If you’re the kind of person who shops for popular dietary supplements like protein or collagen powder, you’ve probably seen another popular bottle on the shelves: creatine. This supplement, which can be taken as a powder or liquid (and usually in some kind of healthy shake), is a staple in the bodybuilding community thanks to its ability to help you pack on muscle and work out longer and harder. (1) While creatine is generally considered safe — and is one of the most researched supplements out there (according to a review published in July 2012 in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition) — it is still a supplement, which means it’s not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and product claims don’t necessarily need to be substantiated (though the FDA can pull products that are found to be unsafe). (2,3)

The creatine transporter is a sodium[139][140] and chloride[141][142] dependent membrane-associated transporter that belongs to the Na+/Cl-dependent family of neurotransmitter transporters.[143] In muscle cells and most other cell types,[131][141] the isomer of the creatine transporter is known as SLC6A8 (solute carrier family 6, member 8). SLC6A8 is encoded by the gene present on the Xq28 region of the human X-chromosome and is expressed in most tissues.[144] A related gene encoding a creatine transporter variant has also been identified at 16p11.1 that is expressed exclusively in the testes.[145] These two transporters share 98% homology.[144][145]
More recent studies on the regulation of CrT creatine transport activity have identified the protein kinase (Janus-Activating Kinase 2) JAK2, which suppresses the rate of creatine uptake via CrT without affecting creatine binding.[181] JAK2 is a regulatory protein involved in stabilizing the cellular membrane and controlling water concentrations in response to osmotic stress.[182][183] Similar to c-Src (a positive creatine transport regulator), Jak2 can also be activated by growth hormone signaling.[169][184] The growth hormone receptor seems to activate these two factors independently, as gh-mediated activation of c-Src does not require JAK2.[168] Given that c-Src is a positive regulator of CrT, JAK2 is a negative regulator, and the fact that downstream signals from both are induced by growth hormone, it is tempting to speculate that JAK2 activation downstream of the gh receptor may function as a homeostatic response to limit c-src induced creatine uptake. This has not been studied, however, and the effects of gh-induced JAK2 signaling on CrT activity have not been examined.
Maughan RJ, King DS, Lea T. Dietary supplements. J Sports Sci. 2004 Jan;22(1):95-113.Kreider RB. Dietary supplements and the promotion of muscle growth with resistance exercise. Sports Med. 1999 Feb;27(2):97-110.Kerksick CM, Rasmussen CJ, Lancaster SL, et al. The effects of protein and amino acid supplementation on performance and training adaptations during ten weeks of resistance training. J Strength Cond Res. 2006 Aug;20(3):643-53.Update of Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2001;(1):CD002946. Glucosamine therapy for treating osteoarthritis. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2005 Apr 18;(2):CD002946.AIS Sports Nutrition - AIS Sports Supplement Program 2007.
Pro Tip: Zane also suggests that directed concentration is exceptionally important to getting the most from your training and is much easier with lower weight. If you can concentrate on the muscle through its whole movement, you will notice that the intensity will be just as strong, without the risk. We teach you this in our “Mind Muscle Connection” Bonus Guide that we include in our Old School Muscle 8-Week Program.

Healthy sources of fat include: cold water oily fish (such as salmon, mackerel, and sardines), extra-virgin olive oil, peanuts (unsalted), avocado, pecans, almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts or flaxseed. Nuts (any sort, just make sure they are unsalted) are a great food to snack on if you're having trouble gaining weight, as they are not only high in calories, but they contain monounsaturated fats, a good source of protein, fibre and contain a number of essential minerals that are needed for health. For those not consuming any oily fish, you may want to consider taking a fish oil supplement, such as cod liver oil or flaxseeds.
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 high levels of muscle growth and repair achieved by bodybuilders require a specialized diet. Generally speaking, bodybuilders require more calories than the average person of the same weight to provide the protein and energy requirements needed to support their training and increase muscle mass. In preparation of a contest, a sub-maintenance level of food energy is combined with cardiovascular exercise to lose body fat. Proteins, carbohydrates and fats are the three major macronutrients that the human body needs in order to build muscle.[24] The ratios of calories from carbohydrates, proteins, and fats vary depending on the goals of the bodybuilder.[25]
Most experts recommend starting with your larger muscle groups and then proceeding to the smaller ones. The most demanding exercises are those performed by your large muscle groups, and you will need your smaller muscles to get the most out of these exercises. But don't feel limited by that. You can do your exercises in any order you like, and changing the order is a great way to challenge yourself in different ways.
Unfortunately, it’s hard to significantly increase levels through food alone. That’s where supplementation comes in. For instance, in one 12-week study of resistance-trained individuals, taking HMB in tandem with a high-intensity lifting routine significantly improved muscle strength and size compared to lifting alone. Plus, in the off-chance that you push yourself too hard, HMB helps prevent the effects of overtraining—including muscle loss.
What kind of exercises? Work all major muscle groups, starting with the larger muscles. Always include exercises for opposing muscles: for example, work the biceps and triceps of your arms, and the quadriceps and hamstrings of your thighs. Avoid above-the-shoulder exercises if you have arthritis in your upper body, and talk to your doctor before using leg press machines if you have arthritis in your knees or hips.

