If you'’re looking to add muscle mass to your frame, hitting the weights hard is a given. Quality time in the gym begins a cascade of changes that will stimulate your muscles to grow bigger in response to the challenges you throw their way. It'’s tempting to think that'’s all it takes to add muscle to your body. After all, you can actually feel your biceps growing after an intense set of curls.
Creatine helps create essential adenosine triphosphate (ATP). This is the energy source of muscle contractions. By upping your levels, you can increase the amount of energy available to your muscles, boosting your performance. Because your muscle strength and size increases when you add weight and reps, improving your performance can be a game changer in terms of increasing your muscle mass. If you’re able to lift longer and harder, your muscles will grow. Creatine is certainly a winner among muscle building supplements.

Spero Karas, MD, assistant professor of orthopaedics in the division of sports medicine at Emory University, says that testosterone, the male hormone responsible for muscle growth, maxes out between the ages of 16 and 18. It reaches a plateau during the 20s and then begins to decline. As a result, muscle building after the adolescent years can be challenging, he says.
Competitive and professional bodybuilders, however, can often build up to two to three pounds of muscle per month during dedicated bulking periods. "But they are living and breathing muscle growth. They aren't just in and out of the gym like most people," Simpson says, noting that under extreme conditions, hyperplasia, or the growth in the number of muscle cells in a given muscle tissue, may actually occur, further adding to muscle growth results.
Warm up sets are also important. For example, the same lifter working on his chest would also be advised to complete at least two warm up sets prior to hitting his "core tonnage." Core tonnage refers to the heavier lifts that actually strain your muscles. For example, if the lifter's main sets were at 205 lbs, 225 lbs and 235 lbs on the bench, then a warmup of 5 reps of 135 and 5 reps of 185 would be advisable. Some lifters will warm up with a 50/50 set for example 50% of the target weight for 50% of the target repetitions. When properly warmed up the lifter will then have more strength and stamina since the blood has begun to flow to the muscle groups.[7]
It is regularly reported that creatine supplementation, when combined with heavy resistance training leads to enhanced physical performance, fat free mass, and muscle morphology [18-22]. A 2003 meta analysis [8] showed individuals ingesting creatine, combined with resistance training, obtain on average +8% and +14% more performance on maximum (1RM) or endurance strength (maximal repetitions at a given percent of 1RM) respectively than the placebo groups. However, contradicting studies have reported no effects of creatine supplementation on strength performance. Jakobi et al [23] found no effects of a short term creatine loading protocol upon isometric elbow flexion force, muscle activation, and recovery process. However, this study did not clearly state if creatine supplementation was administered concurrent with resistance training. Bemben et al [24] have shown no additional benefits of creatine alone or combined with whey protein for improving strength and muscle mass after a progressive 14 weeks (3 days per week) resistance training program in older men. These conflicting results can be explained by the possibility that the supplemented groups were formed by a greater amount of non-responders or even because creatine supplementation was administered on the training days only (3 times a week). This strategy has not been adequately tested as effective in middle aged and older men for maintaining post loading elevated creatine stores [5].

