Amanda is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist in Chicago who graduated with a bachelor's in Nutrition from Northern Illinois University. She completed her dietetic internship at Edward Hines Jr. VA Hospital in Hines, IL. Amanda has a strong background in clinical nutrition, nutrition education, and experience working with specialized populations like children, acute care, intensive care, outpatients, and eating disorders. Amanda works with athletes and weight loss clients in the Los Angeles and southwestern Arizona area as a virtual Dietitian. Amanda prides herself in connecting with her audience while providing evidenced-based information and practical nutrition therapy for a complex population.


Taking creatine supplements may increase the amount of creatine in the muscles. Muscles may be able to generate more energy or generate energy at a faster rate. Some people think that taking creatine supplements along with training will improve performance by providing quick bursts of intense energy for activities such as sprinting and weightlifting.

While most of these muscle building supplements can be taken at any time of the day, some are best to include in your pre-workout routine. Citrulline malate, in particular, is one that should be taken about an hour ahead of your workout. Because this supplement boosts performance, taking it ahead of your workout will maximize its effect, making sure you get the most out of the supplement.
In general, muscle content of creatine tends to be elevated to 15-20% above baseline (more than 20mM increase) in response to oral supplementation. People who get a sufficiently high influx of creatine are known as responders.[150][151][152][153] A phenomena known as “creatine nonresponse” occurs when people have less than a 10mM influx of creatine into muscle after prolonged supplementation.[154] Quasi-responders (10-20mM increase) also exist.[154] Nonresponse is thought to explain instances where people do not benefit from creatine supplementation in trials, since some trials that find no significant effect do find one when only investigating people with high creatine responsiveness.[155] There are clear differences between those who respond and those who do not, in regard to physical performance.[156] People who are creatine responsive tend to be younger, have higher muscle mass and type II muscle fiber content, but this has no correlation with dietary protein intake.[154][157]
No. It’s not easy for everyone to get the recommended amount of protein in their diets through good eating habits alone. Others may not have clinically low testosterone, but still benefit from boosting their levels to improve their muscle building capacity. You can fix these common problems through muscle building supplements. These easy to take pills and powders can also help you boost your performance at the gym which will, in turn, spur your body’s muscle building and recovery response.
The bulking and cutting strategy is effective because there is a well-established link between muscle hypertrophy and being in a state of positive energy balance.[19] A sustained period of caloric surplus will allow the athlete to gain more fat-free mass than they could otherwise gain under eucaloric conditions. Some gain in fat mass is expected, which athletes seek to oxidize in a cutting period while maintaining as much lean mass as possible.
When looking specifically at human studies, there has been a failure of creatine supplementation to induce or exacerbate kidney damage in people with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Subjects do not experience kidney damage for up to or over a year’s worth of supplementation in the 5-10g range.[505][506][507] Postmenopausal women,[517] people with type II diabetes,[518] people on hemodialysis,[313] otherwise healthy elderly,[519] young people,[454][520][521] and athletes do not experience kidney damage either.[324] Moreover, numerous scientific reviews on both the long- and short-term safety of supplemental creatine have consistently found no adverse effects on kidney function in a wide range of doses.[522][523][524][452][525][451][526][527] However, while doses >10 g/day have been found not to impair kidney function, there are fewer long-term trials using such high chronic daily intakes.[527]

These effects are secondary to creatine being a source of phosphate groups and acting as an energy reserve. The longer a cell has energy, the longer it can preserve the integrity of the cell membrane by preserving integrity of the Na+/K+-ATPase and Ca2+-ATPase enzymes.[241][235][236] Preserving ATP allows creatine to act via a nongenomic response (not requiring the nuclear DNA to transcribe anything), and appears to work secondary to MAPK and PI3K pathways.[226]

Stand on one foot with the arch and heel hanging off of the edge of a step or platform. Hold onto something if you need help balancing. Drop your heel all the way down below the step, and then rise all the way up on your toes. Hold dumbbells to make it harder. If you can balance without holding on to something, you’ll work your core muscles, too. You'll also build more stable joints in the other leg.


