Whenever you hear the word, “bodybuilding”, your mind usually flashes you images of bulging muscles, steel, sweat, the shouts of weightlifters, and ripped, muscular bodies of men and women in skimpy spandex. Your mind instantly takes you to the gym followed by wishful thinking that you can have a sexy body and bigger muscles. However, it takes more than just
Creatine retention (assessed by urinary analysis) tends to be very high on the first loading dose (65±11%) and declines throughout the loading phase (23±27%). This is likely due to increased muscular uptake when creatine stores are relatively low, which has been noted in vegetarians. So, creatine absorption is very high initially, but decreases througout the loading phase, as muscle creatine stores increase.
Objective: Are you getting stronger? Increasing either weight or reps? If you're measuring individual markers on a daily basis like vertical jump, grip strength, or resting heart rate then what sort of trends are you noticing in these variables? If they're staying the same while your strength is increasing, then you're recovering well. If they're decreasing and you find yourself weaker over time then you're not recovering well.
If you’re new to training, then check out some of the options found on the site and run them exactly as the author intended them to be executed. Too many young guns want to alter every training variable rather than running the program as written and focusing on getting stronger. No, you don’t need an entire day dedicated to arms when you can’t even complete a single chin-up.
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.
When assessing the antioxidant effects of creatine, it does not appear to sequester superoxide and may not be a direct antioxidant. Additionally, creatine failed to protect neurons from H2O2 incubation to induce cell death via pro-oxidative means. These results are in contrast to previously recorded results suggesting creatine acts as a direct anti-oxidant.
Perform the workout three days a week for four weeks, resting at least one day between each session. On the weight exercises, choose a load that allows you to complete a few more reps than the prescribed number (you may need to adjust this load between sets as you discover your strength levels). For instance, if an exercise calls for 12 reps, choose a load that you estimate you can perform 15 reps with before having to stop (but complete only 12).
Studies measuring extracellular water versus intracellular water note similar increases in both, associated with creatine. Creatine does not tend to disturb the ratios of water to dry mass in various tissues measured. At least one study in older men (48-72 years) has failed to find a significant difference in both intracellular and extracellular water concentration after 14 weeks of 5g creatine daily (with gatorade) relative to gatorade in isolation, with the ratio being maintained.
Universal Real Gains is a powerful mass gainer -- each serving contains 602 calories with 53 grams of protein, 84 grams of effective carbohydrates and 5 grams of fiber. It also includes over 15 amino acids and 10 vitamins and minerals to support your muscle building quest. This easy to mix formula is a convenient addition to any shake so you can put on mass and size. You will not find a mass gainer like this anywhere else on the market. Keep Reading »
A: Depending upon your experience level, preference, recovery capacity, and time available, you’ll likely find that 3-5 strength training sessions per week is the sweet spot. If you’re just getting started with weight training, then you should stick with 3 days per week and work your way up. Novices and early intermediates can handle 4 days per week with a split such as an upper lower and seasoned intermediate lifters may be able to handle 5 sessions per week depending upon the programming, recovery, and nutrition strategies that are in place.
^ Burd, Nicholas A.; Yang, Yifan; Moore, Daniel R.; Tang, Jason E.; Tarnopolsky, Mark A.; Phillips, Stuart M. (2012). "Greater stimulation of myofibrillar protein synthesis with ingestion of whey protein isolate v. Micellar casein at rest and after resistance exercise in elderly men". British Journal of Nutrition. 108 (6): 958–62. doi:10.1017/S0007114511006271. PMID 22289570.
Back in the 1970s, scientists discovered that taking creatine in supplement form might enhance physical performance. In the 1990s, athletes started to catch on, and creatine became a popular sports supplement. The supplement is particularly popular among high school, college, and professional athletes, especially football and hockey players, wrestlers, and gymnasts.
One of the studies noting a reduction in fatigue in healthy subjects given creatine (8g) for five days prior to a mathematical test noted a relative decrease in oxygenation hemoglobin in the brain and an increase in deoxygenated hemoglobin, which normally indicates a reduction in cerebral oxygenation. The authors made note of how cytoplasmic phosphocreatine can increase oxygen uptake into cells (noted in vitro in a concentration dependent manner between 0-25mM) and suggested that either cells were taking up more oxygen from hemoglobin, or that increased mitochondrial efficiency resulted in less of a need for oxygen.