According to BodyBuilding.com, adenosine triphosphate (ATP) is made up of a nucleotide bonded to three phosphate groups. When one of those phosphate groups is cleaved from the ATP molecule, a lot of energy is made available. That energy is used to fuel chemical reactions in cells, and ATP becomes adenosine diphosphate (ADP). Creatine enables the release of energy from stored ATP and is converted to creatinine.
Anti-cancer effects have been observed with the creatine analogue cyclocreatine[456][104][457] and have been replicated with creatine itself. These effects tend to be a reduction in which the rate of implanted tumors progresses.[458][459] It is suspected that these observed effects (inhibition of growth or attenuation of the rate of growth) are not due to the bioenergetic effect of creatine, secondary to creatine kinase. These anti-cancer effects do not have a known reliability, as the expression of creatine kinase varies widely based on the type of tumor.[460] However, some studies suggest an inverse relationship between tumor progression in mice and concentrations of creatine in cells, with creatine depletion coinciding with tumor development.[460]
It is regularly reported that creatine supplementation, when combined with heavy resistance training leads to enhanced physical performance, fat free mass, and muscle morphology [18-22]. A 2003 meta analysis [8] showed individuals ingesting creatine, combined with resistance training, obtain on average +8% and +14% more performance on maximum (1RM) or endurance strength (maximal repetitions at a given percent of 1RM) respectively than the placebo groups. However, contradicting studies have reported no effects of creatine supplementation on strength performance. Jakobi et al [23] found no effects of a short term creatine loading protocol upon isometric elbow flexion force, muscle activation, and recovery process. However, this study did not clearly state if creatine supplementation was administered concurrent with resistance training. Bemben et al [24] have shown no additional benefits of creatine alone or combined with whey protein for improving strength and muscle mass after a progressive 14 weeks (3 days per week) resistance training program in older men. These conflicting results can be explained by the possibility that the supplemented groups were formed by a greater amount of non-responders or even because creatine supplementation was administered on the training days only (3 times a week). This strategy has not been adequately tested as effective in middle aged and older men for maintaining post loading elevated creatine stores [5].
Creatine non-response is when muscular loading of creatine is under a certain threshold (10mmol/L), while “response” to creatine means having more muscular creatine loading (20mol/L or more). There also exists a “grey area” inbetween, where some benefits are achieved but not as many as pure responders will experience. Response appears to be positively correlated with muscle mass and type II muscle fibers.

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In humans, studies that investigate links between serotonin and creatine supplementation find that 21 trained males, given creatine via 22.8g creatine monohydrate (20g creatine equivalent) with 35g glucose, relative to a placebo of 160g glucose, was found to reduce the perception of fatigue in hot endurance training, possibly secondary to serotonergic modulation, specifically attentuating the increase of serotonin seen with exercise (normally seen to hinder exercise capacity in the heat[233]) while possibly increasing dopaminergic activity (conversely seen to benefit activity in the heat[234]).[155]

4. Focus on a full range of motion. Moving as far as anatomically possible – for example, in a squat, lowering as low as you can without breaking form – is critical to maximize muscle adaptation, rather than partials or cutting the range of motion short, according to a 2017 study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. And while partials do have their time and place, and can be part of a muscle-building plan, the majority of your exercises should still prioritize a full range of motion, Matheny says.

In muscle cells, the creatine transporter is predominantly localized to the sarcolemmal membrane. Western blot analysis of creatine transporter expression revealed the presence of two distinc protein bands, migrating at 55kDa and 70kDa on reducing SDS-PAGE gels.[147][148] The 73kDa band has been reported to be the predominant band in humans, with no differences based on gender.[148] A more recent report demonstrated that the 55kDa creatine transporter variant is glycosylated, forming the 73 kDa protein. Therefore, the 55 and 75kDa protein bands are actually immature and mature/processed forms of the creatine transporter protein, respectively.[149]
Heath bent his legs — each thigh about 32 inches around, bigger than his waist — and lifted the black case. Inside was his latest Mr. Olympia trophy. In bodybuilding, it is called the Sandow, and Heath has won the last six, most recently in Las Vegas in September. Arnold Schwarzenegger, still the world’s most famous bodybuilder, won six in a row, too, and then a seventh a few years later. Two men, Lee Haney and Ronnie Coleman, have won eight.
McArdle’s disease is a myopathic disorder associated with fatigue and contractile dysfunction as a result of alterations in the release of glucose from glycogen (via defects in myophosphorylase enzyme function) resulting in an inability to conduct high intensity work as easily.[548] Creatine is thought to be therapeutic because beyond the general strength enhancing properties of creatine, people with McArdle’s disease have an upregulation of phosphofructokinase (PFK) enzyme activity [570] and increasing phosphocreatine storages suppresses the activity of this enzyme.[571]
The two workouts listed above are completely free and highly recommended. If, however, you’re looking for additional workouts, my book – Superior Muscle Growth – contains ALL of the muscle building routines that I’ve personally used and designed for others (11 different workouts, 40+ different versions). Feel free to check it out to learn more about what’s included.

