The Bracketing Method

The Bracketing Method is something I’m truly excited about. It’s a simple technique that’s easy to follow, yet produces incredible results. In fact, I’d say it’s by far the simplest and most effective strategy a bodybuilder can utilize for packing on lean mass.

That’s a big call, I know. I’ll present the science that reveals The Bracketing Method’s potential, but I’ll also show you, this technique is incredibly easy and straight forward to implement. Basically, the Bracketing Method works so well because it ensures the right nutrients are delivered at precisely the right time to create a natural synergy within the body’s own muscle building mechanisms to amplify the anabolic response to intense training. The Bracketing Method intensifies the anabolic response of each and every bodybuilding workout.

The bodybuilding research behind the Bracketing Method . . .

Right now is a very exciting time for drug-free athletes. The reason is that scientists have not only made outstanding progress, we’ve made friggin’ quantum leaps in our understanding of how to build muscle and enhance results from training – without the need for drugs. The Bracketing Method is one of the fruits of this applied research.

To feel some of the excitement I’m feeling, you must understand where I’m coming from. Years ago, as a strength and conditioning specialist, I worked with a lot of athletes and I knew these athletes needed supplementation to get results. To build muscle I knew supplementation with quality proteins and carbohydrates close to the workout period would enhance results dramatically, but the scientific evidence at the time just wasn’t there.

I argued with nutritionists everywhere who kept telling me that protein supplements aren’t necessary, that athletes can meet their protein needs from food and that supplements are not effective and are an expensive waste of money.

Thanks to some cutting-edge research methodology, evidence of the powerful biochemical and physiological effects of supplementation started to filter through the literature in the late 1990s. Using unique amino acid-tracer techniques, scientists can now “label” an amino acid and track its fate throughout the body and see where the protein ends up – as muscle protein or in the toilet. This research involved supplementation directly after weight lifting exercise and revealed muscle’s amazing anabolic response to this simple timing procedure.

Research from scientists at the University of Texas Medical Branch revealed that weight training dramatically stimulated muscle protein synthesis rates and also accelerated protein breakdown. Without the correct nutritional intervention, a zero net gain in muscle mass was probably going to be the result from weight training[1,5]. Bodybuilders can thank these scientists for providing many of the important breakthroughs about the benefits of protein supplementation for muscle growth.

The Texan scientists then demonstrated that the presence of a high level of amino acids (the building blocks of muscle protein) in the blood (via IV infusion) increased the muscle growth response of resistance training by around 100%.[2]

The next important breakthrough was that oral protein supplementation (as amino acids) was just as effective as IV infusions for stimulating muscle protein synthesis rates after intense weight training.[7] This finding was extremely important. It meant that if an athlete chugged down a bunch of amino acids then these proteins would get to the working muscle and stimulate muscle growth dramatically.

Once aspect was becoming very clear, the timing issue seemed to be critical. Making sure the right nutrients were in the blood directly after resistance training seemed all important to promoting a potent anabolic response.

The right muscle fuel . . .

Because of its short duration, a lot of exercise scientists and nutritionists think that bodybuilding training does not deplete muscle of its valuable fuel source, muscle glycogen. They are wrong. A single bout of intense weight training is more than enough to significantly deplete muscle glycogen stores.[9] Muscle glycogen is the primary fuel of intense training. Restoring these energy reserves is a key component of recovery and deriving gains from future training sessions. To effectively restore muscle glycogen levels bodybuilders have to get their immediate post-workout nutrition correct.

Bowtell and colleagues have shown that glucose is the better choice of carbohydrate to consume after exercise as it promotes more rapid restoration of muscle glycogen levels than other carbohydrates[10]. When taken immediately after weight training, a dose of glucose (1 gram/kg body weight) was highly effective in preventing muscle breakdown and providing a more positive protein balance in a group of bodybuilders.[8,9]

This strategic dose of glucose also helped to increase the glycogen content of the bodybuilders’ muscles to levels higher than seen before training. The fact that slamming down a glucose-based drink after training could provide all these muscle building benefits was a pretty cool finding.

The potent effects of timing your supplementation . . .

So far, the researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch had showed that weight training dramatically stimulates muscle protein synthesis rates (50% above resting levels).[5] The addition of a protein supplement accelerated these rates even further (up to 100% better).[7] Then these scientists demonstrated that supplementing with the essential amino acids and 35 grams of glucose stimulated muscle building rates by up to 400%![13] This is triple resting rates and the highest muscle protein synthesis rates ever recorded.

However, probably even more important was the finding in another study by these scientists that the same supplement combination caused a response just as potent if taken just before a workout.[12]

Since then, the advantages of post-workout protein/carbohydrate supplementation have come flooding through. Consuming a protein/carbohydrate supplement immediately after training restores insulin levels, increases muscle protein and glycogen content, amplifies the anabolic response of resistance training.[3,4, 11-15]

This year Tipton and colleagues confirmed that bracketing your training with dose of essential amino acids before and after resistance training will ensure a direct increase in muscle protein for the rest of the day.[15] If performed every training session, the results are sure to accumulate to form slabs of new, lean muscle.

