After your standard whey protein powder, creatine may be the most popular sports supplement on Earth, and with good reason. A lot of supplements out there have a few promising studies suggesting they may improve some aspect of performance. Creatine has hundreds of them, and study after study has shown that among most people (a small percentage of are non-responders) it can have a significant effect on several areas of performance.
Due to the growing concerns of the high cost, health consequences, and illegal nature of some steroids, many organizations have formed in response and have deemed themselves "natural" bodybuilding competitions. In addition to the concerns noted, many promoters of bodybuilding have sought to shed the "freakish" perception that the general public has of bodybuilding and have successfully introduced a more mainstream audience to the sport of bodybuilding by including competitors whose physiques appear much more attainable and realistic.
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.
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.
It’s not just about lifting—it’s about lifting safely and correctly. And if you’re not performing exercises properly, it’s impossible to make any progress. “When someone is just starting to work out, it can help to work closely with a knowledgeable personal trainer in order to learn proper form,” says Ingram. But that goes for experienced lifters, too. If you aren’t sure about a movement, it’s better to ask. “If you’re not working the correct muscles, you can’t expect them to grow,” explains Ingram.
There is a great amount of research published on creatine supplementation; protocols of administration, forms of creatine, as well as potential side effects. Despite this, the mechanisms by which creatine acts in the human body to improve physical and cognitive performance are still not clear. The main objectives of this review are to analyze the more recent findings on the effects and mechanisms of creatine supplementation in sports and health. As a secondary purpose, we will analyze the most recommended protocols of ingestion and its potential side effects.
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.
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.
While the aforementioned study insinuated that after was better, at this time the “just take it at any time” or maybe more appropriately, “take it when it works for you” is the best way to go. Many people take supplements that include creatine, so if that’s in your pre- or post- workout drink, you should receive all the benefits. Optimal dosing still appears to be between 2 to 5 grams per day. You can “load” for the first 5 to 7 days to help saturate your cells, but beyond that there’s no benefit to taking large amounts. So save your money and take the smaller dose; it’ll still offer maximum results.
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You don’t have to, but you can. The typical creatine dose is 5 grams once or twice per day, but it’s sometimes suggested that one should “load” creatine by taking 20 to 25 grams per day for the first week of usage. This is then followed with 3 to 4 weeks of 5 grams per day, then a break for a week or two, then repeat. This may bring about more acute increases in strength and muscle size — creatine will “work” more quickly, in other words — but it’s not necessary.
Despite the popularity of creatine among young people, there has been very little research conducted in children under age 18. Of those studies, a few have suggested a positive effect but the overall evidence is inconclusive. In one study, teenage swimmers performed better after taking creatine; in another study, it helped high school soccer players sprint, dribble, and jump more effectively.
Age-related muscle loss: Many different dosing regimens have been used; however, most use a short-term “loading dose” followed by a long-term maintenance dose. Loading doses are typically 20 grams daily for 4-7 days. Maintenance doses are typically 2-10 grams daily. Older adults seem to only experience benefits from creatine supplementation when it is combined with resistance training.
According to the abstract, in the stratified analyses by forms of aerobic exercise, weekly resistance exercise of 1 time or 1-59 minutes was associated with lower risks of total cardiovascular events and cardiovascular disease, regardless of meeting the aerobic exercise guidelines. The analysis showed that resistance training reduced the risk of cardiovascular events in 2 ways: training had a direct association with cardiovascular risk, and resistance training indirectly lowered cardiovascular risk by decreasing body mass index.
You’ll Feel Better: Not only will you find yourself with more energy and confidence, less stress and anxiety, and a better overall mood, but you’ll actually begin to think better (resistance training has been proven to help increase cognitive function). And while training too close to bedtime can be a bad idea, exercising earlier in the day has been proven to help prevent sleep apnea and insomnia. I even improved my posture – when I started lifting, I was 5’4”. Now I’m 5’5.5”.