Taking creatine supplements may increase the amount of creatine in the muscles. Muscles may be able to generate more energy or generate energy at a faster rate. Some people think that taking creatine supplements along with training will improve performance by providing quick bursts of intense energy for activities such as sprinting and weightlifting.
However, don’t despair over the poor reviews. There are other ways to achieve a testosterone booster for muscle gain. One of them is simply Vitamin D. A deficiency in this vitamin can lower your levels of testosterone. Furthermore, you can get a very natural boost simply by weightlifting and engaging in HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) exercise. In addition, you should avoid some foods like soy and alcohol which can lower testosterone levels (11). Through these natural solutions and lifestyle changes, you can influence your hormone profile, creating a balance that’s more favorable for muscle growth.

Zinc is important to produce the male hormone testosterone and in building the immune system. Magnesium is an essential component of the nervous system and for maintaining heart health. Both have a range of important biochemical function. Zinc and magnesium are often marketed to bodybuilders in combination in a supplement called ZMA. Zinc is in whole grains, seeds, nuts and particularly meat and oysters. After years of research, no evidence exists to show that either mineral offers bodybuilding or athletic performance enhancement in excess of the recommended dietary requirements.

The bulking and cutting strategy is effective because there is a well-established link between muscle hypertrophy and being in a state of positive energy balance.[19] A sustained period of caloric surplus will allow the athlete to gain more fat-free mass than they could otherwise gain under eucaloric conditions. Some gain in fat mass is expected, which athletes seek to oxidize in a cutting period while maintaining as much lean mass as possible.


Intensive weight training causes micro-tears to the muscles being trained; this is generally known as microtrauma. These micro-tears in the muscle contribute to the soreness felt after exercise, called delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). It is the repair of these micro-traumas that results in muscle growth. Normally, this soreness becomes most apparent a day or two after a workout. However, as muscles become adapted to the exercises, soreness tends to decrease.[22]
“Imagine you've fasted for over eight hours,” he says. “At breakfast, you're firing your metabolism off really high. If you don't eat for another five hours, your metabolism starts to slow right down and you have to try and kickstart it again with your next meal. If you eat every two and a half to three hours, it's like chucking a log on a burning fire.”

A: Let your symptoms be your guide. A slight sore throat or runny nose may require you to back off for a day or two but don’t confine yourself to your bed and assume the worst. However, you must also remember that prolonged, intense exercise can decrease immune function and make you more susceptible to bacterial and viral based sickness so it's equally as important to listen to your body and respond accordingly.


Contrast loading is the alternation of heavy and light loads. Considered as sets, the heavy load is performed at about 85-95% 1 repetition max; the light load should be considerably lighter at about 30-60% 1RM. Both sets should be performed fast with the lighter set being performed as fast as possible. The joints should not be locked as this inhibits muscle fibre recruitment and reduces the speed at which the exercise can be performed. The lighter set may be a loaded plyometric exercise such as loaded squat jumps or jumps with a trap bar.

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.
Remember, this is for the extreme skinny guy...But I want you to start hitting a buffet once a week. Try and position this eating frenzy after a hard workout so that the majority of calories get shuttled into the muscles which will really help you pack on those pounds and gain weight in the right places. Don't go too overboard, but this will train your body to 'accept' more food and it will increase your appetite in the days to come. Take advantage of this strategy.
Although creatine is a natural component of food, the amount of food required to supersaturate the muscle with PCr may not be feasible. For example, it could require 22 pounds of meat daily [8]. If creatine monohydrate is proven to be a safe and effective ergogenic aid, creatine supplementation may be the simplest way to increasing muscle stores. It may be beneficial to avoid caffeine if taking creatine supplements. One study showed that caffeine diminished strength gains seen with creatine use [9].
Kornblum, C., Schroder, R., Muller, K., Vorgerd, M., Eggers, J., Bogdanow, M., Papassotiropoulos, A., Fabian, K., Klockgether, T., and Zange, J. Creatine has no beneficial effect on skeletal muscle energy metabolism in patients with single mitochondrial DNA deletions: a placebo-controlled, double-blind 31P-MRS crossover study. Eur J Neurol 2005;12:300-309. View abstract.
Exercise is highly effective in increasing your lean body mass, which is essentially muscle. In a study published in 2012, progressive resistance training helped men ages 50 to 83 gain an average of 2.4 pounds of lean body mass over an average of 20.5 weeks. Progressive resistance training involves performing weight bearing exercises. In addition, you must slowly increase the challenge of the exercise over time by increasing the weight, reps and/or sets. Studies show that either increasing reps or weight amount will work. So, if you don’t want to lift more weight, you can just do more reps and still build muscle.
Side-Effects: While the signs of a great body may make one think that there cannot be anything wrong with bodybuilding supplements, the facts speak otherwise. Bodybuilding supplements do have side-effects and you must listen to your trainer before giving in to the thoughts of buying one. Creatine can cause heart problems, kidney problems, dehydration, diarrhoea and muscle cramping. You must also discuss your medical history with the trainer. 
In people whose kidneys don’t function optimally, supplemental creatine seems to be safe, too.[513][518][313][528] However, studies in people with suboptimal kidney function are fewer than in healthy people, and they are short-term. People with kidney dysfunction, or at risk for developing kidney dysfunction (e.g., people with diabetes, high blood pressure, or family history of kidney disease; people over sixty; and non-Hispanic blacks), might wish to forgo creatine, or otherwise take only the lowest effective dose (3 g/day)[527] after talking to their doctor.

