If you’re like most bodybuilders, know exactly what it’s like to push your body to the edge. Lets face it… it’s impossible to build muscle unless you’re willing to put in high-quality time in the weight room, finding out where your muscles fail, and pushing yourself beyond that to grow and improve. And now that prohormones are all but banned, you must rely on other supplements to help muscle growth.

So what exactly maximizes muscle growth without entering the “prohormone” zone? In this article, you’ll find five ways to do exactly that.

1. Nitric oxide supplements. Nitric oxide is a fairly simple gas – just one molecule nitrogen and one molecule oxygen – but the ramifications it has on the body are complex. According to BodyBuilding.com, citing a 1996 study, nitric oxide (NO) effects many parts of the body, including vital organs like your heart, your lungs, and your liver.

What makes NO so great? Some believe that nitric oxide helps improve or increase blood flow, which subsequently helps you to deliver more nutrients to your muscles. You can imagine the impact this would have on your recovery time, as your muscles receive more nutrients. Patients with chronic illnesses such as hypertension and diabetes have shown to have restricted NO pathways.

muscle growth2. Including protein at every meal. Your muscles are made of protein, so if you’re doing a lot of heavy lifting, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that you’ll need to eat a lot of protein to replace what you’ve lost, as well as build upon what you already have. There are plenty of places to find protein, including meat, eggs, and nuts. If you want to have the protein without the fat, egg whites are a good friend to the aspiring bodybuilder.

You can expect to get about 3.5 grams of protein per each egg white (meaning each egg) without the fat of the egg yolk.

3. Pushing your muscles to failure. You won’t find a shortcut to building muscle unless you want to do some unethical things that can have bad side-effects on your body. If you want to build muscle, then you need to give your body the impetus to build them up stronger, and you only do this by exercising them. This will involve a lot of sweat, but as Thomas Edison said, genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. If you aren’t pushing your muscles to the point where you can’t do another rep, then there’s a chance you aren’t getting the most out of your muscle-building workouts.

4. Get plenty of sleep. Although it’s tempting to look at hard work and believe that it’s the only key to building muscle, you can’t ignore your body’s methods of replenishing itself. In fact, when your body is improving itself, the best thing you can do is simply get out of the way and let it happen. There’s no greater vehicle for this than sleep.

When you’re asleep, a lot of regenerative things happen in your body, including the building of muscle. You have to sleep anyway, so make sure you’re getting the most out of it and don’t keep pushing yourself to wake up at earlier and earlier hours. Instead, indulge your body’s need to sleep. If you’re working out hard enough, falling asleep should be easy anyway!
But don’t get too much sleep, either. As Time Magazine noted in a 2008 article, “How Much Sleep Do You Need?” people who get 6.5 to 7.5 hours of sleep every night live the longest, and oversleeping may be just as bad as undersleeping.

5. Reward yourself. Maximizing muscle growth is hard work, so if you don’t reward yourself every once in a while, it’s easy to become burned out. Many trainers recommend having a cheat day or a cheat meal every week. After all, you can’t very well maximize your muscle growth if simply give up after burning out!