Part 1: Introduction
Part 2: Setting Goals
Part 3: Bodybuilding Training Program
Part 4: Workout Charts
Part 5: Bodybuilding Diet
Part 6: Bodybuilding Supplements
Part 7: Rest And Recovery
Part 8: Putting It All Together
Part 9: What To Do After Week 12
When it comes to gaining lean muscle mass, most people think that bodybuilding supplements are the most important part of the equation. However, this could not be any further from the truth.
Supplements are just additions to an already good nutrition and training program. Nutrition and training are the most important components of a bodybuilding program, with rest and recovery next to them. Once all of those aspects of your program are maximized, then you can start thinking of adding supplements to your program.
Please understand that supplements do not make up for improper training, or lack thereof, or a low quality diet. Supplements only work when your diet and your training program are optimal.
Nutritional supplements are good because they prevent us from getting any nutritional deficiencies. The increased activity levels from your new exercise program will make your body have greater demands for vitamins and minerals, which will increase the probability of you suffering a deficiency without supplementation. Even a slight nutrient deficiency can sabotage muscle growth.
We cannot rely solely on food nowadays to provide us with all the vitamins and minerals that our body needs because the processing of foods before they get to the supermarket, cooking, air, and even light have already robbed your foods of most of the vitamins that they have to offer. If you are deficient in one or more nutrients your body may not be able to build muscle and burn fat properly.
Not all supplements are created equal though. Some your body always needs, others are more dependent upon what your goals are and what your budget looks like. Below you will learn what the different categories of supplements are and which ones you need to use at all times.
These are the supplements that you always need year round in order to gain muscle. If you have a limited budget, these are the only ones that you need to concern yourself with.
Essential to insure that your body will operate at maximum efficiency. Why? Because on a very simplistic level, without vitamins and minerals it is impossible to covert the food that we eat into hormones, tissues and energy.
Vitamins are organic compounds (produced by both animals and vegetables) whose function is to enhance the actions of proteins that cause chemical reactions such as muscle building, fat burning and energy production. There are two types of vitamins: Fat soluble vitamins - they get stored in fat and therefore if taken in excessive amounts will become toxic such as A, D, E, and K. Water soluble vitamins - they are not stored in the body such as the B-Complex and Vitamin C.
Minerals are inorganic compounds (not produced by either animals or vegetables). Their main function is to assure that your brain receives the correct signals from the body, balance of fluids, muscular contractions and energy production as well as for the building of muscle and bones. There are two types of minerals:
- Bulk minerals - Which are called this way as the body needs them in great quantities in the order of grams such as Calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium and phosphorus.
- Trace minerals -Which are needed by the body in minute amounts, usually in the order of micrograms such as chromium, copper, cobalt, silicon, selenium, iron and zinc.
- Where Can You Get Vitamins and Minerals?
I like simplicity and because of that I tend to get most of my vitamins and minerals from multiple vitamin/mineral packs. One that I personally like is Beverly International's SuperPak.
Meal Replacement Powders (MRPs)
Protein-wise, most are composed of whey proteins but there are many new formulas now on the market that consist of a protein blend of whey and slower released milk proteins (like miscellar casein). Typically, the carbohydrate component used to be maltodextrin, yielding around 25-27 grams of carbohydrates per serving, but the newer generation formulas, such as Labrada's Lean Body and Prolab's Lean Mass Complex consist of slower released carbohydrates in order to make the product lower glycemic in nature, in addition to having a varied amino acid profile.
The new Labrada Lean Body, for instance, even has 8 grams of fiber and 8 grams of EFAs (Essential Fatty Acids), in addition to 8 grams of glutamine. Of course, I also like the fact that it is instantized (you can mix with liquid and a spoon), which makes it very convenient for travel and for fast nutrition when I'm on the go and tastes awesome! If you are into Peanut Butter, try the chocolate peanut butter flavor.
Protein powders are just powders that consist mainly of protein, typically whey protein based but there are still some companies that produce egg based ones. They usually contain no more than 5 grams of carbohydrates and 20-25 grams of protein (per scoop). Calorie wise they consist of anywhere from 100-125 calories.
Whey Protein Concentrate
I feel that whey protein is a great protein source for the following reasons shown in a growing number of studies:
- Supports already normal levels of stress hormones
- Supports immunity by increasing glutathione
- Supports liver function
- Promote healthy blood pressure
- Helps reduce overtraining
In addition to the above, we need to mention that whey proteins are highly digestible and have a better amino acid profile even than egg whites. So in other words, whey protein has the highest biological value (value that measures how well the body can absorb and utilize a protein) of any protein.
Having said this, whey is not the steroid-like substance that the magazines want you to believe it is, but based on the research I've looked at and on my own use of the product I feel it is a valuable addition to one's diet for the reasons outlined above. Cheaper brands use lower quality whey, thus reducing the absorption of the protein by the body, so always stick to reputable brands.