If you want to take creatine as a supplement for bigger and stronger muscles, then the standard protocol is to have a “loading period” where you significantly increase your creatine intake for a few days or weeks. “This can prime your muscles to increase the amount of creatine that they ‘hold,’” explains Bates. “During the loading period, you generally take 5 g of creatine four times per day. After the loading period, you decrease the amount of creatine you take to a ‘maintenance’ level of 3 to 5 g per day.” (That’s also the recommendation from the International Society of Sports Nutrition.) (5)
A study showed that 100mg/kg creatine monohydrate daily over four months supplemented by boys with DMD is able to enhance handgrip strength in the dominant hand only (less than 10% increase) and increase whole-body lean mass. While the trend toward whole body strength reduction seen in placebo was ablated and there was no interaction with corticosteroids,[560] this study failed to find an influence on activities of daily living or lung function.[560] Elsewhere in children not on corticosteroids with DMD, supplementation of 5g creatine for eight weeks was confirmed to increase muscular phosphocreatine content[554] and according to a manual muscle test (MMT) there was a significant improvement in muscular function relative to placebo, with more parents reporting benefit with creatine (53.8%) relative to placebo (14%).[554]
Natalie Digate Muth, MD, MPH, RD, is the ACE senior consultant for healthcare solutions, a practicing pediatrician and registered dietitian. Recognized as a Certified Obesity Specialist, Natalie has written for more than 50 publications and, in 2012, published her first book, 'Eat Your Vegetables' and Other Mistakes Parents Make: Redefining How to Raise Healthy Eaters.

Syndromes caused by problems metabolizing creatine. Some people have a disorder that prevents their body from making creatine. This can lead to low levels of creatine in the brain. Low levels of creatine in the brain can lead to decreased mental function, seizures, autism, and movement problems. Taking creating by mouth daily for up to 3 years can increase creatine levels in the brain in children and young adults with a disorder of creatine production called guanidinoacetate methyltransferase (GAMT) deficiency. This can help improve movement and reduce seizures. But it doesn't improve mental ability. Arginine-glycine amidinotransferase (AGAT) deficiency is another disorder that prevents the body from making creatine. In children with this condition, taking creatine for up to 8 years seems to improve attention, language, and mental performance. But taking creatine does not seem to improve brain creatine levels, movement, or mental function in children who have a disorder in which creatine isn't transported properly.


