MAXIMIZE RECOVERY AND PROGRESSION WITH AMINO PULSING
Are you training hard using a good program and a high level of focus but feel you’re still not progressing Do you lack energy despite an adequate nutrition plan? This can likely be explained by sub-optimal recovery.
When you are passionate about training, it’s easy to provide the necessary efforts in the gym, and for the most part, we tend to maximize our sessions using a good intra-training supplement protocol. We invest a lot of money on supplements that we consume before, during and immediately following a training session. However, we continue to neglect the fact that muscle is built in a recovery period that far exceeds the first few hours post-training.
YES, of course it is important to optimize your performance at the gym to stimulate maximal gains. However, as much effort should be put into the recovery period: the 24 hours following your training session where the majority of gains occur.
There is a concept that I have been using for more than 10 years which, in my experience, is an exceptionally useful tool for optimizing the recovery period. It’s called “Amino Pulsing”. This is a concept that was invented more than 50 years ago (!!!) by the first bodybuilding guru, Vince Gironda. It has since been resurrected by sports medicine great, Dr. Eric Serrano.
Vince Gironda is one of the most important pioneers of bodybuilding. Among other feats, he trained the first Mr. Olympia winner (Larry Scott) and was recognized in Hollywood for his ability to get actors into top shape in record time. We owe him many staple exercises that are an integral part of our training programs today, like the Preacher/Scott curl.
Gironda was the first to popularize a diet high in fat/low in carbs to reach competition physique. He was also the first to recommend the use of digestive enzymes, because he understood that the secret lies not in the quantity of protein that you consume, but in the quantity that you absorb.
He invented the concept of amino acid pulsing: every 1 to 2 hours, his clients consumed 1-2 capsules of amino acids and 1-2 capsules of dehydrated liver. The goal was to prevent all catabolism and to keep the body in construction mode. Dr. Eric Serrano refined the concept by using a more precise formula of amino acids, for reasons that I will explain further.
The foundation of amino pulsing is based on the fact that when protein is overconsumed, the individual pharmacological effect of each amino acid is lost.
The sudden increase in a specific amino acid creates a precise effect on the body. For example, the elevation of leucine activates mTor, the element that initiates protein synthesis (muscle building). However, this individual effect is lost if the elevation of each specific amino acid is masked by an overall elevation of amino acids (by consumption of a large quantity of complete proteins). First, because certain amino acids compete for the transporters that are necessary for their utilization (for example, isoleucine and valine both need tryptophane to get to the brain), and second, because the body does not detect the elevation of certain amino acids if the total level of amino acids is too high (it’s kind of like pouring a glass of water into a pool).
The concept of amino pulsing is to reduce the number of protein meals as well as the total quantity of protein consumed during the day (for example, consuming protein 3 times per day rather that 5 or 6 times like most bodybuilders), and consume specific amino acids between meals.
When the total level of protein is lower, the key amino acids will elicit the desired pharmacological effect.
I know that telling an athlete or bodybuilder to consume less protein is heresy! But the fact is that the majority of bodybuilders consume too much protein, not because this is more efficient, but simply because it is tradition.
We must also understand the difference between a natural athlete (does not take steroids, growth hormone or SARMs) and an enhanced athlete. The latter is capable of utilizing more protein for muscle synthesis, whereas the former is limited by his natural absorption capacity. Consuming more protein will thus have no effect after a certain level (approximately 0.8-1.0g per pound of body weight).
In fact, overconsuming protein can even stall muscle gains in natural athletes. First, it mobilizes glutamine from the muscle (so breaks down muscle to release glutamine) to decrease systemic acidity. Overconsuming protein without an adequate intake of vegetables makes the body acidic and it must mobilize glutamine or phosphorus/calcium to fight this acidosis.
Second, overconsuming protein also increases the synthesis of protein into glucose to utilize as a form of energy (neoglucogenesis). If the body becomes skilled at this, more protein is used as a form of energy and less is used to build muscle.
ACTIVATING PROTEIN SYNTHESIS
To gain muscle, we need to increase protein synthesis, that’s the name of the game. This is the process by which the body uses protein/amino acids to build muscle tissue. The amount of muscle built is directly proportional to the level of protein synthesis. So, consuming 1000g of protein will make no difference if the rate of protein synthesis is low.
Simply stated, the proteins you consume are the bricks that are stored on the construction site. The bricklayers represent protein synthesis. Without them, the bricks are useless. It is therefore important to stimulate protein synthesis as often as possible.
