Get superior muscle and strength gains with smart, practical supplementation. There are certain nutrients that can make an incredible difference in results—whey protein, leucine, creatine—and others that are well worth the effort if you want an extra edge over your competition.
Before we get to the master list, it’s helpful to remember the behaviors that should be in place before starting to supplement:
• A whole foods nutrition plan with attention to macronutrient proportions is paramount. You can buy on my website http://www.ivansfitness.com/nutrition/
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• A periodized training plan based on short- and long-term goals is critical. Again could be bought on the website
• Training with the traditional multi-joint exercises lifted over a full-range will yield best results (full squats, deadlifts, chin-ups, pull-ups, strongman, sprints).
• You’ve covered the basics of supplementation, ensuring your vitamin D, zinc, magnesium, and multivitamin issues are taken care of.
#1: BCAAs & Leucine
There’s been a lot of hype about leucine lately, and for good reason since it can increase protein synthesis by as much as 145 percent when you take it after strength training. And although leucine is the branched-chain amino acid responsible for activating, mTOR, the primary muscle building pathway in the body, supplementing with leucine alone is NOT the best plan.
It’s better to take leucine-enhanced BCAAs—that is, BCAAs with leucine in a ratio of about 4 to 1 with valine and isoleucine—because this formula has been shown to be most effective for muscle building. When leucine intake is out of balance with that of the other BCAAs, it can lead to an imbalance in the blood amino acid levels, reducing the anabolic response.
The benefits of leucine-enriched BCAAs include less muscle damage, less pain from training, greater time to exhaustion on all-out exercise tests, and greater muscle growth. Leucine-enriched BCAAs are especially valuable for older trainees who have a harder time activating mTOR to build muscle.
Supplementation Tip: Load with extra BCAAs and taurine post-workout to further reduce soreness and inflammation from particularly damaging workouts.
Creatine is the most researched performance enhancement aid available. It’s your primary fuel for explosive, high-intensity exercise, and supplementing with it has been shown to double muscle gains (one review found an extra 2 to 4 lbs of muscle mass gained during 4 to 12 weeks of training in athletes).
Creatine also boosts strength development, enhances sprint and power performance, and leads to fat loss. A recent analysis suggested that the long relied on loading dose of 20 grams of creatine for a week is subpar.
Optimal creatine stores can be achieved by taking 0.15 grams of creatine per pound of body weight. Then, a maintenance dose of 5 grams of creatine a day can be used, however, you may want to “load” more frequently than once every 4 weeks, especially if your training intensity and volume is high.
Supplementation Tip: Creatine is best loaded into the muscle if insulin is present, so take it with carbs or a supplement that will stimulate insulin, such as fenugreek or alpha lipoic acid.
#3: Beta Alanine
Beta alanine is stored in the fast-twitch muscle fibers as carnosine, and this helps the muscle contract with more force and prolongs peak performance. Another reason it enhances performance is that carnosine helps stabilize muscle pH during exercise by eliminating excess hydrogen ions that make your muscles burn and ultimately fatigue.
Athletes and fighters can benefit from beta alanine as it prolongs high-intensity performance. A review of the best supplements for combat sport competitors suggest beta alanine will help fighters who experience more than 60 high-intensity bursts involving striking and grappling during a 5-round fight.
Enhanced maximal work capacity for a fighter is critical as one goes from performing strikes and grappling in the standing position, to a maximal effort takedown, and finally to an active recover by stabilizing in the top position on a fighter who is trapped underneath.
Supplementation Tip: Try a high-low dosing format of 4 to 6 g/day for 4 weeks, followed by 1.5 to 3 g/day for 4 weeks. Beta alanine goes well with creatine since they can both be dosed together.
L-Carnitine has been relied as a nutrient that can help decrease body fat for years, even though most studies have supported peripheral mechanisms to improving body composition