Just two days prior to this writing, I was at the gym and noticed something I’ve occasionally seen over the years. It was a gym member who displayed numerous tell-tale signs of using steroids (nothing unusual about that). However, what was interesting is that he possessed significantly less muscle mass than many natural trainees (including myself). And while I don’t pretend to know the bodybuilding goals of fellow gym-goers whom I’ve never met, it is worth noting that any person willing to spend the money for and tolerate the side-effects of steroids is likely trying to ‘build body mass’ and strength as quickly and extensively as possible.
So what’s my point?
It’s to underline the salience of something I heard years ago: Even steroid-users can over-train. Even those relying on pharmaceuticals to pick up the slack for all their bodybuilding miscalculations can experience stalled progress in their quest to ‘build body mass.’ So if those using powerful drugs to augment their bodybuilding progress fail to optimize results through smart training – where does that leave the rest of us? It should leave us with the realization that if we train naturally, we’ll need to apply even more attention-to-detail if we want to get anywhere.
'Does Mustard Build Muscle?' As far-fetched as this notion is, those struggling with ineffective muscle building routines will probably not see the yellow substance the same way as before.
Despite this bodybuilding truth, millions of physique improvers train haphazardly while waiting anxiously for a natural supplement that will significantly bolster their attempts to ‘build body mass.’ They jump at nearly any glimmer of light; snatching up the latest herb or biochemical extraction appearing on the market with studies that “prove” its effectiveness on anabolism. And while I’d welcome a healthy supplement that accelerates inter-workout recuperation, I temper anticipation of one with the following bit of wisdom:
‘No supplement proven to help ‘build body mass’ can override the negative effects of bad training practices.’
Do you feel a knee-jerk objection to that? If so, think of what we’ve just gone over – the phenomenon of steroid-users not always having impressive development. If protein synthesis-enhancing drugs don’t always override poor training practices, imagine where that leaves a natural alternative in the same circumstance. To put it bluntly: flushed down the toilet.
‘Build Body Mass’: Does homobrassinolide build muscle?
The latest buzz in the world of possible muscle building ergogenics is mustard. Yes… we’re talking about that pungently flavored yellow stuff that’s so tastily dowsed on a hotdog at a baseball game (at least that’s where I’ve eaten a lot of it). I guess we never realized how ‘anabolic’ we’ve been acting while in such a seemingly “un-anabolic” state – witnessing others engaged in athletic performance. Joking aside, those wanting a boost in their quest to ‘build body mass’ likely want to know: “Does mustard build muscle?”
Evidence that it does comes from a recent rodent test. A study done by researchers at the University of North Carolina and published in FASEB showed that rats that were given a daily dose of homobrassinolide (a brassinosteroid found in mustard greens) experienced the following effects as compared to a control group:
- Increased muscle mass
- Increased size and number of muscle fibers
- Increased appetite
- Improved physical performance
- Minimal or no ‘androgenic side effects’
Wow… should I reach for the squeezable mustard bottle or just scoop it out of a jar with a spoon? Haha… just kidding.
The first thing I wonder when reading about a research study like this is what gave these guys the idea to run the experiment in the first place. When thinking of all the things one could force-feed a rat to find out if it will ‘build body mass’, what leads to the idea of mustard plant extracts? Was it oozing out of one of the researcher’s lunch sandwiches one day and he said “Hey… let’s test this stuff?”
Maybe it’s because brassinosteroid is a known plant hormone. They’re a class of polyhydroxysteroid that regulate plant growth. I guess researchers figured if these work for the biosynthesis of plants, they might work for the protein synthesis of mammals. Regardless, they reported that the rats that were given it got kind of “yoked” (my word choice), with increases in both overall body weight and lean body mass. As mentioned in the study’s abstract, an average 6.7% strength increase occurred in the rat’s lower bodies as evidenced by grip strength. Also, muscle fibers (types l, lla, and llb) increased in the gastrocnemius (calf muscles). Wow… and I wasn’t even aware that rats have calves.
Based on the study’s abstract, I can’t determine how much lean body mass the rats gained, which is the only thing that should matter to bodybuilders and athletes aiming to ‘build body mass.’ This seems especially important given the study’s findings of increased appetite and overall weight. Let’s face it – if the biggest difference homobrassinolide made to the rats was to increase their hunger and turn them into lard-asses that couldn’t outrun a starving fox; then who needs it?
‘Build Body Mass’: Does Mustard Build Muscle? A lot of it… Maybe
Another factor worth noting about the study published in FASEB is the dosage of mustard plant extract that the rodents received. The study abstract says the rats got up to 60 mg. per kilogram of bodyweight per day for 24 days. Let’s just convert that over to the equivalent of what a 160 pound human would need to take.
160/2.2 = 72.8
72.8 x 60 = 4,368
That’s over four grams (about 4.4g.) of brassinosteroid per day for a human; quite a hefty amount. One has to wonder about costs and possible side effects at such a dosage. I guess we’ll have to wait for the human tests to know of any side effects. Funny… even if rats get a bit dizzy from too much plant steroid, they’re not very communicative about it.
If nothing else, when we see cheesy internet ads (like the ones for Force Factor) presenting products with significantly less brassinosteroid per dosage than this, we’ll know to call the company and say the following:
“C’mon guys… I get more friggin’ brassinosteroid on my hotdog down at the stadium. What’s up with that?”
This assumes, of course, that the plant steroid is included as part of the extract that ends up in the condiment jar. Regardless, it’s fun to joke about… right?
Cautious Optimism with an Eye on the Stricken
We athletes, bodybuilders, and underweight guys tend to view these things with a bit of self-centeredness. What might be of most significance is not just the potential for brassinosteroid to ‘build body mass’, but to prevent its reduction and wasting among those with muscle wasting diseases. After all, it’s those individuals who can’t prevent degenerative muscle loss with the simple discipline of bodybuilding workouts coupled with good protein, carbohydrate, vitamin, and mineral intake.
And for those of you who can’t wait for definitive evidence answering the question “does mustard build muscle”, exercise wisdom along with your muscles if someone releases a brassinosteroid product on the marketplace. Keep in mind that university studies are invariably funded by people with a biased interest in their results. Also, remember that even potent drugs don’t compensate for ineffective training techniques.
In other words, exercise cautious optimism while continuing to make gains through smart training.