Do you know what happens when a person attempts to build muscle faster than they legitimately can? They fail, and then they wonder why it’s not working as quickly as they thought it would. From there, they’ll jump from workout to workout, diet to diet and useless supplement to useless supplement in the hopes of finally finding the missing link that will make it happen. But they’re never going to find it. They’ll just keep wasting their time, effort and money searching for something that doesn’t exist.

In contrast to strongman or powerlifting competitions, where physical strength is paramount, or to Olympic weightlifting, where the main point is equally split between strength and technique, bodybuilding competitions typically emphasize condition, size, and symmetry. Different organizations emphasize particular aspects of competition, and sometimes have different categories in which to compete.
A quantitative, comprehensive scientific summary and view of knowledge up to 2007 on the effects of creatine supplementation in athletes and active people was published in a 100 citation review position paper by the International Society of Sports Nutrition[5]. More recent literature has provided greater insight into the anabolic/performance enhancing mechanisms of creatine supplementation [15,25] suggesting that these effects may be due to satellite cell proliferation, myogenic transcription factors and insulin-like growth factor-1 signalling [16]. Saremi et al [26] reported a change in myogenic transcription factors when creatine supplementation and resistance training are combined in young healthy males. It was found that serum levels of myostatin, a muscle growth inhibitor, were decreased in the creatine group.
In addition to improving athletic performance and muscle strength, creatine is taken by mouth for creatine deficiency syndromes that affect the brain, aging, bone density, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), congestive heart failure (CHF), depression, diabetes, exercise tolerance, fibromyalgia, Huntington's disease, disease that cause inflammation in the muscles (idiopathic inflammatory myopathies), Parkinson's disease, diseases of the muscles and nerves, multiple sclerosis, muscle atrophy, muscle cramps, breathing problems in infants while sleeping, head trauma, Rett syndrome, an eye disease called gyrate atrophy, inherited disorders that affect the senses and movement, schizophrenia, muscle breakdown in the spine, and recovery from surgery. It is also taken by mouth to slow the worsening of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, Lou Gehrig's disease), osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, McArdle's disease, and for various muscular dystrophies.
I’m going to cover this in detail in a bit, but for right now, just know this: it’s VERY possible (and common) to gain weight fast in the hopes of gaining muscle fast. The problem, however, is that the majority of the “weight” a person in this scenario will end up gaining will be body fat rather than muscle mass. This is something that needs to be avoided at all costs, and I’ll show you how a little later.

Creatine citrate is creatine bound to citric acid, or citrate. Creatine citrate does not differ greatly from monohydrate in regard to absorption or kinetics.[83] Note that creatine citrate is more water-soluble than monohydrate,[84] but creatine absorption is generally not limited by solubility. The increased water solubility may play a factor in palatability.

Stash away your scale for several weeks — and set a strength training goal instead. That’s the advice of Lisette Cifaldi, director of behavioral health at Hilton Head Health weight loss resort who counsels patients. “I think strength training shifts your perspective,” she says. “The happiness doesn’t come from achieving a certain number [on the scale]. It comes from the process of getting stronger and feeling empowered that you’re navigating your own success.”

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.
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]
As scientific research progressed, it became apparent that the best types of protein came from milk and eggs. That led to the next great revolution in sports nutrition, namely the engineered food, pioneered by Scott Connelly, M.D., a critical care specialist from Northern California who teamed with a young entrepreneur named Bill Phillips from Golden, Colorado.
However, not all proteins are created equal in the muscle building stakes. Always remember the better the quality (biological value) of protein consumed, the more of it will be used for muscle building. To maximise muscle growth, stick to high-quality proteins, such as whey, milk, eggs, fish or lean meats. However, combining lower quality or incomplete protein from plant-based sources, such as nuts and beans, can still be a valuable protein source for muscle building.
Entry into neural tissues in general is mediated by the secondary creatine transporter (CrT-2) known as SLC6A10,[186] which is the same transporter that is active in a male’s testicles.[145] CrT-2 belongs to the family of SLC6 transporters that act to move solutes across the membrane by coupling transport with sodium and chloride.[187][188] Genetic deletions in the 16p11.2 region, which encodes both SLC6A8[189] and SLC6A10[186] can result in severe mental retardation in humans and is one of the causes of “Creatine Deficiency Syndrome.” Creatine Deficiency Syndrome is not only caused by lack creatine transporter expression, however, as creatine synthesis is also critical for neural function.[190].[189] Retardation caused by defective creatine synthesis[31] can be reversed with creatine supplementation and dietary changes.[191]
In young rats given creatine in the diet at 2% of the diet for eight weeks, supplementation appears to increase bone mineral density (BMD) in the lumbar spine with a nonsignificant trend to increase BMD in the femur.[426] Despite the trend, the femur appeared to be 12.3% more resistant to snapping from mechanical stress associated with increased thickness.[426] Menopausal rats (ovarectomized) experience similar benefits, as supplementation of creatine (300mg/kg) for eight weeks during ovarectomy is able to increase phosphorus content of the bone and other biomarkers of bone health, although bone stress resistance was not tested.[427]
^ 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.
Research shows that strength training is especially effective at raising EPOC. That’s because, generally speaking, strength-training sessions cause more physiological stress to the body compared to cardiovascular exercise, even higher-intensity cardio intervals. However, it’s worth noting that overall exercise intensity is what makes the biggest impact on EPOC. So squats, deadlifts, and bench presses with heavy weights are going to be much more effective at raising EPOC compared to bicep curls and triceps extensions with light weights.