Part 1 of my answer to the following question appeared in last month’s column. Here is the question again and the rest of my answer:
Q: I’ve just gotten back into bodybuilding after taking a break—for about 25 years. Back in the day supplements were very simple. We had milk or egg protein, multivitamins and liver tabs. I’ve been reading the muscle magazines again lately, and there are so many different supplements that I have no idea what I should be taking. What do you recommend for a guy my age, 47?
A: Last month I talked about the four most-basic supplements I recommend:
1) Multivitamin and -mineral
2) Protein powder
3) Creatine monohydrate
4) Essential fatty acids
Those are the basics that “fill in the gaps” and help you perform optimally. Here are four more supplements that I use and highly recommend.
BCAAs. Branched-chain amino acids help prevent the breakdown of muscle—a.k.a. catabolism—that can occur during intense weight training and extended cardio sessions. They prevent the body from tapping into muscle protein for energy. BCAA supplementation also speeds recovery and reportedly decreases soreness—though it doesn’t seem to decrease mine. I prefer Xtend by Scivation (Refreshing Blue Raspberry is my favorite flavor). I always add it to the water I sip during cardio sessions, as well as the water that I drink at work during the day. I find that it’s especially critical to supplement with BCAAs if you’re restricting your calories to lose bodyfat.
Beta-alanine. A couple of years ago I had the pleasure of meeting Jon Jon Park at the IRON MAN magazine booth at the Los Angeles Fit Expo. Jon Jon said that in his opinion beta-alanine is the best supplement to come out in the past 20 years. Supplementing with beta-alanine dramatically increases carnosine in muscle cells, according to studies, and carnosine buffers the acidity that builds up in skeletal muscle during intense weight training. That means you can crank out more reps before lactic acid reaches a point that shuts down muscular contraction. Basically, you get a few more reps per set at a given weight. Over time those reps add up, and you gain muscle and strength at a faster rate. My preferred beta-alanine supplement is Red Dragon by Muscle-Link.
Phosphatidylserine. One of the most effective supplements on the market, PS blunts the cortisol response to exercise. Cortisol, you may remember, is a catabolic hormone—it breaks down tissue—and it normally increases during exercise or in times of stress. Supplementing with PS has been shown to reduce the production of cortisol, and lower cortisol means more muscle: Your body breaks down less muscle, and you build more muscle after your workouts. The PS product that I use is Cort-Bloc by Muscle-Link.
GH Stak. My favorite supplement, and one that I recommend to over-40 weight-training devotees, is GH Stak. Its symbiotropin blend increases the release of your body’s natural growth hormone and insulinlike growth factor 1, a.k.a. IGF-1. Growth hormone plays a crucial role in building muscle, burning fat, healing injuries and elevating sexual drive and performance. I use GH Stak religiously, and not only has it helped me maintain my championship physique into my 50s, but it also dramatically decreased the amount of time it took me to recover from surgery to repair a ruptured hamstring tendon in 2007. My surgeon was absolutely amazed at how quickly I was up and walking after surgery—I was about four weeks ahead of schedule. I healed so quickly that I won the open overall at my first show back, the ’08 NPC John Sherman Classic, at age 49, just 11 months after the reattachment. You can find GH Stak in the Muscle-Link line of supplements. People see my photo in the ad for GH Stak in this magazine and ask, “Do you really take that stuff?” My answer is, “Hell, yeah!” If you’re over 40 and you’re not taking GH Stak, you’re really missing out.
The big thing about supplements is that they’re exactly that—supplements. Use them to supplement a solid nutritional program and workout regimen. Before supplements can help you, you have to be doing the basics right. That means eating clean and training hard. The right supplements added to a sound nutrition and training plan will help you optimize the effects of your training and diet. So get out there and get after it.
Train hard and eat clean.
Note: The Muscle-Link line of supplements is available at www.Home-Gym.com.
Editor’s Note: See Dave Goodin’s blog at www.IronManMagazine.com. Click on the blog selection in the top menu bar. To contact Dave directly, send e-mail to [email protected]. IM