Muscle Growth is always a 3-step process.

  1. Overload a muscle
  2. Recover
  3. Grow

That’s a fundamental, biological law that can’t be circumvented. Given that, you’d be shocked at just how many people aren’t achieving step 1. That’s right, they’re not even firing the gun. No overload, no stimulus to grow. Worse, recovery suffers because over-training is prevalent and the trainee is left scratching their heads as to why they’ve hit a plateau. Is it any wonder performance-enhancing drugs are so popular?

Overload can be as simple as this: Perform as many chin-ups in 5 minutes as possible. Let’s say you get 30 chins in 5 minutes. The next time you train, your sole objective is to get more than 30 reps. If you can’t, you failed to stimulate growth. But if you do, you’ll know with certainty that you did. You’ll also have the satisfaction of knowing you got more done in 5 minutes than most trainees get in 3 hours of winging it.

There are several supplements that can magnify your efforts to overload the muscle. Micronized creatine monohydrate is probably the most cost-effective. Due to greater ATP pools, creatine will allow you to get more reps. Likewise, beta-alanine acts as an intracellular buffer to extend the time muscle will contract before seizing up.

X-Factor (aka Arachadonic Acid) is superb addition here, as it amplifies the perceived damage to muscles after being incorporated into the cell membrane. Phosphate supplementation has also shown to be of benefit, upping your ability to move more weight in any given unit of time.

The amino acid L-Taurine and minerals zinc and magnesium play a crucial role. Taurine is among the finest amino’s you can use, especially for increasing blood flow. Typically, a 3-5 gram dose is ingested an hour prior to training. Zinc and Magnesium deficiencies are common especially in North America, and allow the muscle to keep firing for more reps. I’ll caution you though that getting the right forms is crucial.

Most store-bought magnesium and zinc are the Oxide form. You might as well flush it down the toilet, your body can’t absorb it. When supplementing these minerals you want the aspartate, picolinate or citrate forms.

Next, we get to stimulants. There’s no question the right amount can increase your momentary ability to contract muscle. The issue I have with most pre-workouts is this: Most are laden with excessive caffeine or Yohimbe, leading to an over-stimulated feeling that can actually work against you. They’re also stupid expensive and have absurd profit margins for supplement companies.

Instead, I highly recommend a low to moderate dose of ephedrine hydrochloride and caffeine. But ephedrine was banned, right? Nope, not if you know where to look. Where to look is behind the counter, at your local pharmacy. You want to ask for Primatene tabs, which by the label include 12.5mg of ephedrine HCL. You’ll need to present your license and sign for it, but it’s well worth the effort.

While you’re there, pick up some dirt cheap caffeine tabs. I like Wal-Mart’s in house brand, “Jet Alert”. In any case, you want to dose caffeine to ephedrine in a 10:1 ratio. In this case, you’d ingest 125mg of caffeine a 12.5mg ephedrine (by a label, Primatene is 12.5mg ephedrine HCL/pill). More seasoned lifters can titrate up to 250mg caffeine and 25 mg of ephedrine, but I wouldn’t go too much higher than that. The ideal is to be stimulated and not shaky, paranoid and sweating profusely. It’s a fine line.

Finally, we get to select amino acids for strength. In this arena, I rather like Mucuna Pruriens and/or Alpha GPC. Mucuna Pruriens is now available in the form of 98% extract for L-dopa. That means a big dopamine rush, especially when tagging along with ephedrine/caffeine. Consider adding 150mg to your E/C stack.

Alternatively, Alpha GPC is a very, very sharp amino acid for strength. Research has demonstrated improvements in exercise performance, focus, and even greater GH output when consuming it – pre-workout. It works by elevating levels of acetylcholine, a key neurotransmitter in muscle contraction. 600 to 1,200mg pre-workout works exceptionally well. I’ve had some of my best workouts on this stuff and highly recommend it.

And for those looking for the ultimate in tunnel vision, many lifters are reportedly using Modafinil. Sure, it’s a controlled substance but Adrafinil is not. It’s the precursor to modafinil, a non-stimulant medication used to keep people awake. Adrafinil takes longer to kick in (45 min), but a distinct focus improvement will be realized. If you have a big workout coming up or just want to see what these can do for you, I’d suggest dosing E/C and/or Alpha GPC and Adrafinil for ultimate focus.

Growing muscle all comes down to firing the gun though, and that means training. In future articles, I’ll show you different ways of ensuring overload each and every time you set foot in the gym.