How to Create the Ultimate Stack for Mass Gains
Looking for next-level stack building?
You’re in the right place.
This complete guide to mass gaining stacks is just what you need. By the end, you’ll be able to design the perfect stack to suit your goals without any trial and error on your part.
But – be warned – this isn’t for beginners. This is hardcore stack building, so if you’ve never used supplements before or are relatively new to them, it’s recommended you check out our introductory guide here first.
This guide will cut through all the nonsense and confusion out there and tell you exactly how to create a bodybuilding stack.
WHY STACK SUPPLEMENTS FOR MUSCLE GAIN?
A question that comes up a lot is:
"Can’t I just eat healthy, nutritious foods and apply a well-balanced workout routine to get good, long-lasting gains?"
The answer is yes… and no.
The key is in the ‘good, long-lasting’ bit.
Yes, nutritious food and a well-balanced diet and workout routine will get you mass gains, but maintaining mass gain is a different story. A few days off the healthy eating regime here and there and a couple of skipped workouts means your hard-earned gains will quickly plummet.
Supplement stacks, on the other hand, help you to create resilient, longer lasting muscle that won’t fade away if you take a week or two off to overindulge at Christmas, for example.
How do supplements help to create a resilient, tough physique?
Simple. It’s all in the ingredients and the way you stack them.
That’s not to say that nutrition isn’t important. Nutrition is more than important – it’s vital. But, using a well-planned stack alongside good nutrition and focused exercise gives you the best of all worlds.
We’re going to outline two stacks below, one for rapid weight gain and the other for muscle gain. We’ll then go into detail explaining why these stacks are effective because understanding the reasons behind choosing the stack ingredients will help you to succeed and also to design your own in the future if you want to.
WEIGHT GAIN STACK OUTLINE
|Breakfast||Lunch||Pre-workout (45 mins before)||Post-workout (immediately after)||Dinner|
|Multivitamin||Weight gainer shake||5g L-Glutamine||5g creatine monohydrate||3g omega 3|
|3g omega 3||High protein meal such as oily fish with whole grain rice||5g L-Arginine||5g L-Glutamine||High protein meal such as red meat and veg|
|2g beta-alanine (only on non-workout days)||30g whey protein isolate||4g HMB||40g micellar casein (just before bedtime)|
|High protein meal such as eggs||2g beta-alanine (only if not taken at breakfast)||30g whey protein hydrolysate|
|1g D-Aspartic acid||30g dextrose|
MUSCLE GAIN STACK OUTLINE
|Pre-workout (45 mins before session)||During workout (15 mins into session)||Post-workout (straight after session)|
|35g whey protein isolate||4g branched chain amino acids (BCAA)||30g whey protein hydrolysate|
|4g creatine monohydrate or 2g creatine HCL||250mg caffeine||4g creatine monohydrate or 2g creatine HCL|
|4g branched chain amino acids (BCAA)||2.5g citrulline||4g branched chain amino acids (BCAA)|
|2g beta-alanine||2g beta-alanine|
DESIGNING YOUR OWN STACK
The stacks outlined above will definitely help you to achieve your bulking up goals. But as you get more familiar with supplements, you may decide to personalise your stack and tailor it to changing goals.
This section will give you details on all the major supplement types used in stacks, and what they do, so you can begin to think about designing your own.
Take 4g of Creatine Monohydrate or 2g of Creatine HCL 45 mins before a workout and the same amount immediately after a workout for muscle gain
Probably the most well-known bodybuilding supplement, creatine is ideal for giving you energy and building strength. Both of the example stacks above contain creatine as it supplies muscles with the energy they need during and after a workout.
Another advantage of creatine is it helps your muscles to become more defined and look bigger.
There are several different types of creatine supplement available, but the main two are:
Creatine Monohydrate | Has the most beneficial muscle-building properties and is widely available.
Creatine Hydrochloride (or HCL) | Believed to be more soluble than monohydrate, which means it can be taken in a lower dose, but the jury is still out on this at the moment.
Drink a 35g whey protein isolate shake 45 mins before a workout and a 30g hydrolysate whey protein shake immediately after a workout for muscle gain
Whey protein shakes are essential in any bulking-up stack. They provide a source of high-quality protein which your body needs to increase mass. Whey protein also contains most of the essential amino acids you need for strength training.
Taking whey protein, alongside a nutritious diet, will help you to gain lean mass rather than fatty mass, which is why it is one of the most popular supplements with serious bodybuilders.
There are two main types of whey protein supplement:
Whey Protein Isolate | This is the purest form that contains 90 to 95% of protein and are very low in fat.