So, for example, with the moves above you'd do 15 squats followed by 15 push-ups. Take a little breather then repeat that two more times. Then you move on to your walking lunges and lat pull-downs (and repeat those three times total, too). You can really do anywhere from eight reps to 15 (and even just two sets, if you don't have time for three), but "it’s not a bad idea for beginners to start with a 15-rep range to get comfortable with the exercises," says Davis. And while there's some debate over whether three sets of an exercise is really best, "it’s a great beginner model," says Davis. Don't overcomplicate things when you're just getting started.
Bodybuilders also train small muscles with a similar volume, frequency and intensity of their larger muscles. Strength athletes laugh at this. “Curls are a waste of time” is a common phrase you will hear hurled at a bodybuilder. This is SILLY. Although big compound movements should be most people’s resistance training priority, smaller muscle group focus work has some benefits for every athlete. Bicep tears are quite common among strength athletes, especially strong men and powerlifters. This happens because these competitors will lift tremendous weights with their backs, but their biceps are the weak link. Many of these injuries could be prevented with some good old-fashioned bodybuilder type isolation work. If you are only as strong as your weak link, doesn’t it make sense to make those weak links strong ones?
Supplementation of a loading phase of creatine has been noted to augment the increase in RBC levels of superoxide dismutase (SOD) from exercise, when measured immediately after, by 8.1%, but control groups increased to match within an hour.[299] Glutathione (normally decreases with exercise) and catalase (increases) were both unaffected,[299] and elsewhere in vitro red blood cells incubated with 3mM of creatine (within the supplemental range) is able to improve filterability (a measure of cell rheology, or fluid structure of the cell[300]) when RBC creatine was increased by 12.3% to reach 554µM.[301] This was thought to be due to reduced oxidative stress (assessed via MDA) in the red blood cells, which in the presence of 1-5mM creatine was progressively reduced by 20-41%.[301]
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Creatine monohydrate is the most common form of creatine, and if not otherwise mentioned is the default form of creatine used in most studies on creatine.[64] It has fairly decent intestinal absorption[65][12] (covered more in depth in the pharmacology section) and is the standard form or “reference” form of creatine, which all other variants are pitted against.
Creatine is thought to improve strength, increase lean muscle mass, and help the muscles recover more quickly during exercise. This muscular boost may help athletes achieve bursts of speed and energy, especially during short bouts of high-intensity activities such as weight lifting or sprinting. However, scientific research on creatine has been mixed. Although some studies have found that it does help improve performance during short periods of athletic activity, there is no evidence that creatine helps with endurance sports. Research also shows that not everyone's muscles respond to creatine; some people who use it see no benefit.
One limitation of many free weight exercises and exercise machines is that the muscle is working maximally against gravity during only a small portion of the lift. Some exercise-specific machines feature an oval cam (first introduced by Nautilus) which varies the resistance, so that the resistance, and the muscle force required, remains constant throughout the full range of motion of the exercise.

For a 180 lb (82 kg) person, this translates to 25 g/day during the loading phase and 2.5 g/day afterward, although many users take 5 g/day due to the low price of creatine and the possibility of experiencing increased benefits. Higher doses (up to 10 g/day) may be beneficial for people with a high amount of muscle mass and high activity levels or for those who are non-responders to the lower 5 g/day dose.
In a later study, it was found that biologically relevant concentrations (10-30mM) of creatine bind synthetic membranes with lipid compositions mimicking the inner mitochondrial membrane or plasma membrane in a concentration-dependent manner. This also conferred a degree of protection, increasing membrane stability in response to challenge from a number of destabilizing agents. Phosphocreatine was more effective than creatine in this context, although both were able to bind and stabilize membranes.[119]

