A great analogy that I like is that the balance between training and recovery is like digging a hole. Each time you lift, you dig yourself deeper and make it harder to climb out of the hole. To get back out again, you have to fill in the hole to return to ground level, and the only way to fill it is with food and rest. If you overdo it in the gym by pushing too hard, you won’t be able to train as often or at a high capacity. Eventually, you’ll get injured.
More specifically, you can expect to end up in the upper half of these ranges ONLY if you are a beginner, younger, and/or have amazing genetics. You can expect to end up in the lower half of these ranges if you are an intermediate or advanced trainee, older, and/or have poor genetics. The average person can expect to end up somewhere in the middle. Additional details here: How Much Muscle Can You Gain?
Creatine is a molecule produced in the body. It stores high-energy phosphate groups in the form of phosphocreatine. Phosphocreatine releases energy to aid cellular function during stress. This effect causes strength increases after creatine supplementation, and can also benefit the brain, bones, muscles, and liver. Most of the benefits of creatine are a result of this mechanism.
One study on 27 otherwise healthy men supplementing creatine (0.3g/kg loading for a week, 0.05g/kg thereafter for 8 weeks) with a thrice weekly exercise regiment noted that alongside greater increase in lean mass and power relative to placebo at 4 and 8 weeks, myostatin in serum decreased to a greater extent with creatine (around 17% at 8 weeks, derived from graph) than it did with placebo (approximately 7%).[356] Increases in GASP-1, a serum protein that inhibits the actions of myostatin by directly binding to it,[357] were not different between groups.[356]

Lyoo, I. K., Yoon, S., Kim, T. S., Hwang, J., Kim, J. E., Won, W., Bae, S., & Renshaw, P. F. (2012, September). A randomized, double-blind placebo-controlled trial of oral creatine monohydrate augmentation for enhanced response to a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor in women with major depressive disorder. American Journal of Psychiatry. 169(9):937-45. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22864465

One case study on a subject with a methylentetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) 677TT homozygote, a relatively common genetic mutation known as “mild MTHFR deficiency,” which causes mild homocysteinemia,[310] has seen benefits due to creatine supplementation where homocysteine was approximately halved (49% reduction) while CT heterozygotes and CC homozygotes (n=9) were unaffected.[311] Additionally, one rat study suggested a possible role for creatine in reducing homocysteine levels in a model of high uric acid levels (model for end stage renal disease[312]) but this was not replicated when investigated in humans.[313]

Creatine is most commonly found in the basic form of creatine monohydrate, which is the standard form and usually recommended due to the low price. It can also be micronized to improve water solubility, or the monohydrate can be temporarily removed to concentrate creatine in a small volume supplement. Neither alteration changes the properties of creatine.

You've figured out the exercises you should be doing, but what about the number of sets and repetitions? Your decision should be based on your goals. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends 8-12 reps for muscular strength and 10-15 reps for muscular endurance. They also recommend at least 1 set of each exercise to fatigue although you'll find that most people perform about 2-3 sets of each exercise. In general:
Recommended Dose: In Shannon Clark's article, "6 Ways To Get More Energized For Your Workouts", Dr. Chris Lockwood recommends between 1.36 and 2.5 milligrams of caffeine per pound of bodyweight. That would be 200-375 milligrams for a 150-pound person. If that leaves you jittery, try less. Determine your tolerance and find the dose that works best for you.

The last survivors of the pro-hormone supplements, which were removed from sale last January, estrogen-blocking supplements aren't pro-hormones but do inhibit the enzyme aromatase, which converts androgens into estrogens. In normal men that enzyme is ubiquitous, being present in such tissues as muscle, brain and skin. About 20 percent of the free testosterone circulating in the blood is converted into estrogen by way of aromatase.
^ Kreider RB, Kalman DS, Antonio J, Ziegenfuss TN, Wildman R, Collins R, Candow DG, Kleiner SM, Almada AL, Lopez HL (2017-06-13). "International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: safety and efficacy of creatine supplementation in exercise, sport, and medicine". Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. 14: 18. doi:10.1186/s12970-017-0173-z. PMC 5469049. PMID 28615996.
A: If your goal is the largest accrual of muscle mass possible then there may be some benefit to ingesting nutrients with a period of 30-60 minutes after your workout. Does this have to be a protein shake? No, but ideally it should be a meal lower in fat to enhance the digest rate of nutrients within the gastrointestinal tract. However, if you have just eaten a mixed macronutrient meal pre-workout then you should keep in mind that that meal is still likely digesting so there’s no need to throw down the weights after your last set and rush to your locker to slam a protein shake.
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.”

The exercises that allow you to use the greatest amount of weight are the ones that help you build muscle the fastest. These also happen to be the lifts that allow for the greatest percentage of increases in loading. We’re talking compound (multi-joint) exercises here, done with free weights. You’re not going to grow at nearly the same rate with a workout comprising machine exercises and isolation movements.

