ZMA, also known as Zinc l-monomethionine aspartate is a mix of 30mg of Zinc, 450mg of Magnesium and 10.5mg of Vitamin B6. It’s recommended use is as a supplement to help replenish the body with these minerals following training.
It’s recommended for those whom are after: an improved rate of recovery, reduce the risk of over-training, an improvement in athletic performance and an increase in muscle size and mass.
The key advantages of supplementing with ZMA is that:
- It significantly increases the levels of free testosterone flowing throughout the body
- Prevents IGF-1 (Insulin growth factor) levels from decreasing during intense training by preventing the depletion of the key minerals
- Increases strength gains
- Reduces muscle cramps which helps reduce the risks associated with over-training
- Improves recovery time
The aforementioned combination of minerals was specifically developed and demonstrated for the prevention of the testosterone drop following intense training.
In 1991 a randomised control trial was undergone to try and establish the effects of ZMA on testosterone levels and IGF-1 levels on football players. They found that the ZMA cohort had an increase of 33.5% in free testosterone and a 32.4% increase in total testosterone levels, whereas there was a decrease in testosterone levels in the placebo group which were not using ZMA. The ZMA group also showed an increase of 3.6% in the levels of IGF-1 (Insulin Growth Factor 1) levels where as they decreased by 21.5% in the placebo group. The difference between these sets of results demonstrates a significant difference between both the placebo group and those whom were on ZMA supplementation.
These hormonal changes had a positive effect on the footballers athletic performance whereby the ZMA group had an 11.6% increase strength following an 8 week period of supplementation. These gains were much greater than those experienced by the group whom were not using ZMA. It’s this positive hormonal effect that makes ZMA such a favourable supplement amongst athletes since it’s capable of improving the recovery between sessions and reducing the risks of over-training.
It must also be noted that ZMA also has a positive effect on low mood helping alleviate it. Low mood is a common side effect associated with over-training and heavy training sessions.
One important key point to note is that in order to get the aforementioned benefits of ZMA it has to be in the same doses that were mentioned in the start of the article in order to reproduce the results found within the original research.
It’s best to take one tablet per day just before going to sleep on an empty stomach for maximal results.
1- Brilla, L. R. and Conte, V. (1999) A novel zinc and magnesium formulation (ZMA) increases anabolic hormones and strength in athletes. Medicine and Science in sports and Exercise, 31, 483.