Parashos, S. A., Swearingen, C. J., Biglan, K. M., Bodis-Wollner, I., Liang, G. S., Ross, G. W., Tilley, B. C., and Shulman, L. M. Determinants of the timing of symptomatic treatment in early Parkinson disease: The National Institutes of Health Exploratory Trials in Parkinson Disease (NET-PD) Experience. Arch Neurol. 2009;66:1099-1104. View abstract.


Over time, we naturally lose muscle mass in a process called sarcopenia. On average, men lose about 30% of their muscle mass during their lives. Usually, this begins in your 30s and progresses slowly as you age. But, don’t despair. You can rebuild and maintain muscle mass even as you age. Often, diet and exercise are enough. But, sometimes, if the above hormones play a role, your doctor may recommend medications and additional treatments (4).
The right amount of workout: It is highly possible that the protein powder you are taking doesn’t work on your body. Supplements should only be taken if you have a rigorous workout schedule or else, it will turn out to be of no value. Most people just purchase a box of supplements without really doing the math, which is very important. Unless you find out the dosage that suits you, the amount of time you should dedicate for the workout and so on, you must not expect daydream the results. 
In regard to the loading period, two reviews suggest that the range of weight gain associated with creatine supplementation at 20g for 7 days is in the range of 0.9-1.8kg (1.98-3.96lbs).[612][613] The highest reported increase in water weight associated with creatine loading, although measured a month after loading started (after a maintenance phase) was 3.8kg (8.36lbs).[614]
If you're a beginner, just about any workout will be intense enough to increase protein synthesis. But if you've been lifting for a while, you'll build the most muscle quickest if you focus on the large muscle groups, like the chest, back, and legs. Add compound lifts like squats, deadlifts, pullups, bent-over rows, bench presses, dips, and military presses to your workout to work them the most efficiently.
Although research is underway, doctors do not know the long-term health effects of taking creatine supplements, especially in children who are still growing. Because of these unknown risks, children and adolescents younger than 18 years and pregnant or nursing women should never take creatine supplements. People with kidney problems also should never take creatine supplements.
Researchers described the study as one of the first to examine how strength training can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, separate from the effects of aerobic activity like running or long walks. The point: for those who are not meeting recommended guidelines for aerobic activity—perhaps because they lack the time—bursts of weight training can be enough.

So how does that play out in the real world? Well, if, for example, a woman adds 10 pounds of muscle and loses 10 pounds of fat, she’ll burn 40 extra calories per day. Forty calories a day isn’t nearly as significant as a dietary change could be, but for people who are looking to lose weight, it can still make a minor difference over the long term.
The right amount of workout: It is highly possible that the protein powder you are taking doesn’t work on your body. Supplements should only be taken if you have a rigorous workout schedule or else, it will turn out to be of no value. Most people just purchase a box of supplements without really doing the math, which is very important. Unless you find out the dosage that suits you, the amount of time you should dedicate for the workout and so on, you must not expect daydream the results. 
Do a single set of repetitions. Theories on the best way to approach weight training abound, including countless repetitions and hours at the gym. But research shows that a single set of exercise with a weight that fatigues your muscle after about 12 to 15 repetitions can build muscle efficiently in most people and can be as effective as three sets of the same exercise.