From all this research, it seems as though bodybuilders have two unique opportunities to receive a potent muscle building effect from supplementation that will lead directly to gains in muscle mass. The first is just before training and the second is soon after.

The added benefit of Micronized Creatine . . .

The powerful effects of creatine supplementation on muscle growth are well documented. Athletes who use creatine grow bigger, stronger muscles than those who don’t.[19] If we look to the limited research on creatine supplement timing, it shows us that consuming creatine with carbohydrates directly after exercise results in better muscle uptake and higher total muscle creatine and muscle glycogen levels[16-18].

Therefore, to obtain the maximal growth effect possible from resistance training, the timing of the intake of certain nutrients, such as glucose, rapidly absorbing protein and creatine, seems all important, and this evidence has become more compelling as time progresses.

What is the Bracketing Method?

The Bracketing Method involves taking one serving of Creatine HSC with one serving of VP2 Whey Isolate in 15 ounces of ice-cold water, immediately before and after training. A scoop of Creatine HSC provides 5-grams of micronized creatine and 34-grams of carbs and is an excellent pre and post workout supplement. Some bodybuilders who are bigger, leaner or have faster metabolisms will derive even greater benefit from increasing the dose of glucose used. Positive effects from D-glucose intake during weight training involve doses of around 1-gram per kilogram of body weight. Some research has followed this dose with another 1-hour after training and this completely restored muscle glycogen levels.

In fact, the effect of D-glucose consumption within the training period seems to exert such potent anabolic effects, I strongly suspect that most lean bodybuilders that restrict their carbohydrate intake would obtain even greater anabolic effects from their training if they increased there carbohydrate intake during this period.

Don’t forget to add Glutamine . . .

Don’t let any supplement marketer bluff you into neglecting glutamine in favor of some new fad supplement. For over a decade we’ve known muscle cell building mechanisms are absolutely governed by the amount of glutamine held with the cell.[29] A 10-15 gram serving of GL-3 Glutamine will ensure greater muscle glycogen synthesis, increased cell volume and help prevent immune suppression that is witnessed with intense training.[30-32]

Why the Bracketing Method is so effective?

The Bracketing Method embraces all the positive findings on supplementation research to ignite one powerful anabolic response from training. D-glucose taken at this time exerts a direct anabolic effect.[8,9] By supplementing with Creatine HSC and DGC a strategic dose of glucose combined with the Hyper Saturation Complex facilitates rapid blood glucose and insulin restoration, this is essential to igniting muscle protein synthesis rates.[4] As well as ensuring maximum creatine accumulation in muscle.[16-18]

Remember that virtually all the benefits of protein supplementation shown in research involved supplementation with pure amino acid mixtures.[2,7,12,13,15] However, it is impractical and far too expensive for bodybuilders to consume large amounts of pure, individual amino acids on a daily basis. There is a more effective way to deliver large amounts of the right amino acids directly to muscle.[20-22]

Rapid protein absorption is what we are after in the hours surrounding training, and the protein that fits the bill perfectly here are whey oligopeptides. Some protein scientists call whey oligopeptides bio-active peptides.[23,28] Not only are these proteins used directly in the formation and optimal functioning of antigens, hormones and growth-factors within the body, they are also absorbed faster and more effectively via different mechanisms to other high quality proteins.[20-22]

Muscle metabolism research on whey oligopeptides shows these unique peptides provide greater stimulation of protein synthesis, improved muscle anabolism (increased nitrogen retention and lowered ureagenesis) and superior gains in lean body weight to other proteins. In fact, they delivered double the gains seen with whole proteins and were seven times more effective than free form amino acids. [22]

To be honest, the entire reason I developed the Bracketing Method was because of the uniqueness of VP2 Whey Isolate. VP2’s potent benefits on muscle metabolism are fast emerging from science.[24-27] VP2 is the only fully hydrolyzed whey protein in existence that is a 100% oligopeptide formulation. Therefore, the capability of VP2 Whey Isolate to literally flood the blood stream with growth stimulating amino acids and trigger an anabolic response is unique to any other protein supplement. The Bracketing Method works so incredibly well at stacking on lean muscle mass simply because VP2’s digestion and absorption capability is unique. I guarantee if you attempt the Bracketing Method with any other protein supplement, all you’ll get is nauseous!

Don’t be fooled in your selection of protein for this crucial pre and post training period. All protein supplements are not the same.[24] A NASCAR and the family sedan are both automobiles, but you would definitely not call them the same type of car.

The bottom line . . .

By bracketing your weight training sessions with DGC, Creatine HSC, VP2 Whey Isolate and GL3 L-Glutamine will amplify the anabolic stimulus of each and every workout. Literally, a ton of scientific evidence reveals the potential of the Bracketing Method but, most important, this strategy produces real results that bodybuilders can see and feel. The impact of this simple supplement timing procedure on muscle metabolism cannot be underestimated. It will not only amplify the anabolic stimulus, it may actually speed the recovery/adaptation process.

The Bracketing Method is a simple, straightforward concept that produces amazing results. With all the outrageous yet completely unfounded claims that are made in the marketing of “new” supplements, it’s easy to forget that the simple ideas that are often the best.

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