Nitrate-rich foods like beets, radishes, and pomegranates are a great way to boost the production of nitric oxide (NO). Although there's very limited research examining the effects of beet root juice and pomegranate extract on resistance training, these ingredients have previously been shown to increase skeletal muscle blood flow and lead to reduced soreness, which may ultimately lead to improvements in strength and performance.[9,10]
So it was popular then, but is it effective now? Just because something is popular doesn’t mean it works. In the case of creatine supplementation, however, you can be confident that increased muscle strength and less fatigue is possible. All thanks to a critical chemical reaction taking place in your muscle cells. Read on and learn how creatine works and why it lives up to that nostalgic ‘90s hype.
It is prudent to note that creatine supplementation has been shown to reduce the body’s endogenous production of creatine, however levels return to normal after a brief period of time when supplementation ceases [1,6]. Despite this creatine supplementation has not been studied/supplemented with for a relatively long period. Due to this, long term effects are unknown, therefore safety cannot be guaranteed. Whilst the long term effects of creatine supplementation remain unclear, no definitive certainty of either a negative or a positive effect upon the body has been determined for many health professionals and national agencies [19,78]. For example the French Sanitary Agency has banned the buying of creatine due to the unproven allegation that a potential effect of creatine supplementation could be that of mutagenicity and carcinogenicity from the production of heterocyclic amines [78]. Long term and epidemiological data should continue to be produced and collected to determine the safety of creatine in all healthy individuals under all conditions [78].
Naturally produced in the kidneys, pancreas and liver, creatine is transported to muscle tissue where it is transformed into creatine phosphate, from which the energy molecule ATP is produced to regenerate the muscles' ability to contract and generate power during short-burst (anaerobic) activity. This translates to more productive workouts and faster muscle growth.
The 1960s saw the gradual introduction of exercise machines into the still-rare strength training gyms of the time. Weight training became increasingly popular in the 1970s, following the release of the bodybuilding movie Pumping Iron, and the subsequent popularity of Arnold Schwarzenegger. Since the late 1990s increasing numbers of women have taken up weight training, influenced by programs like Body for Life; currently nearly one in five U.S. women engage in weight training on a regular basis.[4]
In summary, creatine salts have been show to be less stable than CM. However the addition of carbohydrates could increase their stability [62]. The potential advantages of creatine salts over CM include enhanced aqueous solubility and bioavailability which would reduce their possible gastrointestinal adverse effects [63]. The possibility for new additional formulation such as tablets or capsules is interesting for its therapeutic application due to its attributed better dissolution kinetics and oral absorption compared to CM [63]. However more complete in vivo pharmaceutical analysis of creatine salts are required to fully elucidate their potential advantages/disadvantages over the currently available supplement formulations.
Creatine supplementation appears to attenuate decreases in GLUT4 expression seen with immobility and may increase GLUT4 expression during exercise. While it seems capable of increasing GLUT4 during resting conditions, it has failed to reach significance, suggesting that creatine supplementation works best with some stimuli associated with exercise.
Creatine has been found to increase skeletal muscle glycogen when given to sedentary adults for a loading and maintenance phase for 37 days at 2g (13.5% after five days of loading, but returning to baseline at the end of the trial). Exercise was not enforced in this study.[207] This study also noted that, despite a normalization of glycogen after the trial, total creatine and ATP was still higher than placebo,[207] and a loading protocol appears to have failed elsewhere in increasing glycogen stores in sedentary people subject to an aerobic exercise test before and after the loading phase.[349]
Creatine supplementation in the under 18 population has not received a great deal of attention, especially in regards to sports/exercise performance. Despite this, creatine is being supplemented in young, <18 years old, athletes [52,53]. In a 2001 report [52] conducted on pupils from middle and high school (aged 10 – 18) in Westchester County (USA) 62 of the 1103 pupils surveyed were using creatine. The authors found this concerning for 2 main reasons: firstly, the safety of creatine supplementation is not established for this age group and is therefore not recommended. Secondly, it was speculated that taking creatine would lead on to more dangerous performance enhancing products such as anabolic steroids. It is important to point out that this potential escalation is speculation. Furthermore, a questionnaire was used to determine creatine use amongst this age group and does not necessarily reflect the truth.