One of the most direct ways of increasing protein synthesis is by activating mTor. We can consider mTor to be the “ON” button of protein synthesis.
Training stimulates mTor in itself. The two types of contractions that have the greatest effect are accentuated eccentrics (lowering a weight slowly while maximally contracting the muscle) and loaded stretching (reaching the point where the target muscle is stretched during an exercise).
However, certain amino acids also have an effect on mTor, the most powerful one coming from leucine. When the body detects an increase in leucine, mTor is activated and this places the body in “construction” mode.
AMINO PULSING WITH “AMINO + RECOVERY”
Personally, I use XPN’s Amino + Recovery for my pulsing, not only for the activation of mTor, but also because its blend of amino acids and other ingredients maximize recovery and thus, progression.
L-Leucine : Activates mTor and initiates protein synthesis, placing the body into construction mode.
L-Citrulline : In my opinion, the second most important ingredient in the product. Citrulline increases recovery and cardiovascular performance via the dilation of blood vessels. In bodybuilding, this increases blood flow to the muscles. During training, it gives a better pump, and during the recovery period, it facilitates the transport of nutrients towards the muscles. Citrulline also has positive effects on cardiovascular health like the decrease of blood pressure, among others.
L-Taurine : Taurine has a bad reputation because it has been used as an ingredient in energy drinks and has thus been associated with stimulants, which is not the case. In fact, taurine actually calms the nervous system. Companies that manufacture energy drinks use it as an ingredient for two reasons: 1) to reduce the adverse health effects (taurine decreases blood pressure) and 2) it has a calming effect after the initial stimulus of the drink, thereby motivating consumers to buy a second drink. Taurine helps with nervous system recovery, which is very important for strength gains. Because of its calming effect, it can also decrease cortisol. If cortisol levels remain low, it is easier to build muscle. Note that taurine also has positive effects on cardiovascular health.
L-Alanine : This amino acid is quite anti-catabolic : it protects muscle tissue. It also supports the conversion of glucose into energy and has a detoxifying effect on the liver. Although not as “sexy” as citrulline or leucine, its effect on recovery is significant.
L-Carnitine : Carnitine plays a significant role in the production of energy by improving the efficiency of the utilization of lipids for energy. As for recovery, it increases the sensitivity of androgenic receptors which accelerates muscle gain and reduces soreness.
Isoleucine et Valine : These two amino acids along with leucine are what we call BCAAs (Branched Chain Amino Acids). They have a significant impact on protein synthesis: leucine in the most anabolic, followed by isoleucine and then valine. Isoleucine and valine are also useful for recovery because they increase muscle glucose transport and storage.
These are all the amino acids found in the Amino + Recovery formula. In my experience, it is the optimal blend for recovery and muscle gain.
The formula also includes other ingredients that have an impact on recovery. For example, ashwaganga and ginseng have a cortisol-reducing effect. Without taking you through a physiology course, cortisol is a stress hormone responsible for mobilizing energy. As long as cortisol is elevated, recovery and muscle synthesis are slow and difficult because it places the body in mobilization mode rather than in construction mode. Ensuring that cortisol levels remain low not only helps recovery but also indirectly increases testosterone.
Amino Acid Pulsing is done between meals to maintain the body in construction mode for as long as possible.
Amino + Recovery is not optimal for pre-workout since the taurine might have a calming effect which would decrease performance. The Pre-Training Xtrem product is formulated specifically for that purpose and I recommend it.
For optimal results, I recommend 2 to 3 doses per day.
7 :00 – Breakfast
2-3 eggs, 125ml egg whites
9 :00 – Pre-Workout (15-20 minutes prior to training)
Pre-Training Xtrem – 1 portion
Carboload – 1-2 portions (based on weight and goals)
10 :00 Post-Training Xtrem (post training)
12:00 – Lunch
Chicken (125-225g according to body weight)
Rice (1/2 a 1 ½ cups based on weight and goals)
Omega Focus 1 portion
14 :00 – Amino Pulsing
Amino + Recovery 1 portion
16 :00 – Amino pulsing
Amino + Recovery 1 portion
18 :00 – Dinner
Red meat (125-225g according to body weight)
Olive Oil (10-20g based on weight and goals)
20 :00 – Amino pulsing
Amino + Recovery 1 portion
22 :00 – Bedtime (30 min before bed)
1000mg magnesium glycinate
Whey Extreme 1 portion