You've figured out the exercises you should be doing, but what about the number of sets and repetitions? Your decision should be based on your goals. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends 8-12 reps for muscular strength and 10-15 reps for muscular endurance. They also recommend at least 1 set of each exercise to fatigue although you'll find that most people perform about 2-3 sets of each exercise. In general:
For beginners, your own body weight might be enough to get you started. However, it can be hard to challenge your body without any additional resistance, so to progress, you'll need some equipment. If you decide to strength train at home, you'll want to invest in some basics, such as resistance bands, weights, and an exercise ball. Try to have a range of weights: a light set (3 to 5 pounds for women, 5 to 8 pounds for men), a medium set (5 to 10 pounds for women, 10 to 15 pounds for men), and a heavy set (10 to 20 pounds for women, 15 to 30 pounds for men).
Our bodies store creatine in our muscles so that we have quick access to it for fast, high-intensity movements, like sprinting or powerlifting, explains Autumn Bates, a certified clinical nutritionist and sports nutritionist in private practice in Manhattan Beach, California. “It's a nonessential amino acid, meaning your body creates it and you don't need to primarily get it from food.”
Nutricost's BCAA packs a powerful punch when it comes to quality for the price. With 6 grams of L-Leucine, L-Isoleucine, and L-Valine in every serving, and 83 servings per bottle, each scoop equates to just 23 cents. These high quality branched chain amino acids help support protein synthesis, muscle recovery, while boosting endurance and stamina. This straight forward formula is free of calories and comes in several natural, easily mixed fruit flavors. Keep Reading »

^ Jump up to: a b Wallimann T, Wyss M, Brdiczka D, Nicolay K, Eppenberger HM (January 1992). "Intracellular compartmentation, structure and function of creatine kinase isoenzymes in tissues with high and fluctuating energy demands: the 'phosphocreatine circuit' for cellular energy homeostasis". The Biochemical Journal. 281 ( Pt 1) (Pt 1): 21–40. doi:10.1042/bj2810021. PMC 1130636. PMID 1731757.
Creatine is classified as a "dietary supplement" under the 1994 Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act and is available without a prescription. Creatine is not subjected to FDA testing, and the purity and hygienic condition of commercial creatine products may be questionable [21]. A 1998 FDA report lists 32 adverse creatine-associated events that had been reported to FDA. These include seizure, vomiting, diarrhea, anxiety, myopathy, cardiac arrhythmia, deep vein thromboses and death. However, there is no certainty that a reported adverse event can be attributed to a particular product [22]. A recent survey of 28 male baseball players and 24 male football players, ages 18 to 23, found that 16 (31%) experienced diarrhea, 13 (25%) experienced muscle cramps, 7 (13%) reported unwanted weight gain, 7 (13%) reported dehydration, and 12 reported various other adverse effects [23].
If you're a serious strength or physique athlete, you've surely heard that supplements can help you get the most from your intense training sessions and on-point diet. But which supplements? The market is overstuffed like a bodybuilder in a child's blazer! You might be tempted to wander through a digital forest of get-big blogs and personal guru websites, but unfortunately those places can often be rife with misinformation.

Creatine is stored in the body in the form of creatine and as creatine phosphate, otherwise known as phosphocreatine, which is the creatine molecule bound to a phosphate group.[39] Creatine phosphate is thought to maintain the ATP/ADP ratio by acting as a high-energy phosphate reservoir.[40] The more ATP a muscle has relative to ADP, the higher its contractility is, and thus its potential strength output in vivo.[41][42] This pro-energetic mechanism also affects nearly all body systems, not just skeletal muscle. [39] During periods of rest and anabolism, creatine can gain a phosphate group through the creatine-kinase enzyme pathway, up to a cellular concentration of 30uM[24] to be later used for quick ATP resupply, when needed.[43][44] 

An isolation exercise is one where the movement is restricted to one joint only. For example, the leg extension is an isolation exercise for the quadriceps. Specialized types of equipment are used to ensure that other muscle groups are only minimally involved—they just help the individual maintain a stable posture—and movement occurs only around the knee joint. Most isolation exercises involve machines rather than dumbbells and barbells (free weights), though free weights can be used when combined with special positions and joint bracing.
Other human studies have yielded mixed results concerning creatine’s influence on triglyceride levels. In healthy male football players, creatine supplementation (5g monohydrate daily) over eight weeks did not influence triglyceride levels[324] but in martial artists given approximately 3.5g daily, a statistically significant increase in triglycerides was found despite no changes in total cholesterol.[325] In people with cardiovascular complications, given an exercise program and creatine, no significant change in triglycerides was noted relative to a placebo control group, which was also exercising.[326]
Although creatine supplementation has been shown to be more effective on predominantly anaerobic intermittent exercise, there is some evidence of its positive effects on endurance activities. Branch [28] highlights that endurance activities lasting more than 150s rely on oxidative phosphorylation as primary energy system supplier. From this meta analysis [28], it would appear that the ergogenic potential for creatine supplementation on predominantly aerobic endurance exercise diminishes as the duration of the activity increases over 150s. However it is suggested that creatine supplementation may cause a change in substrate utilization during aerobic activity possibly leading to an increase in steady state endurance performance.