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. 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. This does not rule out a possible systemic exercise-driven increase in creatine uptake, and the increase in creatine noted above 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.
How much weight? Start with a pair of light dumbbell hand weights (2 to 3 pounds for women and 5 to 8 pounds for men). If you can’t do 12 repetitions (or reps are the number of times you do the exercise) the weight is too heavy. If your muscles don’t feel tired after 12 reps, it’s too light. Adjustable weights that can be strapped to wrists or ankles may be convenient if you have arthritis in your hands. You can also use home or gym weight machines, or resistance bands.
Translation: your muscles are going to have more energy. The process of accessing that energy is so complicated, you almost need an organic chemistry degree to totally understand it. Yes, it’s complicated, but completely necessary for biochemical reactions like muscle contractions. And the more your muscle works, the more ATP is depleted and needs to be replaced for you to make progress toward your goals. With creatine supplementation, you can enhance your ATP regeneration and thus delay onset of muscle fatigue and work more intensely for a longer period of time. Little goes a long way in the pursuit of muscle gains.
^ 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.
At the end of the day, yes, strength training does impact your metabolism, but any boost you get will be minimal and completely secondary to all of the other health benefits of strength training. Any change in metabolism or increase in calorie burn will vary widely from person to person, and depends on so many factors: your genetics, eating habits, health conditions, what workout you do that day, how much sleep you’re getting, and even how stressed you are on any given day. But incorporating a couple of strength training sessions into your fitness routine is worth doing no matter what—you’ll feel yourself get stronger, and put yourself in a position to say healthier throughout life. Those are the best, most promising benefits to work for.
Rice Protein: An alternative protein powder for muscle gain, rice protein is ideal for people who are lactose intolerant or have a milk allergy. As far as muscle gain and body composition when taken post-workout, this study showed that there was zero difference in outcomes when comparing taking whey protein and rice protein. So, if you prefer using rice protein, you can take it with confidence knowing that you’ll be able to achieve the same results you’d achieve if you were taking whey protein.
Do Belgian squats (or "single leg squats") with a dumbbell. Hold out in front of your chest a dumbbell using both hands. Standing in front of a bench, lift your right leg back so that it's parallel to the floor and resting comfortably on the bench. Bend into a squat using the left leg, so that the right knee almost hits the floor. Lift and repeat 3 x 8. Repeat using opposite leg.
The harder an exercise is – both in terms of technicality and physical/mental demand – the more rest there should usually be. So exercises like squats and deadlifts should have more rest between sets than exercises like leg extensions and leg curls. And exercises like various bench presses, shoulder presses, rows and pull-ups should have more rest between sets than bicep curls, tricep extensions, chest flies and lateral raises.
The failure of creatine to improve physical performance in these conditions is thought to be related to the myopathies in general, which are known to result in less phosphocreatine in skeletal muscle, associated with reduced expression of the creatine transporter. As creatine has once been noted to not accumulate in the skeletal muscle of people with DM1 given supplementation, it is thought that the subjects did not respond to therapy.
There are many camps within the weight training fitness community. We have bodybuilders, Crossfit athletes, powerlifters, Olympic lifters, and strongman athletes just to name the most popular ones off the top of my head. One thing they all have in common is that they all use resistance to achieve a particular goal. They all also “share” particular exercises. Most resistance-training athletes do barbell squats, overhead presses and deadlifts. I can write pages of differences between each of the disciplines I listed above and I can also write quite a bit about their similarities but one form of resistance training is MORE different than the others. Bodybuilding is the only sport that judges the appearance of the athlete rather than their performance. This may be why bodybuilders tend to get poked at the most.
Peirano, R. I., Achterberg, V., Dusing, H. J., Akhiani, M., Koop, U., Jaspers, S., Kruger, A., Schwengler, H., Hamann, T., Wenck, H., Stab, F., Gallinat, S., and Blatt, T. Dermal penetration of creatine from a face-care formulation containing creatine, guarana and glycerol is linked to effective antiwrinkle and antisagging efficacy in male subjects. J.Cosmet.Dermatol. 2011;10:273-281. View abstract.