Key point: Past a certain number of sets, the marginal increases in protein synthesis NO LONGER outweigh the cost of doing more sets. If 8 sets of chest exercises produce 95% of possible muscle protein synthesis… then it makes very little sense to do ANOTHER 10 sets (like most chest workouts) to try and inch out the final 5% of stimulation. Those extra 10 sets are simply damaging your muscle unnecessarily and impairing your ability to recover.
In regard to liver fat buildup (steatosis), which is normally associated with reduced availability of S-adenosyl methionine and a suppression in expression of genes involved in fatty acid oxidation (PPARα and CPT1), creatine supplementation at 1% of the rat diet alongside a diet that induces fatty liver is able to fully prevent (and nonsignificantly reduce relative to the control given standard diets) the aforementioned changes and the state of steatosis, as well as changes in serum biomarkers (glucose and insulin) that accompany steatosis.
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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. Other prelimnary human studies suggest creatine might lessen unipolar depression and one study on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) noted improved mood as assessed by the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale.
In weight training, as with most forms of exercise, there is a tendency for the breathing pattern to deepen. This helps to meet increased oxygen requirements. Holding the breath or breathing shallowly is avoided because it may lead to a lack of oxygen, passing out, or an excessive build up of blood pressure. Generally, the recommended breathing technique is to inhale when lowering the weight (the eccentric portion) and exhale when lifting the weight (the concentric portion). However, the reverse, inhaling when lifting and exhaling when lowering, may also be recommended. Some researchers state that there is little difference between the two techniques in terms of their influence on heart rate and blood pressure. It may also be recommended that a weight lifter simply breathes in a manner which feels appropriate.
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.
Product reviews – Since the effectiveness of products varies based on a wide number of factors, one of the best things to do is read creatine product reviews. The best rated creatine products will have consistently good reviews, meaning a lot of people use that product and would recommend it. However – remember to take reviews with a grain of salt, as there’s a lot of ignorance and misinformation out there.
In otherwise healthy adults subject to leg immobilization for two weeks while taking 20g creatine daily during immobilization and then 5g daily during eight weeks of rehabilitation, it was noted that the creatine group failed to reduce atrophy during the immobilization (10% reduction in cross sectional area and 22-25% reduction in force output) despite preventing a decrease in phosphocreatine, yet experienced a significantly enhanced rate of regrowth and power recovery. A similarly structured and dosed study has also noted greater expression of skeletal muscle, GLUT4 expression, and a 12% increase in muscle phosphocreatine content.
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. This study also noted that, despite a normalization of glycogen after the trial, total creatine and ATP was still higher than placebo, 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.
That said, many people experience stomach cramps when they consume creatine monohydrate and it’s possible that taking a creatine with a different pH — usually creatine hydrochloride — can have a different effect on stomach acid and make for a creatine that digests more easily. As far as we know, the easier digestion doesn’t necessarily mean it’s more effective or that you need less of it to achieve the desired result.
There you have it — our five favorite creatine products on the market. But when you’ve tried as many creatines as we have, there were a lot of others that we loved but didn’t make the very top of our list for the previous categories. That’s why we’ve also come up with a list of the best creatines for men, best creatines for women, best creatines for muscle growth, for bulking, for the brain, and the best micronized creatine. Keep reading for our favorite picks!
In elite swimmers, the growth hormone response to sprints appears to be attenuated (39%) following creatine loading, although after a 3g maintenance phase (22-27 weeks), this attenuation was reduced to less than 5%. Elsewhere in swimmers, resting growth hormone was unaffected by the loading phase, suggesting that this is an exercise-exclusive effect.
Fish oils are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, which provide myriad benefits for the body. For strength athletes and bodybuilders, we're most concerned with their anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Intense resistance training can cause microscopic tears in your muscle fibers, leading to muscle damage and inflammation. While some inflammation is desirable, too much can delay the post-exercise recovery process.
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.
Bodybuilders do cardio training such as running and using a StairMaster StepMill to burn fat and make their muscles more visible. “Do cardio throughout the year at least three days a week for at least 30-40 minutes, whether it be first thing in the morning on an empty stomach or after a post-workout protein shake,” says Heath. “Cardio won’t kill your gains as much as you think, you’ll see how much muscle you really have.” Break a sweat to stay lean ’round the clock.
Recommended Dose: 3-6 grams before or during exercise. A ratio of two parts leucine to one part each of isoleucine and valine appears to be most beneficial. As Krissy Kendall, PhD, explains in "The Top 7 Supplements to Boost Endurance Performance," BCAAs can be just as effective for endurance athletes like runners, rowers, and cyclists as they can be for lifters and bodybuilders.