Chwalbinska-Monteta [34] observed a significant decrease in blood lactate accumulation when exercising at lower intensities as well as an increase in lactate threshold in elite male endurance rowers after consuming a short loading (5 days 20 g/d) CM protocol. However, the effects of creatine supplementation on endurance performance have been questioned by some studies. Graef et al [35] examined the effects of four weeks of creatine citrate supplementation and high-intensity interval training on cardio respiratory fitness. A greater increase of the ventilatory threshold was observed in the creatine group respect to placebo; however, oxygen consumption showed no significant differences between the groups. The total work presented no interaction and no main effect for time for any of the groups. Thompson et al [36] reported no effects of a 6 week 2 g CM/d in aerobic and anaerobic endurance performance in female swimmers. In addition, of the concern related to the dosage used in these studies, it could be possible that the potential benefits of creatine supplementation on endurance performance were more related to effects of anaerobic threshold localization.

Homocyteine (normal serum range of 5-14µM) is known to adversely affect motor control in genetically susceptible people when their levels exceed 500µM, which is usually associated with genetically induced deficiencies of B12.[360][361] In these particular instances (assessed by rats fed homocysteine to increase serum levels to such a high level[362][363]) it appears that administration of 50mg/kg creatine (injections) to these rats can protect dysfunction in muscle metabolism (pyruvate kinase activity, Krebs cycle intermediates, and muscle cell viability) induced by homocysteine.[363]
The main consequence to using weight training exercises is the increase in muscle strength that you'll develop over time. You'll also develop stronger bones as well as gain a better general posture. In short, maintaining good muscle strength will allow your body to move more freely from the moment you wake up in the morning to the moment you fall asleep at night.
Creatine Ethyl Ester, or CEE for short, is a powdered form of creatine which has an ethyl group attached to the creatine. This is said to make the creatine more easily absorbed in the human body which would allow you to benefit the most. The studies have not been entirely conclusive as to whether CEE is better than creatine monohydrate. Since Creatine monohydrate is the single most researched form of creatine, it is
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".[36]
This basic form of creatine comes in two forms, one of which involves the removal of the monohydrate (which results in creatine anhydrous) that converts to creatine monohydrate in an aqueous environment,[66][67] but due to the exclusion of the monohydrate it is 100% creatine by weight despite creatine monohydrate being 88% creatine by weight, as the monohydrate is 12%. This allows more creatine to be present in a concentrated formula, like capsules.[68]
If you're using a resistance band, keep in mind that one band might not cut it for your entire body. Different muscles have different strengths, so you may want to buy two different resistance bands in different thickness, which determines how difficult they'll be to use. In general, if you're able to complete 8 reps of an exercise using a band, you'll want to select another that provides a greater amount of resistance. 

This cellular influx may also decrease protein oxidation rates, which leads to increases in nitrogen balance and indirectly increases muscle mass.[379] This lowering of protein oxidation is from signaling changes caused vicariously through cell swelling[380][381] and appears to upregulate 216 genes[378] in a range of 1.3 to 5-fold increases, with the largest increase seen in the protein involved in satellite cell recruitment, sphingosine kinase-1. Most importantly for muscle hypertrophy, the protein content of PKBa/Akt1, p38 MAPK, and ERK6 increased 2.8+/-1.2 fold.[378] Sixty-nine genes are also downregulated after creatine supplementation, to less notable degrees.


