We're sure we don’t have to tell you about the importance of eating and vitamins for building muscle. But if you really want to ramp up your gains your supplement cabinet could use some extras, and I’m not talking about ‘miracle’ diet pills. Here’s my prescription for massive gains. (Not including the obvious )
1. Leucine-enriched BCAAs
Lots of recent studies have highlighted the positive effects of taking leucine – it can increase protein synthesis, which boosts muscle growth and recovery, by up to 145% – but for it to be most effective you should take leucine-enriched BCAAs. The benefits 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 people who have a harder time building muscle.
Supplementing with can increase your ability to pack on muscle hugely – it’s the body’s primary fuel for explosive, high-intensity exercise. It also boosts strength development, enhances sprint and power performance, and leads to fat loss. You must have insulin present in your body for creatine to have an effect, so take it with carbs or a supplement that will stimulate insulin, such as fenugreek or alpha lipoic acid.
The fat-burning properties of carnitine have been established for years, but recent studies have found it offers a variety of additional benefits. These include increased blood flow (which leads to improved muscle recovery and growth), a rise in testosterone levels and the ability to halt muscle loss caused by inactivity. A 2001 study also found that taking 2g of carnitine a day for six months increased work capacity by 35% in athletes. Carnitine also needs insulin to be effective, so take it with a nutrient that spikes insulin, such as omega 3 or carbs.
Caffeine is invaluable for enhancing performance. Evidence suggests it can raise testosterone and boost focus and motivation, making it especially effective at raising physical capacity when you’re tired. A study published in the Journal Of The International Society Of Sports Nutrition found that sleep-deprived athletes who took caffeine before a workout selected heavier loads and performed more reps than when they trained with a placebo. An American study found taking 8mg of caffeine between sessions on a double training day helped participants perform better in the second session than participants who had a carb-based drink.
5. Fish oil and CLA
Fish oil and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) are both anabolic agents that will significantly boost your results in the gym. A study in the journal Clinical Sciences found consuming 4g of fish oil a day increased protein synthesis in adults by 30%, while a seven-week study of men who took CLA while training found they gained 1.4kg of muscle and lost 1kg more body fat than those in a placebo group. CLA can also help to boost metabolism while you sleep. You can use fish oil and CLA in place of carbs with nutrients such as creatine that require an insulin spike.
This amino acid raises your levels of arginine and nitric oxide, increasing blood flow and the delivery of nutrients to muscle. Citrulline also enhances energy levels by removing waste products such as lactic acid and ammonia, so it can increase your high-intensity work output. In addition, raising arginine levels can increase growth hormone and IGF-1, both of which are instrumental in muscle building and tissue repair. Try it with caffeine and tyrosine to stimulate your nervous system when you’re sleep-deprived.