A: If your goal is the largest accrual of muscle mass possible then there may be some benefit to ingesting nutrients with a period of 30-60 minutes after your workout. Does this have to be a protein shake? No, but ideally it should be a meal lower in fat to enhance the digest rate of nutrients within the gastrointestinal tract. However, if you have just eaten a mixed macronutrient meal pre-workout then you should keep in mind that that meal is still likely digesting so there’s no need to throw down the weights after your last set and rush to your locker to slam a protein shake.
It’s true—your genes can play a role when it comes to building muscle. In general, there are two types of muscle fibers: Type I, which are slow twitch, and Type II, which are fast twitch. Depending on which you have more of, you may have an easier or harder time gaining muscle. “Fast twitch muscle fibers are two times as thick as slow twitch muscle fibers, lending to the overall thickness of the muscle without any activity,” explains Lovitt. “Those people with a genetic predisposition of a high percentage of these fibers can increase muscle size very easily while the people with a higher percentage of slow twitch muscle fibers have to work really hard to put on mass.” It’s the reason why a world-class sprinter genetically has more fast twitch muscle fibers than a world-class marathoner—it comes down to what we’re born with.
It is possible that females could benefit more than males due to a combined lower creatine kinase activity as well as having altered purine metabolism during depression,[257] but no human comparative studies have been conducted yet. One rat study noted that creatine monohydrate at 2-4% of feed had 4% creatine able to exert anti-depressive and anxiolytic effects in female rats only.[228]
I always recommend starting on the low end of the scale. Only increase volume when you absolutely need to. So, if you’re training chest, you could do 6 work sets of dumbbell bench presses to start out, breaking down to two sets per workout for three sessions per week. You can gradually add sets from there, experimenting with different training splits that will allow you to get in more volume without overtraining (we’ll discuss training splits next).
Athletic performance. Creatine seems to help improve rowing performance, jumping height, and soccer performance in athletes. But the effect of creatine on sprinting, cycling, or swimming performance varies. The mixed results may relate to the small sizes of the studies, the differences in creatine doses, and differences in test used to measure performance. Creatine does not seem to improve serving ability in tennis players.
Still, it's important to realize that for everyone, at a certain point, building muscle becomes more difficult. "We all have an endpoint to our genetic potential," Matheny says. "Someone who is starting strength training for the first time can build muscle with a lower percentage of their 1RM [the maximum amount of weight they can lift one time] than a more tenured athlete. The longer you train and the closer you to get to your natural potential, the more specific you need to get with your training and nutrition to keep making progress. And that week-by-week progress will likely be much smaller than it once was."
Creatine is normally metabolized into creatinine (note the difference in spelling), which is eliminated by the kidneys under normal conditions. When the kidneys fail and cannot clear the blood as effectively, many metabolites get “backlogged” in the blood. Creatinine is easy to measure and as such it is a biomarker of kidney damage.[623][624] If serum creatinine levels are elevated, the doctor may suspect some kidney damage. Low-dose creatine (≤5 g/day) may not cause alterations in this biomarker in otherwise normal adults[524][625][525] but high doses of supplemental creatine may cause a false positive (an increase in creatinine, due to creatine turning into creatinine, which does not signify kidney damage) and is a diagnostic error.[520][518][626][523][517] Most studies, however, have noted only a small increase in creatinine levels even with doses ≈20 g/day.[524][626][627]
Another study tested male subjects performing two bouts of 30 second isokinetic cycling before and after ingesting 20 g creatine monohydrate daily for 5 days. Work production improved about 4%. Cumulative increases in both peak and total work production over the two exercise bouts were positively correlated with the increase in muscle creatine [14].
Adequate hydration is essential to muscle building, yet few people get enough water, even without daily exercise. So in addition to the daily 8 to 10 glasses of water recommended by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, Karas suggests an additional 12 to 16 ounces before working out. He then recommends another 8 to 10 ounces for every 15 minutes of vigorous exercise.
A: No. You should ensure that the squat and hinge motor pattern are both emphasized but other variations (front squat, sumo deadlift, safety bar squat, Romanian deadlift) should be included until you can master technique on the more advanced variations. For more information on exercise progressions and regressions see this article: Train Like An Athlete, Look Like a Bodybuilder.
Many trainees like to cycle between the two methods in order to prevent the body from adapting (maintaining a progressive overload), possibly emphasizing whichever method more suits their goals; typically, a bodybuilder will aim at sarcoplasmic hypertrophy most of the time but may change to a myofibrillar hypertrophy kind of training temporarily in order to move past a plateau. However, no real evidence has been provided to show that trainees ever reach this plateau, and rather was more of a hype created from "muscular confusion".[clarification needed][citation needed]
Although creatine can be bought commercially as a standalone product it is often found in combination with other nutrients. A prime example is the combination of creatine with carbohydrate or protein and carbohydrate for augmenting creatine muscle retention [5] mediated through an insulin response from the pancreas [69]. Steenge et al [70] found that body creatine retention of 5 g CM was increased by 25% with the addition of 50 g of protein and 47 g of carbohydrate or 96 g carbohydrate when compared to a placebo treatment of 5 g carbohydrate. The addition of 10g of creatine to 75 g of dextrose, 2 g of taurine, vitamins and minerals, induced a change in cellular osmolarity which in addition to the expected increase in body mass, seems to produce an up regulation of large scale gene expression (mRNA content of genes and protein content of kinases involved in osmosensing and signal transduction, cytoskeleton remodelling, protein and glycogen synthesis regulation, satellite cell proliferation and differentiation, DNA replication and repair, RNA transcription control, and cell survival) [25]. Similar findings have also been reported for creatine monohydrate supplementation alone when combined with resistance training [71].
If you’re the kind of person who shops for popular dietary supplements like protein or collagen powder, you’ve probably seen another popular bottle on the shelves: creatine. This supplement, which can be taken as a powder or liquid (and usually in some kind of healthy shake), is a staple in the bodybuilding community thanks to its ability to help you pack on muscle and work out longer and harder. (1) While creatine is generally considered safe — and is one of the most researched supplements out there (according to a review published in July 2012 in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition) — it is still a supplement, which means it’s not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and product claims don’t necessarily need to be substantiated (though the FDA can pull products that are found to be unsafe). (2,3)
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Plyometrics exploit the stretch-shortening cycle of muscles to enhance the myotatic (stretch) reflex. This involves rapid alternation of lengthening and shortening of muscle fibers against resistance. The resistance involved is often a weighted object such as a medicine ball or sandbag, but can also be the body itself as in jumping exercises or the body with a weight vest that allows movement with resistance. Plyometrics is used to develop explosive speed, and focuses on maximal power instead of maximal strength by compressing the force of muscular contraction into as short a period as possible, and may be used to improve the effectiveness of a boxer's punch, or to increase the vertical jumping ability of a basketball player. Care must be taken when performing plyometric exercises because they inflict greater stress upon the involved joints and tendons than other forms of exercise.

