Trimethylglycine (TMG, betaine) is a dietary supplement and component of beet root, which is a methyl donor. It contributes to metabolic processes in the body which require a methyl group either directly (the methylation of homocysteine) or indirectly via replenishing the active form of folate or via replenishing S-adenosyl methionine (SAMe). As the synthesis of creatine (via GAMT) requires a donation from SAMe, it is thought that TMG can aid in creatine synthesis, which has been noted in the rat liver in the absence of creatine supplementation.
It’s true—your genes can play a role when it comes to building muscle. In general, there are two types of muscle fibers: Type I, which are slow twitch, and Type II, which are fast twitch. Depending on which you have more of, you may have an easier or harder time gaining muscle. “Fast twitch muscle fibers are two times as thick as slow twitch muscle fibers, lending to the overall thickness of the muscle without any activity,” explains Lovitt. “Those people with a genetic predisposition of a high percentage of these fibers can increase muscle size very easily while the people with a higher percentage of slow twitch muscle fibers have to work really hard to put on mass.” It’s the reason why a world-class sprinter genetically has more fast twitch muscle fibers than a world-class marathoner—it comes down to what we’re born with.
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When lifting any weight, you’ve got a concentric (hard) and eccentric (easy) phase. For instance, as you lower into a squat, you’re performing an eccentric action. When you return to standing, that’s concentric. And, according to research published in the European Journal of Applied Physiology, eccentric work is far better at triggering hypertrophy.
That soreness you feel post-strength session may seem like a setback. Yet over time, you’ll come to acknowledge that it signifies you’re getting stronger. “You think, ‘I’ve done something worthwhile. My body is telling me I’ve had a workout.’ You look forward to the fatigue and interpret it in a positive way,” says John Spence, PhD, professor of physical education and recreation at the University of Alberta in Canada, who wrote a review on the effect of exercise on self-esteem. (Wondering how sore is too sore to work out? Here’s your answer.)
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Rheumatoid arthritis. Early research shows that taking creatine by mouth daily increases lean muscle mass and may improve muscle strength, but does not improve physical functioning in adults with rheumatoid arthritis. In children, taking a specific supplement containing creatine and fatty acids twice daily for 30 days might reduce pain and swelling. But the effects of creatine alone are not clear.
Your basal metabolic rate (BMR)—the calories you burn just to live—is driven by a host of factors, including your sex, genetics, and age, Tim Church, M.D., professor of preventative medicine at Pennington Biomedical Research Center at Louisiana State University, tells SELF. Research published in the medical journal PLOS ONE also shows that the size of your internal organs plays a huge role in why some people burn more calories at rest than others—in fact, the study found that 43 percent of the differences between people’s metabolic rates can be explained by organ size.
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.
I was building up, bulking, going after the mass, which to me meant 230 pounds of sheer body weight. At that time, I didn’t care about my waist or anything else that would give me a symmetrical look. I just wanted to build a gigantic 250-pound body by handling a lot of weight and blasting my muscles. My mind was into looking huge, into being awesome and powerful. I saw it working. My muscles began bursting out all over. And I knew I was on my way.”
Another study tested male subjects performing two bouts of 30 second isokinetic cycling before and after ingesting 20 g creatine monohydrate daily for 5 days. Work production improved about 4%. Cumulative increases in both peak and total work production over the two exercise bouts were positively correlated with the increase in muscle creatine .
Cornelissen et al  analyzed the effects of 1 week loading protocol (3 X 5 g/d CM) followed by a 3 month maintenance period (5 g/d) on cardiac patients involved in an endurance and resistance training program. Although CM supplementation did not significantly enhance performance, markers of renal and liver function were within normal ranges indicating the safety of the applied creatine supplementation protocol.
However, caffeine does not negate the benefits of creatine loading when not coingested, but just taken before exercise in the same dosage. This result indicates that loading creatine without caffeine on a daily basis, but saving caffeine for select workouts, may be an effective strategy, as creatine does not adversely affect caffeine’s ergogenic effects and may enhance creatine’s effectiveness in anaerobic exertion if the two compounds are alternated.
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. JAK2 is a regulatory protein involved in stabilizing the cellular membrane and controlling water concentrations in response to osmotic stress. Similar to c-Src (a positive creatine transport regulator), Jak2 can also be activated by growth hormone signaling. The growth hormone receptor seems to activate these two factors independently, as gh-mediated activation of c-Src does not require JAK2. 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.
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