The news pretty much changes our whole understanding of how and when we grow. It begins with the word plateau, something every weightlifter knows well. Also known as “hitting the wall”, it is that dreaded point in your training where muscle and strength gains have stagnated. You continue to put the effort in. But as the weeks go on, you only maintain your physique. Our normal reaction is to blame the program. Are you lifting hard enough, or consuming enough protein and calories? While these are common issues, they are not always the reason. According to a new study, something completely different could be at work. Your ability to continue gaining size and strength could hinge on the availability of a specific nutrient in your muscles: arachidonic acid (ARA).
Arachidonic acid is a fatty acid from the omega-6 family. It is found throughout our bodies, though is richly stored in our muscle cells. As emerging research explains, it is not here by chance. It is needed for muscle growth. Its activity begins when our muscle membranes are disturbed from training. This liberates ARA, which is then used to form signaling molecules called prostaglandins. These turn on protein synthesis, and facilitates local tissue repair (growth). Other anabolic hormones come in later to also support the process, including testosterone and insulin. But the research makes clear ARA is still central to it. This begs the obvious question. What if we supplemented ARA? What if our muscles had a little more? This is the question asked of our latest study.
PLOS ONE Study
Researchers at Auburn University and the University of Tampa recently examined the potential anabolic effects of ARA. As part of the investigation, they gave a group of experienced weightlifters the patented arachidonic acid supplement ARASYN™, which is found in X-FACTOR™. The men took 6 capsules per day (1,500mg) or an identical-looking placebo, and underwent a monitored weightlifting program. The program was designed to mimic real world conditions of plateau for experienced lifters, where training has become more routine, and gains incremental. Measures were taken of body composition, strength, and muscle power at the start of the study, as well as its conclusion after 8 weeks.
The results of this study were concise and clear. The experienced weightlifters taking placebo remained in a training plateau. Their progress was minor, and largely insignificant. The subjects taking arachidonic acid, on the other hand, broke through the training stagnation. They were the only group to report significant progress on measures of Lean Body Mass (LBM), Upper Body (Bench Press) Strength, and Peak Anaerobic Power. The men actually gained about 4 pounds of solid muscle, nearly a half a pound per week. These results were striking, and also unique among sport supplements. No other natural supplement has been shown to break plateau in experienced lifters like this.
The full text of the PLOS ONE paper can be accessed here.