If you've read some of our articles here at Bodybuilding.com, you know we're all about efficient muscle building - getting the biggest bang for your effort buck.
It's how and why we developed X Reps (we train on our lunch hour, so all of our workouts have to be brief but brutal enough to trigger growth; X Reps help in that regard, as they are partials at the end of a set that extend tension time, activate more growth fibers and make any set three to five times more powerful - for more info see www.X-Rep.com).
But it's not just training that can make your gaining more efficient. Specific supplements can supercharge your efforts in the gym and the muscle gains you get from every workout.
The following are the things we've tried for extended periods and found effective (in fact, we're still using everything on this list). This group is the real deal, and they work well together, especially for those bodybuilders who train with intensity. Use them as we suggest and you should see a mega-muscle size surge within weeks!
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 use a combination powder. Muscle-Link's Pro-Fusion has whey, micellar casein and egg protein in abundance - and 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.
We use a few scoops mixed in water between solid-food meals, usually midmorning and mid-afternoon. Its fast/slow combo also makes it perfect for before bed - to feed growing muscles while you sleep.
Timing: One to two scoops of Pro-Fusion in water between solid food meals. You can also use it to supercharge solid-food meals with more protein and before bed as a slow-release overnight anabolic/anticatabolic booster.
2. Branched-Chain Amino Acids:
Studies show that about five grams of BCAAs before an intense workout can curb the release of cortisol, the stress hormone that eats muscle tissue. We also like 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.
Remember, the amino acid leucine has been shown in recent studies to have the most anabolic effects on muscle hypertrophy, and that's prevalent in most BCAA supplements.
Timing: Four BCAA caps before training and before cardio. Also, solid food digests slowly, so take a few with meals so aminos get into your bloodstream faster.
View BCAA Products Sorted By Top Sellers Here.
Study after new study shows that carnosine in muscle tissue provides a buffering affect, which allows you to grind out more growth reps - and end-of-set X-Rep partials that are so important for optimal fiber activation.
The biggest bodybuilders have more than twice the carnosine levels of nontraining individuals due to an adaptation to intense training. Scientists surmise that because they do so many pain-zone sets, the biggest bodybuilders stockpile carnosine - to help them get bigger and stronger.
Beta-alanine converts to carnosine, so by taking it you load your muscle tissue with carnosine and can power further into the growth zone on any work set. We actually began taking Red Dragon in its beta-test form last year and got exceptional results.
Our strength kept moving forward at almost every workout. Now that our calorie cuts are starting, it will a big key to more intensity. New studies have shown that it synergizes with creatine, making size and strength gains even more pronounced - a muscle-building smart bomb! (Med Sci Sports Exerc. 38:S126; 2006)
Timing: Take two capsules of Red Dragon upon awakening in the morning and two before training. [Note: Many people get a skin-tingling effect from beta-alanine, but that's a normal reaction.]
4. RecoverX & CreaSol:
This is our famous X Stack that we believe is essential to kicking off the recovery and muscle-building processes after a workout. The mix gives you 60 grams of fast carbs and 40 grams of fast whey protein, much of it in peptide form, the fastest whey available.
These compounds are quickly digested so they get into your bloodstream almost immediately. The CreaSol provides five grams of titrated creatine, which is also a "fast" creatine that is almost 100 percent usable by the body. We each use three scoops of RecoverX and one scoop of CreaSol mixed in water immediately after our workouts.
Timing: Three scoops of RecoverX and one scoop of CreaSol mixed in water immediately after every workout to take full advantage of the anabolic window.
As we mentioned earlier, cortisol is a stress hormone that is highly catabolic - it eats muscle. Any stressful situation causes your body to secrete cortisol, even intense workouts.
We take four capsules, about 800 milligrams of phosphatidylserine, prior to each workout to control cortisol release and minimize your body's use of prized muscle tissue for energy.
PS is a soy lipid that has been shown in lab studies to reduce cortisol by up to 30 percent in hard-training athletes, and it's a must for high-strung hardgainer types, who should also use two capsules before bed (cortisol release is very high in the latter hours of sleep).
It's also a must when you start taking fat burners that contain caffeine, as caffeine raises epinephrine release, which triggers cortisol surges. If you use caffeine-based fat burners, always stack with Cort-Bloc.
Timing: Four capsules of Cort-Bloc before each workout.
6. Fat Burner:
What the heck is a fat burner doing on a muscle-size supplement list? For one thing, you'll look much bigger when you're leaner. But the real reason is that many have two key ingredients that help you get bigger as well as leaner - caffeine and forskolin.
Two that contain those are SAN's Blaze X-treme and NxLabs Methyl Ripped. You know that caffeine helps you train harder and can also enhance muscular contraction. What about forskolin? Like we said, it helps you get leaner to look bigger: Several new studies have shown significant fat-loss effects with human subjects who took a forskolin-based supplement - with no serious negative side effects.
Positive side effects, other than ramping up fat loss is more high-density lipoprotein. But there's a muscle-size-building twist: Forskolin also pumped up free testosterone! Yes, forskolin stimulated the production of the active form of that key anabolic hormone. The amount of forskolin used in the study was 250 milligrams of 10 percent forskolin twice a day. (Obes Res. 13(8):1335-1343; 2005).
Timing: Take the recommended dosage of Blaze X-treme or Methyl Ripped before training. During a mass phase we take a fat burner infrequently, usually leg day and perhaps one other workout during the week. When we begin our ripping phase, we take our chosen fat burner before almost every workout.
This compound helps move fat into the mitochondria of the cells for energy, but like forskolin it also has mass-building properties. New research says it increases anabolic receptors in muscle - something anabolic steroids do! (J Steroid Biochem Mol Bio. 93(1):35-42; 2005)
To make that happen, subjects took one gram in the morning and one gram at noon. Anabolic-receptor proliferation means much faster size gains! It's also been shown to boost muscle recovery and muscular force production. In one study L-carnitine improved the contractile force in the latissimus dorsi of dogs by 34 percent and overall force production by 31 percent (J Strength Cond Res, 17:455-462; 2003). (That means it can give your X Reps more firepower, synergizing with creatine and beta-alanine!)
Timing: Take three grams a day: 1 gram in the morning, 1 gram prior to your workout and one gram prior to bed. (Note: The killer cardio fat bomb is three to five amino tablets, 1 gram of L-carnitine and about 800 milligrams of phoshpatidylserine (Cort-Bloc). Together those help your body preserve muscle during cardio (aminos and PS) and tap into fat stores faster (carnitine).
View L-Carnitine Products Sorted By Top Sellers Here.
8. Other Supplements:
We also suggest a potent multivitamin and -mineral in the mornings with breakfast and a multi-mineral at night, as well a extra vitamin C during the day - up to 3,000 milligrams. Once you start dieting to rip up your mass, a potent antioxidant supplement is a good idea since foods that contain those are low or nonexistent in your meal schedule.
Give a few or all of the above a run in your supplement program and we guarantee you'll get bigger and stronger faster!