You’re going to see some weird and wonderful things in this article!
Some animals (including people) have the ability to develop a freakishly large musculature in a much shorter period of time than the rest of us.
In my last article about bodybuilding genetics I said that one limiting factor was myostatin.
This protein, produced by the gene GDF-8, actively limits the amount of muscle you can grow per unit time. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could somehow block myostatin and enlarge our muscles ridiculously fast?
Before we answer that, let’s have a look at what a mutation causing a myostatin deficiency can do!
Below is ‘Wendy the Whippet’, the muscular dog. Looks more like a pitbull with a skinny head!
The mouse on the left has a myostatin deficiency…
The first documented human case was of a German kid. He has twice the muscle mass of other kids his age, and half their bodyfat.
Now, you can guess what happens when this knowledge gets out. Unscrupulous supplement companies start releasing new lines of wonder supplements: Myostatin Inhibitors or Myostatin Blockers. Some people are desperate for effortless muscle gain so this was a no-brainer for these companies. Read on if you want to know if they actually work.
Serious research HAS being carried out on animals where the GDF-8 gene (which encodes for myostatin) was deleted, producing overly-muscled bodies.
However, knocking out a whole gene is not desirable because a gene encodes for many proteins, not just one. Efforts were then made to find a way to bind up myostatin so as to interfere with it at the receptor site. This worked but the compound ‘follistatin‘ also binded other hormones too. Again, this is not desirable.
To successfully inhibit myostatin alone, actual human research was needed. In order for this to go ahead, researchers needed to show that myostatin deletion actually occurred naturally in humans before the Human Research Advisory Committee would give this research the green light. The search was on to find such a case…
Blood samples were to be taken from likely candidates. Bodybuilders were the first and most obvious selection. However, something interesting happened, not a single bodybuilder agreed to have his blood analyzed! A gold star to anyone who can guess why not……not got it yet?
Imagine what would happen to those supplement companies who pay these guys if the average Joe knew that their success had NOTHING to do with ‘Wonder Supplement X‘. Pro bodybuilders would lose a lot of income if people got wind of this. Also, supplement companies would go out of business as too would a lot of bodybuilding magazines.
Over-sized musculatures are the result of one, or both, of the following:
So next time you see a champion pro-bodybuilder guzzling ‘Super-Grow 5000’ in the latest issue of your favorite muscle magazine, realize that this supplement had nothing to do with his freakishly-large muscle mass. He probably doesn’t even use it in real life.
This is not to say that you can’t get big, or ripped, or have an awesome body. You CAN!
But when you’re talking about really MASSIVE guys like Ronnie Coleman, you’re talking about a size that is just not attainable for the average guy. Personally I don’t care, I wouldn’t want to be anywhere near that size anyway.
Now, back to the story…
So the athletes with this natural gift refused to take part. But in June 2004 it was announced that a human myostatin mutation had been found! The German kid above is that very human case. Now the research was approved and a drug called Myo-029 was produced.
Phase 1 & 2 trials were conducted which “contained some measures of efficacy”. However, for some reason, in “March 2008 it was announced that Wyeth would not develop the drug further for MD, but would continue to explore myostatin inhibition along with other strategies” (from Wikipedia).
This means that any supplements out there purporting to be ‘myostatin blockers‘ are not real and will not work.
I must reiterate that this is not cause for concern. Everyone CAN grow. Yes, the rest of us have to settle for slower growth but so what! If you’re facing in the right direction, all you have to do is keep on walking.
Don’t get upset because a rare few can reach their goals quicker. Trust me, most people that get into this game end up quitting. To succeed all you have to do is make gains and more importantly, STICK WITH IT!
If you’re interested, the supplements I DO recommend are:
Also, I only take these once a day (for the most part) as a post workout shake.
Now, I also have a little morning supplementation consisting of:
- Fish Oil capsules
- Magnesium or ZMA
(whichever I have at the time)
Stick with it. Many of us with less-than-desirable genetics have attained the bodies we always dreamed of! You can too!
Stay smart, don’t get scammed, and stay motivated!
Can I give you my free muscle-building workout?
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Mark, where do you find all this info?
Really interesting post.
I agree with you, some of these guys look freeky.
Theres a big difference between looking good and looking odd.
Having said that… I wouldn’t mind having your pecs, bis and six pack.
Better get training!
I agree. I love your site Mark. Best bb site on the net!
Keep up all the great work.
Great post Mark. Love the insight and info that you supply on this site. As Jami said above best BB site on the net. I love how you get to the point and dont try and cram Brand A or B products down our throat.
Mark, good work as always.
I have been researching supplements for 20+ years now, so I hope you don’t mind if I add my 2 cents.
I would like to suggest using a phytonutrient based formula (made from fruits and vegetables) instead of taking multivitamins. One brand that I really like is Macro Greens, it taste awesome and is nutrient packed.
Here is an interesting article regarding some of the controversy around multivitamins.