Beginners are advised to build up slowly to a weight training program. Untrained individuals may have some muscles that are comparatively stronger than others; nevertheless, an injury can result if (in a particular exercise) the primary muscle is stronger than its stabilizing muscles. Building up slowly allows muscles time to develop appropriate strengths relative to each other. This can also help to minimize delayed onset muscle soreness. A sudden start to an intense program can cause significant muscular soreness. Unexercised muscles contain cross-linkages that are torn during intense exercise. A regimen of flexibility exercises should be implemented before weight training begins, to help avoid soft tissue pain and injuries.


In regard to the blood brain barrier (BBB), which is a tightly woven mesh of non-fenestrated microcapillary endothelial cells (MCECs) that prevents passive diffusion of many water-soluble or large compounds into the brain, creatine can be taken into the brain via the SLC6A8 transporter.[192] In contrast, the creatine precursor (guanidinoacetate, or GAA) only appears to enter this transporter during creatine deficiency.[192] More creatine is taken up than effluxed, and more GAA is effluxed rather than taken up, suggesting that creatine utilization in the brain from blood-borne sources[192] is the major source of neural creatine.[193][192] However, “capable of passage” differs from “unregulated passage” and creatine appears to have tightly regulated entry into the brain in vivo[193]. After injecting rats with a large dose of creatine, creatine levels increased and plateaued at 70uM above baseline levels. These baseline levels are about 10mM, so this equates to an 0.7% increase when superloaded.[193] These kinetics may be a reason for the relative lack of neural effects of creatine supplementation in creatine sufficient populations.

In weight training, as with most forms of exercise, there is a tendency for the breathing pattern to deepen. This helps to meet increased oxygen requirements. Holding the breath or breathing shallowly is avoided because it may lead to a lack of oxygen, passing out, or an excessive build up of blood pressure. Generally, the recommended breathing technique is to inhale when lowering the weight (the eccentric portion) and exhale when lifting the weight (the concentric portion). However, the reverse, inhaling when lifting and exhaling when lowering, may also be recommended. Some researchers state that there is little difference between the two techniques in terms of their influence on heart rate and blood pressure.[8] It may also be recommended that a weight lifter simply breathes in a manner which feels appropriate.
The majority of your workouts should be comprised of compound exercises. Common examples include squats, deadlifts, lunges, bench presses, rows, pull-ups, lat pull-downs, overhead presses, and so on. Isolation exercises should definitely also be a part of your program, just a smaller part in comparison. Common examples include bicep curls, tricep extensions, chest flies, lateral raises, leg curls, leg extensions, calf raises, and so on.
Creatine has been shown to influence androgen levels. Three weeks of creatine supplementation has been shown to increase dihydrotestosterone (DHT) levels, as well as the DHT:testosterone ratio with no effects on testosterone levels.[430] In contrast, creatine supplementation has been shown to increase testosterone levels when taken alongside a 10-week resistance training program.[431] A study in male amateur swimmers also noted that a creatine loading phase (20g daily for six days) was able to increase testosterone levels by around 15% relative to baseline.[397] 
Deldicque et al [32] 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.
Some protein powders are loaded with junk. We recommend this grass-fed protein isolate because it is a non-GMO product and contains no artificial sweeteners. It is a US-based product, and the whey protein is cultivated from American cows. With 28 grams of protein in one scoop, one spoonful of this powder may provide the equivalent protein profile of a whole meal. What’s even better is that one scoop is only 120 calories. This powder gives you quite a bit of protein for minimal calories, keeping you lean.
Transparent Labs’ Creatine HMB really did their homework. The HMB, which stands for hydroxymethylbutyrate, is the main metablite in the branched chain amino acid leucine that prevents the breakdown of muscle protein. Translation: it helps you to retain muscle, and it appears to do so more effectively than leucine alone. One bonus is that combining HMB with creatine also appears to increase strength better than taking either supplement alone. Plus, the blue raspberry flavor is delicious and contains no artificial sweeteners.
Unfortunately, some people are intolerant to milk, due to the casein (one of the proteins in dairy) and have trouble digesting the sugar in milk, called lactose. If this is the case, stick to whey-only protein shakes. Maximuscle uses Biomax Whey True Protein - a unique blend of whey proteins including whey protein concentrate, isolate and hydrolysate, which are lower in lactose. Biomax Whey True Protein is used in a number of Maximuscle products (Promax and Cyclone).
First off, every single resistance-training athlete in the world should be very thankful for bodybuilding training. It was bodybuilding that brought weight training to the mainstream. The bottom line is that the average gym goer is MORE interested in how they look vs. how they perform. 99% of every client I ever trained had an aesthetic goal as their primary goal. In my 20 plus years as a trainer I can count maybe 10 clients who said, “My goal is to be able to bench press or squat or lift more weight.” It was the aesthetic focus of bodybuilding that opened the doors for all other resistance training pursuits to enter into the mainstream.
Gualano, B., de, Salles Painelli, V, Roschel, H., Lugaresi, R., Dorea, E., Artioli, G. G., Lima, F. R., da Silva, M. E., Cunha, M. R., Seguro, A. C., Shimizu, M. H., Otaduy, M. C., Sapienza, M. T., da Costa, Leite C., Bonfa, E., and Lancha Junior, A. H. Creatine supplementation does not impair kidney function in type 2 diabetic patients: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, clinical trial. Eur.J.Appl.Physiol 2011;111(5):749-756. View abstract.

