest protein you can consume, it will get to your muscles rapidly, delivering the amino acids your muscles need for energy and to build size. Whey also has been shown to boost nitric oxide amounts and blood flow to muscles. This aids energy levels for the workout, and recovery and growth after the workout is over.
» 20 grams pre-workout
» 20-40 grams post-workout
Dymatize Elite Whey Protein
2. Casein Protein
As fast digesting as whey is, casein is slow digesting; some micellar casein proteins take up to 7 hours to digest. It digests slowly but steadily. It starts providing amino acids immediately, and does so constantly for up to 7 hours.
This is good after workouts because it boosts muscle protein synthesis (the process that leads to muscle growth) and keeps it ramped up for many hours after the workout is over, which leads to greater muscle growth. In fact, Baylor University (Waco, Texas) researchers found that trained men taking casein with their post-workout whey shake for 10 weeks gained more muscle than those taking whey without added casein.
» 10-20 grams post-workout
Optimum Nutrition's 100% Casein Protein
3. Branched-Chain Amino Acids
The BCAAs comprise the three amino acids leucine, isoleucine and valine. These are the three most critical aminos for boosting muscle growth. Research shows that leucine acts as a key that literally turns on muscle protein synthesis in muscle cells.
These amino acids are also an important energy source for your muscles during workouts. So you need them both before and after training. Whey protein is rich in BCAAs, but not rich enough to provide all that you really need to boost energy and muscle growth around workouts.
» 5-10 grams pre- and post-workout
Of course, creatine made the mass list. After all, hundreds of studies support its effectiveness for boosting muscle size and strength. It does this through a number of mechanisms, such as increasing energy levels in muscle cells, boosting muscle cell water measurements (which leads to long-term growth due to stretch receptors in muscles), bumping up the growth factor insulinlike growth factor-I, or by decreasing myostatin levels.
Regardless of how it boosts muscle growth, the research studies confirm that most guys can gain muscle in a short period of time.
» 2-5 grams (depending on the form you use) pre- and post-workout
This amino acid combines with the amino histidine inside muscle cells to form the compound carnosine. Having higher levels of carnosine in your muscles has been shown to lead to greater muscle strength and power, as well as muscle size - especially when stacked with creatine.
Take:» 2-3 grams pre- and post-workout
Once you've packed on serious size, you'll want to get shredded to the bone so that you can show off all of your hard-earned muscle in its most striated form. Although a smart get-lean diet plan is a must, stacking the following three supplements can make a big difference in the results you experience.
Take them together two or three times per day between meals, with the first dose in the morning; on workout days, take one of those doses 30-60 minutes before workouts.
There's a reason we always include this stimulant in our fat-burning stacks - it works! Caffeine is an effective fat burner because it boosts thermogenesis and increases the release of fat from fat cells. Since caffeine revs up your body's ability to burn more calories, your body burns the freed-up fat for fuel, leaving you leaner.
Caffeine's stimulant effects can help your mood when you're dieting, as well as your intensity and strength during workouts, which can help you train harder to burn off more bodyfat. And it reduces hunger to help you stick with your diet.
Take:» 200-400 milligrams per dose
2. Green Tea Extract
Green tea extract is another no-brainer supplement that we typically add to our fat-burning stacks. That's because the research and anecdotal reports show it works well for fat loss. The active ingredients in green tea responsible for the fat-burning effect are catechins, particularly one called epigallocatechin gallate.
This catechin inhibits an enzyme that normally breaks down norepinephrine, which is a neurotransmitter and a hormone related to adrenaline that increases metabolic rate and fat burning.
Take:» 500 mg of green tea extract standardized for EGCG with each dose
The active ingredient from the bark of the West African tree Pausinystalia yohimbe is now known primarily for its fat-burning effects. It aids fat loss by specifically increasing the amount of fat released from fat cells, much like caffeine does, but via a different mechanism. When you take it with caffeine - which we highly recommend - the amount of fat released is additive; i.e., more than if you took either supplement alone.
The freed-up fat can then be burned away as fuel, especially if you take yohimbine with green tea extract. One study in athletes confirmed that yohimbine significantly reduced bodyfat. It also works to dilate blood vessels in a similar way that nitric oxide does.
