Beach muscles and Olympic lifts draw more attention. But the many little stabilizer muscles around your shoulders, hips, and midsection — collectively the core — provide a strong foundation. Challenging the stability and mobility of these key muscles with medicine balls, physioballs, mini-bands, and rotational movements (lifting, chopping) pays huge dividends.
Fast twitch (or Type II fibers) fire very quickly, but also fatigue quickly, so they don’t last long. It gets a bit more complicated, because there are actually two types of fast twitch fibers. Type IIA fibers have some endurance qualities (used for things such as longer sprints). While Type IIX fibers are our “super fast” fibers, used only when a super short burst is needed (like a 100 m sprint or a really heavy lift).
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.
The two workouts listed above are completely free and highly recommended. If, however, you’re looking for additional workouts, my book – Superior Muscle Growth – contains ALL of the muscle building routines that I’ve personally used and designed for others (11 different workouts, 40+ different versions). Feel free to check it out to learn more about what’s included.
Another category of muscle-building supplements that lifters and bodybuilders use to improve their results are branched-chained amino acids (BCAAs), or BCAAs. Of the 20 amino acids that make up protein, just three are referred to as BCAAs: leucine, isoleucine, and valine. These are the specific amino acids that have been shown to stimulate protein synthesis and help regulate protein metabolism.
Studies that use a dosage range typical of creatine supplementation (in the range of 5g a day following an acute loading period) note increases to total body water of 6.2% (3.74lbs) over 9 weeks and 1.1kg over 42 days. Interestingly, some studies comparing creatine paired with training against training itself fail to find a significant difference in percentage of water gained (which is inherently to activity) with standard oral doses of creatine (although low dose creatine supplementation of 0.03g/kg or 2.3g daily doesn’t appear to increase water retention) despite more overall water weight being gained, due to an equal gain of dry mass in muscles. One study has quantified the percentage increase in mass of muscle cells to be 55% water, suggesting the two groups are fairly equal.
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. In these particular instances (assessed by rats fed homocysteine to increase serum levels to such a high level) 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.
Cornelissen, V. A., Defoor, J. G., Stevens, A., Schepers, D., Hespel, P., Decramer, M., Mortelmans, L., Dobbels, F., Vanhaecke, J., Fagard, R. H., and Vanhees, L. Effect of creatine supplementation as a potential adjuvant therapy to exercise training in cardiac patients: a randomized controlled trial. Clin.Rehabil. 2010;24(11):988-999. View abstract.
I learned from this to focus on the body weight exercises. I never understood why I could lift a lot of weight, but felt weak when it came to dips, pull ups, push ups etc. Normally I spend 2 hours in a gym: 20 min jogging, 80 min lifting, 20 min jogging, 5 days a week. After reading this I’m excited to incorporate HIIT training in addition to mobility training on my off days, because I think I was wasting a lot of time and effort. I can push way harder on lifting days without the jog beforehand, so I’ll also be able to make the most of 60 minutes…
A maintenance phase of 2g daily appears to technically preserve creatine content in skeletal muscle of responders either inherently or after a loading phase, but in sedentary people or those with light activity, creatine content still progressively declines (although it still higher than baseline levels after six weeks) and glycogen increases seem to normalize. This maintenance dose may be wholly insufficient for athletes, a 5g maintenance protocol may be more prudent.
Creatine is most commonly found in the basic form of creatine monohydrate, which is the standard form and usually recommended due to the low price. It can also be micronized to improve water solubility, or the monohydrate can be temporarily removed to concentrate creatine in a small volume supplement. Neither alteration changes the properties of creatine.
SAMe is the primary methyl donor in the human body, and supplements that preserve SAMe (such as trimethylglycine; TMG) promote a variety of benefits in the human body, like a reduction in homocysteine and reduced risk of fatty liver. Creatine has been implicated in both reducing homocysteine and preventing fatty liver in rodents, thought to be secondary to preserving SAMe.