Whey Protein Isolate
Whey isolates are sub-fractions of whey that are absorbed much more rapidly into the system. While whey concentrate is still considered a fast protein (because it gets absorbed and use by the body relatively quick), whey isolate is much quicker and thus is best used for post workout purposes.
However, whey isolate makes a poor choice for during the day supplementation as if the body does not have a need for all of the amino acids that are released into the bloodstream then it will use them for energy production as opposed to muscle building. Also, it is important to mention that whey isolate does not have many of the health enhancing properties that are described above, as the expensive process required to produce whey isolate destroys many of the health/immune system enhancing sub-fractions such as the lactoferrins, beta-lactoglobulins, and immuno-globulins.
Therefore, for during the day use, a product consisting mainly of whey concentrate is your best bet while for after the workout, a whey isolate product would be a better choice.
Whey Proteins And Slower Released Proteins
Blended proteins are good for during the day use and for night-time nutrition as you get both the fast released and the slow released proteins. When taken at night, the fast released proteins are used by the body in the first hour of sleep when GH levels spike while the slower type proteins provide an anti-catabolic effect for the remainder of the time.
Lately, when I use protein powders I stick to blends as these not only control my appetite way better than single proteins, but I feel that the body benefits more from a varied profile of amino acids. The one I have been using for the past two months with great success is Labrada's Pro V60 which is made up of:
- Micro Ultrafiltered Whey Protein Concentrate
- Agglomerated Egg Albumin
- Calcium Caseinate
- Micro Ultrafiltered Whey Protein Isolate
- Ion Exchange Whey Protein Isolate
Each scoop has 30 grams of protein with only 6 grams of carbs.
Ready-To-Drinks offer a new level of convenience that was not available years ago. Today you can get quality nutrition that is easy to carry and ready to drink, so to speak. My favorite RTDs on the market are the following:
Labrada Pro V-60 RTD
I love this RTD (and so does my son actually) for several reasons:
- Absolutely awesome taste
- Easy to carry and ready to drink
- High fiber/low in carbs (9 grams)
- Zero transfats and zero sugars
- Contains 9 grams of good fats
- Contains vitamins and minerals
- 40 grams of high quality protein
IDS New Whey Liquid Protein
I got introduced to this product at this year's Mr. Olympia expo. I like it because if you need some quick protein prior to your workout because you had a hectic day, and could not eat an hour or so before it, this product will deliver a straight shot of predigested pure protein from whey and milk sources that will not upset your stomach during your workout.
The taste is not bad at all either considering it is straight protein and it comes in a super convenient and easy to carry vial. Vials of 42 grams of protein with 2 grams of carbs and 25 grams of protein with 0 carbs are available. Both are fat free so whenever you need quick delivery of protein, this will do the trick. Very nice to keep a few of these vials around at the gym bag, just in case.
Which Option To Choose?
If you are looking to have a quick full meal consisting of carbs, proteins and some fats then an MRP is your best bet. If on a budget then the best way to go is to buy a big tub of protein powder like the Pro V60.
If you are always on the run and need the most convenient way of getting your meals, the Labrada RTD will make a great meal replacement and the IDS Liquid protein a quick way to get fast delivery of protein (best used in my opinion before and/or after the workout). Keep in mind that convenience comes with a price so there is a higher cost associated with these products when compared to a serving of a protein powder, for instance.
For our transformation purposes, there are three main types of protein supplements on the market and each has their rightful place on a nutrition program depending on your needs:
View Protein Powders Sorted By Top Seller Here.
View MRPs Sorted By Top Seller Here.
View RTDs Sorted By Top Seller Here.
Salmon, fish oil and flax seed oil are high on Essential Fats. So is Extra Virgin Olive Oil. If you do not consume any of these items, then I would recommend Labrada's EFA Lean Gold caps which have the Omega 3, 6, and 9 as well as CLA, and GLA, all which have been shown to help improve body composition as well as prevent inflammation and help with recovery.
Performance Enhancing Supplements
These are the kind of supplements that you can take if you are really serious about your training and want to get the most out of it.
Creatine is a metabolite produced in the body composed of three amino acids: l-methionine, l-arginine and l-glycine. Approximately 95% of the concentration is found in skeletal muscle in two forms: creatine phosphate and free chemically unbound creatine. The remaining 5% of the creatine stored in the body is found in the brain, heart and testes. The body of a sedentary person metabolizes and average of 2 grams of creatine a day. Bodybuilders due to their high intensity training metabolize higher amounts than that.
Creatine is generally found in red meats and to some extent in certain types of fish. However it would be hard to get the amount of creatine necessary for performance enhancement as even though 2.2lbs of red meat or tuna contain approximately between 4 to 5 grams of creatine, the compound is destroyed with cooking. Therefore, the best way to get creatine is by taking it in powder form.
