Are You Ready? (cont.)

Muscles in a Bottle

    Photo: Dan Winters

THE FUTURE The day may be coming when athletes can reach NFL-linebacker size without pumping iron. Last year, Duke University and University of Texas researchers developed mice genetically modified to produce greater levels of calcium/calmodulin-dependent protein kinases, or CaMKs, which trigger the production of mitochondria, the muscle-building powerhouses in cells. (Strength training does the same thing.) With an excess of CaMKs, an athlete could improve his endurance and increase strength significantly without serving time in the weight room.

WHAT'S IN IT FOR YOU If you're honest, nothing. Outside of a doctor's prescription to help you recover from a degenerative muscle condition, there's no reason you need more CaMKs to boost your power. But CaMK abuse is inevitable. Harvey Newton, 55, former coach of the U.S. Olympic weight-lifting team, says, "Athletes looking for an illegal extra edge will be running down to their local rat lab trying to find this stuff."

UNTIL THEN The best route to strength is creatine, an amino-acid supplement, combined with a workout program rich in iron (the kind you lift). "The harder you train consistently, the faster you'll improve," says Newton. "Creatine allows you to recover quickly and train harder."

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