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.
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. Glutathione (normally decreases with exercise) and catalase (increases) were both unaffected, 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) when RBC creatine was increased by 12.3% to reach 554µM. 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%.
The muscle endurance objective is pursued when you want your muscles to be able to perform the same motions over an extended period of time or in other words when you want your muscles to be strong and not become tired rapidly. You'll want to use at least 4 sets from which at least 16 repetitions are performed. The muscle endurance objective is often used for muscles in your lower body, such as those located in your legs or your buttocks.
A proper warm-up is an important part of an effective strength workout. Start by foam rolling your muscles to wake 'em up. "Foam rolling loosens up tight muscles so that they work the way they're designed to," says Davis. A dynamic warm-up is another important part of your pre-workout routine, it preps your muscles for the work they're about to do and helps increase your range of motion. Increasing your range of motion allows you to go deeper into those squats and fully extend those bicep curls, which means more muscle recruitment and better results. "These two combined reduce your risk of injury and allow you to push harder during your workout," says Davis. Get started with this five-minute warm-up.
It's woooooorkkkkkiiiinnnngggg!!! I've been working out without creatine for over a year and a half now and have been missing that extra boost at the end of a set of reps. Not anymore! Started to feel the creatine help out in my 4th workout since using this stuff. It's good, real good. Creatine is one of those only supplements that have actually been proven to increase strength and bursts of endurance at the end of a set, and it's that one thing that can turn a regular workout into something that you're proud of. Just buy it, it works, you won't be disappointed. Use 2 of their servings sizes though, you need 5mg not 2.5. No spoon in bag, you'll need a measuring cup. Mixes effortlessly in juice.
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)
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.
However, the basis of “take creatine after your workout” comes from a 2013 study published in the JISSN, which can be found here (open access too!). In this study, recreational male bodybuilders (19 men overall) were given five grams of creatine either before or after their workouts. They trained five days per week but were also directed to consume 5g on their rest days at any time they wanted. The workouts were fairly similar to most gym workouts, and the methodology (what they did and how they did it) suggests that the findings would apply to most weightlifters.
Creatine is an organic acid naturally occurring in the body that supplies energy to muscle cells for short bursts of energy (as required in lifting weights) via creatine phosphate replenishment of ATP. A number of scientific studies have shown that creatine can improve strength, energy, muscle mass, and recovery times. In addition, recent studies have also shown that creatine improves brain function. and reduces mental fatigue. Unlike steroids or other performance-enhancing drugs, creatine can be found naturally in many common foods such as herring, tuna, salmon, and beef.
Genetic deficiencies in the creatine biosynthetic pathway lead to various severe neurological defects. Clinically, there are three distinct disorders of creatine metabolism. Deficiencies in the two synthesis enzymes can cause L-arginine:glycine amidinotransferase deficiency caused by variants in GATM and guanidinoacetate methyltransferase deficiency, caused by variants in GAMT. Both biosynthetic defects are inherited in an autosomal recessive manner. A third defect, creatine transporter defect, is caused by mutations in SLC6A8 and inherited in a X-linked manner. This condition is related to the transport of creatine into the brain.
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!
What you eat plays a big role in how much muscle your body can build. Proteins are especially important for building muscle. When you eat protein, your body breaks it down into amino acids which are the building blocks of muscle. How much protein you should include in your diet depends on a number of factors including your age and muscle building goals. Older adults who engage in resistance training and those hoping for maximum muscle growth should eat 1 to 1.3 grams of protein per kg of body weight (2, 3). If you weigh 150 lbs, that means you should take between 68 and 88 g of protein daily. Other recommendations are more modest, suggesting that .36 grams of protein per pound of body weight is enough.