When looking specifically at human studies, there has been a failure of creatine supplementation to induce or exacerbate kidney damage in people with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Subjects do not experience kidney damage for up to or over a year’s worth of supplementation in the 5-10g range.[505][506][507] Postmenopausal women,[517] people with type II diabetes,[518] people on hemodialysis,[313] otherwise healthy elderly,[519] young people,[454][520][521] and athletes do not experience kidney damage either.[324] Moreover, numerous scientific reviews on both the long- and short-term safety of supplemental creatine have consistently found no adverse effects on kidney function in a wide range of doses.[522][523][524][452][525][451][526][527] However, while doses >10 g/day have been found not to impair kidney function, there are fewer long-term trials using such high chronic daily intakes.[527]
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.
Eat 0.4–0.5 grams of fat per pound of your body weight. Fat is essential for hormone optimization, brain function, and joint health. Now, if you’re following a ketogenic diet (or modified keto diet), or you just feel better with more fat in your diet, you can certainly add more fat and lower your protein and carb intake to accommodate it. The 0.4–0.5 grams per pound recommendation just represents a starting point and a minimum so that you don’t eat too little fat, either out of fear that it will make you fat or damage your heart (both untrue). For more about ketogenic diets, see Onnit’s guide HERE.
Nephrectomized rats may have significantly reduced creatine synthesis rates[509] via impairment of methylation (the GAMT enzyme)[510] although creatine reuptake from the urine seems unimpaired.[511] Supplemental creatine in a rat model of 2/3rds nephrectomy (2% creatine in the diet) does not appear to negatively influence kidney function as assessed by the serum biomarkers of cystatin C and urinary protein or creatinine clearance rates.[512] Elsewhere, 2% creatine in the diet in rats for two weeks again failed to show negative effects on kidney function, but showed benefit in reducing homocysteine in late-stage uremic rats.[312] While there is not much human evidence for the rat nephrectomy model, a lone case study in a man with a single kidney failed to find an impairing effect of creatine (20g daily for five days and 5g for another month) in conjunction with a high protein diet.[513]
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.
One supplement, which a large body of research has proven effective in building muscle mass when combined with intensive strength training, is creatine (sold as creatine monohydrate). Creatine, a source of rapid energy, is stored in the muscles in small amounts. With creatine loading or supplementation, bodybuilders increase muscle stores of the energy-containing compound which then can be used to provide an extra boost for an intense-high-weight lifting session. Studies support that ingestion of a relatively high dose of creatine (20 to 30 grams per day for up to two weeks) increases muscle creatine stores by 10 to 30 percent and can boost muscle strength by about 10 percent when compared with resistance training alone (Rawson & Volek, 2003). Some athletes report (though research does not necessarily support) muscle cramping in response after using creatine supplements.

Synthesis primarily takes place in the kidney and liver, with creatine then being transported to the muscles via the blood. The majority of the human body's total creatine and phosphocreatine stores is located in skeletal muscle, while the remainder is distributed in the blood, brain, and other tissues.[17][18][20] Typically, creatine is produced endogenously at an estimated rate of about 8.3 mmol or 1 gram per day in young adults.[16][17] Creatine is also obtained through the diet at a rate of about 1 gram per day from an omnivorous diet.[17][18] Some small studies suggest that total muscle creatine is significantly lower in vegetarians than non-vegetarians, as expected since foods of animal origin are the primary source of creatine. However, subjects happened to show the same levels after using supplements.[21]


^ Mangano, Kelsey M.; Sahni, Shivani; Kiel, Douglas P.; Tucker, Katherine L.; Dufour, Alyssa B.; Hannan, Marian T. (February 8, 2017). "Dietary protein is associated with musculoskeletal health independently of dietary pattern: the Framingham Third Generation Study". The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 105 (3): 714–722. doi:10.3945/ajcn.116.136762. PMC 5320406. PMID 28179224 – via ajcn.nutrition.org.

For example, a 2015 review published in the peer-reviewed journal Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism suggests that, for maximal muscle growth, people consume 25 to 35 grams of protein at breakfast, lunch and dinner. You'll find that amount of protein in a chicken breast, a cup of Greek yogurt with slivered almonds or about a three-quarter block of tofu.


Recently, studies are coming out that show a general decline in testosterone levels of men in the United States and around the world. The trend is across the board and doesn’t appear to be caused simply by a decline in health, aging or an increase in obesity rates. It could be caused because of chemicals or environmental factors. In any case, low levels of testosterone can affect many areas of your health, including your ability to build muscle. If you suspect that you have low testosterone levels, you can ask your doctor to test you for it. In addition to traditional hormone therapies, there are also many natural ways to boost your levels including through supplements, some of which will be discussed later in this article.

