Don’t be fooled if you think that, to build muscles you only need to eat protein and lift heavy loads; it may seem simple, but it isn’t.
It is really easy to hit the plateau or stagnation in your muscle development and sometimes, the solution can be in the choice of the adequate supplements to your goal. But before you do anything to contradict that tendency, try to understand how your muscles work and study the best function of each supplement.
The body has two types of muscle fibers: type I (slow contraction) that help perform resistance exercises, and type II (fast contraction), the main fibers, responsible for providing strength and size, when you do weight training. To damage these type II fibers in such a way you can give way to growth, you need to lift heavy loads and keep the muscles under tension – enough to recruit the satellite cells (these cells can differentiate themselves from others and merge to increase the number of existing fibers and create new ones).
These cells are located in the top part of the muscles and help with muscle growth, maintenance and repair. Many times, they stay numb ‘till you start lifting weights. The lifting of heavy loads causes mini “tears” in muscle fibers, which gets the satellite cells to multiply and move towards the affected areas. These cells get the protein from the blood to strengthen and thicken your muscles, and you end up making your clothes look a little tighter in your body.
There are supplements that can positively influence the nutritional, hormonal and energetic systems. Learn how to use them in your favor.
1. HORMONAL SUPPLEMENTS
Your body naturally produces growth hormone which, as the name indicates, is responsible by the growth and regeneration of the cells. It is a hormone that gradually decreases with age. Without it, you won’t be able to build muscle. To keep stimulating muscle growth as you get older, you should take a supplement that reinforces the production of the growth hormone and take it before going to sleep. This supplement does the same as testosterone boosters. If you’re between 18-35, testosterone boosters won’t probably make that much of a difference, because your body produces enough already. Over 35 y.o., the produced amounts are reduced and the usage of a supplement that naturally stimulates its production may help improve protein synthesis and increase muscle mass.
2. ENERGETIC SUPPLEMENTS
Blocks brain cells associated to morning sleepiness. It also speeds up the heart rate, cleans the nasal cavity and increases blood flow.
An investigation published by the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research has demonstrated that taking caffeine before working out improves resistance and the total number of reps and strength, in general. Besides that, it gives you more strength to work out hard. The problem is, the more caffeine you take, the more resistant you get. The best is to cycle caffeine and use it only for an intense workout.
It’s a combination of three aminoacids: glycine, arginine and methionine. It gives you more tryphosphate adenosine (ATP) which is the main energy source in your body. The amount the body produces is reduced, so that’s why the muscle fails when you’re doing the final rep. Creatine increases your ability to perform extra reps, helping you get stronger. Besides that, it also hydrates your muscle cells, improving recovery and the ability to increase the size of your muscles.
A research published by the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research has come to the conclusion that creatine can improve your ability to build muscle in about 14%.
3. NUTRITIONAL SUPPLEMENTS
These supplements should be seen as complements, not as substitutes.
Your muscles break during the exercise and recover after it. A research has demonstrated that taking a whey protein shake right after exercising speeds up the recovery process of the muscle fibers up to 33%. This doesn’t mean that a protein shake is better than a salmon fillet; it only means that it works as well as eating a meal.
Protein shakes are a great alternative for those who don’t have access to food for some reason during the day. You should drink a whey protein shake right after working out and 60 minutes after eating a high protein meal.
There are a few supplements that compete with this one, like chia, krill or linseed oil; however, fish oil is still the best choice.
This oil helps to strengthen the cell’s membranes, reduces inflammation and increases the brain’s blood flow. These are important recovery assistants that help repair muscle damages caused by the workout. The faster you recover, the stronger your workouts will be on the following day.
If your goal is to build strong muscles, we’ll leave you a suggestion for your supplementation plan for 2014.
A perfect muscle-strengthening supplementation day leads to a perfect year.
1.000mg Fish oil
1 protein shake and carbs
Period of time for a weightlifting workout: 45-55 minutes. The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that performing short but intense weightlifting session promotes bigger testosterone peaks (this hormone boosts muscle growth)
13h30 Post-workout – replenishment time
Protein Shake and Carbs
5g de creatine
1.000mg Fish oil
High biological value protein
If you don’t have time for a meal, you can replace it with a protein shake.
Growth Hormone Supplement
1.000mg fish oil
Ray Klerck, 3 Types of Muscle-Building Supplements for Overall Growth, 2nd of January 2014, translation and adaptation of the original version.