Creatine supplementation appears to be somewhat similar to TMG supplementation in the sense that they both promote localized synthesis of phosphatidylcholine, effluxing triglycerides from the liver into serum and thus potently protecting from diet-induced fatty liver. The concentration at which this occurs is within the range supplemented by humans.
High extracellular creatine concentrations induce the expression of a factor that inhibits the creatine transporter (CrT). To date, neither the identity of nor mechanism for this putative CrT-suppressing factor has come to light. Future studies that are able to identify this creatine transport-suppressing factor and how it works may provide valuable insight into possible supplementation strategies that might be used to increase creatine uptake into muscle cells.
Cyclocreatine (1-carboxymethyl-2-iminoimidazolidine) is a synthetic analogue of creatine in a cyclic form. It serves as a substrate for the creatine kinase enzyme system, acting as a creatine mimetic. Cyclocreatine may compete with creatine in the CK enzyme system to transfer phosphate groups to ADP, as coincubation of both can reduce cyclocreatine’s anti-motility effects on some cancer cells.
Creatine is a molecule produced in the body. It stores high-energy phosphate groups in the form of phosphocreatine. Phosphocreatine releases energy to aid cellular function during stress. This effect causes strength increases after creatine supplementation, and can also benefit the brain, bones, muscles, and liver. Most of the benefits of creatine are a result of this mechanism.
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) while possibly increasing dopaminergic activity (conversely seen to benefit activity in the heat).
*Always remember: weight loss results & health changes/improvements vary from individual to individual. Just because these studies cite certain data does not mean you will experience these results/outcomes. Always consult with your doctor before making decisions about your health. This is not medical advice – simply well-researched information and tips to sleep better. Thanks for reading!
Contrast loading is the alternation of heavy and light loads. Considered as sets, the heavy load is performed at about 85-95% 1 repetition max; the light load should be considerably lighter at about 30-60% 1RM. Both sets should be performed fast with the lighter set being performed as fast as possible. The joints should not be locked as this inhibits muscle fibre recruitment and reduces the speed at which the exercise can be performed. The lighter set may be a loaded plyometric exercise such as loaded squat jumps or jumps with a trap bar.
Prohormones are precursors to hormones and are most typically sold to bodybuilders as a precursor to the natural hormone testosterone. This conversion requires naturally occurring enzymes in the body. Side effects are not uncommon, as prohormones can also convert further into DHT and estrogen. To deal with this, many supplements also have aromatase inhibitors and DHT blockers such as chrysin and 4-androstene-3,6,17-trione. To date most prohormone products have not been thoroughly studied, and the health effects of prolonged use are unknown. Although initially available over the counter, their purchase was made illegal without a prescription in the US in 2004, and they hold similar status in many other countries. They remain legal, however, in the United Kingdom and the wider European Union. Their use is prohibited by most sporting bodies.
Bodybuilders often split their food intake for the day into 5 to 7 meals of roughly equal nutritional content and attempt to eat at regular intervals (e.g. every 2 to 3 hours). This method can serve two purposes: to limit overindulging in the cutting phase, and to physically allow for the consumption of large volumes of food during the bulking phase. Contrary to popular belief, eating more frequently does not increase basal metabolic rate when compared to the traditional 3 meals a day. While food does have a metabolic cost to digest, absorb, and store, called the thermic effect of food, it depends on the quantity and type of food, not how the food is spread across the meals of the day. Well-controlled studies using whole-body calorimetry and doubly labeled water have demonstrated that there is no metabolic advantage to eating more frequently.
A push–pull workout is a method of arranging a weight training routine so that exercises alternate between push motions and pull motions. 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.
Despite all the awesomeness of hypertrophy, athletes may be more interested in effects on power. Power is the ability to generate high amounts of force in relatively short periods of time — more power means you can pull more weight in low-rep sets — and independent of the hypertrophy, just five to ten grams of creatine per day appears to improve power output by 12 to 26 percent.
In otherwise sedentary and healthy men given a loading phase of creatine followed by 11 weeks of maintenance, the glucose response to an oral glucose tolerance test is reduced by 11-22% (measurements at 4-12 weeks with no time dependence noted) which was not associated with changes in insulin levels or sensitivity. Elsewhere, a study in vegetarians (5g daily for 42 days) failed to find a reduction in postprandial blood glucose.
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. 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  and increasing phosphocreatine storages suppresses the activity of this enzyme.