Heath suggests incorporating dropsets into your training routine by immediately decreasing the weight and repping out again to failure. “Dropsets overload the muscle with shorter rest periods and increasing volume which you need to grow,” says Heath. “That overload improves your body’s abilities to utilize more nutrients, natural growth hormone, and natural testosterone into those areas and makes the supplements you take more effective.” Heath’s favorite way to do dropsets is on a pin-loaded machine since it’s faster to switch weights.
A: First, you have to realize that when one is gaining weight it’s nearly impossible (steroid discussion aside) to gain solely muscle without the acquisition of some body fat as well. That being said though, you can improve thedistribution of lean body mass to fat mass by ensuring that your calorie consumption isn’t too aggressive (i.e. 1000+ over your BMR). Also, it should go without saying, but you need to be training hard while focusing on progressive overload to ensure that the calories you’re ingesting are actually going towards muscle growth. You shouldn’t be neglecting cardiovascular work either; both HIIT and LISS each play a role in enhancing mitochondrial density, balancing neurotransmitters, improving oxidative capacity, and influencing brain plasticity.

In a mouse model of allergin-induced asthma, where mice were sensitized by ovalbumin for three weeks and then given 500mg/kg creatine, supplementation induced an increase in asthmatic hyperresponsiveness to low but not high doses of methacholine.[440] This hyperresponsiveness was associated with increased eosinophil and neutrophil infiltration into the lungs, and an increase in Th2 cell cytokines (IL-4 and IL-5) alongside an increase in IGF-1,[440] which is known to influence this process.[441] Interestingly, there was a nonsignificant increase in responsiveness in mice not sensitized to ovalbumin.[440]
Of the three, protein will of course play the most important role in the muscle building process (like calories, it’s one our required “supplies”), although fat and carbs will still be important for other reasons which range from optimizing hormone production (e.g. testosterone, the muscle building hormone) to enhancing training performance and recovery.
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Now, while all three are definitely beneficial to the process, I’d consider metabolic stress and muscular damage to be of secondary and tertiary importance, respectively. In addition, they are also things that will pretty much take care of themselves when implementing the workout guidelines and recommendations we’ve already covered (namely for volume, rep ranges, rest periods and exercise selection).
Anti-depressive effects have been noted in woman with major depressive disorder when 5g of creatine monohydrate was supplemented daily for 8 weeks in combination with an SSRI. Benefits were seen at week two and were maintained until the end of the 8-week trial.[253] The improvement in depressive symptoms was associated with significantly increased prefrontal cortex levels of N-acetylaspartate, a marker of neuronal integrity,[254] and rich club connections, which refers to the ability of nerons to make connections to one another.[255]
Creatine is known to be present in the retina due to the expression of creatine kinase (CK)[466][39] and the GAMT enzyme of creatine synthesis, which is also present in the mammalian retina.[467] Creatine in the blood can be transported into the retina via the creatine transporter (confirmed in humans[468]), and inhibiting transporter activity (by depleting the medium of chloride and sodium) reduces uptake by 80%.[469] The fact that not all uptake was inhibited suggests that another transporter, such as the monocarboxylate transporter MCT12 (or SLC16A12),[470] plays a role, perhaps moreso in the lens, where its levels were comparable to that of the major creatine transporter SLC6A8.[470] 
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]
JAK2 (Janus-Activating Kinase 2) is a novel protein that has been shown to suppress the activity of the creatine transporter CrT in vitro. The effects of JAK2 on CrT are not well-understood in vivo, however. Given that growth hormone activates both c-src (increases CrT activity) and JAK2- which has been found to decrease CrT activity, it is plausible that JAK2 may function as a negative-feedback regulator of creatine uptake. Future research is needed to better understand the role of JAK2 on CrT activity in vivo.

I know this goes against the recommendations you often see in stereotypical bodybuilding routines (i.e. the ones that involve having a single “chest day” or “arm day” or “shoulder day” once a week), but that’s just one of the many reasons why those types of routines suck for us natural, genetically-average people, and work best for steroid users with great genetics.

This is why I never understand why girls who don’t want to “get bulky” are told by trainers to do 3 sets of 10-12 (or 5 sets of 1,000 reps of bicep curls with a 1 lb pink dumbbell). While it’s difficult for women to gain any sort of size lifting in ANY rep range, if we were trying to gain muscle size, that’s EXACTLY what we would want to do (as it would be causing sarcoplasmic hypertrophy).