Creatine retention (assessed by urinary analysis) tends to be very high on the first loading dose (65±11%) and declines throughout the loading phase (23±27%).[203] This is likely due to increased muscular uptake when creatine stores are relatively low, which has been noted in vegetarians. So, creatine absorption is very high initially, but decreases througout the loading phase, as muscle creatine stores increase.[204]
Another category of muscle-building supplements that lifters and bodybuilders use to improve their results are branched-chained amino acids (BCAAs), or BCAAs. Of the 20 amino acids that make up protein, just three are referred to as BCAAs: leucine, isoleucine, and valine. These are the specific amino acids that have been shown to stimulate protein synthesis and help regulate protein metabolism.

Of the three, protein will of course play the most important role in the muscle building process (like calories, it’s one our required “supplies”), although fat and carbs will still be important for other reasons which range from optimizing hormone production (e.g. testosterone, the muscle building hormone) to enhancing training performance and recovery.
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.
Women who train hard and reach low body fat levels, say under 10 percent, may be at risk of losing their periods as a result of hormonal disruption to estrogen production. Exercise-induced estrogen declines can result in bone loss in a way similar to that which occurs at the menopause. Loss of periods from athletic training is not uncommon but does require that you see a doctor, or better still, a sports physician and sports nutritionist to assess what is required to address the problem. Calcium supplements may be a part of the solution if bone health is likely to be affected. 
There are countless reasons to lift weights and build strong muscles, including injury prevention, improved bone density, and a lower risk for type 2 diabetes and other diseases—not to forget that bad-ass feeling you get when you can haul a giant piece of furniture up the stairs all by yourself. Another often-cited benefit to strength training is that it will increase your metabolism. But how much does your metabolism increase with strength training? The answer depends on many different factors.
Dips. You should be able to manipulate your bodyweight in space against the influence of gravity. If you can’t perform simple movements such as pushups, dips, and chin-ups then you need to work on your relative strength. That being said, dips are an excellent muscle builder for the chest, triceps, and shoulders if they are progressively overloaded with weight. 
Several studies have used either beet root juice or pomegranate extract in multi-ingredient performance supplements and have observed improvements in strength, hypertrophy, and performance in resistance-trained men. At this point, however, it's difficult to determine if these benefits are from beet root juice and pomegranate extract working alone or synergistically with other ingredients.[11,12]

So, for example, with the moves above you'd do 15 squats followed by 15 push-ups. Take a little breather then repeat that two more times. Then you move on to your walking lunges and lat pull-downs (and repeat those three times total, too). You can really do anywhere from eight reps to 15 (and even just two sets, if you don't have time for three), but "it’s not a bad idea for beginners to start with a 15-rep range to get comfortable with the exercises," says Davis. And while there's some debate over whether three sets of an exercise is really best, "it’s a great beginner model," says Davis. Don't overcomplicate things when you're just getting started.
Due to a combination of its neuroprotective effects and dopaminergic modulatory effects, creatine has been hypothesized in at least one review article to be of benefit to drug rehabilitation.[266] This study used parallels between drug abuse (usually methamphetamines) and traumatic brain injury[267][268] and made note of creatine being able to reduce symptoms of brain trauma, such as headaches, fatigue, and dizziness in clinical settings in two pilot studies.[269][270] No studies currently exist that examine creatine supplementation and drug rehabilitation.
Parameters of lung function (main cause of death in ALS is declining respiratory function) have not benefited after creatine supplementation, and when quality of life is measured, there is no benefit either. Despite one study failing to find any significant differences in mortality risk, two other studies have suggested that creatine may reduce the risk. The results were nonsignificant, but due to all treatments being well tolerated it is thought that creatine may still play a role as an adjuvant.

In otherwise healthy adults subject to leg immobilization for two weeks while taking 20g creatine daily during immobilization and then 5g daily during eight weeks of rehabilitation, it was noted that the creatine group failed to reduce atrophy during the immobilization (10% reduction in cross sectional area and 22-25% reduction in force output) despite preventing a decrease in phosphocreatine, yet experienced a significantly enhanced rate of regrowth and power recovery.[358] A similarly structured and dosed study has also noted greater expression of skeletal muscle, GLUT4 expression, and a 12% increase in muscle phosphocreatine content.[330]
Retinol (Vitamin A) B vitamins: Thiamine (B1) Riboflavin (B2) Niacin (B3) Pantothenic acid (B5) Pyridoxine (B6) Biotin (B7) Folic acid (B9) Cyanocobalamin (B12) Ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) Ergocalciferol and Cholecalciferol (Vitamin D) Tocopherol (Vitamin E) Naphthoquinone (Vitamin K) Calcium Choline Chromium Cobalt Copper Fluorine Iodine Iron Magnesium Manganese Molybdenum Phosphorus Potassium Selenium Sodium Sulfur Zinc
In standard dosages (5-10g creatine monohydrate) the bioavailability of creatine in humans is approximately 99%,[68][83] although this value is subject to change with different conjugates (forms) of creatine and dosages.[83] Coingestion of cyclocreatine (an analogue) can reduce uptake by about half[131] and coincubation of taurine, choline, glycine, or beta-alanine had minimal attenuation of absorption, which is likely not practically relevant.[131] The inhibition noted with cyclocreatine may be due to receptor saturation.

