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Supplements For Strength

You Won’t Get Bigger
If You Don’t Get Stronger

Every bodybuilder has fond memories of the time when they first took up the sport. Or the time when they first got really serious about it.

In the beginning, if you’re doing it right, every trip to the gym is the athletic equivalent of opening a Christmas present. Every workout brings new and compelling refinements to your physique. Your body, unaccustomed to the rigors and stresses of super-intense exercise, responds by going into hypertrophy mode. Particularly if you’re young, six or eight or ten weeks of a comprehensive workout regimen can make a real difference in how you look. You get big.

Alas, those golden days and weeks don’t last forever. Your body, by its very nature, acclimatizes. Monday’s bench presses and Wednesday’s leg presses and Friday’s core workout become the new norm. Whereas in the beginning, you were adding a couple of new plates to the bar every week or so, now you’re increasingly content to do the same movements with the same weights. The rate of growth slows, then stops. Smart bodybuilders learn to shake up their exercise efforts, to shock the body into new growth. But this strategy, too, has its limits.

Welcome to the plateau. Would you like to launch yourself off it? You’ve got to get stronger.

This is where the hard work begins. Fortunately, sports nutrition science is here to help.

A Strong Foundation

Henneman’s size principle tells us that the more force you produce, the more muscle fibers and motor units you activate. With greater fiber activation comes enhanced training adaptations. Greater strength and endurance sets the stage for heightened muscular overload, which according to the overload principle tells us our muscles must be overloaded for improvements in strength, power and mass to occur.

Without strength, optimal overload and force production will not occur, so the first step is to follow any of the excellent articles posted on ProSource's industry-leading webite illustrating killer workouts to maximize your strength and power development. In addition, growth and strength require energy and key nutrients to be delivered to your working muscles. Thus, an excellent diet is required to provide necessary fuel and components to drive strength development. Many folks look to additional nutritional supplements to enhance their strength development and a number of key supplements exist that have scientific support for their use. Key supplements work best when added to an excellent diet, so don’t short-change yourself by following a lackluster training program, poor sleeping habits, and a subpar diet.

Cell Volumization Equals Increased Strength

Arguably, the king of all sports supplements geared towards gains in strength is creatine monohydrate. For over two decades now, creatine has been subjected to every clinical investigation the scientific community can throw at it, and it continues to shine. Hundreds of published studies are available and a review published by Kreider in 2003 stated that 70% of the available studies yielded some type of performance-enhancing outcome (Kreider 2003).

While approximately one gram of creatine can be consumed in the diet and another gram is yielded through natural production inside the body, exogenous creatine monohydrate supplementation in amounts as low as 2 to 3 grams per day and as high as 10 grams per day are commonly recommended and result in a 25% to 30% increase in phosphocreatine stores inside the muscle (Hultman, Soderlund et al. 1996). If a traditional loading phase is followed, muscle creatine levels are maximized within five days, while a daily 2 to 3 gram dose requires up to four weeks to maximize intramuscular phosphocreatine levels (Hultman, Soderlund et al. 1996).

Maximizing muscle creatine levels is one thing, but translating these changes into performance enhancement is another. The first and one of the best examples of this with trained collegiate football players was reported in 1998 when Richard Kreider published a study in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise that documented significantly greater improvements in total body weight and fat-free mass along with greater gains in bench press lifting volume (weight x reps completed) as well as the total volume completed while using the bench press, squat and power clean exercises (Kreider, Ferreira et al. 1998).

For the more science-minded reader, creatine’s positive effects go deep into the muscle cell. For example, creatine monohydrate supplementation has been shown, when combined with strength training, to amplify the typical increases seen with the number of satellite cells and concentration of myonuclei in muscle, setting the stage for enhanced muscle fiber growth (Olsen, Aagaard et al. 2006). In addition, Darryn Willoughby published two excellent papers in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise showing again that resistance training while supplementing with creatine monohydrate increases strength and size while also enhancing the expression of some myosin-heavy chain isoforms (Willoughby and Rosene 2001) and myogenic regulatory factors, a key family of proteins involved in muscle growth (Willoughby and Rosene 2003).

As can be seen, the accolades surrounding creatine monohydrate use are many. While a number of creatine formulations have entered the market in the past 10 years touting arcane buffering and absorption technologies, sometimes all the bells and whistles don’t justify their added expense. This is certainly the case in the creatine category, as no alternative form of creatine has been found to be superior to the monohydrate version, as found in ProSource Creatine Monohydrate. In fact, head-to-head studies have been published comparing different forms of creatine to the monohydrate version and repeatedly they get shot down (Spillane, Schoch et al. 2009, Jagim, Oliver et al. 2012). Among creatine monohydrates, the preferred form for well over a decade has borne the Creapure brand, as its unequaled purity and superior microcrystalline consistency can facilitate greater absorption, which in turn will support greater cell volumization and consequent increases in strength and lean muscle mass. ProSource Creatine Monohydrate contains 100% Creapure creatine monohydrate at a retail price that competitors simply can’t beat.