Bodybuilders have THE BEST mind to muscle connection of any resistance-training athletes. Ask a seasoned bodybuilder to flex their lats or their rhomboids or their hamstrings and they will do it with ease. Ask other strength athletes and you will see them struggle and although they may tense up the target muscle they will also tense up about 15 other surrounding muscles. This is because strength athletes train MOVEMENTS. They don’t care about targeting their lats. They just want to do the most pull ups. They don’t worry about feeling their quads. They just want to squat maximum weight. Although this is an expected and positive thing for the most part, there are real benefits to being able to isolate and target muscles.
Creatine is a hydrophilic polar molecule that consists of a negatively charged carboxyl group and a positively charged functional group [64]. The hydrophilic nature of creatine limits its bioavailability [65]. In an attempt to increase creatines bioavailability creatine has been esterified to reduce the hydrophilicity; this product is known as creatine ethyl ester. Manufacturers of creatine ethyl ester promote their product as being able to by-pass the creatine transporter due to improved sarcolemmal permeability toward creatine [65]. Spillane et al [65] analyzed the effects of a 5 days loading protocol (0.30 g/kg lean mass) followed by a 42 days maintenance phase (0.075 g/kg lean mass) of CM or ethyl ester both combined with a resistance training program in 30 novice males with no previous resistance training experience. The results of this study [65] showed that ethyl ester was not as effective as CM to enhance serum and muscle creatine stores. Furthermore creatine ethyl ester offered no additional benefit for improving body composition, muscle mass, strength, and power. This research did not support the claims of the creatine ethyl ester manufacturers.

Creatine is mostly synthesized in the liver via AGAT and GAMT[28][32] (the other locations are neurons,[34] the pancreas, and kidneys[33]) despite it not being stored in high levels in the liver like glycogen or adipose would be. Supplemental creatine is known to suppress AGAT by downregulating transcription,[30] which probably occurs in humans (since the products of AGAT are reduced with creatine supplementation).[38]


In a sample of people with colorectal cancer given creatine supplementation for 8 weeks to assess its interactions with chemotherapy, creatine failed to benefit muscle function or quality of life. Benefits were observed in body cell mass and phase angle (indicative of cellular viability), but only in the subsample with less aggressive chemotherapy.[111]

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.
McArdle’s disease is a myopathy associated with impaired glucose release from glycogen and impairments in muscle function at times when glucose would be the primary energy substrate. Creatine is thought to be therapeutic, but has shown differing effects in the two trials so far (both benefit and worsening of symptoms) for currently unknown reasons.

K. Aleisha Fetters, M.S., C.S.C.S., is a Chicago-based personal and online trainer. She has a graduate degree in health and science reporting from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and regularly contributes to Men's Health, Women's Health, USNews.com, TIME, and SHAPE. When she's not lifting something heavy, she's usually guzzling coffee and writing about the health benefits of doing so.
Activation of NMDA receptors is known to stimulate Na+,K+-ATPase activity[218] secondary to calcineurin,[219] which which has been confirmed with creatine in hippocampal cells (0.1-1mM trended, but 10mM was significant). This is blocked by NMDA antagonists.[220] This increase in Na+,K+-ATPase activity is also attenauted with activation of either PKC or PKA,[220] which are antagonistic with calcineurin.[219][221]
^ "The History of Weightlifting". USA Weightlifting. United States Olympic Committee. Archived from the original on 7 July 2013. Retrieved 3 September 2018. The genealogy of lifting traces back to the beginning of recorded history where man's fascination with physical prowess can be found among numerous ancient writings. A 5,000-year-old Chinese text tells of prospective soldiers having to pass lifting tests.
When you’re planning your high-protein meals, 20 grams of protein is the optimal amount generally accepted for muscle growth. Research has found that the body doesn’t use much more than 20 grams for muscle-building at any one sitting. Around 80 grams of protein per day (or, four meals containing 20-grams of protein each) is about right for most people.
For beginners, your own body weight might be enough to get you started. However, it can be hard to challenge your body without any additional resistance, so to progress, you'll need some equipment. If you decide to strength train at home, you'll want to invest in some basics, such as resistance bands, weights, and an exercise ball. Try to have a range of weights: a light set (3 to 5 pounds for women, 5 to 8 pounds for men), a medium set (5 to 10 pounds for women, 10 to 15 pounds for men), and a heavy set (10 to 20 pounds for women, 15 to 30 pounds for men).

Although creatine supplementation has been shown to be more effective on predominantly anaerobic intermittent exercise, there is some evidence of its positive effects on endurance activities. Branch [28] highlights that endurance activities lasting more than 150s rely on oxidative phosphorylation as primary energy system supplier. From this meta analysis [28], it would appear that the ergogenic potential for creatine supplementation on predominantly aerobic endurance exercise diminishes as the duration of the activity increases over 150s. However it is suggested that creatine supplementation may cause a change in substrate utilization during aerobic activity possibly leading to an increase in steady state endurance performance. 

Creatine ethyl ester is more a pronutrient for creatinine rather than creatine,[74] and was originally created in an attempt to bypass the creatine transporter. It is currently being studied for its potential as a treatment for situations in which there is a lack of creatine transporters (alongside cyclocreatine as another possible example).[77] Its efficacy may rely on intravenous administration, however.
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