In addition to using whey protein, casein protein, soy protein and waxy maize starch, there are certain specialty supplements you need to take to ensure that you gain the mass you wish during the winter bulking times. Branched-chain amino acidsThe BCAAs comprise the three amino acids leucine, isoleucine and valine, which happen to be the three most important amino acids for repairing and building of muscle tissue. Leucine is the most critical of the three, as research shows that this amino acid can turn on muscle protein synthesis by itself. It’s still best to take all three together though, as they work in synergy to provide a multitude of benefits that include muscle growth, increased energy during workouts, blunting of cortisol (a catabolic hormone that inhibits testosterone and increases muscle breakdown), and decreased delayed onset muscle soreness. Take 5-10 g of BCAAs with your first breakfast (protein shake), your preworkout and your postworkout shakes and dinner. CreatineResearch confirms that one of the most effective supplements you can use is creatine. Plain and simple, taking creatine can help you gain upward of 10 pounds of lean muscle and boost your strength in the gym by at least 10%. Go with 3-5 g of creatine with your pre-and postwork out shakes. Beta-alanineIn the body, the amino acid beta-alanine is combined with the amino acid histidine to form carnosine. Research confirms that when muscles have higher levels of carnosine, they have more strength and endurance, and that athletes taking beta-alanine increase muscle strength significantly, allowing for heavier lifting and, thus, more muscle growth.
New research indicates that when trained subjects take beta-alanine in addition to creatine, they gain more muscle (and simultaneously lose some bodyfat, as well) as compared to those taking just creatine alone. Take 1-2 g of beta-alanine or carnosine with your pre-and postworkout shakes.
NO boostersNitric oxide is a molecule that has the ability to dilate (widen) blood vessels, which allows more blood flow to muscles along with more oxygen, more nutrients and more anabolic hormones. This means greater energy during workouts, with an enhanced muscle pump, not to mention better muscle recovery and growth afterward. NO boosters do not actually contain NO, but mainly the amino acid arginine, which is readily converted to NO in the body. Research has found that subjects given arginine increased muscle strength and muscle growth, as well as decreased bodyfat. Look for an NO booster that provides 3-5 g of arginine and consider NO boosters that provide other ingredients that enhance arginine’s ability to increase NO (such as citruline, Pycnogenol and American ginseng). Take one dose in the morning before breakfast, one dose about 30-60 minutes before workouts and one dose 30-60 minutes before bed. CarnitineOnce considered just a fat-loss supplement, carnitine is now known as an anabolic supplement, as well. That’s because it helps to enhance muscle growth through a number of mechanisms. For one, carnitine increases testosterone levels after workouts, as well as the number of testosterone receptors inside muscle cells, which allows more testosterone to stimulate more muscle growth. In addition, carnitine supplements have been found to increase the ability of insulinlike growth factor-I to stimulate muscle growth. If that’s not enough, it can also increase blood flow, which means it provides similar benefits to NO boosters. Take 1-3 g of carnitine with your first breakfast (protein shake), preworkout shake, postworkout shake and dinner.