Superior Muscle Food for Strength Increase

Two supplement ‘must-haves’ for strength development are creatine monohydrate and a high quality protein source. With creatine already being discussed, we shift to the importance and impact of protein. Exercising individuals demand higher amounts of protein. With the RDA for protein at 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body mass, a number of published routinely indicate this value is much too low to provide necessary amounts of protein. A position stand prepared by the International Society of Sports Nutrition reported that protein intake in the range of 1.2 to 1.6 grams of protein per kilogram of body mass each day was needed (Campbell, Kreider et al. 2007).

Similarly, Phillips in 2004 analyzed the literature and concluded that a protein intake of 1.33 grams of protein per kilogram of body mass, a value 66% greater than the RDA, was needed to match the body’s demand for protein in strength-trained athletes (Phillips 2004). Finally and likely with what is the strongest support, Cermak in 2012 compared results from 22 other studies including 680 subjects and found that protein supplementation was responsible for significant improvements in fat-free mass and maximal lower-body strength (Cermak, Res et al. 2012).

The preferred source of protein for many athletes is a whey protein isolate such as that found in ProSource's NytroWhey Ultra Elite. An excellent 2009 study by Tang and colleagues clearly showed that when similar doses of a whey protein isolate were compared to soy isolate and micellar casein both at rest and in response to resistance exercise that whey protein ingestion stimulated the highest rates of muscle protein synthesis (Tang, Moore et al. 2009). High quality protein means that the highest amount of the muscle-building essential amino acids are being delivered in each scoop of protein and Nytro Whey Ultra Elite is no exception. In addition to delivering key protein to help drive improvements in strength and mass, high quality protein sources also contain the highest amounts of the branched-chain amino acids, a small group of amino acids shown to help with muscle recovery and serve as key signaling molecules and fuel sources in response to stressful exercise (Garlick 2005, Jackman, Witard et al. 2010). That’s precisely what you’ll find in NytroWhey Ultra Elite, which combines superior-grade hydrolyzed whey, ultra-pure cross-flow-microfiltrated whey isolate, and a state-of-the-art leucine peptide technology for increased anabolism in one gold standard protein product. It truly the industry’s greatest protein value, gram per gram.

The Mass Builder that Drove
Dramatic Increases in Strength
in a Brand-Specific Clinical Study

Certainly it seems like combining creatine with protein would result in impressive changes in strength and muscle mass. In 2007 Cribb and colleagues published two papers that clearly showed that combining a heavy resistance training program with adequate doses of both protein and creatine resulted in impressive gains in strength and muscle mass. Using a double-blind, randomized approach, resistance-trained males completed the 10 week study while supplementing their diet with either carbohydrate, carbohydrate + protein, or carbohydrate + protein + creatine. The greatest improvements in strength were found in the group that included both protein and creatine.

In fact, at least 40% of the improvements in strength were reported to be due to the gains in muscle growth that were also made (Cribb, Williams et al. 2007). Also in 2007, Kerksick and colleagues published a study that required men and women to complete a 12-week resistance training program while supplementing with different sources of protein (whey, casein and colostrum) with and without the addition of creatine. When creatine was added, greater gains in strength and fat-free mass were found when compared to when just protein was ingested (Kerksick, Rasmussen et al. 2007).

These gains sound terrific in the abstract, but how do they look in the real world? Fortunately we have a unique brand-specific study (utilizing a celebrated mass builder from that combines a hearty dose of hydrolyzed whey protein isolate along with creatine monohydrate) to provide some inspiring insights. In 2008, BioQuest’s MyoZene mass builder was subjected to a four-week independent study at a major medical research center to measure its efficacy as a strength-support supplement. The results (as presented at the American College of Sports Medicine meeting in Miami that year) documented robust gains in muscular strength. In this study, MyoZene-supplementing subjects experienced with resistance training realized strength and endurance improvements of 24% to 32%, along with improvements in lean muscle tissue, in just four weeks of following an intense resistance training program. Think what you could accomplish in terms of workout productivity with that kind of augmented strength potential!

Adding CLA to Your Regimen of Protein and Creatine

Finally, it is worth mentioning that two studies have been published that have studied the impact of combining conjugated linoleic acids (CLA) with either protein and creatine (Cornish, Candow et al. 2009) or creatine alone (Tarnopolsky, Zimmer et al. 2007) on their ability to impact strength and muscle mass changes while resistance training in young and older populations. In young resistance trained athletes over a short-five week period, the combination of CLA, creatine and protein led to the greatest gains in strength and fat-free mass (Cornish, Candow et al. 2009). Similar outcomes were reported by Tarnopolsky who had a large group of older (>65y) men and women ingest a combination of creatine and CLA while resistance training over a six-month period and reported greater improvements in strength and muscle mass (Tarnopolsky, Zimmer et al. 2007).

Here again, quality is key when it comes to supplementation. The gold standard in the CLA category has long been Tonalin CLA, as found in ProSource’s Tonalin CLA. With ProSource, you know what you’re getting, in a clinically indicated dose, and you won’t beat the price anywhere.


