top of page

Intra workout carbs - a key component to growth

Mark Cowles

Over the last 8 years, a nutritional strategy that has helped me develop my physique, is intra workout carbohydrates.

Just like so many of you, I've tried all the mass building plans under the sun. Some worked for quite a while (few months), others worked for only a short while (a matter of weeks). By working, I refer to being able to increase mass with minimal body fat increase. I'd even foolishly tried to build muscle on a low carb diet - see I told you I'd tried everything! Now it was actually at the time of the low carb diet that I had a little brain wave. What if I was to follow low carb but only have carbs close to my workout when I was burning up the fuel. The energy my body requires to do the type of workouts I was doing was carbs, so why not use them. I like high volume workouts, so this was a no brainer in my mind. At the same time I read something from Ben Pakulski, it was about using carbs later into the workout.

I tried adding them in 30 minutes into my workout (only 20 g to start with), and noticed an increase in energy immediately. So I tracked by body composition over the course of 6 weeks, slowly increasing my carbs intra (half way through the workout), and then in my post workout meal. Hey presto, lean mass increased and no body fat. I had lots on energy, amazing pumps, recovered better and I had fuller muscles.

This got me really excited, so over the last 4 years I've continued to play with it and have had some awesome results. So much so that I use the strategy with almost everyone that I train. You can see from my results that they've done pretty well.

I've played around with everything intra workout from fruit juice, to maltodextrin, to dextrose and virago. However the one thing I just couldn't get away from, was a heavy feeling during training, an energy dip as I started to increase the amount of carbs, and I was also quite bloated. Refusing to be beaten because I was actually feeling better during training than I had done in years, and I was gaining lean mass, I started to do some more research.

It wasn't until I read some articles by John Meadows that I started using branched cyclic dextrin. I had finally found the carb source that was going to get rid of any bloat, would not cause energy dips, and was going to be the key behind my increase in mass of over 23 kg.

What are the key things I noticed about using intra workout carbs:

1. They increase my recovery between sets and therefore I can train harder. They also increase my capacity to train longer. I like to work between heavy sets early into the workout, but drive volume later into the session with sets of high reps towards the end.

2. They increase my recovery in between sessions. DOMS take a shorter amount of time to disappear, and I feel more recovered day to day. If I can recover well I can train certain body parts more frequently. Frequency has been key to my development of weak body parts.

3. My pumps are insane, who doesn't enjoy a good pump. The pump has also been shown to be a mechanism of hypertrophy, so the more I can get the more I can grow.

4. I get no bloat now that I use branched chain cyclic dextrin. One tip I will say is that you should use half a litre of water per 50 g of carbs. If I can train hard and handle a lot of carbs intra, I gain mass but stay lean.

5. By also using certain formulations, I also stay well hydrated. This is key to training hard. Some carb sources actually made me feed dehydrated and I had to have water with me at the same time as the carb solution. Don't forget hydration is key.

6. I can consume most of my carbs intra and post, and therefore can support insulin management by keeping most of my remaining meals throughout the day lower carb. Some of my meals aren't zero carb completely, but I require a lot less as most is consumed around my workout.

So there you have it, my key nutritional strategy for gaining quality lean mass whilst remaining lean.

58 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


Post: Blog2_Post
bottom of page