Creatine supplementation often causes weight gain that can be mistaken for increase in muscle mass. Increasing intracellular creatine may cause an osmotic influx of water into the cell because creatine is an osmotically active substance [10]. It is possible that the weight gained is water retention and not increased muscle. The retention of water may be connected to reports of muscle cramps, dehydration, and heat intolerance when taking creatine supplements. It would be prudent to encourage proper hydration for creatine users. Further research is needed to investigate these and other possible side effects.
^ Haykowsky MJ, Liang Y, Pechter D, Jones LW, McAlister FA, Clark AM (June 2007). "A meta-analysis of the effect of exercise training on left ventricular remodeling in heart failure patients: the benefit depends on the type of training performed". Journal of the American College of Cardiology. 49 (24): 2329–36. doi:10.1016/j.jacc.2007.02.055. PMID 17572248.
Kilduff, L. P., Georgiades, E., James, N., Minnion, R. H., Mitchell, M., Kingsmore, D., Hadjicharlambous, M., and Pitsiladis, Y. P. The effects of creatine supplementation on cardiovascular, metabolic, and thermoregulatory responses during exercise in the heat in endurance-trained humans. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab 2004;14(4):443-460. View abstract.
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.
Cyclocreatine appears to be passively diffused through membranes and not subject to the creatine transporter, which can be beneficial for cases where creatine transporter function is compromised (creatine non-response and SLG6A8 deficiency). Similar to other forms of creatine, it buffers ATP concentrations, although its efficacy as a supplement in otherwise healthy people is currently unknown.
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. 

At the same time, this also doesn’t mean that primary compound exercises can never be done for more than 8 reps, or that secondary compound exercise can’t be done for 5-8 or 10-15 reps, or that isolation exercises can’t be done for less than 10 reps. Everything can be done in every rep range. However, these are the rep ranges that each type of exercise is best suited for, and where it should ideally be done most of the time.
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After all, we want you to be CONFIDENT and not overwhelmed, as the sooner you start strength training, the sooner you learn the ropes and start to make progress! We cover all of this in our free guide, Strength 101: Everything You Need to Know, along with free workout plans – grab all the goodies fo’ free when you join our worldwide Rebellion with your email in the box below!
Our bodies store creatine in our muscles so that we have quick access to it for fast, high-intensity movements, like sprinting or powerlifting, explains Autumn Bates, a certified clinical nutritionist and sports nutritionist in private practice in Manhattan Beach, California. “It's a nonessential amino acid, meaning your body creates it and you don't need to primarily get it from food.”
Research shows that starting as early as age 30, the body begins to slowly lose muscle mass, with women losing up to 15 percent of their total-body muscle per decade by age 50. Apart from declines in strength, that declining muscle mass comes with a declining metabolism, Emilia Ravski, D.O., a sports medicine specialist with Hoag Orthopedic Institute in California, tells SELF. This decline in metabolic rate is actually one driving factor of the weight that women generally tend to put on after we naturally hit our peak muscle levels in our 20s, research from Tufts University suggests.
It’s important to remember that since everybody is different, these estimates are just that. How the numbers work out for each person will definitely vary. So many factors—like genetics, hormones, sleep, and diet—can change the rate at which our bodies burn calories. And some people may have a harder time than others when it comes losing fat or gaining muscle—again, there are so many factors at play and our body chemistries are all different. Strength training is important for many, many, many other reasons (more on that later), but if you’re looking to increase your metabolism, it’s important to have realistic expectations and know that strength training can make a difference, but probably won’t drastically affect how many calories you burn from one day to the next.
Those 5-pound dumbbells were a great place to start as a beginner, but if you've been lifting weights for a while, it's time to bump up the weight. “You can use both exercise machines and free weights,” explains Michele Olson, PhD, exercise physiologist, professor of exercise science at Auburn University Montgomery, “but, if you are not lifting heavy enough weight, it doesn’t matter if you are primarily using free weights or machines.” In order to build muscle, you must break down muscle tissue using a weight that is challenging enough to cause micro-tears, which when repaired, form denser, stronger fibers.