Getting off a size and strength plateau is the greatest challenge you’ll ever face in your bodybuilding efforts. Some people never do, and their focus, determination, and ambition falter as a result. Don’t let this happen to you. Use every weapon at your disposal to achieve your bodybuilding goals. Work hard, shake up your workout to shock your body into growth, and supplement wisely!

Read more about ProSource Creatine Monohydrate.

Read more about NytroWhey Ultra Elite.

Read more about BioQuest MyoZene.

Read more about ProSource Tonalin® CLA.


Campbell, B., R. B. Kreider, T. Ziegenfuss, P. La Bounty, M. Roberts, D. Burke, J. Landis, H. Lopez and J. Antonio (2007). "International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: protein and exercise." J Int Soc Sports Nutr 4: 8.

Cermak, N. M., P. T. Res, L. C. de Groot, W. H. Saris and L. J. van Loon (2012). "Protein supplementation augments the adaptive response of skeletal muscle to resistance-type exercise training: a meta-analysis." Am J Clin Nutr 96(6): 1454-1464.

Cornish, S. M., D. G. Candow, N. T. Jantz, P. D. Chilibeck, J. P. Little, S. Forbes, S. Abeysekara and G. A. Zello (2009). "Conjugated linoleic acid combined with creatine monohydrate and whey protein supplementation during strength training." International journal of sport nutrition and exercise metabolism 19(1): 79-96.

Cribb, P. J., A. D. Williams and A. Hayes (2007). "A creatine-protein-carbohydrate supplement enhances responses to resistance training." Med Sci Sports Exerc 39(11): 1960-1968.

Garlick, P. J. (2005). "The role of leucine in the regulation of protein metabolism." J Nutr 135(6 Suppl): 1553S-1556S.

Hultman, E., K. Soderlund, J. A. Timmons, G. Cederblad and P. L. Greenhaff (1996). "Muscle creatine loading in men." Journal of applied physiology 81(1): 232-237.

Jackman, S. R., O. C. Witard, A. E. Jeukendrup and K. D. Tipton (2010). "Branched-chain amino acid ingestion can ameliorate soreness from eccentric exercise." Med Sci Sports Exerc 42(5): 962-970.

Jagim, A. R., J. M. Oliver, A. Sanchez, E. Galvan, J. Fluckey, S. Riechman, M. Greenwood, K. Kelly, C. Meininger, C. Rasmussen and R. B. Kreider (2012). "A buffered form of creatine does not promote greater changes in muscle creatine content, body composition, or training adaptations than creatine monohydrate." J Int Soc Sports Nutr 9(1): 43.

Kerksick, C. M., C. Rasmussen, S. Lancaster, M. Starks, P. Smith, C. Melton, M. Greenwood, A. Almada and R. Kreider (2007). "Impact of differing protein sources and a creatine containing nutritional formula after 12 weeks of resistance training." Nutrition 23(9): 647-656.

Kreider, R. B. (2003). "Effects of creatine supplementation on performance and training adaptations." Mol Cell Biochem 244(1-2): 89-94.

Kreider, R. B., M. Ferreira, M. Wilson, P. Grindstaff, S. Plisk, J. Reinardy, E. Cantler and A. L. Almada (1998). "Effects of creatine supplementation on body composition, strength, and sprint performance." Medicine and science in sports and exercise 30(1): 73-82.

Olsen, S., P. Aagaard, F. Kadi, G. Tufekovic, J. Verney, J. L. Olesen, C. Suetta and M. Kjaer (2006). "Creatine supplementation augments the increase in satellite cell and myonuclei number in human skeletal muscle induced by strength training." J Physiol 573(Pt 2): 525-534.

Phillips, S. M. (2004). "Protein requirements and supplementation in strength sports." Nutrition 20(7-8): 689-695.
Spillane, M., R. Schoch, M. Cooke, T. Harvey, M. Greenwood, R. Kreider and D. S. Willoughby (2009). "The effects of creatine ethyl ester supplementation combined with heavy resistance training on body composition, muscle performance, and serum and muscle creatine levels." Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition 6: 6.

Tang, J. E., D. R. Moore, G. W. Kujbida, M. A. Tarnopolsky and S. M. Phillips (2009). "Ingestion of whey hydrolysate, casein, or soy protein isolate: effects on mixed muscle protein synthesis at rest and following resistance exercise in young men." J Appl Physiol 107(3): 987-992.

Tarnopolsky, M., A. Zimmer, J. Paikin, A. Safdar, A. Aboud, E. Pearce, B. Roy and T. Doherty (2007). "Creatine monohydrate and conjugated linoleic acid improve strength and body composition following resistance exercise in older adults." PLoS One 2(10): e991.

Willoughby, D. S. and J. Rosene (2001). "Effects of oral creatine and resistance training on myosin heavy chain expression." Med Sci Sports Exerc 33(10): 1674-1681.

Willoughby, D. S. and J. M. Rosene (2003). "Effects of oral creatine and resistance training on myogenic regulatory factor expression." Med Sci Sports Exerc 35(6): 923-929.

Use as directed with a sensible nutrition and exercise program. Read and follow all product label instructions and warnings thoroughly before use. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.