While there is still much debate as to how creatine exerts its performance enhancing benefits, it is commonly accepted by now that most of its effects are due to two mechanisms:
- Intra-cellular water retention
- Creatine's ability to enhance ATP production
Basically, once the creatine is stored inside the muscle cell, it attracts the water surrounding such cell thereby enlarging it. This super hydrated state of the cell causes nice side effects such as the increase of strength and it also gives the appearance of a fuller muscle. Some studies suggest that a super hydrated cell may also trigger protein synthesis and minimize catabolism.
In addition, creatine provides for faster recovery in between sets and increased tolerance to high volume work. The way it does this is by enhancing the body's ability to produce Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP). ATP is the compound that your muscles use for fuel whenever they contract. ATP provides its energy by releasing one of its phosphate molecules (it has three phosphate molecules).
After the release of such molecule, ATP becomes ADP (Adenosine Diphosphate) as it now only has two molecules. The problem is that after 10 seconds of contraction time the ATP fuel extinguishes and in order to support further muscle contraction glycolisis (glycogen burning) has to kick in.
That is fine and well except for the fact that as a byproduct of that mechanism lactic acid is produced. Lactic acid is what causes the burning sensation at the end of the set. When too much lactic acid is produced, your muscle contractions stop, thereby forcing you to stop the set. However, by taking creatine, you can extend the 10 second limit of your ATP system as creatine provides ADP the phosphate molecule that it is missing (recall that creatine is stored in the muscle as creatine phosphate).
By upgrading your body's ability of regenerating ATP, you can exercise longer and harder as you will minimize your lactic acid production and you will be able to take your sets to the next level and reduce fatigue levels. More volume, strength and recovery equal more muscle (assuming nutrition and rest are dialed in).
I like to take 1 teaspoon of Labrada's CreaLean (which is 100% pure German grade creatine monohydrate) before and after the workout. On off days I just take 1 teaspoon with my morning meal.
People whose stomach gets upset from the use of creatine monohydrate are better off using the creatine ethyl ester capsules that Labrada Nutrition produces. These are called CreaLean 2. The way to use them is 3 capsules before and after the workout. On days off from weight training, take 3 capsules as soon as you wakeup and 3 prior to bed.
L-Glutamine the most abundant amino acid in muscle cells. It is released from the muscle during times of stress (such as hard weight training workouts) and dieting. This amino acid not only has been shown to be a great anti-catabolic agent (protects the muscle from the catabolic activities of the hormone cortisol), to be a contributor to muscle cell volume, and to have immune system enhancing properties but also to help in the following ways:
- Regulation of protein synthesis
- Accelerating glycogen synthesis after a workout
- Sparing the use of the glycogen stored in the muscle cell
- Faster recuperation from weight training workouts
Due to its anti-catabolic properties and the fact that it accelerates glycogen synthesis after a workout, glutamine is best taken after a workout with a protein shake. I also take it before I go to bed with my last protein shake. 5 grams of GlutaLean from Labrada do the trick for me.
This is a great supplement that has very good pre-workout applications. The prime ingredient in nitric oxide boosters is arginine which causes vasodilatation (increased blood flow into the tissue) which leads to better pumps and thus better delivery of muscle building nutrients that flood tissue. This, as a result, helps to set up an anabolic condition in the muscle as more muscle building nutrients are delivered into it.
My favorite NO booster, which I have personally have used for years now 15-20 minutes prior to my workouts is Super Charge. I love it because in addition to significantly better pumps, it also increases my mental alertness and helps me recover quicker due to the fact that it also has creatine, as well as the Humanofort, which is a post workout embryonic component developed in Eastern Europe that helps to increase testosterone production and decreases recovery time.
Fat Loss Supplements
Fat loss supplements are useful once all other components of your bodybuilding program are in place. A good fat loss supplement should be able, in my opinion, to suppress appetite, increase caloric expenditure and energy. There are three supplements that I like to cycle during a fat loss phase which meet my standards:
Lipo-6 formula is a combination of several stimulants, which work by increasing your metabolism by stimulating an increase in noradrenaline. An increase in noradrenaline is favorable as fat cells and muscles have an abundance of adrenoreceptors, which are the receptors to which noradrenaline binds to. Once noradrenaline binds to the adrenoreceptors in the fat cells, a chain of chemical reactions occur (I won't bore you with the details) that result in the liberation of fatty acids (fat loss).
In addition, this formula contains guggulsterones, which help support healthy thyroid metabolism and bioperine which aids in increasing the absorption of nutrients and thus enhancing the effectiveness of the formula.
I like this product the most because it utilizes the HCL forms of the ingredients (as opposed to herbal forms) and in addition, it comes in a liquid capsule that releases the ingredients faster into the bloodstream. This is a very strong thermogenic stimulant however, so anyone sensitive to stimulants should stay away! I only take it for the last 4-6 weeks prior to a bodybuilding show. The rest of the year, I alternate between Hot Rox and Charge.