In this, the first of a four-part series on stacking supplements, we show you how to stack for mass
by Jim Stoppani, PhD
April 22, 2010
One of the first areas to cover in this course is stacking supplements for building mass. After all, bodybuilding is about muscle, and you first must build plenty of it to be a bodybuilder. The best mass stack doesn't just combine effective mass-gaining supplements; it combines effective mass-gaining supplements that are proven by research to work synergistically with one another. Using these four supplements does just that to guarantee muscle-mass gains.
Of course, creatine is on the list. Hundreds of studies support its effectiveness for boosting muscle size and strength. Bottom line: with creatine, most guys can expect to gain a solid 10 pounds of muscle or more, and at least a 10% strength increase. For even greater mass gains with creatine, take it with beta-alanine (next on our list).
This amino acid can significantly boost the muscle-building effects of creatine. Once inside the muscle cells, beta-alanine combines with the amino histidine to form carnosine. The amount of carnosine in muscle is associated with muscle strength and, apparently, muscle size. A study from the College of New Jersey (Ewing), found that subjects who took beta-alanine along with creatine gained more muscle mass and lost more bodyfat than subjects taking just creatine.
This is simply the best protein to take before and after workouts. It digests quickly, it's rich in branched-chain amino acids and its peptides boost blood flow. That's not to say that whey protein can't be even more effective--casein protein (see the next entry) enhances whey's muscle-building effects after workouts.
Casein is the other major milk protein (it makes up about 80% of milk protein; whey makes up about 20%). Because they originate together, it makes sense that they work well when taken together. However, casein formerly wasn't recommended for use around workouts, due to its slow digestion rate. Research now shows that despite its rate of digestion, when casein is taken after workouts, it increases protein synthesis (the process that leads to muscle growth) as well as whey. In fact, when it's taken with whey immediately after workouts, it leads to greater gains in muscle mass than whey taken without casein. Baylor University (Waco, Texas) researchers made this discovery in a 10-week study using trained male lifters.
STACK THEM LIKE THIS
Thirty minutes prior to workouts, make a shake that contains about 20 grams of whey protein, 3-5 g of creatine and 1-2 g of beta-alanine. Within 30 minutes after workouts, make another shake that contains 20-30 g of whey protein and 10-20 g of casein protein, along with 3-5 g of creatine and 1-2 g of beta-alanine.
MASS STACKSUPPLEMENTDOSECreatine3-5 g before and after workoutsBeta-alanine1-2 g before and after workoutsWhey protein20 g before workouts; 20-30 g after workoutsCasein protein10-20 g after workouts