Lift big weights. Eat protein. Get muscles. Simple, eh? Unfortunately, no. It's all too easy to hit a muscle-building plateau, and supplements can seem like the answer. But, before you blow your hard-earned cash on whatever supps your local gym has in stock, you should learn how your muscles work.
Your body has two forms of muscle fibers: type-I fibers (aka slow-twitch) help you perform endurance exercise, and type-II fibers (aka fast-twitch) are the large fibers responsible for strength and size when weight training. To damage these type-II fibers enough to cause growth, you have to lift weights and keep your muscles under enough tension to recruit satellite cells.
These cells sit on the top of muscles and help grow, maintain and repair your muscles. They often lie dormant until you do heavy lifting. The heavy lifting causes tiny micro-tears in the muscle fibers, which triggers your satellite cells to multiply and move toward the areas you damage. They use the proteins from food to thicken and strengthen your muscles and you end up with tighter sleeves.
Fortunately, scientists have developed supplements that can help these efforts by influencing your nutritional, hormonal, and energy systems. Learn how to use them to your advantage.
Supplements may help your muscles repair and regrow.
Hormones are the 2 a.m. phone call, the hand-delivered letter, or the email marked urgent. They carry messages that demand your body take instant action. And supplements can gear these hormones toward gaining more muscle.
The two main hormones are testosterone and growth hormone. Yes, messing about with synthetic versions of these hormones is what got Ben Johnson and Arnie into hot water, but you can increase your levels to their highest natural concentrations without running the risk of handcuffs or a hospital visit.
Testosterone occurs naturally in your body and bumps up your muscle mass by improving muscle-protein synthesis.
Fortunately if you're between the ages of 18 and 35, testosterone boosters probably won't create too much difference because your body already produces enough of its own.
Even if you're older, these supplements won't put your testosterone levels through the roof, but they will put your body in a position to increase your testosterone to its highest natural levels.
Living in a polluted area, using soaps with triclocarban, having a high-sugar diet, and enduring stress can dampen your supplies.
Growth Hormone Supplements
Your body naturally produces growth hormone, and, as the name implies, it's responsible for cell growth and regeneration. It gradually declines with age, transforming your Zac Efron face into a George Clooney.More:
- This shouldn't be confused with fast supplements which also promote growth but not muscle growth and only has a marginal effect on controlling weight.