Green tea offers many health benefits, such as inhibition of cardiovascular disease and cancer. It also has some mild thermogenic effects, independent of its caffeine content, that may assist fat loss. Some studies even show that green tea offers protection against joint degeneration. If you don't have the time or inclination to drink several cups of green tea daily, you can get the same or better effects by using standardized capsules or tablets of green tea.
Perform bent over rows to work your back. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, about 6 to 10 inches (15–25 cm) behind the barbell or two dumbbells. Bend slightly at the knees but keep your shins vertical. Bend forward at the waist with your spine and head straight. Lift the weight with an overhand grip up to your lower chest or upper abdomen. Lower slowly until your arms are nearly extended, without touching the ground. 3 x 8.
Side-Effects: While the signs of a great body may make one think that there cannot be anything wrong with bodybuilding supplements, the facts speak otherwise. Bodybuilding supplements do have side-effects and you must listen to your trainer before giving in to the thoughts of buying one. Creatine can cause heart problems, kidney problems, dehydration, diarrhoea and muscle cramping. You must also discuss your medical history with the trainer.
Deldicque et al  found a 250%, 45% and 70% increase for collagen mRNA, glucose transporter 4 (GLUT4) and Myosin heavy chain IIA, respectively after 5 days creatine loading protocol (21 g/d). The authors speculated that creatine in addition to a single bout of resistance training can favor an anabolic environment by inducing changes in gene expression after only 5 days of supplementation.
It can be hard not to compare yourself to Schwarzenegger, with his action-star movie career, his stint as a president-appointed fitness ambassador and his election as governor of California. Chang said that Heath’s personality, including his charisma and outspokenness, is similar to that of Schwarzenegger, who is still omnipresent and beloved in the sport.
As I mentioned earlier, the exercises that come first in your workout (aka primary compound exercises) should usually be done in the 5-8 rep range. Exercises in the middle (aka your secondary compound exercises) should usually be done in the 8-10 rep range. Exercises done at the end of your workout (which is typically where isolation exercises belong) should usually be done in the 10-15 rep range.
It raised the question about performance-enhancing drugs. Their murky role in bodybuilding has long shrouded the sport. A 2013 documentary on Heath and Mr. Olympia called “Generation Iron” (a sort of bookend piece to 1977’s “Pumping Iron,” which launched Schwarzenegger and others to fame) called the topic “taboo.” It then insinuated that, of course, bodybuilders competing in top-level contests like Mr. Olympia use steroids.
It’s perhaps best known for the aesthetic benefits. Creatine increases muscle size relatively quickly and while that’s in part due to an increase in muscle water content — a good thing, since it means we’re better hydrated — it does indeed appear to lead to actual hypertrophy over time. And bigger muscles aren’t just aesthetic: larger muscles can improve work capacity, explosiveness, fat oxidation, injury resilience, and recovery.
Cribb et al (2007)  observed greater improvements on 1RM, lean body mass, fiber cross sectional area and contractile protein in trained young males when resistance training was combined with a multi-nutrient supplement containing 0.1 g/kg/d of creatine, 1.5 g/kg/d of protein and carbohydrate compared with protein alone or a protein carbohydrate supplement without the creatine. These findings were novel because at the time no other research had noted such improvements in body composition at the cellular and sub cellular level in resistance trained participants supplementing with creatine. The amount of creatine consumed in the study by Cribb et al was greater than the amount typically reported in previous studies (a loading dose of around 20 g/d followed by a maintenance dose of 3-5 g/d is generally equivalent to approximately 0.3 g/kg/d and 0.03 g/kg/d respectively) and the length of the supplementation period or absence of resistance exercise may explain the observed transcriptional level changes that were absent in previous studies [30,31].
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.
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.
Why it made the list: Whey tops the list of mass-gain supplements because it's the most crucial for pushing protein synthesis. Whey is a milk protein that has a high level of branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs, No. 4 on our list). Bottom line: Whey takes the crown because it digests fast and gets to your muscles rapidly to start building muscle. Whey also contains peptides (small proteins) that increase blood flow to the muscles. This is why we always recommend consuming whey protein immediately after training.
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. It has fairly decent intestinal absorption (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.
It is equally important, if not more so, to ensure that you supply your body with more protein than it is breaking down each day. Your body uses protein for many things daily, and when you are working out, your body may start to break down proteins to provide extra energy. But your body also requires proteins to create new muscle cells and repair damaged ones. Many bodybuilding supplements contain large amounts of protein to ensure that your body has plenty for all required processes. Jump to Our 10 Best Bodybuilding Supplement List