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]
An exercise should be halted if marked or sudden pain is felt, to prevent further injury. However, not all discomfort indicates injury. Weight training exercises are brief but very intense, and many people are unaccustomed to this level of effort. The expression "no pain, no gain" refers to working through the discomfort expected from such vigorous effort, rather than to willfully ignore extreme pain, which may indicate serious soft tissue injuries. The focus must be proper form, not the amount of weight lifted.[23]
In otherwise healthy bodybuilders, supplementation of creatine at 5g either immediately before or after a weight training session (with no directive on days without training) over the course of four weeks noted that while both groups improved, there was no significant difference between groups overall.[384] This null result has been found in another study with 0.1g/kg creatine thrice weekly over 12 weeks in otherwise healthy adults.[385] It has been suggested that post-workout timing may be favorable (based on magnitude-based inference) since more individuals experience benefits with post-workout when compared to pre-workout despite no whole-group differences.[384] 

In addition to the HIIT sessions, it’s always a good idea to go for a 30–60-minute walk as many days per week as you can. I recommend getting a minimum of 10,000 steps every day. Use a phone app to track them. If you’re into jogging, swimming, hiking, or some other form of long-duration, fairly low-intensity cardio, that is fine to do as well, and as often as you like.
When combined with an appropriate exercise program, dietary supplementation with β-hydroxy β-methylbutyrate (HMB) has been shown to dose-dependently augment gains in muscle hypertrophy (i.e., the size of a muscle),[38][39] muscle strength,[38][40][41] and lean body mass,[38][40][41] reduce exercise-induced skeletal muscle damage,[note 1][38][39][41] and expedite recovery from high-intensity exercise.[38][42] HMB is believed to produce these effects by increasing muscle protein synthesis and decreasing muscle protein breakdown by various mechanisms, including activation of the mechanistic target of rapamycin (mTOR) and inhibition of the proteasome in skeletal muscles.[40][43]

If you have hit a plateau, a good supplement could be all you need to pull yourself out of a slump and make the progress you want to be making. Creatine is widely known as the most effective sports supplement. Scientific studies have proven that creatine maximizes ATP production which is responsible for energy in your body. Essentially, creatine will give you more energy to allow you to do the things that will make you stronger.
Include cardio training. Good cardiovascular health improves blood flow, a requirement for muscle growth. Doing cardio also improves your cardiovascular fitness, which allows you to use your muscle gains for various sports and activities. The standard recommendation is 150 minutes of moderate cardio each week, or 75 minutes of vigorous cardio, or an equivalent combination of the two. A good place to start would be doing 30-60 minutes of cardiovascular activity every other day or 3 times a week. Examples of cardio include running, biking, swimming, and any sport that involves constant movement.

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.
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