In October 1994, the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) was signed into law in the USA. Under DSHEA, responsibility for determining the safety of the dietary supplements changed from government to the manufacturer and supplements no longer required approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) before distributing product. Since that time manufacturers did not have to provide FDA with the evidence to substantiate safety or effectiveness unless a new dietary ingredient was added. It is widely believed that the 1994 DSHEA further consolidated the position of the supplement industry and lead to additional product sales.[6]
A: Start with the calculations above but don’t be afraid to adjust up or down. Your metabolism and physiology will adapt to more food by trying to maintain homeostasis and regulate your bodyweight. Some may have to increase more than others but the number on the scale doesn’t lie. If it’s not going up, then you probably need to increase your calories.
A push–pull workout is a method of arranging a weight training routine so that exercises alternate between push motions and pull motions.[28] A push–pull superset is two complementary segments (one pull/one push) done back-to-back. An example is bench press (push) / bent-over row (pull). Another push–pull technique is to arrange workout routines so that one day involves only push (usually chest, shoulders and triceps) exercises, and an alternate day only pull (usually back and biceps) exercises so the body can get adequate rest.[29]
Collectively the above investigations indicate that creatine supplementation can be an effective strategy to maintain total creatine pool during a rehabilitation period after injury as well as to attenuate muscle damage induced by a prolonged endurance training session. In addition, it seems that creatine can act as an effective antioxidant agent after more intense resistance training sessions.
This ingredient also plays a major role in cell growth, recovery, and communication. Increasing the amount of creatine stored in your muscles can speed up the growth of new muscle and help prevent current muscles from being degraded during exercise. By reducing muscle breakdown, creatine can speed up the healing and recovery processes, as there will be less damage to repair.

Creatine is produced endogenously at an amount of about 1 g/d. Synthesis predominately occurs in the liver, kidneys, and to a lesser extent in the pancreas. The remainder of the creatine available to the body is obtained through the diet at about 1 g/d for an omnivorous diet. 95% of the bodies creatine stores are found in the skeletal muscle and the remaining 5% is distributed in the brain, liver, kidney, and testes [1]. As creatine is predominately present in the diet from meats, vegetarians have lower resting creatine concentrations [2].
Eat 1.5–3 grams of carbs per pound of your body weight. As with fat, this amount can vary greatly, depending on your personal needs and preferences, so consider these numbers only a starting point. If you’re very skinny and feel that you handle carbs well (i.e. you can eat a lot of them without getting fat), go ahead and eat according to the higher end of the spectrum. The same applies if you’re desperate to gain weight—you should increase your carb intake. If you’re prone to weight gain or feel lethargic on higher carbs, you should eat fewer of them. Again, see our keto guide for more details and options.
An exercise should be halted if marked or sudden pain is felt, to prevent further injury. However, not all discomfort indicates injury. Weight training exercises are brief but very intense, and many people are unaccustomed to this level of effort. The expression "no pain, no gain" refers to working through the discomfort expected from such vigorous effort, rather than to willfully ignore extreme pain, which may indicate serious soft tissue injuries. The focus must be proper form, not the amount of weight lifted.[23]

A 2011 survey of 33 supplements commercially available in Italy found that over 50% of them exceeded the European Food Safety Authority recommendations in at least one contaminant. The most prevalent of these contaminants was creatinine, a breakdown product of creatine also produced by the body.[47] Creatinine was present in higher concentrations than the European Food Safety Authority recommendations in 44% of the samples. About 15% of the samples had detectable levels of dihydro-1,3,5-triazine or a high dicyandiamide concentration. Heavy metals contamination was not found to be a concern, with only minor levels of mercury being detectable. Two studies reviewed in 2007 found no impurities.[41]
The maximum amount of creatine the body can store is about 0.3 gram per kilogram of body weight [6]. The creatine content of skeletal (voluntary) muscles averages 125 millimoles per kilogram of dry matter (mmol/kg/dm) and ranges from about 60 to 160 mmol/kg/dm. Approximately 60% of muscle creatine is in the form of PCr. Human muscle seems to have an upper limit of creatine storage of 150 to 160 mmol/kg/dm. Athletes with high creatine stores don't appear to benefit from supplementation, whereas individuals with the lowest levels, such as vegetarians, have the most pronounced increases following supplementation. Without supplementation, the body can replenish muscle creatine at the rate of about 2 g/day [7].
