[Editor's Note: We'd like to introduce another well-credentialed supplement expert and writer to our readers here at ProSource.net, Andrew McInroy. Andrew will be weighing in semi-regularly on supplement and performance enhancement issues. Welcome aboard, Andrew!]
Think you have a great nutrition, training and supplement plan for your goal of maximum lean muscle gains? You might have to think again. If you want to get maximum growth then you need to have your nutrition, training and supplement protocols all focused on that goal. If you wonder why you spend hours in the gym but see few results in terms of size gains, read on for tips that will put you on the path to skin ripping pumps and bulging muscles.
There are two types of muscle growth: myofibrillar hypertrophy and sarcoplasmic hypertrophy. Myofibrillar hypertrophy is the creation of new actin and myosin, which are contractile proteins. This type of hypertrophy will contribute to muscle size somewhat but its main function is for super strength and myofibrillar hypertrophy is a characteristic of power lifters. On the other hand we have sarcoplasmic hypertrophy which is the increase of the size of the sarcoplasmic fluid within the muscle cell, a characteristic of all bodybuilders as they strive to achieve maximum muscle size. To enhance sarcoplasmic hypertrophy, there are many strategies that can be used through training, nutrition and supplementation. So how do we explain this on the molecular level? It is this simple: when you increase a muscle cell's volume, you increase muscle building capacity. By muscle building capacity, I mean protein synthesis, which is the build up of new muscle tissue. Three separate studies have proven that increasing muscle volume enhances protein synthesis(1,2,3).
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State of Muscle Cell Super Saturation
The very first factor to address is the type of training that you will be doing. Make sure that you have a good weightlifting program that includes the essential compound movements such as deadlifts, squats, leg presses, barbell and dumbbell shoulder presses, barbell and dumbbell bench presses, barbell rows, chin ups, and pull ups - obviously there are a lot more important exercises but these are the most important for hitting the majority of muscle groups, while facilitating the release of testosterone and growth hormone. Your workouts should be no longer than 60 minutes and you should work very hard at your compound exercises doing 1 - 3 sets with maximum intensity. The rep range that you will want to use to best enhance sarcoplasmic hypertrophy is 6 - 10 for upper body and 10 - 15 for lower body. The goal of your training is to achieve a pump in your muscles that drives the most blood and nutrients into them, thus ramping your protein synthesis into overdrive! At the end of your workouts, you can enhance nutrient uptake and blood flow into the muscles by doing 30-second static stretches.
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You will also want to consume a diet that is high in protein to assist with protein synthesis and muscle recovery. A good target is 1 g - 1.5 g of protein per lb of bodyweight. You should also consume a diet that has sufficient dietary fats in it - a goal is usually 20% of calories from dietary fats. And of course we need to address carbohydrates, one of the most important factors for super saturating your muscles to achieve maximum muscle growth. Carbohydrates are essential for intense energy during hard workouts and they also enhance muscle gains. For every gram of carbohydrate stored in the muscles, 3 - 4 grams of water are also stored. (4) This means that carbohydrates and water are responsible for huge muscle cell volume and thus extremely important for promoting protein synthesis.
Everyone has a different metabolism and need for carbohydrates, so a specific number of carbohydrates you need is not realistic, but if you want to achieve maximum muscle growth carbs should be about 30 - 50% of your energy intake. The main thing to address with carbohydrates is that you choose the best ones like oats (gluten free if possible), yams, sweet potatoes, Ezekiel bread, quinoa, and brown rice. People who are in tune with their body can instantly notice how their muscles fill up from carbohydrates after a low carb diet and they also know that if they get a good amount of healthy carbs in them, it will help to give an insane pump in the gym.
Water is of course the driving force behind super saturating your muscles. It is the main constituent of the sarcoplasmic fluid. If you want to achieve ultimate gains, you will need to get at least 4 L of water per day and bigger guys should be getting 6 - 8 L of water per day. You may be concerned that you will be going to the bathroom too much but don't worry, your body will enhance water retention and after a little while you will not have to use the bathroom as much. It is amazing how the body adapts!
