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Stacking For Starters

Stacking For Starters

In bodybuilding, achieving continuous improvements in your physique requires a serious commitment to proper diet and consistent intense training sessions. Beyond that, incorporating a strategic supplementation regimen will significantly maximize strength and muscular development.  Back in the day, bodybuilding supplementation consisted of little more than some protein powder and a blender.

Today, however, the process is much more complex. The "obsession" for size and the fastest-possible gains has led supplement scientists deeper into the labs to develop numerous compounds and formulations aimed at promoting maximum muscular growth. The outcomes of such research have given us countless new super supplements, all of which promise to push your gains from average to explosive.

As a beginning bodybuilder this may seem very exciting, however with the expansion of products, choosing which ones to use is that much more difficult. The basis of supplementation in bodybuilding is to augment strength during workouts and optimize the body's cellular environment for growth and tissue repair while we rest. While there will always be time to explore the highways and byways of exotic supplements, it's important to recognize that the most important strategies for supporting muscle growth involve fueling muscle tissue with aminos, volumizing muscle cells with a proven form of creatine, and keeping anabolic hormones like testosterone and growth hormone (GH) elevated for an optimal anabolic environment. These three processes form the basis for what we might call the Fundamental Growth Stack. So let's get started, shall we?

Whey Protein
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You likely already know that daily whey protein supplementation is crucial when you're trying to add lean mass. Not only does high quality whey protein provide a complete array of amino acids to promote anabolism, it helps boost your immune system and aids in fat loss. However, it should be noted that not all protein sources are equal in muscle building potency; in fact, published research in recent years has shown that protein source, quality, and timing play a primary role in the degree of anabolism achieved.

Consuming adequate amounts of protein is essential for making muscular gains, as it is the ingested proteins that become incorporated into recovering skeletal muscle after training, making them bigger and stronger. When combined with heavy resistance training, whey protein isolate (WPI) and whey protein hydrolysate (WPH) hold the top scientific honors for anabolic response, increased protein synthesis, and muscle recovery response. So, the most innovative companies have focused on potentiating the effects of these sources of protein.

The latest and most novel product in the protein powder category is NytroWhey Ultra Elite.  NytroWhey Ultra Elite is very low in carbohydrates, high in fiber, and contains the highest grade of USA produced WPI and WPH. As well, the R&D team at ProSource has balanced the WPI:WPH ratio perfectly to achieve benefits of both fast-acting WPH and moderate-digesting WPI. The result is a product providing instantaneous aminoacidemia (flooding of amino acids into the blood) upon ingestion, all the while maintaining blood amino acid levels for hours.

This biphasic amino acid response makes this product ideal for use throughout the day, as well as before and after training.  Beyond this, NytoWhey Ultra Elite contains a remarkable anabolic-activating ingredient called Leuvon, a leucine bound leucine peptide (LBLP). Leucine, one of three branched chain amino acids (BCAAs), is primarily involved in turning on anabolism when ingested. Leuvon, a proprietary form of leucine, has been scientifically shown to be ultra-soluble in water, making it mix easier and digest with higher bioavailabilty than free form L-leucine. With Leuvon added to NytroWhey Ultra Elite, this product boasts more than 4x the leucine (and at higher bioavailabilty) than any other whey protein product on the market.

Creatine Monohydrate
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As a direct muscle builder, several studies have shown that creatine supplementation combined with resistance training increases protein synthesis and muscle growth. One mechanism for creatine's muscle-building effect is its ability to create an osmotic gradient whereby water is driven into muscle cells (i.e., cell volumization), this "muscle swelling" has been shown to turn on anabolism. Research also indicates that creatine monohydrate supplementation boosts insulin growth factor 1 (IGF-1) and decreases myostatin levels after training, triggering additional potent anabolic muscle-building pathways.

A bounty of evidence shows that creatine's effect on energy turnover occurs very soon after ingestion. First, creatine enhances muscle fiber cross-bridge cycling and tension production by increasing the ability for high-energy phosphate to diffuse between mitochondria and myosin heads. Because of this, most people encounter outstanding strength increases in the first week or two of creatine supplementation. Second, science has shown that creatine monohydrate supplementation boosts skeletal muscle phosphocreatine concentration. Thus, with repeated powerful contractions, this supply of phosphocreatine provides extra substrate needed for phosphorylation of ADP to ATP for energy. These profound effects of creatine on strength and energy result in heavier lifts and more reps from workout to workout, thus increasing the drive for muscle hypertrophy.

It must be noted that cheaper and substandard creatine monohydrate products are not micro-ionized, leading to bloating, cramps and diarrhea. As well, in a recent study that investigated creatine impurities from several sources, it was found that Chinese creatine contained a number of contaminants that could affect digestion and health. Remarkably, several companies still use creatine from China in their products. Thus, you should be sure that the product you are using is micro-ionized and made in America or Germany. To ensure quality, always buy from reputable and well-established companies and watch for the CreaPure label for assurance that you're getting uncontaminated pharmaceutical-grade creatine. It should go without saying that the creatine in ProSource Creatine is 100% Creatine Monohydrate from AlzChem, the leader in superior creatine manufacturing.