Rheumatoid arthritis. Early research shows that taking creatine by mouth daily increases lean muscle mass and may improve muscle strength, but does not improve physical functioning in adults with rheumatoid arthritis. In children, taking a specific supplement containing creatine and fatty acids twice daily for 30 days might reduce pain and swelling. But the effects of creatine alone are not clear.
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]
Creatine has demonstrated neuromuscular performance enhancing properties on short duration, predominantly anaerobic, intermittent exercises. Bazzucch et al [27] observed enhanced neuromuscular function of the elbow flexors in both electrically induced and voluntary contractions but not on endurance performance after 4 loading doses of 5 g creatine plus 15 g maltodextrin for 5/d in young, moderately trained men. Creatine supplementation may facilitate the reuptake of Ca2+ into the sacroplasmic reticulum by the action of the Ca2+ adenosine triphosphatase pump, which could enable force to be produced more rapidly through the faster detachment of the actomyosin bridges.
Lyoo, I. K., Yoon, S., Kim, T. S., Hwang, J., Kim, J. E., Won, W., Bae, S., & Renshaw, P. F. (2012, September). A randomized, double-blind placebo-controlled trial of oral creatine monohydrate augmentation for enhanced response to a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor in women with major depressive disorder. American Journal of Psychiatry. 169(9):937-45. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22864465
Researchers have long been interested in how exercise improves cognitive thinking — and whether it can ward off dementia later in life. Now, a whole slew of new studies is comparing whether strength training affects the brain differently than cardio. One Italian study of 80 older people found that those who completed a 12-week strength regimen showed improved capacity for practical skills, whereas cardio training helped bolster them on analytic tasks. Researchers are still trying to understand the “why” behind this study — but so far, we’re impressed.
Endogenous serum or plasma creatine concentrations in healthy adults are normally in a range of 2–12 mg/L. A single 5 g (5000 mg) oral dose in healthy adults results in a peak plasma creatine level of approximately 120 mg/L at 1–2 hours post-ingestion. Creatine has a fairly short elimination half-life, averaging just less than 3 hours, so to maintain an elevated plasma level it would be necessary to take small oral doses every 3–6 hours throughout the day. After the "loading dose" period (1–2 weeks, 12–24 g a day), it is no longer necessary to maintain a consistently high serum level of creatine. As with most supplements, each person has their own genetic "preset" amount of creatine they can hold. The rest is eliminated as waste. A typical post-loading dose is 2–5 g daily.[52][53][54]
The benefits of weight training overall are comparable to most other types of strength training: increased muscle, tendon and ligament strength, bone density, flexibility, tone, metabolic rate, and postural support. This type of training will also help prevent injury for athletes. There are benefits and limitations to weight training as compared to other types of strength training. Contrary to popular belief, weight training can be beneficial for both men and women.
Negative regulators of the creatine transporter (CrT) are those that, when activated, reduce the activity of the CrT and overall creatine uptake into cells. As noted above, CrT activity is positively regulated by mTOR.[158] Consistent with the well-known role of AMPK as a suppressor mTOR signaling,[177] CrT activity has also been shown to be inhibited in response to AMPK activation in kidney epithelial cells.[178] Since AMPK suppresses mTOR via upstream TSC2 activation,[179] the negative regulation of AMPK on CrT activity in these cells appears to occur through an indirect mechanism. Although indirect, activation of AMPK has been noted to reduce the Vmax of the CrT without altering creatine binding, and is involved in internalizing the receptors.[178] This pathway seems to max out at around 30% suppression, with no combination of mTOR antagonists and AMPK inducers further suppressing creatine uptake.[178]
Many athletes follow a "loading" protocol of around 25 grams a day for five days, but this isn't essential. But as Ciaran Fairman notes in the article "Do I Need to Load With Creatine," you can also get the same benefits with around 5 grams a day, potentially with none of the mild side effects of the loading protocol, which include stomach pain and water weight gain. The catch is that you have to take it consistently. Don't skip it!
