Many serious lifters think that when they are “off” supplements the hard work they do on their physiques will be wasted. The opposite is true: when your body is exposed to exogenous substances such as supplements, alcohol, drugs, etc., it builds a tolerance. This tolerance obliges us to use more and more of the product to get the desired results. Supplement cycling is a process where you use a supplement for a while, then stop, then go back to using it. The idea is that if you give your body a constant source of a substance – it may eventually get lazy and stop making the substance. An athlete’s natural tendency is to look for an “edge” or supplements that can boost performance and decrease fatigue, once he or she reaches a certain peak level or plateau.
Supplements are near mandatory in the bodybuilding world. Nowadays almost everyone is using creatine, and it has become a key landmark. You also need to take a good multivitamin. But remember; even though there are plenty ready to drink shakes and other convenient supplements available, they will never take the place of actual food. Supplements are so key that United States Congress was obliged to recognize this truth and support nutritional supplements in a big way to make sure they stayed freely available to the public.
Our body is full of receptors which have the ability to bind to specific receptor agonists and antagonists. Receptor agonists activate the receptors while antagonists do the exact opposite. So the more receptors you flood over the time, the more they become desensitized. This can lead to receptor burnout which can cause a myriad problems. This is where cycling the supplements comes in.
You should take the smallest amount of Creatine that results in a positive gain. For the typical person 5 grams of Creatine powder is the correct quantity. Creatine is one of the most popular sports supplements in the industry today. Because it works. Many articles which suggests creatine’s effectiveness and not one which suggests that creatine is detrimental to the human body. However, all of the articles I have read involve the use of 20 grams of creatine utilizing a one month on, X amount of time off system. So the subjects all took 20 grams of creatine in divided doses throughout the day for an entire month and then took some time off. The time varied from study to study but for the sake of receptor attenuation, I would take at least 2 weeks off. If you’ve ever tried creatine, then you will know how quickly you can make gains when you first introduce it to your system. These gains began to diminish over time because your body simply got accustomed to the creatine. Now if you would “cycle” creatine, so to speak, then theoretically, you could make gains similar to the ones you made when you initially began creatine intake.
-Week 1: load (20 g/day)
-Week 2-4: maintenance (10 g/day)
-Week 5: load (20 g/day)
-Week 6-8: OFF
Now you may cycle your creatine differently and if this different method works for you, then stick with it until it stops working.
Cycling Thermogenics/Fat Burners
The first time I took a thermogenic, I remember feeling this alertness which I have never felt before. What an amazing supplement, or so I thought at the time. If you don’t know, thermogenics drain the adrenal glands. The more you use it, the more burned out your adrenals become. It’s as simple as that. Now if you’re wondering if your adrenals are burned out, there is an easy way to find out. If you get headaches and feel extremely lethargic when you’re not taking thermogenics, then your adrenals are burned out.
To assist your adrenals in recovery by eliminating all stimulants from your supplement stack. This includes ephedra, caffeine, etc. Now you should take a lot of Vitamin B5. First few days are always the hardest because you will feel the urge to take thermogenics but you must resist. Do this for a few weeks to repair your adrenals so that the next time you get on thermogenics, you can maximize your gains. In order to keep your receptors from desensitizing, you need to cycle thermogenics. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that the best way to take stimulants is to do sporadically. Here is an effective way to take any thermogenic and to keep your adrenals from burning out:
-2-4 thermogenic tabs on training days for 4-6 weeks and then take 2 weeks off from all stimulants.
Supplements That You Don’t Need To Cycle
-Protein- fortunately for bodybuilders, is one of those things which doesn’t need to be cycled. You can consume protein to your liking but experts suggest anywhere from 1-2 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight in order to maximize muscle gains. I try to consume about 1.5 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight because the latter is difficult to do if you want to have something of a life outside of training and eating.
-Glutamine – though this supplement is extremely important, it does not need cycling.
-Multivitamins and Antioxidants – taking these year round can only benefit you. Most of us cannot get enough of the vitamins and minerals just from the food we eat and a supplement is the best way to overcome this.
In my opinion you should cycle most of the supplements you take and get natural food nutrients. Even if a supplements doesn’t need to be cycled its still never going to beat real food. Good Luck . Train Hard and Supplement Smart.