By John Parrillo
If you want more oomph in your workouts, then make sure you’re powering up properly with pre-workout supplements – a regimen that will help boost your strength, increase your focus, and give you a turbo-surge of energy. Here’s a protocol I recommend:
One of the most amazing and effective bodybuilding supplements ever has to be creatine monohydrate™. Creatine is actually an energy supplement first and foremost, providing high energy phosphate groups to replenish the ATP which is consumed during muscular contractions. Creatine is nontoxic even in large amounts, is well-absorbed orally, and is readily taken up by muscles. There it is converted into creatine phosphate, which then serves as a donor of phosphate groups to ADP to re-generate ATP. ATP, as you know, is the immediate energy source used by muscles. So if we increase creatine levels inside muscles this will increase energy production, which translates into longer and harder workouts. Athletes using creatine report a significant increase in strength. It is not unusual for an experienced lifter to improve his or her maximum lift by 5-15% or to notice an increase of 2 or 3 more reps with a 10 rep-maximum load after creatine supplementation. This places a more severe stress on the muscle which ultimately stimulates greater hypertrophy. This has been confirmed by numerous research studies.
The standard protocol for using creatine is to “load” the muscles for 5-7 days with 20 grams per day, taken as four servings of 5 grams each. This saturates the muscles with as much creatine as they can hold. This is followed by the “maintenance” phase, which usually consists of 5 grams per day, although some of our larger bodybuilders use 10 grams per day.
WHEY AND GLUTAMINE
I have found the combination of Optimized Whey Protein™ and creatine to be a very powerful supplement tool. This is probably a more effective supplement combination than anything that was available even just a few years ago. To understand why, it is important to know a few things about whey protein and amino acid metabolism. It turns out that the amino acid profile of whey protein is very well suited to the needs of growing muscles. For one thing, whey is loaded with glutamine, an amino acid that occupies a central position in amino acid metabolism, since it is able to donate an amino group to a variety of keto-acids to form other amino acids.
Glutamine also plays a pivotal role in energy metabolism, believe it or not. Glutamine serves as the preferred fuel source for several cell types including immune cells and cells lining the intestines. During injury, burns, illness or other severe stresses (such as surgery), sometimes the body has to rob muscle tissue of its glutamine to serve as fuel for the intestine and the immune system. This depletes the body’s glutamine reserve which can ultimately compromise immune function. This is one of the reasons why these conditions are highly catabolic and are associated with rapid loss of lean body mass. The fascinating thing is that this parallels in many respects what we see in the over-training syndrome.
If this isn’t enough to stimulate your interest in glutamine, it has also been proven that glutamine administered orally can increase growth hormone release. Most interesting was that the effective dose was only two grams. The real bottom line is that glutamine increases skeletal muscle protein synthesis, making it the single most important amino acid in supporting muscular growth. It not only helps block catabolism of muscle tissue during stress but also provides an important anabolic stimulus for muscle growth.
To use this information, I suggest that you take an Optimized Whey™ shake with your creatine dose one hour prior to your workout.
The scientific understanding of muscle metabolism and exercise performance is probably the richest when it comes to the BCAAs – the branched chain amino acids. These are the essential amino acids leucine, isoleucine, and valine. While glutamine is the most abundant amino acid in the bloodstream and free inside muscle cells, the BCAAs are the most abundant amino acids incorporated into muscle proteins.
The branched chain amino acids have been a favorite supplement of hard core bodybuilders for years. And finally science is ready to agree. For decades, and still even today, many people think of muscle as a structural – functional type of tissue with really no role in energy production. Well, I have news for you. During times of stress, including severe exercise, muscle tissue can be broken down to serve as a fuel substrate, just like any other tissue of the body. Hopefully you will burn mostly fat as fuel, but you must also rely on glycogen, the storage form of carbohydrate. Eventually your body will also turn to protein, particularly the BCAAs, as a fuel source (the good, the bad, and the ugly). The muscle proteins are a rich source of branched chain amino acids. The problem is that muscles can actually use the BCAAs directly as fuel, so in a pinch they will cannibalize themselves and oxidize their own proteins as a fuel source.
Take 2 Muscle Amino Formula™ capsules with every meal, and take 3-5 or more capsules particularly before a muscle blasting, iron pumping workout or a high intensity aerobic session.
Certain supplemental nutrients, in combination, can boost your endurance, mood, and mental acuity. This means you’ll be more alert and focused during your workouts. The combo I’m talking about is:
• Inosine, which improves oxygen utilization
• DL-Phenylalanine, which improves mental acuity and pain tolerance
• Ferulic Acid, which stimulates endrocine function
• Potassium and Magnesium Aspartate, which helps clear ammonia, an endurance robbing waste product of intense training is quickly turned to uric acid and filtered out of the blood supply.
Take 5-10 capsules before training.
Of course, beyond supplementation is nutrition, which for athletes and active people can be the difference between success and failure, health or injury. To have energy for your workouts, you need to consume energy in the form of a balanced diet – which is the basic tenet of the Parrillo Nutrition program. Taking in adequate calories, and increasing them from the right foods, will keep your strength and energy levels up. So eat well, train hard and supplement smart!