The Stack: Each shake should contain 20–40 grams of NytroWhey Ultra Elite and 5 grams of CreaPure creatine monohydrate. Drink 3 shakes per day. Consume one when you wake up, one immediately after working out, and the third one before going to bed. To boost insulin for an added anabolism, add 5-7 teaspoons of dextrose (25-35 grams) to your post-workout shake.

Testosterone Support
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Testosterone, as we all know, increases protein synthesis and muscular growth. Together, Tribulus terrestris, tongkat ali and fenugreek (plant extracts) have been scientifically proven to boost testosterone production and GH release. These c-factors make up a stack in themselves, and can be found in clinically indicated dosages in ProSource's industry-leading T-booster AndroTest Extreme. Let's take a look at each of these catalysts individually.

Tribulus Terrestris
Tribulus terrestris is a hearty flowering plant that thrives in tropical climates. The steroidal saponins, or phytochemicals, of Tribulus are considered to be the factor responsible for the biological activity of products derived from this plant. This activity depends on the concentration and the composition of active saponins; to bodybuilders, the most important saponin is protodioscin. Research has shown that protodioscin augments blood levels of testosterone, by increasing luteinizing hormone (LH) secretion that stimulates your Ledydig cells to produce testosterone and other testosterone derivatives.

Fenugreek is an herb used for centuries in ancient medicine and cooking in western Asia, southern Europe and Mediterranean countries. Like Tribulus, fenugreek contains a high concentration of steroidal saponins, including an abundance of protodioscin. The saponins in Fenugreek are said to boost GH and testosterone levels.

In a recent in-vitro study, researchers chemically isolated eight steroidal compounds from fenugreek seeds and tested them individually to assess their impact on GH release. Of the eight tested they found that fenugreek saponin I and dioscin resulted in an increase in GH release by 1250% and 1770%, respectively.
Human studies investigating the effects of fenugreek on GH release are in short supply. However, a recent double-blind placebo-controlled human trial was conducted by scientists at Baylor University, Texas A&M and University of Mary Hardin-Baylor. As reported in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, researchers found that taking 500mg of fenugreek extract per day for 8 weeks during a resistance-training program significantly decreased body fat and estrogen levels, while increasing lean body mass and total and bioavailable testosterone.

Tongkat Ali
Tongkat Ali is a small flowering evergreen tree native to Indonesia and Malaysia. Also known as Eurycoma longifolia or Longjack. Tongkat Ali extract contains high levels of several steroidal saponins said to increase testosterone levels. Numerous scientific reports have shown that supplementing with extracts of Tongkat Ali increases sexual performance and spermatogenesis, the process of creating sperm, in rats. These effects have been attributed to the supplement's effects on boosting LH and testosterone levels.

In a study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, Tongkat Ali reportedly increased lean body mass and strength in healthy resistance-trained men. Another study illustrated that one-month of Tongkat Ali supplementation (200 mg per day) raised testosterone to normal levels in men with low testosterone.

Research has shown that the concentration of steroidal saponins (like protodioscin) in herbal extracts is greatly influenced by the standardization of plant material, which refers to the thoroughness of quality control over the manufacturing process. Thus, the negative reports of testosterone boosting supplements are generally due to substandard processing of materials and the subsequent low yield of active saponins. Therefore, it is imperative to purchase products from reputable companies that report the standardization purity on the label.

When it comes to supprting T-levels, it is obvious that the R&D team at ProSource has done their homework, as their super-premium T-boosting product, AndroTest Extreme, contains a perfectly formulated stack of Tribulus, fenugreek, and Tongkat ali extracts, all of which have been standardized to the highest purity. In fact, AndroTest Extreme contains up to 40 times more anabolic hormone boosting protodioscin than its competitors. Whether you choose to take AndroTest Extreme or another product, always take as per label directions. Furthermore, always cycle five days on and two days off for a maximum of four weeks. After a two-week recovery you may resume cycling in the same manner.

Androgen Receptor Support
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Finally there's the mattered of putting that increased testosterone to work. Testosterone can bind to almost any cell in the body, so simply increasing testosterone levels will not necessarily result in anabolic effects in muscle unless the hormone actually binds to androgen receptors on muscle. Fortunately, there is a technology for doing just that, in the form of L-Carnitine L-Tartrate. LCLT has been shown to increase resting androgen receptor content in training males.1 A product like BioQuest's AndroCept is a non-hormonal LCLT product that is designed to help target and support the body’s androgen receptors, and has a number of added health benefits as a bonus. BioQuest has kept this formula pure and potent like the supplement used in the study.

So there you have it, a good, solid, rock-steady supplement stack that will get you started on the road to success in the bodybuilding and fitness lifestyle!

1 Kraemer WJ, Spiering BA, Volek JS, Ratamess NA, Sharman MJ, Rubin MR, French DN, Silvestre R, Hatfield DL, Van Heest JL, Vingren JL, Judelson DA, Deschenes MR, Maresh CM. Androgenic responses to resistance exercise: effects of feeding and L-carnitine. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2006 Jul;38(7):1288-96. Erratum in: Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2006 Oct;38(10):1861.

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