That being said, men aren’t the only ones who suffer from low testosterone levels. Women can also suffer from testosterone deficiency which can affect their overall well-being in addition to their sex drive. If you’re a woman or man concerned about your testosterone levels, in addition to using supplements like the ones below, you should contact your doctor who will be able to diagnose any deficiencies and recommend additional treatments.


^ Jump up to: a b c d e f g h Momaya A, Fawal M, Estes R (April 2015). "Performance-enhancing substances in sports: a review of the literature". Sports Med. 45 (4): 517–531. doi:10.1007/s40279-015-0308-9. PMID 25663250. Wilson et al. [91] demonstrated that when non-resistance trained males received HMB pre-exercise, the rise of lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) levels reduced, and HMB tended to decrease soreness. Knitter et al. [92] showed a decrease in LDH and creatine phosphokinase (CPK), a byproduct of muscle breakdown, by HMB after a prolonged run. ... The utility of HMB does seem to be affected by timing of intake prior to workouts and dosage [97].
Carducci, C., Birarelli, M., Leuzzi, V., Carducci, C., Battini, R., Cioni, G., and Antonozzi, I. Guanidinoacetate and creatine plus creatinine assessment in physiologic fluids: an effective diagnostic tool for the biochemical diagnosis of arginine:glycine amidinotransferase and guanidinoacetate methyltransferase deficiencies. Clin Chem 2002;48(10):1772-1778. View abstract.
Injections of creatine are known to be neuroprotective against low oxygen levels (hypoxia) even to neonatal rats.[532] This is thought to be associated with the increased collective pool of phosphocreatine and creatine.[236] Since oral ingestion of creatine by the mother increases brain concentrations of creatine by 3.6% in the fetus prior to birth,[531] it is thought to be protective in the fetuses subject to hypoxic (low oxygen) stressors, such as a caesarean section.
In regard to practical interventions, concurrent glycogen loading has been noted to increase creatine stores by 37-46% regardless of whether the tissue was exercised prior to loading phase.[176] It is important to note, however, that creatine levels in response to the creatine loading protocol were compared in one glycogen-depleted leg to the contralateral control leg, which was not exercised.[176] This does not rule out a possible systemic exercise-driven increase in creatine uptake, and the increase in creatine noted above[176] was larger than typically seen with a loading protocol (usually in the 20-25% range). Consistent with an exercise-effect, others have reported that exercise itself increases creatine uptake into muscle, reporting 68% greater creatine uptake in an exercised limb, relative to 14% without exercise.[153]
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