Strength through Supplementation
Five Key Performance Optimizers: How Each Can Improve Strength and Increase Muscle Gains
As a dedicated lifter, the focus of your training might be to look good aesthetically, look good training to become more aesthetic (i.e. showing impressive training form and strength) – or, more crucially, both.
While it’s one thing to train for enhanced muscularity, it’s quite another to build the kind of total-body density that commands respect without lifting some serious iron. In the context of strength-before-size, a strong physique is almost certain to be a strong-looking physique replete with an impressive degree of thickness and depth that’s impossible to develop with less intensive protocols.
Because your intention is to build an impressive body of work,
it’s inevitable that if you haven’t already done so you’ll need to work on becoming progressively stronger rather than solely focusing on pumping blood into the muscles with higher reps and moderate-to-heavy weights.
Lifting bar-bending iron is not just for powerlifters.
With a focus on strength, the more aesthetically-oriented may not only become more impressive looking but will also look impressive doing so (a powerful gym presence can, in and of itself, lend a psychological advantage when striving for more lean mass). On top of that, such a lifter is likely to have a more functionally-adaptable physique that’s capable of tackling a greater range of daily tasks and less susceptible to falling apart when pushed to the limit.
Consider any of history’s notable iron game legends and you’ll find someone whose strength matches the impressiveness of their physique.
From Arnold to Yates to Coleman (and all contenders and champions in between),
there appears to be a strong correlation between moving significant amounts of iron and building thick slabs of Grade-A muscle.
Indeed, achieving the mechanical stress required to stimulate maximum muscle protein synthesis (and subsequent hypertrophy) is largely dependent upon keeping the working muscles in a constant state of adaptation courtesy of progressively heavier weights coupled with textbook form.
While there are those who seem destined to slam up weights that would crush most other lifters, unfortunately, most trainees are not blessed with such natural strength. For them (i.e. most of us), strength is something that must constantly be worked on. It’s something that often comes at a snail’s pace, before leveling off and stalling. And it’s something that tends to plateau in line with muscle losses. In short, an inevitable drop-off in strength usually means an accompanying reduction in muscle mass.
Staying strong and becoming stronger requires every bit of assistance one can get.
But getting stronger cannot be done with a strong will alone. Nor can maximum strength be built simply by applying more effort into becoming stronger.
To really upgrade your training poundages the body and mind must be primed to work to full capacity and a hormonal milieu essential to tapping into the body’s strength reserves must first be established.
Here are five key supplements to help you become stronger and, ultimately, to gain the kind of freaky-dense muscularity that’ll give you the appearance of having greater strength.
Heavily hyped from its inception, creatine is one performance product that has for decades been fueling high-level training and proving its worth as an undisputed lean muscle builder and performance optimizer. For anyone looking to lift super-heavy weights, creatine remains essential to hitting one’s training targets and edging out a few extra growth-enhancing reps.4, 29, 44
A non-protein endogenous amino acid made up of the simpler aminos arginine, glycine and methionine, creatine,
found in animal foods, improves training performance via its ability to generate free energy by combining with inorganic phosphates to create phosphocreatine.
Once created, fortified intramuscular phosphocreatine stores readily donate high-energy phosphate groups during intensive activities – thus recycling ATP (used for energy transfer in cells) from ADP (used to form ATP). Through this very process creatine is able to increase power, strength and training intensity.
Without an ongoing source of readily useable energy, the muscles are poorly equipped to become stronger.
Before any real strength gains can be made, the final reps are upon us and, with ATP depletion having occurred after a mere 8-10 seconds of high-intensity activity we are forced to stop short of full anaerobic capacity.
With creatine supplementation our intramuscular pools of creatine and phosphocreatine are taken beyond normal ranges (70% capacity) and our basal levels of creatine are maintained within an optimal range (1-2% of intramuscular creatine is degraded to the waste product creatinine each day). Then, when we would normally begin to feel weak during a set, the additional phosphocreatine allows for another 2-3 seconds of continuous effort, a not inconsequential period that can make all the difference when seeking to maximize strength and muscle hypertrophy.11, 12, 19, 21, 40
The most heavily-researched of all supplements, creatine also has a cell-volumizing effect which increases muscle protein synthesis and cellular hydration (both crucial to muscle growth and strength enhancement).30
Creatine assists with muscle hydration by pulling water into muscle cells (around 90% of bodily creatine is stored in muscle tissue) thereby allowing these cells to not only become visibly larger and more impressive but also better performing and optimally primed for long-term growth.
