Soy protein isolate in Now Aminos. Yay or nay?

– Robert M. L.

I’d have to see the specific product in question, but I wouldn’t risk it. Soy isolate is rich in genestein and diadzen, two phyto-estrogens that disrupt endocrine function in males. In particular, developing males – but there’s a risk nonetheless in adult men as well. This also illustrates the fact that while NOW Foods is a great company with an expansive lineup, you really need to be selective in which products they offer.

If you’re looking for high quality amino acids both Beverly International and Muscle and Sports Science have strong, multi-decade track records in this area. Both companies have consistently offered the highest quality protein and amino acid formulas and continue to refine their lineups. (Mass Pro Amino)

NOW does make one EAA product I do like, that being Amino-9 Essentials.

It includes L-Tryptophan which ironically, is an EAA that most EAA formulas on the market lack. They’re either ignorant of the fact Tryptophan is an EAA or counting on the fact you are. Either way, it’s not a good scene.

I hope that helps Robert…



Just hit PR’s in all of my lifts in my last blueprint cycle and I finally ordered a twinpack of synthagen. Since I bought the blueprint I have not spent so much as a day spinning my wheels in vain. For this reason, the blueprint has paid for itself several times over already.

I was wondering if you have experimented with pine pollen powder? It has been used for centuries in traditional chinese medicine and allegedly contains some of the most potent phytoandrogens bar none. These include androstenedione, testosterone, DHEA, all of which are said to be bio-available. In addition, Pine Pollen Powder appears to be a kidney and liver tonic. This almost sounds too good to be true, there has got to be a catch. What is your opinion of pine pollen powder, and what would be a sensible protocol for its use? Also, I am having dificulties finding a cheap and reliable pine pollen powder product. Amazon carries it but won’t ship it to Canada.

– Lance K.


I appreciate you sharing your success with The Blueprint and taking the Synthagen plunge. Have every confidence you’ll like it as much as you do Blueprint..

As to your question, I haven’t personally used pine pollen powder though I was aware of Scotch Piine being a naturally occurring source of androstenedione as long ago as 1996. In fact, this was the very reason cited for it’s compliance with DSHEA, or the Dietary Supplement Health and Education act – small amounts are found naturally occurring in Scotch Pine. Unfortunately, “andro” and many of its cousins were subsequently banned in 2005.

Having said that, let’s look at what pine pollen powder has to offer…

Although it may contain testosterone even real, pharmaceutical test is worthless orally – due to poor bio-availability. It is true DHEA and androstenedione are metabolic precursors to test but as many found out the hard way – there’s no guarantee they will. In fact, it’s my opinion that without an HPTA or Hypothalamus Pituitary Testicular Axis “driver” – most will convert to estrogen. Looked at historically then, we’ve already been down all 3 roads:

Taking large amounts of oral Androstenedione, DHEA and Testosterone was a bust.

I realize it looks great on paper, but the marketing I’ve read doesn’t square up. The leap of faith they’ve taken (that being high oral bio-availability of naturally occurring androgens) is way off the mark. The very reason every effective anabolic is methylated (or 17-alpha alkalyated) is this: They don’t survive first pass liver metabolism without it. In short, if people were getting to Gainsville on this stuff – we’d be hearing about it.

The real value in pine pollen powder lies in its general health and antioxidant properties. There’s evidence it can increase SOD levels in the blood, inhibit lipid peroxidation, and increase glutathione transferase levels – which helps to break down and remove environmental pollutants. The availability of pine pollen powder varies by province in Canada and in some countries, even in how the product is marketed. If DHEA, Androstenedione etc. are highlighted on the label – it’s a safe bet they’ll be flagged at customs.


Pine pollen powder doesn’t pass my sniff test, hormonally speaking. It is a superfood though, I’ll give it that. For muscle building though, much better to invest your money in known winners like essential amino acids, Synthagen, creatine and other supplements with a strong track record of success.

Hope that helps Lance…


Do u think you can discuss the correct form to do front squats and what are the benefits of front squats compared to back squats!

I had hip surgery in 2009 i had a tumor in the head of the femur, the tumor cracked my hip. I had a bone graft done, i recently gave squats a rest, cause i find that everytime i would go over a certain weight, id kind of would go a little crooked on the way up. So i tried front squats been 6 weeks now and find that it has helped me alot! im not crooked on the way up from the bottom. And i went back to back squats once during my six week of just doing front squats and my form was so much better! Somethings working not sure what lol.

Thanks for all the great info!
– Carmela C.

First and foremost, great job on FINDING your way back to squatting, especially after an ordeal of that magnitude. Inspiring stuff, so here are my observations and form recommendations:


The bar placement on Front Squats pulls you forward and forces you to keep your chest up in order not to lose the bar. Meaning instead of your legs being the limiting factor, it’s really the upper-back working harder to keep your chest up. I suspect this is a big part of the reason you’re not as crooked in the movement, and that carried over to your back squat. Your intuition led to the ideal pairing then…


  • I don’t recommend Front Squatting using a crossed-arm grip. Here’s why: it’s much harder to keep your elbows up with the crossed-arm grip, and if your elbows don’t stay up, the bar will tend to roll off your shoulders. The clean grip is thus safer than the crossed-arm grip, and allows you to Front Squat heavier weights.
  • Like Back Squats, your body is supposed to hold the bar – not your hands. Stretching your wrists and triceps prior is a must, IMO.
  • Foot Stance: Stance should be slightly wider than on the low bar Back Squat. Start with shoulder-with stance, go a bit wider.
  • Toes Out: How much depends on your foot stance, but they should always point in the same direction as your knees. About 30-45° out.
  • Chest Up: Put your chest forward and lift up. This gives the bar a solid base to sit on & makes it impossible to round your upper-back.
  • Tighten the Lats: You can’t tighten your upper-back on Front Squats like on Squats. However you can tighten your lats: spread them.
  • Look Forward: Up is bad for your neck, down will make your lower back round. Look forward, fix a point in front of you.
  • Bar Position: Behind your clavicles and close to your throat. Coughing is possible and clavicles may hurt. The more you front Squat, the more you’ll adapt.
  • Hands Open: Your shoulders support the weight, not your hands. Open your hands, relax them.
  • Elbows Up: Put your elbows up with your upper-arm
  • s almost parallel to the floor so the weight doesn’t end up hurting your wrists.
  • Elbow In: Push your elbows toward each other during the Front Squat. This will take the pressure off your wrists.
  • Sit Back: Squat by pushing your hips back. You’ll stretch your hip muscles when breaking parallel.
  • Break Parallel: Should be easy because of the upright position.
  • Knees Out: Squat up and down while pushing your knees out. Don’t allow your knees to buckle in, it’s guaranteed to cause knee injuries


The front squat is a more difficult lift to master than the back squat. However, practice makes perfect and I’d recommend rotating 3 weeks of each to reap the benefits of both. I hope that helps Carmela…