Supplement Your Way to Super Saturation Success
Supplements are the next factor to address and they definitely can help to super saturate your muscles beyond what you can only do with nutrition and training. One of the best cell volumizers is creatine monohydrate and it literally pulls water into the muscle cells. Creatine should be used by every serious bodybuilder, weightlifter and athlete because it enhances phosphocreatine stores and this means that it will enhance strength, increase the number of reps you can do, ramp up power output, maximize explosiveness and more. Alternate forms of creatine have been in vogue for years now, but bodybuilders still can't go wrong with the original format, creatine monohydrate. As always, if you want a high quality creatine monohydrate product you should stick with pure German Creatine Monohydrate bearing the CreaPure brand, as found in ProSource Creatine Monohydrate.
The other amino acid that you can take to significantly enhance cell volumization is glutamine. One study stated that "Glutamine is, therefore, likely to exert the greatest effects of any natural amino acid on muscle cell volume and osmolality"(7). Another amazing attribute of glutamine is that it can increase glycogen synthesis(5,6). Glycogen is what we call carbohydrates stored in the muscles and of course we know that carbohydrates are essential to enhancing protein synthesis through enhanced cell volume. You can add 10 g of glutamine to your post-workout shake for great results.
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The last supplement is one of the most important: a maximum-strength supplemental pump complex. Until recently, it would be possible to recommend any number of arginine-based pump facilitators for this purpose, but now the class of the category is BioQuest's Alpha Fury. This clinical strength offering fits perfectly with the training for sarcoplasmic hypertrophy because it contains a novel ingredient called GlycoCarn which is much better at promoting vasodilation and muscle pumps than older nitric oxide products. Of course the goal of training for super saturating the muscles is to make sure you achieve a pump while also making sure to get the most nutrients possible to muscles, and Alpha Fury succeeds spectacularly at this. Furthermore, Alpha Fury contains another novel ingredient called beta alanine which helps to buffer acidity in the muscles, thus allowing the muscles to perform more work. This basically means that you are going to be able to use a heavier weight and push out more reps with it and therefore be able to achieve a better pump.
There are many strategies to increase protein synthesis but probably the best is to enhance your muscle cell volume with specific types of training, nutrition and supplementation. Remember: train hard and heavy with 6 - 10 reps for upper body and 10 - 15 reps for lower body, eat a good amount of healthy carbs, drink lots of water, and of course get an amazing supplement or stack from ProSource.net! Learn and grow!
1. Hauussinger, D., Lang, F., Bauers, K., Gerok, W. (1989) Interactions between glutamine metabolism and cell-volume regulation in perfused rat liver. European Journal of Biochemistry, 89, 1153.
2. Ingwall, J.S., Weiner, C.D., Moreales, M.F., Davis, E., Stockdale, F.E. (1974). Specificity of creatine in the control of muscle protein synthesis. The Journal of Cell Biology, 63, 145-151.
3. Haussinger, D., Lang, F. (1991). Cell volume in the regulation of hepatic function: a mechanism of metabolic control. Biochemica et Biophysica Acta, 1071, 331-350.
4. Olson, K., Bengt, S. (1970). Variation in Total Body Water with Muscle Glycogen Changes in Man. Acta Physiologica Scandinavica, 80
5. Lavoinne A, Baquet A, Hue L (1987). Stimulation of glycogen synthesis and lipogenesis by glutamine in isolated rat hepatocytes. Biochem. J. 248(2), 429-437 6. Varnier M, Leese GP, Thompson J, Rennie MJ, et al. (1995). Stimulatory effect of glutamine on glycogen accumulation in human skeletal muscle. Am. J. Physiol. 269(2), E309-E315.
7. Low, S. Y., Taylor, P. M., Rennie, M. J. Responses of Glutamine transport in cultured rat skeletal muscle to osmotically induced changes in cell volume. Journal of Physiology, 492.3