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Zinc is one of the most common minerals that many athletes, fitness enthusiasts and weightlifters are missing in their diet, so they're missing out on a host of muscle benefits. For example, zinc increases muscle strength and performance, is involved with protein synthesis -- which also helps with muscle size and strength -- and can help maintain or increase testosterone levels for even further muscle development. When combined with a workout routine, this essential mineral may be the missing step to your muscle-gaining goals.
Take 50 mg of zinc citrate every morning with your breakfast, as this specific form and dosage of the mineral improves muscle gains by increasing testosterone levels. By taking it in the morning, you ensure it's fully absorbed and in your system before you hit the gym.
Take a ZMA supplement every evening after you work out. ZMA is a popular over-the-counter vitamin supplement that combines zinc, magnesium aspartate and vitamin B6. When this form of zinc is combined with the other two nutrients and taken in the evening after you've gone to the gym, it reduces post-workout muscle breakdown, increases recovery and balances your hormones for better performance. In a Western Washington University exercise study, athletes who took ZMA every night experienced 2.5 times more muscle gains over an eight-week period than athletes on a non-ZMA placebo.
Add zinc-rich whole foods to your diet, as such foods don't just deliver zinc to your system but also complement it with a wide range of other muscle-building nutrients such as amino acids, vitamins and protein. Some of the best testosterone-boosting, zinc-rich foods include beef, dark chicken meat, wheat germ and oysters.
Exercise two to three times a week. Zinc alone won't cause muscle gains, but it is a critical support nutrient to enhance your existing workout routine and improve muscle size and strength results. When training, no matter what the specific exercise movement is, aim for three to six sets of eight to 12 repetitions if you want better muscle size, or three to six sets of five to six reps if you want better strength. The weights should be heavy enough that you can't go beyond the recommended number of reps.
- Always talk to your doctor before adding supplements to your lifestyle or before starting a new workout routine.