Best beginner stack for lean gains.

When it comes to putting together a stack it is important to look at what your ultimate goal is and for the purpose of this article that goal is lean gains.

Once your diet is in check and you have a solid weight training plan at your disposal the next step is to put together the weapons in your supplement arsenal. Personally, I like to keep things simple, especially when it comes to designing a stack for beginners.
These basics include:

-Multivitamin and fish oils
-Whey Protein

In order to gain weight and build muscle your body needs to be in a calorie surplus, meaning you are eating more calories than your body is using. However if this surplus is too great, your body will put on more fat than you want. So, the trick is to find your maintenance calories - the amount of calories in which you neither gain nor drop weight - this is found by calculating your BMR. Then increase your calories by 200-300 and you should be right on the money for an accurate calorie surplus. Now that your body is adequately fuelled, its time to add in your supplements.

We start off with the most important, and that in my opinion is your multivitamin and fish oils. Without the correct micronutrients circulating in your body, it will not function optimally and therefore will not recover or perform at its best. This should be taken at least once a day with breakfast. The EPA and DHA (eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid) content of fish oils is what makes them so beneficial and important. These two acids are responsible for a plethora of actions throughout your body including reducing inflammation, reducing joint pain, healing joints and ligaments, various functions throughout your metabolism as well as actually having strong anabolic properties.

Next is your whey protein, or a vegan protein blend for plant-based dieters. Whey protein does contain much higher concentrations of leucine and BCAAs which make it a much better choice for stimulating muscle protein synthesis, so I would suggest opting for this.  Your protein target for the day should be at least 2g protein/kg of bodyweight thus protein supplements are hugely beneficial in ensuring you hit your macro nutrient goals for the day. Ideally have at least 2 servings a day, 1 being immediately post workout - as it is very fast digesting and it’s important to get nutrients to our fatigued muscle as fast as possible. (Any more than 1 serving immediately post workout has been shown to have little to no extra effect than that of a single serving so rather split your doses up.) A second serving should be taken somewhere throughout the day in between 2 meals. This will ensure you turn your ‘mTOR’ process on (Muscle protein synthesis), your body will remain in an anabolic state constantly and you will increase your recovery rate as well as muscle growth.

The third supplement necessary to have in your stack is creatine - which is the most studied sports supplement of all time. The benefits of creatine are near endless and it can be seen as one of the most beneficial supplements to add to your protocol. The biggest benefit that comes with creatine is once digested and absorbed, it forces the conversion of ADP (adenosine di-phosphate, used energy) back to ATP (adenosine tri-phosphate, unused energy) in the muscle cell. In short it increases your energy supply during a workout before your body has to break down amino acids and blood sugar for energy. It also helps hugely with cell volumization and hydration, remember a hydrated muscle cell is a happy cell! This will improve your muscle function throughout your workout, allowing you to train harder for longer, as well as improving your nutrient uptake and recovery within the muscle. You do not need more than 5g a day, every day, of pure creatine monohydrate. This should be taken around your workout with a simple carbohydrate, as it is much better absorbed in the presence of a slight insulin spike.

Finally, we look at BCAAs. Branched chain amino acids are hugely beneficial whether you are trying to lean out or gain muscle. They prevent the breakdown of muscle tissue, while leucine (one of the 3 different BCAAs) is mainly responsible for the stimulation of your ‘mTOR’ (mammalian target of rapamycin) response which stimulates muscle protein synthesis. Without mTOR, building muscle becomes impossible. This is hugely important, especially around your workout. I would suggest sipping on BCAAs during your workout to start with and then adding another serving in during the day or before meals to increase the total leucine you are getting in throughout the day.

Your gains come down to your diet and how close your calories are to your BMR, however, incorporating a stack that is supplementing your diet with components you cannot get from food, like I have explained above, becomes hugely beneficial in providing the edge to your total approach to training!


-Dev Corke
Online Coach and Personal Trainer
Dev Corke Athletics
076 502 7825