A product that contains all three of these fat burning ingredients in one package is BSN's Atro-Phex.
» 5-20 mg with each dose
When most of you think of testosterone, you likely think of its ability to boost muscle mass. Yes, it's very effective at that, but it also aids fat loss, and it boosts muscle strength and, of course, supports sexual health. Take these three supplements to increase your test levels and your results inside and outside of the gym.
1. D-Aspartic Acid
Also known as D-aspartate, this amino acid is found in nerves and organs, such as the testicles and the pituitary gland. It is produced in the pituitary gland where it stimulates the release of luteinizing hormone. LH travels via the bloodstream to the testicles where it causes a boost in testosterone production.
D-aspartate is also produced inside the testicles and acts on Leydig cells (special cells in the testicles that produce testosterone) to increase testosterone production. A 2009 study by Italian scientists found that subjects taking D-aspartate increased their testosterone levels.
» 3 grams of D-aspartic acid with your first meal of the day
Omega Sports D-Aspartic Acid
Known technically as Withania somnifera, this shrub plant has a reputation for its adaptogenic effects (helping the body to deal with stress, such as from exercise), which can aid recovery and growth. However, Indian researchers found that it also works well to boost testosterone levels.
» 1,500-2,000 mg three times per day with food; on workout days, take one of those doses with your preworkout shake
This is the active compound in the herb Coleus forskohlii, which is a member of the mint family. Forskolin first burst on the supplement scene as a fat burner, but now it is recognized as both an effective fat burner and an effective testosterone booster.
Forskolin activates an enzyme in special cells within testicles and causes them to produce more testosterone.
» 20-50 mg two or three times per day prior to meals; on training days, take one of those doses about an hour before workouts
Solaray Forskohlii Root Extract
If you're like most guys, you might prefer to just buy a popular NO-booster product and follow the label instructions. That's fine, but be sure that the product you select contains some of the effective ingredients listed here.
However, if you're a supplement scientist who prefers to buy ingredients individually and stack them yourself, this list is for you. You'll get the strongest doses of all of the most effective NO-boosting ingredients for maximal NO production. Stack these four supplements 30-60 minutes before workouts for maximal results.
As you probably already know, most NO boosters use some form of arginine. That's because this amino acid is readily converted to NO in the body. So you may wonder why we didn't include arginine in this stack. That's because citrulline acts as arginine. This amino acid is readily converted to arginine in the body, which is then readily converted to NO.
So why not just take arginine? Because research has shown that when you take citrulline, your levels of arginine and NO in the blood increase more than when you take a similar dose of arginine. This is likely due to the fact that the digestive system uses a lot of ingested arginine before it makes it into your bloodstream. The digestive system does not use up citrulline as readily and the majority of it makes it to your bloodstream where it turns into arginine and NO.
» 4-5 grams
Source Naturals L-Citrulline
This trademarked extract of the French maritime pine tree is an antioxidant that helps to boost the conversion of arginine to NO. Research shows that Pycnogenol activates the enzyme nitric oxide synthase, which catalyzes the conversion of arginine to NO.
Taking Pycnogenol ensures that more of the arginine you get from arginine or citrulline gets converted into NO.
» 100 mg
3. Horny Goat Weed
Also known as Epimedium, this flowering plant contains an ingredient known as icariin that helps regulate an enzyme from breaking down NO, so you have more of it for a longer period of time.
» 500 mg of horny goat weed extract (standardized for icariin)
Prolab Horny Goat Weed
4. Glycine Propionyl-L-Carnitine
This patented compound combines the amino acid glycine with a modified version of carnitine known as propionyl-L-carnitine. Both glycine and carnitine independently boost NO levels, so taking them together further enhances the NO boost.
In fact, research has shown that trained male weightlifters supplementing with GPLC for four weeks had higher NO levels after a workout than when they used a placebo. GPLC may work by increasing the activity of the NOS enzyme similar to the way Pycnogenol works. But it may also decrease the production of free radicals, which normally increase the breakdown of NO.
» 4.5 grams
Jarrow Formulas GPLC