Given the extent to which the smallest amount of dehydration may adversely affect strength – a 3%-dehydration level can limit strength by around 19% – it’s important to shuttle as much water as possible into muscle tissue using any means possible. In addition, as little as a 2% drop in water storage can greatly impair neuromuscular coordination and decrease concentration, two critical factors in becoming stronger in the gym and another reason to stay well-hydrated when training heavy.
The best time to take creatine is post-training for maximum absorption.1, 38 Specifically designed to be taken post-training as part of an advanced muscle recovery formula, the four different types of creatine (the gold standard Monohydrate, Base and the highly-bioavailable Creatine Magna Power) included in
CVOL both super-hydrate the muscles and provide ample energy for ongoing size and strength gains.
CVOL also contains clinical doses of Beta Alanine, L-Carnitine L-Tartrate, Taurine and Betaine – all the more effective in reducing fatigue and increasing energy when combined – and an absorption complex which makes each of these powerful ingredients more effective than would otherwise be possible.
In order to become stronger, a muscle must be subjected to increasingly more intensive workloads. For this to happen, the muscles must also be nourished with ample quality proteins, the most important raw material for size and strength gains. Without enough high-grade proteins, a muscle may, in fact, becoming weaker and smaller, as the body may be forced to leech protein from muscle tissue to support more crucial biological processes.
The protein used to maintain and support muscle enhancement must be of sufficient quantity and quality.
As today’s most bioavailable, convenient and rapidly absorbed complete protein, whey (notably the 90%+ protein by weight isolate version) is widely used by strength athletes to enhance recovery, build muscle and improve lifting capacity.15 So effective are the whey proteins in translating gym efforts into quality gains that it’s become standard practice for those seeking to bolster strength and muscle to get at least 60 grams of their daily protein through a high-quality whey product such as ALLMAX Nutrition’s ISOFLEX.
Aside from enhancing recovery between workouts (a muscle is never at its strongest when not fully healed), a quality whey product also supports immune health, an often-under appreciated factor in boosting strength.
Suppressed immunity, however minor, can fast derail one’s progress in the strength department. Whether we are physically and mentally depleted due to a minor cold or a more chronic health condition, chances are good that immunity can and will have a negative impact on how we feel and function.
Whey is known for being especially beneficial in enhancing immune function by building cells that comprise the immune system while, in addition, specifically increasing the production of glutathione, the most important of the endogenously-produced antioxidants and crucial to the functioning of the antioxidant defense system that determines immune response.6, 7, 8
By keeping the immune system functioning optimally, whey makes it possible to train with bounteous energy and at the highest possible intensity.
Pre-workouts have changed the training game for the better. Packed full of ingredients expressly designed to stimulate mind and body to optimize training performance, a solid pre-workout formulation can mean the difference between hammering out a extra few reps, piling a few more pounds on the bar and focusing on the task at hand or faltering on workout intensity (in short, wasting time).10, 13, 23
The most effective pre-workout products are known to optimize performance by placing the body and mind in a heightened state of arousal,
enhancing blood flow to the working muscles to enhance muscular pumping and waste product removal, promoting mental clarity and positive mood while boosting motivation, increasing red blood cell proliferation to extend oxygen supply, reducing fatigue and optimizing hydration and electrolyte balance.
Two key benefits of pre-workout supplementation which cannot be achieved with any single ingredient or standalone product are heightened focus and drive-to-succeed. Regardless of how nutritionally well-prepared and rested one’s physique is prior to a workout, the wrong mental state can fast curtail physical output.
Even the slightest lack of confidence or degree of mental sluggishness may restrict training intensity.
Without the mental edge, the mind-to-muscle connection is harder to establish, training form suffers and the determination to push beyond the pain barrier is lessened. A good pre-workout can provide this mental edge.22, 41, 42
One product that does all of the above and more is IMPACT IGNITER, one of a new breed of workout optimizer which not only focuses the mind and prepares the body for war with the weights, but also maintains training intensity at high levels for the full duration of a workout.
Combining Natural Caffeine with Agmapure (Agmatine Sulfate), N-Acetyl-L-Cysteine (NAC), Lion’s Mane Extract: Alpha-GPC, Taurine, Citrulline Malate and host of additional heavy-hitting ingredients and advertised as being suitable only for serious lifters,
IMPACT IGNITER is designed to ensure quality workouts without the wired sensation and/or short-lived performance benefits of other such products.