Whey Protein Concentrate | Contains 25% to 89% protein, and the rest is made up of fat, minerals, and lactose.
BRANCHED-CHAIN AMINO ACIDS (BCAA)
Take 4g of BCAA 45 mins before, during and immediately after a workout for muscle gain
BCAAs provide the amino acids that you need in your blood to provide energy when exercising. The extra energy will increase your endurance, and also your mental focus. They also help with recovery by ensuring that your muscle cells get the nutrients they need to grow and rest.
They have been shown to increase muscle gain significantly when taken before, during and after strength training.
Take 5g of L-Glutamine 45 mins before and immediately after a workout for healthy weight gain
L-Glutamine is an amino acid that helps to increase lean mass. It has also been shown to reduce cravings for sugary foods, so this is especially good if you have a sweet tooth or you’re prone to over-indulging on carby foods.
Take 5g of L-Arginine immediately after a workout for healthy weight gain
Another amino acid, but this one helps with muscle conditioning by releasing growth hormone and increasing fat metabolism.
Take 2.5g of Citrulline 45 mins before and during a workout
Citrulline is an amino acid that helps to reduce muscle fatigue. It is especially good for reducing muscle soreness during and after an intense workout.
Take 3g of Omega-3 at breakfast and dinner for healthy weight gain
Omega-3 is the essential fatty acid found naturally in oily fish. Research has shown that it helps with nutrient partitioning – in other words, it helps to convert calories into muscle rather than fat. Therefore, it’s recommended that you take omega-3 in a higher concentration than you would in an ordinary healthy diet to promote lean mass gain.
Take 2g of Beta-alanine 45 mins before and immediately after a workout, or 2g at breakfast on non-workout days for mass gain
This supplement increases levels of muscle carnosine, which basically means it increases workout performance by reducing acid in the muscles. Make sure you include this in your stack to avoid fatigue, particularly during high-intensity training.
When stacked with other supplements such as creatine it has been shown to drastically improve your endurance during a workout, meaning you will get bigger gains over time.
Take 250mg of caffeine 45 mins before a workout for extra energy and improved muscle recovery
As well as getting the ‘caffeine buzz’ and burst of energy, it also helps to reduce muscle pain and improves muscle recovery. Check out our article for all the ways caffeine can bolster your workout.
Take 30g of dextrose immediately after a workout for improved recovery and mass gain
Normally a high dose of sugar isn’t a good thing, but immediately after a workout dextrose can help to reduce lactic acid, promoting muscle recovery and reducing soreness.
HYDROXY METHYLBUTYRATE (HMB)
Take 4g of HMB immediately after a workout for mass gain
HMB protects and repairs muscle cells by decreasing the rate that protein is broken down and it also speeds up protein synthesis, in other words turning protein into mass.
DON’T NEGLECT NATURAL NUTRITION
As mentioned, healthy nutrition is vital to gaining quality, lean muscle. In fact, it’s vital for good health in general, so make sure you’re never tempted to replace nutritious food with junk, just because you’re making good gains with a supplement stack.
Foods that are protein-rich are the best to help you gain lean muscle.
- Red meat – packed full of protein and naturally occurring dietary creatine, they are ideal for bodybuilding.
- Salmon and other oily fish such as mackerel – oily fish is full of high-quality protein and omega-3 fatty acids which are good for general health and maintaining a lean physique.
- Milk – go for whole milk rather than semi or full skimmed. It’s high in protein, healthy carbs and fats. It also contains calcium which is good for your bones and overall strength. Drink a couple of glasses a day, especially before or after a strenuous workout.
- Eggs – make sure you eat the entire egg, white and yolk, for maximum protein intake and healthy fats for mass gain.
- Nuts and seeds – nuts such as almonds are high in protein and fibrous, which helps you to gain lean mass.
- Whole-grains – whole-grain rice, pasta and bread are not high in protein, but they do pack a lot of calories to help you bulk up. Unrefined carbs, in general, are good for lean mass gain as they contain fibre to counterbalance the natural sugars.
- Fruit and veg – it almost goes without saying that a diet high in plant-based food is nutritious and will help you gain lean mass rather than fatty mass.
Many nutritional supplement manufacturers sell all the supplements you need for a pre-designed stack as a package, sometimes with a discount. This is a useful way to easily get the combination of supplements you need easily, without having to make several different orders.
Look for Pre-Workout, Intra-Workout and Post-Workout supplements when shopping and check the ingredients to see if they work for your plan.
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