There are many aspects to bodybuilding, but few are as important as muscle growth, and most bodybuilders are willing to try anything that may help them attain more quality muscle mass, so it is not surprising there are so many different types of supplement on the market.
Ten or twenty years ago, most bodybuilders had to make do with a quality protein powder blend. Modern day bodybuilders have more options at their disposal and can try and boost their gains by manipulating HGH production, mTOR and IGF-1.
HGH (Human Growth Hormone) : HGH is an important hormone manufactured by the pituitary gland. In general the majority of HGH is produced during sleep periods, and in early life the pituitary gland can be very generous, but HGH production starts to taper off during adolescence and by the time most people hit the age of 25 the pituitary gland will have become rather cheap.
High levels, of HGH can accelerate growth and healing. This explains why children are resilient and fast-healing and senior citizens are often so fragile. HGH-boosting supplement are designed to trick the pituitary gland into opening the floodgates again and, when the formulations work, faster healing can result in increased muscle growth.
mTOR (Mammalian Target of Rapamycin): mTOR is an anabolic signalling compound that provides an enzyme protein called kinase that is essential for controlling the signal network that governs skeletal muscle growth. Supplements often stimulate mTOR activity by using leucine.
Scientists have yet to discover exactly how leucine activates mTOR, but it is generally agreed increased mTOR activity provides increased protein synthesis.
IGF-1 (Insulin-Like Growth Factor 1) : IGF-1 is a growth factor that is closely related to insulin and is crucially important during periods of growth (such as childhood). It is produced in the liver, where it binds important cellular receptors. This then has the effect of stimulating cell growth, increasing nitrogen retention, and improving anabolic (growth and recovery) processes.
A Few Popular Ingredients
Phosphatidic acid [click to read our article] is a lipid messenger commonly used to activate the mTOR signalling pathways and, more often than not, can be found listed on the back of supplement bottles under the name Mediator (a patented phosphatidic acid blend). Unfortunately, science has yet to explain the exact process by which phosphatidic stimulates mTOR but explanations aside, studies show that it does work and can deliver “significant increases in strength and LBM over placebo“.
1. Phosphatidic acid enhances mTOR signaling and resistance exercise induced hypertrophy
2. Efficacy of phosphatidic acid ingestion on lean body mass, muscle thickness and strength gains in resistance-trained men
3. Initial Study 2012
4. Chemi Nutra Press Release
L-leucine and certain other amino acids appear to improve mTOR signalling, insulin levels, and growth factors. Most of the study data available has been garnered from tests conducted on rodents, but supplement manufacturers have faith in the probable benefits L-leucine and other amino acids can provide, and L-leucine in particular has a strong reputation as an effective mTOR booster.
HMB (beta-hydroxy beta-methylbutyrate)
HMB is a metabolite of the amino acid leucine. It is often believed to be the most important essential amino acid there is when it comes to muscle growth. These days the most popular HMB provider appears to be the BetaTOR proprietary blend (manufactured by MTI Biotech). BetaTOR provides a free acid form version of HMB and it has proven to be a hit with many supplement users. Typical benefits reported include improved strength and power, faster recovery times, and enhanced aerobic capabilities.
A plant-based ingredient that is believed to reduce the build-up of toxins during exercise periods and help the user to workout hard and gain maximum workout benefits. Unfortunately scientific studies are in short supply. More research is needed to back up the claims.
Ornithine Alpha-Ketoglutarate (OKG)
A salt that consists of two molecules of ornithine (amino acid) and a single molecule of alpha-ketoglutarate, OKG allegedly has the power to enhance muscle-building hormones such as HGH. It is also believed to protect against muscle breakdown/wastage, and may boost nitric Oxide levels.
Ingredients like Phosphatidic acid, HMB, and the others above have not been linked to side effects and appear offer some benefit to even the most experienced lifters, whether that be anabolic growth or faster recovery from a hard workout. The scientific community is catching up with the pace of new product release but they always lack an abundance of human trials involving resistance trained subjects.
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