Branched-chain amino acids — leucine, isoleucine and valine — are hands down the most critical amino acids for repairing and building muscle. They stimulate muscle protein synthesis, which leads to muscle growth, and they also blunt the catabolic hormone cortisol. Taking BCAAs before workouts is important because muscles use these aminos for fuel, helping to prevent fatigue during workouts. And although whey is rich in BCAAs, boosting your postworkout whey shake with extra BCAAs will give you additional gains in both strength and muscle mass. In fact, preliminary research from our own Weider Research Group shows that trained lifters taking BCAAs around workout time experienced significantly greater gains in muscle mass and strength as compared to those taking a placebo.
Mass Prescription: Take 5 g of BCAAs with your breakfast, preworkout and postworkout shakes. Look for BCAA products that provide leucine at a ratio of 2:1 per dose of isoleucine and valine. For example, a 5-g dose of BCAAs should provide 2.5 g of leucine, 1.25 g of isoleucine and 1.25 g of valine.
Nitric oxide is a ubiquitous molecule, meaning it’s found throughout the body and is involved in multiple processes — namely the dilation of blood vessels, wherein they become wider in diameter, allowing more blood flow to your muscles to deliver more oxygen, nutrients and anabolic hormones. Because NO works through a different mechanism than whey peptides to increase blood flow, taking NO boosters has an additive effect that leads to even greater energy during workouts, a bigger muscle pump and even better muscle recovery and growth after training. NO will also boost the benefits of a ZMA supplement, as NO works to free up zinc in the body so that it can perform its work. Although some bodybuilders think NO boosters actually provide NO, they in fact supply NO precursors, such as the amino acids arginine and citrulline, as well as ingredients that help convert these aminos into NO, such as Pycnogenol.
Mass Prescription: Take an NO booster that provides 3-5 g of arginine in the form of L-arginine, arginine alpha-ketoglutarate, arginine ethyl ester or arginine malate in the morning before breakfast, about 30-60 minutes before workouts and 30-60 minutes before bedtime.
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