Muscle tissue is predominantly composed of fibres that contain numerous cells, blood vessels, fluids, and nerves. These fibres can be further defined as belonging to one of two groups.
- Fast twitch muscle fibres
- Slow twitch muscle fibres
Both types require the presence of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) to maintain correct function. ATP is essential for energy production within the cells, but fast twitch muscle fibres use ATP more quickly than slow twitch fibres so they become fatigued more quickly.
The two types of fibre also offer distinctive benefits. Slow twitch muscle fibres are better for endurance activities, such as long distance runs. Fast twitch fibres excel when fast action is required such as during a sprint or a game of squash.
Muscle Contraction Force
Whenever people hear the term “muscle contraction” they tend to think of a shortening process, but contraction is not always necessary for muscles to produce force. Muscles can also generate force in other ways. During a concentric contraction, such as that required to perform a bicep curl, the bicep muscle shortens, but during normal activities, such as walking, the muscles may still be generating force while they are lengthening (eccentric contraction).
During isometric contraction periods the muscle will be neither contracting nor lengthening, but force will still be generated within the muscle. Carrying a bag full of shopping is an example of isometric contraction. A fourth form of muscle force is required to perform passive stretch activities such as stretching or touching the toes.
No matter the situation, however, in order for the muscles to deliver the necessary force required to complete the task at hand, energy will always be required. Nowhere will this be more apparent than in the gym, where hard training sessions can lead to energy-sapping nutritional deficiencies and session-ending burn-outs.
Most bodybuilders who wish to reach their personal targets or excel in the sport will be well familiar with such situations, as are supplement manufacturers, and numerous nutritional supplements have been developed to help people to train harder and longer than ever before.
These ingredients are all about Power-Strength-Performance!
Creatine is probably the most researched supplement ingredient in the world and all that research testifies to one thing: creatine works.
That being the case there is little wonder that creatine monohydrate and products that contain it are often the go-to supplement of choice with so many muscle-hungry bodybuilders. Once inside the body, creatine monohydrate is converted to creatine phosphate. This is then used to stoke-up the muscles with the ATP necessary for energy production, so it is easy to appreciate why creatine has proven to be such an effective performance enhancer.
Creatine also offers further benefits. It can improve strength levels, increase lean muscle mass, and aid the recovery process.
Famous for the “tingle” sensation its use can sometimes bring about, beta-alanine is a non-essential amino acid with a strong reputation for helping people to push their limits and train harder than normal. Its use elevates the concentration of carnosine inside the muscle fibres.
A number of studies show this to be the case and carnisine levels can be boosted by up to 80% after 10 weeks of use. This is important because carnosine can help buffer the effects of lactic acid and remove the limiting factors its presence would normally provide.
The body requires the amino acid, betaine, to help support a number of biological functions. It is also reputed to boost power and strength levels and, of course, increases in power and strength can only be accompanied by a corresponding increase in muscle size.
Amino acids in all their forms are known to be beneficial for muscle growth and repair. But the branched chain amino acids (BCAAs) valine, leucine, and isoleucine are probably the ones that offer the greatest range of benefits. Some studies show taking just 10-15 grams of BCAAs can help prevent muscle breakdown, and leucine is known to be of particular importance for efficient protein synthesis.
A keto acid created from leucine. It can be useful for protecting muscle mass by limiting the catabolic process, and is believed capable of switching the body from the catabolic state to the anabolic process. It can limit nutrient wastage during training sessions as well, so its value as a bodybuilding aid should never be underestimated.
Ribose is a precursor for ATP synthesis. As explained earlier on in this article, ATP is if necessary for energy production; so it is not hard to understand why ribose is a favoured ingredient with supplement manufacturers.
Many of the best modern-day bodybuilding supplements are very powerful, but that is not surprising because scientists have a better understanding of how the body works and decades of research has enabled them to understand how different ingredients can affect its biology.
This is knowledge that supplement manufacturers have been able to use to their advantage and the ingredients listed above are the backbone of performance enhancement. Just take a look at the label of any quality bodybuilding supplement and the chances are one or more of them will be listed there. Science provided the knowledge, supplement manufacturers put it to work, and gym-goers are the ones who reap the rewards.
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