What Does Stack Mean in Bodybuilding?

Many bodybuilding terms refer not just to competition preparation or workouts, but to the supplements used in the sport as well. A commonly used bodybuilding term is "stack," which refers to sports nutrition supplements. Consult a doctor before using any supplements.

A male bodybuilder curling a dumbbell.
Credit: Petr_Joura/iStock/Getty Images

Definition of Stack

A bodybuilding stack is a group of supplements used to enhance performance. Stacks feature products with different intended purposes that work together to enhance energy, endurance and recovery. To cover all of these bases, stacks typically comprise a pre-workout product, an intra-workout product and a post-workout product.

Pre-Workout Products

Pre-workout products are designed to provide energy for your workout. Typically, pre-workout products contain stimulants such as caffeine; many contain creatine. According to research published in the January 2003 issue of the "Journal of Gerontology," creatine use may increase your strength and improve muscle gain when combined with resistance training.

Intra-Workout Products

The second component of many bodybuilding stacks is an intra-workout product. These products, in powdered form that can be mixed with water, are to be taken during your workout. The main ingredient of intra-workout supplements is usually branched-chain amino acids. According to a study from the March 2011 issue of the "Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness," using branched-chain amino acids during exercise sessions can increase your exercise capacity and increase the use of fat for energy.

Post-Workout Products

Post-workout products help refuel your body after exercise. Because resistance training breaks down your muscles, supplementation is used to promote muscle growth and recovery. To perform these tasks, post-workout products in bodybuilding stacks contain protein and carbohydrates. Research from the August 2001 issue of the "Journal of Physiology" found that consumption of a protein and carbohydrate supplement following exercise enhanced muscle growth.

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