There’s no denying the performance enhancing benefits of testosterone. In fact, of the thousands of different chemicals required for normal human physiological functioning, testosterone is the most important for strength enhancement, training aggression and muscle-building (the first two factors being crucial precursors to the latter).37
A male sex hormone that regulates fertility, muscle mass, fat distribution and red blood cell production, testosterone is essential to giving us the results we expect from our workouts.24, 39
While testosterone levels of between 280-1100 nanograms per deciliter (ng/dL) are considered normal for healthy men seeking to maintain their unique sexual characteristics, greater strength, enterprising spirit and behavioural traits such as confidence, aggressiveness, assertiveness and fearlessness, the greater the natural supply of this much-prized hormone, the better from a strength-building standpoint. By hitting the upper limits of test production we become a better performing, better-looking athlete – period.
While some seek to boost their test supply through illegal and potentially harmful steroidal drugs (synthetically-derived versions of naturally-produced testosterone), others choose to go the natural route. Either way, increased testosterone is essential to producing greater results in strength and lean muscle mass.
Natural ways to boost testosterone include getting more sleep;
limiting stress; consuming more fats; training at higher intensities; reducing body fat; and including more dietary zinc and magnesium (made possible with cutting edge supplement VITASTACK).
A further effective way to increase test levels naturally is to take an all-in-one testosterone booster. The best of such products is TestoFX, a complete natural test booster which maximizes the body’s natural test supply.
By taking TestoFX the user can expect to suppress the stress hormone cortisol; increase free testosterone while reducing Sex Hormone Bound Globulin testosterone (SHBG) and albumin-bound testosterone (non-active forms of test); reduce testosterone-depleting estrogen; optimize testosterone receptor site sensitivity to increase the uptake of testosterone into muscle cells; and mitigate the testosterone metabolite DHT, which competes with free testosterone for cellular uptake.5, 9, 26, 27, 28, 43, 46, 47
These combined benefits allow TestoFX to increase bioavailable testosterone from 5.9% to 28.1%. This means more gym aggression and strength gains and, ultimately, greater muscle growth.
BCAAs (Branched –Chain Amino Acids)
Known primarily as muscle-builders, the BCAAs (L-Valine, L-Isoleucine and L-Leucine) have been shown to play a major role in stimulating muscle protein synthesis – Leucine specifically signals the activation of mammalian target of rapamycin, or mTOR, an enzyme responsible for muscle cell growth – while attenuating the breakdown of muscle proteins during training (when taken pre and intra-workout).2, 3, 14, 20, 45
The BCAAs also promote muscle growth by enhancing recovery, with several key studies reporting the superiority of BCAA supplementation over rest for speeding up muscle-tissue healing following intense training.25, 32
Strength enhancement remains another key muscle-building benefit of BCAA supplementation. By speeding up recovery time, decreasing protein breakdown during training and optimizing muscle protein synthesis, the BCAAs have further been shown to greatly enhance muscle performance including strength output (a smaller, poorly-recovered muscle being a weaker muscle).18, 31, 33, 34, 35
Absorbed directly into muscle tissue rather than the liver, BCAAs may preferentially be used for energy to further improve training output – notably strength.17
As well as being an efficient energy source to extend training intensity, these key aminos are also an effective means with which to reduce more extensive muscle soreness (a sign of significant muscle damage beyond what might be considered beneficial for size and strength gains).16, 36 All in all, the BCAAs are an important component of the strength-seeker’s supplemental repertoire.
When choosing a superior BCAA product it’s important to select from those of the highest quality, potency and bioavailability. AMINOCORE is one such product. With a 9:6:5-ratio of L-Leucine, L-Valine and L-Isoleucine (totaling a massive 8180mgs of BCAAs) along with a unique blend of five key B vitamins for further anabolic benefits and energy enhancement,
AMINOCORE provides tangible benefits in strength, performance and muscle-building.
Strength through Supplementation
Fewer aspects of training are more pointless than aiming to build a massive amount of freaky-dense muscle without first focusing on developing a solid strength base. Most serious lifters (this means you) would be regarded as strong; some might be considered freakishly so.
Nevertheless, strength for strength’s sake has never been a major goal for most aesthetically-focused lifters.
To build more solid mass, this line of thinking has got to change.
As many would agree, you can never have too much money or be overly healthy. This is also true for those wanting more lean muscle: specifically, you can never be too strong.
But becoming stronger is never easy, especially for those past the age of 40 or so (with less anabolic hormone production and more age-related muscle decline, otherwise known as sarcopenia).
However, there is a strength-building edge which almost anyone can take advantage of: advanced supplementation – specifically incorporating the above-listed products.
By consistently including the five key supplements outlined in this article, more strength can be yours. Without these products, becoming stronger may remain an uphill battle. But choose wisely. Only the purest, highest-quality ingredients in supraphysiological dosages are worthy of your time, effort and money. Want to become a better looking and better performing lifter?
Simple: use each of the above-listed products to gain the strength and muscle-building edge.
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