Several review studies assessing the safety of creatine supplementation tend to make note of increases in formaldehyde and possible carcinogenic results.[451][452] Specifically, creatine is metabolized into an intermediate called methylamine, which can be converted to formaldehyde by the SSAO enzyme.[453] An increase in urinary formaldehyde has been noted in youth given 21g of creatine for one week, during which both methylamine (820% increase) and formaldehyde (350%) were increased, relative to control.[454] However, a more prolonged study using 300mg/kg (loading dose of around 20g) in adults for ten weeks failed to replicate these effects.[455]
“Compared to training for strength, intensity is going to drop during the hypertrophy phase of a program, with intensity sitting between 50 and 75 percent of the person’s 1RM, the maximum weight he or she can lift for one rep,” says Ava Fitzgerald, C.S.C.S., C.P.T., a sports performance coach with the Professional Athletic Performance Center in New York.
Creatine is a naturally occurring compound found in muscle in large amounts. Creatine monohydrate is the supplement form and combines is a combination of the amino acids arginine, glycine, and methionine. Creatine drives the important creatine phosphate energy pathway, which is important in high-intensity activity such as weightlifting. Creatine can improve body bulk and training performance in high-intensity activities. Be aware that not everyone responds to creatine supplementation and 30 percent of users may not see any improvement. Women may not benefit as much as men. In weight training, increased strength, bulk, and fat loss are reasonably consistent results.
Keep in mind that while creatine boosts your performance in the gym, helping you achieve better muscle building results, it is also associated with some side effects. One of the main concerns is that creatine may worsen or cause kidney problems. Creatine shouldn’t be taken in combination with diabetes medications, acetaminophen, diuretics or caffeine. As always, speak with your doctor before taking supplements to make sure that the product is safe for you (6). Generally, for most people, the supplement is considered to be among the safer weight lifting supplements.
Older women with knee osteoarthritis given supplemental creatine at 20g for five days followed by 5g for the rest of the twelve week trial experienced improvements in stiffness (52% reduction), pain (45%), and physical function (41%) as assessed by WOMAC, despite no improvements in physical power output relative to placebo.[425] This study paired supplementation and placebo with a mild exercise regimen.[425]
A meta-analysis of 16 studies conducted on creatine and its influence on power and strength,[368][369] (with or without exercise in all age groups above 16, but placebo controlled and without crossover[368]) compiled studies utilizing a 5-7 day loading period with continued maintenance thereafter and studies assessing 1-3 rep bench press strength in trained young men. Seven studies (four of which are online[370][371][372][373]) totaling 70 people using creatine and 73 people in placebo showed a 6.85kg increase in strength relative to placebo, the benefits of which peaked at 8 weeks.[368] This meta-analysis also quantified a significant increase in squat strength (9.76kg) yet failed to find a significant influence on peak bicep contraction power, which may have been influenced by the two null studies[374][375] being in elderly people while the positive study[376] was statistically outweighed, but noted an 1.8-fold increase in power associated with creatine over placebo. The other meta-analysis conducted the following year[369] calculated effect sizes for creatine supplementation and noted no significant differences between genders or when comparing trained and untrained individuals. The mean effect size of exercises lasting below 30s (those that use the creatine-phosphate system) was 0.24+/-0.02 and performed significantly better than placebo, where exercise increased performance by 4.2+/-0.6% while the addition of creatine enhanced this effect to 7.5+/-0.7%.[369]

Weight training also requires the use of 'good form', performing the movements with the appropriate muscle group, and not transferring the weight to different body parts in order to move greater weight (called 'cheating'). Failure to use good form during a training set can result in injury or a failure to meet training goals; since the desired muscle group is not challenged sufficiently, the threshold of overload is never reached and the muscle does not gain in strength. At a particularly advanced level; however, "cheating" can be used to break through strength plateaus and encourage neurological and muscular adaptation.
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.
In a pilot study on youth with cystic fibrosis, supplementation of creatine at 12g for a week and 6g for eleven weeks afterward was associated with a time-dependent increase in maximal isometric strength reaching 14.3%, which was maintained after 12-24 weeks of supplement cessation (18.2% higher than baseline).[485] This study noted that more patients reported an increase in wellbeing (9 subjects, 50%) rather than a decrease (3, 17%) or nothing (6, 33%) and that there was no influence on chest or lung symptoms.[485]
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!
While this nonessential amino acid may not deliver earth-shattering PRs or extreme muscle growth, it does play an important role in repair and recovery. Glutamine works by removing excess ammonia, which can accumulate during intense exercise, helping to regulate your body's acid-base balance. Individuals who are engaged in heavy resistance training, two-a-day training splits, or are in a calorie deficit may benefit from the extra support of glutamine supplementation.
Now that you've got the training part down, it's time to stretch it out. (Can you say ahhh?) Stretching while your muscles are warm can help improve your flexibility, says Davis, not to mention it just feels phenomenal after you've pushed yourself hard. A light cool-down is also great for calming the nervous system. While dynamic stretches should be your go-to during a warm-up, the cool-down is where static stretching comes in—this means holding a stretch for 20-30 seconds. These four passive stretches will do nicely.
We can all pile on the pounds, just stay in the fast food lane, but it’s a nutrient-dense healthy diet, that will promote lean muscle development and size. In truth, muscular growth and building that brick house frame, can be harder to achieve than losing weight, and very frustrating. But we are here to help - follow our top 8 tips and you'll pack on lean muscle and size far more easily and be well on your way to achieving that physique you want.
If you are doing this on your own, but are overwhelmed and confused about strength training, I know how that feels. It can be scary enough to keep MOST people from starting, which is actually why we created our 1-on-1 Coaching Program. Our coach gets to know you, builds a program based on your experience and goals, will check your form on each movement (via video), and keep you accountable and on track!