Minor liver lesions (grade I, no grade II or III, pathology not indicative of toxicity) have been studied in SOD1 G93A transgenic mice (a research model for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or ALS, but used in this study to assess a state of chronic pro-oxidative stress) for 159 days with 2% of feed intake and in CD-1 rats (seen as normal) over 56 days with 0.025-0.5mg/kg in CD-1 mice, although in Sprague-Dawley rats (normal controls) there were no significant differences noted even after 2% of feed intake for 365 days. These observations appear to be due to the strain of the rodents used, and human studies on amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS; what the SOD1 G93A transgenic mice are thought to represent) lasting from nine to sixteen months with subjects supplementing with up to 10g of creatine daily have failed to find any abnormalities in serum biomarkers of liver or kidney health.
Creatine supplementation may be able to enhance lifespan, secondary to increasing intracellular carnosine stores. Carnosine is the metabolic compound formed from beta-alanine supplementation, and in a mouse-model for premature aging (senescence-accelerated premature aging, SAMP8) creatine supplementation without any beta-alanine has been shown to increase cellular carnosine stores. That being said, the aforemented SAMP8 study noted an increase in carnosine levels at middle age, but not old age in the mice. A human study using 20g of creatine for one week in otherwise healthy people failed to find an increase in intracellular carnosine stores.
Always consult your doctor before you begin taking a creatine supplement to make sure that there are no negative interactions with whatever diabetes medication you are on. If they deem you to be safe to take creatine, we recommend this unflavored powder from MET-Rx. It’s made without artificial sweeteners, flavors, and colors, so it's just pure creatine monohydrate powder to promote increased muscle strength. One reviewer noted the product is easy to mix and another said the formula was effect for their needs.
Need the motivation to push past your comfort zone and squeeze out one more push-up or bicep curl? Sure, it helps to remember that you’ll get stronger, rock more toned muscles and rev your metabolism, thanks to all that added muscle mass. But if that wasn’t enough, now comes news that all that pump-itude (yes, that’s an SNL reference) has psychological benefits, too.
A double-blind study provided 20 g/day of creatine monohydrate for 5 days to qualified sprinters and jumpers who performed 45 seconds of continuous jumping and 60 seconds of continuous treadmill running. Supplementation enhanced performance in the jumping test by 7% for the first 15 seconds and 12% for the next 15 seconds, but there was no difference for the final 15 seconds. There was a 13% improvement in the time of intensive running to exhaustion .
Change things up. After six or more weeks of consistent strength training, which is about the amount of time it takes to start seeing improvement in your body, you can change your routine to make it more difficult. Lifting the same weights for the same exercises every week will keep your body in the same place. You can modify weights or repetitions, choose different exercises, or change the order in which you do them. You only have to make one change at a time to make a difference, although more is often better.
For example, say you are pursuing a muscle power objective in which you have decided to perform 3 sets of 8 repetitions each. You'll want to make sure you don't add too much weight so that you are able to perform all 8 repetitions before your muscles are too tired to finish the set. Conversely you'll want to make sure you add enough weight so that you are not simply breezing past the repetitions and finish your sets of plenty of energy still left in the tank. While it may take a few workout sessions to find the right combination, once you'll do it'll be easy to monitor and increase weight as you progress.
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.
Most of us have lives, or jobs, or school, or family, or whatever else that puts some kind of limit on when and how often we can work out. For example, are there certain days that you are able to work out on, and certain days you aren’t? Are you able to train 5 days per week, or would 3-4 be more ideal? Choosing a split that suits your personal schedule and is as convenient for you as possible will be crucial for adherence, and without adherence, nothing is going to work.
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.
After all, you’ve probably seen the countless workouts, diets, supplements, programs, products and people claiming that super fast muscle growth is possible. You’ve probably also seen the click-bait headlines (“How To Build 20lbs Of Muscle In Just 6 Weeks!”) and the unbelievable transformations of supposedly “natural” people (bodybuilders, celebrities, athletes, fitness gurus on social media, etc.) that clearly prove it can happen faster than this.