Stronger muscles improve performance in a variety of sports. Sport-specific training routines are used by many competitors. These often specify that the speed of muscle contraction during weight training should be the same as that of the particular sport. Sport-specific training routines also often include variations to both free weight and machine movements that may not be common for traditional weightlifting.
In recent years, the related areas of fitness and figure competition have increased in popularity, surpassing that of female bodybuilding, and have provided an alternative for women who choose not to develop the level of muscularity necessary for bodybuilding. McLish would closely resemble what is thought of today as a fitness and figure competitor, instead of what is now considered a female bodybuilder. Fitness competitions also have a gymnastic element to them. A study by the Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine found that female bodybuilders who are taking anabolic steroids are more likely to have qualified for substance dependence disorder, to have been diagnosed with a psychiatric illness, or to have a history of sexual abuse.
Studies conducted in vegetarians tend to show cognitive enhancement in youth, possibly due to a creatine deficiency, as compared to omnivores. Vegetarian diets have lower levels of circulating creatine prior to supplementation, but attain similar circulating levels as omnivores when both groups supplement. Building on the latter, supplementation of creatine monohydrate in a loading protocol (20g daily in orange juice) in omnivores does not alter levels of creatine in white matter tissue in the brain (test subjects: competitive athletes). In most of the parameters that vegetarians experience benefits, omnivores fail to experience statistically significant benefits, except possibly when sleep deprived, where the cognitive improvements rival that seen in vegetarians. Elderly people who are omnivorous may also experience increases in cognition to a similar level, in regard to long-term memory as well as forward number and spatial recall, although the study in question failed to find any significant benefit on backward recall or random number generation, the latter of which is a test for executive working memory.
In 1912, Harvard University researchers Otto Folin and Willey Glover Denis found evidence that ingesting creatine can dramatically boost the creatine content of the muscle.[non-primary source needed] In the late 1920s, after finding that the intramuscular stores of creatine can be increased by ingesting creatine in larger than normal amounts, scientists discovered creatine phosphate, and determined that creatine is a key player in the metabolism of skeletal muscle. The substance creatine is naturally formed in vertebrates.
Creatine monohydrate is the most common form of creatine, and if not otherwise mentioned is the default form of creatine used in most studies on creatine. It has fairly decent intestinal absorption (covered more in depth in the pharmacology section) and is the standard form or “reference” form of creatine, which all other variants are pitted against.
Activation of NMDA receptors is known to stimulate Na+,K+-ATPase activity secondary to calcineurin, which which has been confirmed with creatine in hippocampal cells (0.1-1mM trended, but 10mM was significant). This is blocked by NMDA antagonists. This increase in Na+,K+-ATPase activity is also attenauted with activation of either PKC or PKA, which are antagonistic with calcineurin.
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Elsewhere, it has been noted that in chronic progressive external ophthalmoplegia (CPEO, a progressive weakening of the muscles around the eye and a mitochondrial disorder), there was a failure of creatine supplementation to benefit symptoms when subjects were provided 20g daily for four weeks. Creatine supplementation failed again at 150mg/kg for six weeks in people with either CPEO or another disorder associated with single gene deletions affecting the eyes (Kearns–Sayre syndrome, KSS) in improving muscular function.
Creatine is known to occur in highly concetrated levels in chicken photoreceptors, relative to other parts of the eye (10-15mM) alongside high levels of creatine kinase. The creatine transporter in human eyes also seems to be concentrated in the photoreceptors, which are known to be susceptible to hypoxic cellular death which, for humans, usually means retinal detachment.
Creatine is most commonly used for improving exercise performance and increasing muscle mass in athletes and older adults. There is some science supporting the use of creatine in improving the athletic performance of young, healthy people during brief high-intensity activity such as sprinting. Because of this, creatine is often used as a dietary supplement to improve muscle strength and athletic performance. In the U.S., a majority of sports nutrition supplements, which total $2.7 billion in annual sales, contain creatine.
Creatine has been found to increase skeletal muscle glycogen when given to sedentary adults for a loading and maintenance phase for 37 days at 2g (13.5% after five days of loading, but returning to baseline at the end of the trial). Exercise was not enforced in this study. This study also noted that, despite a normalization of glycogen after the trial, total creatine and ATP was still higher than placebo, and a loading protocol appears to have failed elsewhere in increasing glycogen stores in sedentary people subject to an aerobic exercise test before and after the loading phase.
Creatine is known to increase skeletal muscle cellular volume alongside increases in water weight gain. Since glycogen itself also increases the osmolytic balance of a cell (draws in water) and preliminary evidence shows a strong trend of creatine augmenting glycogen loading, creatine is thought to be related to an increase in cell volume, which is known to promote glycogen synthesis.
The creatine kinase system appears to be detectable in endothelial cells. Under basal conditions, creatine itself is expressed at around 2.85+/-0.62μM (three-fold higher than HUVEC cells). When incubating the medium with 0.5mM creatine, endothelial cells can take up creatine via the creatine transporter (SLC6A8) and increase both creatine (almost doubling) and phosphocreatine (nearly 2.5-fold) concentrations.
The Branched-Chain Amino Acids, BCAAs for short, are leucine, valine and isoleucine. Essentially, its a form of protein powder for muscle gain or other uses. These essential amino acids are not made by the body but are found in foods such as meats, dairy products and legumes. In medicine, BCAAs are used for a number of conditions, however, for many uses, further research is necessary to determine whether or not treatment is effective.
Weight gain might be the most common side effect. “Creatine can cause your body to hold on to water by pulling fluid into your cells via osmosis,” says Bates. “It doesn't necessarily cause you to gain weight as fat, but it can increase edema, or water weight.” Also, muscle is denser than fat, so in some cases building muscle can increase body weight overall (even if you’re simultaneously burning fat).
A good way to determine how much fat in grams you should be taking in is to multiply your calorie intake by 0.001 for maximum trans-fats; by 0.008 for maximum saturated fats; and by 0.03 for the "good fats". For example, for a 2,500-calorie diet, you would limit trans-fats to 3g or less, saturated fats to 20g or less, and up to 75g of mono- and polyunsaturated fats.
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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.
Those micro-tears that are such a key factor for muscle-building need rest to rebuild themselves and grow stronger. When do they do that? When you’re asleep! “You have to rest and feed your muscles between workouts or you will tear them down and they will become weaker,” says Olson. “Over time, you run the risk of over-training, which can result in injury, and possibly even more sleep troubles.”
Another study demonstrated that females receiving 4 days of high-dose creatine intake (20 g/day) followed by low-dose creatine intake (5 g/day) during 10 weeks of resistance training (3hours/week) increased muscle PCr concentrations by 6%. Also, maximal strength of the muscle groups trained increased by 20-25%, maximal intermittent exercise capacity of the arm flexors increased by 10-25% and fat-free mass increased by 60% .