There are a number of excellent phytonutrient based formulas on the market to choose from as well. Believe it or not phytonutrient formulas contain a full spectrum of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Phytonutrients are also more readily absorbed and utilized by the body than multivitamins.
There is also solid research and science behind the health benefits of phytonutrient formulas. Here are a couple of links to support this fact.
In short, phytonutrient formulas are a more “food friendly” way of getting your additional vitamins and minerals.
nice work mark…….. i like ur articles…….. they are really helpfull….. keep it up
Awesome article. weird pictures of the dog haha. oh and one question.
Everytime I look up L-Glutamine it says Do not use under the age of 18. Why is this? I’m seventeen (turning 18 this february) and I’ve seen you recommend it many times and want to try it for myself! lol cheers
i just came through ur site…and like to say that its awesum…strted already ur workout routine….but one thing i dont wanna use any of the supplements …can i still make a gud looking body….can u pls suggest something….
Thanks everyone for your really kind comments.
@Shay. I haven’t done any research into this area myself, thanks for the info.
@Johnny. I have no idea, you hear all sorts out there. It’s only an amino acid and you’re only supposed to take a few grams per day.
@sac. Yes you can. The only thing I would recommend you do is consume a low-fat protein source within 30 minutes of finishing a workout.
Insightful article Mark, I also like the generous encouragement you regularly hand out to your fellow trainers and hard-gainers!
One point about your ‘morning supplementation’. Some excellent choices, however Magnesium, Zinc or ZMA products are best used in the evening before bed and if done properly can significantly elevate natural growth hormone levels whilst sleeping. Furthermore, the Magnesium in ZMA has a relaxing affect on the body and muscles and will encourage a much deeper sleep – which is highly advantageous for recovery, but not very practical first thing in the morning! Lastly, ZMA is best assimilated on an empty stomach, as it is not competing for absorption with other aminos (from protein or other supps). So if you take a dose 30min before bed on an empty stomach you will get the maximum benefits and enjoy a great nights sleep!
After all, isn’t recovery just as important (if not more) than spent time in the gym! 😉
@Lukewarm. Yes I sometimes take ZMA in the evenings but I usually take 2g of glutamine for a nighttime GH boost. Yes ZMA is taken before brekkie on an empty stomach.
Well, there is no growth without full recovery first so it’s extremely important, no doubt about it.
P.s If you wanted to take a protein shake before bed, you would simply take the ZMA on an empty stomach close to bedtime, allowing 30min for absorption – then proceed to take your casein or whey protein drink before hitting the hay!
Love the picture of the bodybuilding dog mate, made me chuckle! Wouldn’t want to be a cat in his neck of the woods.
i really love reading your articles they are so interesting. i am an obese woman 5.5 190 lbs ann would like to know how to get motivated and have energy to go from whrer i am to having a strong sexy body. i would really appreciate it if you could take the time to answer my question as i know you are the person to ask to get proper results.
when i do tht style bicep, i noticed that my forearm tends to quit before my bicep,i felt the lactic acid burn in my forearm much more than my bicep!!!! how to fix that.. i am trying to incorporate movement that will be more tender to my forearm such as hammer curl, supinating movement or something, 2 cents?
Nothing to do with the above article but just want to say I just read IronMan Magazine Dec 2009 issue and saw your article. Just want to congratulate you on that. I was reading the article and thinking hey, this guy sounds like what you have been saying all along and then I checked the author name, and sure enough it is you.
Congratulations, man .. All the best ..
P.S# At the end of article though, this website (musclehack.com) is not mentioned, instead the magazine editors ask to check your articles at bodybuilding.com. Not sure what the deal is but this website should be mentioned, IMHO.
Hope to see more of your articles both in print and digital format.
@Rich. Me too.
@Karah. I really go into fat loss in detail in my book ‘Total Six Pack Abs’. If you just want to get started, get your net carbs under 100g per day and do the workout program in my free book. Eat only when hungry and stop when full. You’ll start dropping the fat, once you begin to stop losing, I recommend my abs book.
@sky2. A few possibilities. Your grip could simply be too tight on the bar. The weight is too heavy. The weight is too light and you’re doing too many reps i.e. more than 15 to failure? If all else fails try using lifting straps or even hooks to take most of the tension off the forearms. However, if you do this, give your forearms some direct work afterwards to strengthen them. In time you’ll be able to work your bi’s without any forearm trouble at all.
@Pine. This is the first I’ve heard of it! No-one told me I was going to be in Ironman magazine. This is unexpected to be honest. I guess that was in the small print when I agreed to write some articles for bodybuilding.com. Is it the carb-cycling diet article? I hope they included the whole article where I mention all the other authors who deserve credit for popularizing this way of eating, otherwise some people are going to think that I’m taking credit for inventing carb-cycling. Anyway, thanks for letting me know.
mark,thanks for being honestSadly many arent!!Once again thanks !! 🙂