Who makes it: This product is manufactured by MuscleTech, a large sports nutrition company that has been in business since 1995. In their 20+ years in the industry, MuscleTech has developed many innovative and effective exercise supplements, and currently holds more than 50 U.S. patents. They have developed quite a following of loyal fans over the years, and for good reason.


AAOS does not endorse any treatments, procedures, products, or physicians referenced herein. This information is provided as an educational service and is not intended to serve as medical advice. Anyone seeking specific orthopaedic advice or assistance should consult his or her orthopaedic surgeon, or locate one in your area through the AAOS Find an Orthopaedist program on this website.
Weight training is primarily an isotonic form of exercise, as the force produced by the muscle to push or pull weighted objects should not change (though in practice the force produced does decrease as muscles fatigue). Any object can be used for weight training, but dumbbells, barbells, and other specialised equipment are normally used because they can be adjusted to specific weights and are easily gripped. Many exercises are not strictly isotonic because the force on the muscle varies as the joint moves through its range of motion. Movements can become easier or harder depending on the angle of muscular force relative to gravity; for example, a standard biceps curl becomes easier as the hand approaches the shoulder as more of the load is taken by the structure of the elbow. Originating from Nautilus, Inc., some machines use a logarithmic-spiral cam to keep resistance constant irrespective of the joint angle.

Under most circumstances, sports drinks do not offer a physiological benefit over water during weight training.[18] However, high-intensity exercise for a continuous duration of at least one hour may require the replenishment of electrolytes which a sports drink may provide.[19] Some may maintain that energy drinks, such as Red Bull that contain caffeine, improve performance in weight training and other physical exercise, but in fact, these energy drinks can cause dehydration, tremors, heat stroke, and heart attack when consumed in excess.[20] 'Sports drinks' that contain simple carbohydrates & water do not cause ill effects, but are most likely unnecessary for the average trainee. More recently, people have been taking pre-workout before working out to increase performance. The main ingredients in these pre-workouts are: beta-alanine, creatine, BCAAs (branched chain amino acids) and caffeine.[21]
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.[5]
In a later study, it was found that biologically relevant concentrations (10-30mM) of creatine bind synthetic membranes with lipid compositions mimicking the inner mitochondrial membrane or plasma membrane in a concentration-dependent manner. This also conferred a degree of protection, increasing membrane stability in response to challenge from a number of destabilizing agents. Phosphocreatine was more effective than creatine in this context, although both were able to bind and stabilize membranes.[119]
In a pilot study on youth with cystic fibrosis, supplementation of creatine at 12g for a week and 6g for eleven weeks afterward was associated with a time-dependent increase in maximal isometric strength reaching 14.3%, which was maintained after 12-24 weeks of supplement cessation (18.2% higher than baseline).[485] This study noted that more patients reported an increase in wellbeing (9 subjects, 50%) rather than a decrease (3, 17%) or nothing (6, 33%) and that there was no influence on chest or lung symptoms.[485]
Oral ingestion of 1-1000mg/kg bodyweight of creatine in mice was able to exert an anti-depressive effect, which was blocked by dopamine receptor antagonists. A low dose of creatine (0.1mg/kg) was able to enhance the dopaminergic effects of dopamine receptor activators, suggesting supplemental creatine can positively influence dopamine signaling and neurotransmission.[252]
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.”
Most folks work a 9 to 5 position but if you’re not in the corporate world yet then odds are you’re a student with classes scattered throughout the day and it takes up the vast portion of your free time. That being said, you’re likely going to have to work out in the morning or the evening in order to fit in your session amidst the hectic commitments in your everyday life. Here are a few things to consider in regards to each time period:
A muscle imbalance—when one muscle is stronger than its opposing muscle—can limit your ability to exercise effectively, and could lead to injury down the line. “It’s important to recognize whether you’re really working the muscles you think you are and recognize if you’ve developed an imbalance that alters your movement pattern,” says Eric Ingram, physical therapist at Louisiana Physical Therapy Centers of Pineville. One common imbalance in women is stronger quads and weaker, tighter hamstrings, thanks to prolonged sitting, high heels, and improper training. If you suspect you have a muscle imbalance, make an appointment with a physical therapist, who will prescribe exercises to even you out.
How to Take It: Take your gainer at any time of day as your objective is to reach overall calorie intake goals. Ideally, instead of using them as a meal substitute, you’ll use your gainer as a snack between high-calorie, healthy, balanced meals. If you plan on taking protein powder for muscle growth in addition to gainers, make sure you add up all of your dietary protein intakes to make sure it’s worth the investment of taking both. You might be able to skip the plain protein powders.
Ghost Size takes the cake for muscle growth. The key to this formula is epicatechin, an antioxidant found in chocolate and certain plants that is linked to a wide array of benefits. These include increased nitric oxide produciton, better oxygenation to the brain, and muscle growth: epicatechin appears to inhibit myostatin, which suppresses muscle growth, and the dosage found in Ghost Size is in line with studies that examined this effect.
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