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.
Don’t make the mistake of trying to bulk up when you should be on a diet. While you might have muscle on your mind, most people need to get leaner first. If you’re fat and you start eating for size, you’re only going to get fatter. Get rid of the excess blubber first, to the point where you can see some abs, and then worry about getting big. You should be as low as 12% body fat before you change your diet up to focus on mass gain. That will ensure that your insulin sensitivity is high. When it is, you can eat more carbs and your body won’t store them as fat.
When you’re doing higher reps, focus on the muscle you are trying to build and squeeze every ounce of effort out of it. Yes, cheesie as it may sound, visualizing the muscles working and growing while you train them can be helpful. A 2016 study in the European Journal of Applied Physiology found that, when lifters thought about their pecs and triceps during a workout, they activated them better.
Creatine supplementation (11.4g) with glycerol (1g/kg; per se effective) and glucose (75g) in endurance runners in the heat appears to attenuate the increase in internal temperature associated with an increase in total body water of 0.71+/-0.42L, while performance (VO2 max and running economy) were unaffected over 30 minutes. Creatine is effective without glycerol (20g daily with 140g of glucose polymer over a week), again without an improvement in physical performance.
Post workout, it’s important to restore your body’s energy by consuming protein and carbs. When you’re trying to build muscle, this is an especially important step. Protein powder is a great muscle builder for your post-workout routine, as long as you include a carbohydrate as well. You can get this by eating a banana or adding oats or banana to your protein shake. Or simply cook up a batch of healthy oatmeal muffins and include protein powder in your recipe. Then, enjoy your post-workout supplement as a delicious snack!
However, in the beginning weeks of starting a new workout routine, the majority of strength gains aren't actually a result of this muscle protein synthesis and hypertrophy. Rather, they are a result of the body's neurological system learning when and how to fire the needed muscle cells, explains Abbie E. Smith-Ryan, associate professor of exercise physiology at the department of exercise and sport science at the University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill. Think of it this way: The first time you perform a new exercise, say a bench press, you likely feel pretty shaky. Your arms aren't totally in sync and the weights may sway a bit from side to side. But by the time you perform your second or third set of that same exercise, the practice gets a little smoother. That's your neurological system at work.
If there are any benefits for swimming performance from creatine supplementation, they appear to be limited to a 50 meter sprint or a handful of 50 meter sprints with short intermissions. Excessive sprinting (over six sprints with short breaks) or too long of a break (five minutes rather than two) seem to not be associated with the benefits of creatine supplementation.
In the last week leading up to a contest, bodybuilders usually decrease their consumption of water, sodium, and carbohydrates, the former two to alter how water is retained by the body and the latter to reduce glycogen in the muscle. The day before the show, water is removed from the diet, and diuretics may be introduced, while carbohydrate loading is undertaken to increase the size of the muscles through replenishment of their glycogen. The goal is to maximize leanness and increase the visibility of veins, or "vascularity". The muscular definition and vascularity are further enhanced immediately before appearing on stage by darkening the skin through tanning products and applying oils to the skin to increase shine. Some competitors will eat sugar-rich foods to increase the visibility of their veins. A final step, called "pumping", consists in performing exercises with light weights or other kinds of low resistance (for instance two athletes can "pump" each other by holding a towel and pulling in turn), just before the contest, to fill the muscles with blood and further increase their size and density.
One thing to keep in mind with this set is that it contains animal products from gelatin and milk. If you are vegan, do not consume these capsules. In terms of weight gain, it is important to note that these capsules do not contain calories. You need extra calories to gain weight. Above all, since this bulking stack requires you to take several pills daily, make sure to talk to your doctor before starting this supplement regimen.
It has also been noted that supplementing creatine (which reduces internal synthesis of creatine and methylation requirements) preserved folate and tetrahydrofolate status (42% and 23%), which acted to preserve methyl groups for other processes. Despite this effect, global DNA methylation decreases by 22% (assessed by the 5-methylcytosine/cytosine ratio) following creatine supplementation, which is usually seen as an anti-cancer effect in developed mammals. This study was unable to demonstrate why this reduction occured and opposing effects have been noted in females with Rett syndrome supplementing 200mg/kg creatine for 1 year, during which global methylation increased, secondary to preserving other methyl donors.
It can be hard to know where to start when beginning strength training. There are countless exercises you can do, some of which work some muscles, but not others. There are safety concerns to beware of, a wide variety of sometimes confusing equipment to help you in your efforts, and so on. With some familiarity of the basics of getting started with strength training, actually doing so can become far less daunting, and you can begin to craft a routine that is targeted toward helping you achieve your personal goals.
Wilkinson, S. B., Tarnopolsky, M. A., MacDonald, M. J., MacDonald, J. R., Armstrong, D., & Phillips, S. M. (2007). Consumption of fluid skim milk promotes greater muscle protein accretion after resistance exercise than does consumption of an isonitrogenous and isoenergetic soy-protein beverage. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 85(4), 1031-1040.
Though weight training can stimulate the cardiovascular system, many exercise physiologists, based on their observation of maximal oxygen uptake, argue that aerobics training is a better cardiovascular stimulus. Central catheter monitoring during resistance training reveals increased cardiac output, suggesting that strength training shows potential for cardiovascular exercise. However, a 2007 meta-analysis found that, though aerobic training is an effective therapy for heart failure patients, combined aerobic and strength training is ineffective; "the favorable antiremodeling role of aerobic exercise was not confirmed when this mode of exercise was combined with strength training".
In regard to the blood brain barrier (BBB), which is a tightly woven mesh of non-fenestrated microcapillary endothelial cells (MCECs) that prevents passive diffusion of many water-soluble or large compounds into the brain, creatine can be taken into the brain via the SLC6A8 transporter. In contrast, the creatine precursor (guanidinoacetate, or GAA) only appears to enter this transporter during creatine deficiency. More creatine is taken up than effluxed, and more GAA is effluxed rather than taken up, suggesting that creatine utilization in the brain from blood-borne sources is the major source of neural creatine. However, “capable of passage” differs from “unregulated passage” and creatine appears to have tightly regulated entry into the brain in vivo. After injecting rats with a large dose of creatine, creatine levels increased and plateaued at 70uM above baseline levels. These baseline levels are about 10mM, so this equates to an 0.7% increase when superloaded. These kinetics may be a reason for the relative lack of neural effects of creatine supplementation in creatine sufficient populations.