Some ingredients found in dietary supplements marketed for bodybuilding or performance enhancement—such as whey protein, creatine, and caffeine—generally aren’t associated with any serious safety concerns (when used appropriately). However, they still have the potential for side effects. Before you take any dietary supplement, talk to your healthcare provider. You also can read the articles below about some of these ingredients:

Jason Ferruggia is a highly sought after, world renowned strength & conditioning specialist and muscle building expert. Over the last 17 years he has personally trained more than 700 athletes from over 90 different NCAA, NFL, NHL and MLB organizations. He has also worked extensively with firefighters, police officers, military personnel, Hollywood stars and entertainers. Most importantly, Jason has helped over 53,000 skinny guys and hard gainers in 126 different countries build muscle and gain weight faster than they every thought possible.
A: At the end of the day, the most important variable regarding weight gain or loss is calorie consumption. However, meal frequency and timing around activity can both influence workout intensity and duration thus potentially allowing for further improvements in body composition. Remember, muscle growth isn’t a pulsatile process, it doesn’t just acutely spike and then return to baseline so if there aren’t circulating amino acids within the blood stream then they’ll have to be broken down from muscle as this is the highest form of concentrated amino acids within the body. That being said, it would probably be a good idea to consume anywhere from 3-6 meals spread throughout the day depending upon your schedule and preference. Ideally, we want to stimulate anabolism through food every 3-5 hours.

Bodybuilding developed in the late 19th century, promoted in England by German Eugen Sandow, now considered as the "Father of Bodybuilding". He allowed audiences to enjoy viewing his physique in "muscle display performances". Although audiences were thrilled to see a well-developed physique, the men simply displayed their bodies as part of strength demonstrations or wrestling matches. Sandow had a stage show built around these displays through his manager, Florenz Ziegfeld. The Oscar-winning 1936 musical film The Great Ziegfeld depicts the beginning of modern bodybuilding, when Sandow began to display his body for carnivals.
A commercially available pre-workout formula comprised of 2.05 g of caffeine, taurine and glucuronolactone, 7.9 g of L-leucine, L-valine, L-arginine and L-glutamine, 5 g of di-creatine citrate and 2.5 g of β-alanine mixed with 500 ml of water taken 10 minutes prior to exercise has been shown to enhance time to exhaustion during moderate intensity endurance exercise and to increase feelings of focus, energy and reduce subjective feelings of fatigue before and during endurance exercise due to a synergistic effect of the before mentioned ingredients [72]. The role of creatine in this formulation is to provide a neuroprotective function by enhancing the energy metabolism in the brain tissue, promoting antioxidant activities, improving cerebral vasculation and protecting the brain from hyperosmotic shock by acting as a brain cell osmolyte. Creatine can provide other neuroprotective benefits through stabilisation of mitochondrial membranes, stimulation of glutamate uptake into synaptic vesicles and balance of intracellular calcium homeostasis [72].
Foundational supplements are often overlooked for building muscle, because they work behind the scenes. In actuality, foundational supplements are important to take for building muscle, because they assist with overall health and wellness and contribute to the effectiveness of other muscle building supplements.* Some of the top foundational supplements are:
“Reg Park’s theory was that first you have to build the mass and then chisel it down to get the quality; you work on your body the way a sculptor would work on a piece of clay or wood or steel. You rough it out””the more carefully, the more thoroughly, the better”” then you start to cut and define. You work it down gradually until it’s ready to be rubbed and polished. And that’s when you really know about the foundation. Then all the faults of poor early training stand out as hopeless, almost irreparable flaws. [..]

These effects were noted before in a preliminary study of depressed adolescents (with no placebo group) showing a 55% reduction in depressive symptoms at 4g daily when brain phosphocreatine levels increased.[231] Other prelimnary human studies suggest creatine might lessen unipolar depression[256] and one study on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) noted improved mood as assessed by the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale.[232]
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