Don't Miss

Want Muscle? Then Know the Rules | Muscle & Body Magazine

A lean and hard muscular physique is something that many men strive for, but out of all of those who work to obtain a body worthy of the cover of a fitness magazine, only a few actually accomplish this goal. Why do some succeed where others fall flat?

In my book, “Lean & Hard: The Body You’ve Always Wanted in Just 24 Workouts” (John Wiley & Sons, 2007), I examine the proper and safe ways to increase lean muscle mass through a series of high-intensity intervals and resistance training, proper eating guidelines and supplementation to give your muscle-building efforts every advantage in stimulating growth.

Protein: It Starts Here

Protein is the building block of muscle. It’s what stimulates new tissue growth and prevents muscle breakdown. According to Stuart M. Phillips of the Exercise Metabolism Research Group at McMaster University, “a consistent finding was that higher-protein diets resulted in greater weight loss, and a greater amount of that loss was accounted for by fat mass. By difference, therefore, higher-protein diets promoted a greater retention of lean body mass.”

A quality whey protein isolate is essential for any weightlifter, especially when taken immediately postworkout. Whey, as opposed to casein or soy, is fast-acting, which means the process of protein synthesis happens much sooner. This is ideal for jump-starting the recovery process after your muscles are fatigued.

Says Smith: “Whey-derived peptides may also be playing an integral role in promotion of fat loss…[and] support lean-mass retention during energy restriction, due to its high essential- and branched-chain-amino-acid content.”

What’s the difference between whey isolate and whey concentrate? Concentrates contain higher levels of lactose and fat than isolates, making them a potentially inferior form of whey. According to research, “over 90% of whey protein isolate, by weight, is protein.”

Casein is a slow-acting protein, meaning the process of protein synthesis takes longer than whey. Casein is ideal to take right before bedtime, as the protein will sustain you better during the sleep-fasting state, as the majority of the body’s recovery and repair happens when you are asleep.

Glutamine: A Versatile Amino

Glutamine is an amino acid that is important for protein synthesis, muscle function, muscle repair, digestive efficiency, and maintaining a healthy immune system.

When you engage in a high-intensity workout program, glutamine supplementation becomes essential. The reason for this is that muscle tissue contains most of the body’s glutamine stores, and stress (exercise) breaks down muscle, releasing glutamine.

In addition to protein and glutamine, maltodextrin is essential to your diet. Malto-dextrin is a very concentrated carbohydrate that is a great a source of pure energy that cells in your body can draw upon during a strenuous training session. Taken 30–60 minutes before a workout, in combination with whey protein, maltodextrin helps prevent muscle loss during exercise, and can accelerate muscle recovery during training. However, it is important to note that maltodextrin is not recommended for diabetics or people with hypoglycemia, obesity or other disorders. If you have any of these conditions, I strongly recommend you seek your doctor’s approval before using it.

Creatine: The Muscle Maker

Creatine is synthesized from the amino acids methionine, arginine and glycine. I speak quite often about the benefits of creatine because of its ability to help increase and sustain muscle energy levels during high-intensity training, and for its ability to accelerate the recovery process between workouts.

I have found, however, that creatine is one of the most misused supplements on the market. In my experience, 90% of the people who buy it don’t understand what it does or how to effectively use it. First, when taking a creatine monohydrate product, it is very important to take a pharmaceutical-grade creatine. The majority of studies conducted on creatine have evaluated pharmacological-grade creatine monohydrate in oral or intravenous phosphocreatine formulations, or in powder form.

Now, what about that whole “loading stage”? According to Baylor University’s Richard B. Kreider, PhD, “the most common way described in the scientific literature to increase muscle creatine stores is to ‘load’ creatine by taking 0.3 g/kg/day of creatine monohydrate for 5–7 days (e.g., 5 g taken four times per day).… Once muscle creatine stores are saturated, studies indicate that you only need to take 3–5 g of creatine monohydrate per day in order to maintain elevated creatine stores.”

More recently, it was shown that you might only need to load “2–3 days to maximize creatine stores, particularly if creatine is ingested with carbohydrate and/or protein.”

As for when to take creatine, new research shows that taking it after exercise with a carbohydrate and/or protein supplement may be an effective way to increase and/or maintain muscle creatine stores. Finally, “there is no evidence that cycling on and off creatine is more or less effective than loading and maintaining creatine.…”

I don’t recommend creatine for people younger than 18 or those not involved in anaerobic activities.

For Mackie’s training tips for high-intensity intervals, visit, or check out his book, “Lean & Hard.”

via Want Muscle? Then Know the Rules | Muscle & Body Magazine.