The first published results (not blinded) noted that a loading phase of 20g of creatine for a week, followed by 3g daily for up to six months, was able to enhance maximal voluntary isometric muscular contraction (MVIC) on a dynamometer for both the knee and elbow joints, with enhanced fatigue resistance on the same joints in more than half of subjects (53-70% response rate).[545]
He pointed to data sets in Mayo Clinic Proceedings that found resistance training reduced the risk of developing metabolic syndrome or hypercholesterolemia. “If you build muscle, even if you’re not aerobically active, you burn more energy because you have more muscle. This also helps prevent obesity and provide long-term benefits on various health outcomes.”
Contrary to certain rumors that animal-based protein is more suitable to trigger muscle growth than plant-based protein, a study by Mangano et al. (2017) could not provide any evidence for this. In contrast, if combined properly, plant-based protein can even have a higher biological quality. A combination of one part wheat protein (e.g. seitan) and two parts soy protein (e.g. tofu) has thus been favored by many bodybuilders. Some bodybuilders, such as Patrik Baboumian and Robert Cheeke, follow a strict vegan diet.[37]
Taking high doses of creatine might harm the kidneys. Some medications can also harm the kidneys. Taking creatine with medications that can harm the kidneys might increase the chance of kidney damage.

Some of these medications that can harm the kidneys include cyclosporine (Neoral, Sandimmune); aminoglycosides including amikacin (Amikin), gentamicin (Garamycin, Gentak, others), and tobramycin (Nebcin, others); nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) including ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, Nuprin, others), indomethacin (Indocin), naproxen (Aleve, Anaprox, Naprelan, Naprosyn), piroxicam (Feldene); and numerous others.

Need the motivation to push past your comfort zone and squeeze out one more push-up or bicep curl? Sure, it helps to remember that you’ll get stronger, rock more toned muscles and rev your metabolism, thanks to all that added muscle mass. But if that wasn’t enough, now comes news that all that pump-itude (yes, that’s an SNL reference) has psychological benefits, too.
Creatine kinase is expressed in eyes. The eyes can take creatine up from the blood via two different transporters, the classic SCL6A8 (creatine transporter) and MCT12. It seems that expression of the receptors and accumulation of creatine occur in a relatively higher level in photoreceptors, which perceive color. Similarly to many other tissues, they appear to protect the cells during periods of low oxygen availability.
Polyethylene glycol is a non-toxic, water-soluble polymer that is capable of enhancing the absorption of creatine and various other substances [66]. Polyethylene glycol can be bound with CM to form polyethylene glycosylated creatine. One study [67] found that 5 g/d for 28 days of polyethylene glycosylated creatine was capable of increasing 1RM bench press in 22 untrained young men but not for lower body strength or muscular power. Body weight also did not significantly change in the creatine group which may be of particular interest to athletes in weight categories that require upper body strength. Herda et al [68] analyzed the effects of 5 g of CM and two smaller doses of polyethylene glycosylated creatine (containing 1.25 g and 2.5 g of creatine) administered over 30 days on muscular strength, endurance, and power output in fifty-eight healthy men. CM produced a significantly greater improvement in mean power and body weight meanwhile both CM and polyethylene glycosylated form showed a significantly (p < 0.05) greater improvement for strength when compared with control group. These strength increases were similar even though the dose of creatine in the polyethylene glycosylated creatine groups was up to 75% less than that of CM. These results seem to indicate that the addition of polyethylene glycol could increase the absorption efficiency of creatine but further research is needed before a definitive recommendation can be reached.
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]
Kidney damage (from anything) will cause high levels of creatinine in blood, and creatine can also increase blood creatinine levels in a manner that is not due to damaging the kidneys. This results in a false positive when trying to diagnose kidney damange when the subject also supplements creatine, and does not signify any actual damage to the kidneys.

While they don’t play a big role, your body’s lean body mass and muscle strength is somewhat influenced by genetics. Actually, it’s good that they don’t have too much of an influence. Why? Because that means you have more of an influence on your muscle mass through your lifestyle. You can control it! If genetics were a determining factor, there wouldn’t be much you could do to change your situation.

The genealogy of lifting can be traced back to the beginning of recorded history[1] where humanity's fascination with physical abilities can be found among numerous ancient writings. In many prehistoric tribes, they would have a big rock they would try to lift, and the first one to lift it would inscribe their name into the stone. Such rocks have been found in Greek and Scottish castles.[2] Progressive resistance training dates back at least to Ancient Greece, when legend has it that wrestler Milo of Croton trained by carrying a newborn calf on his back every day until it was fully grown. Another Greek, the physician Galen, described strength training exercises using the halteres (an early form of dumbbell) in the 2nd century.
Whey, the liquid remaining after milk has been curdled and strained, is rapidly digested and absorbed and has a remarkable ability to stimulate muscle protein synthesis (Hayes & Cribb, 2008). Whey is available in three varieties — whey protein powder, whey protein concentrate, whey protein isolate — and all provide high levels of the essential and branched chain amino acids, vitamins and minerals.
Heart Failure is one of the single most common complications that face many people today. When a heart ages, the cells collect a yellow-brown layer which is waste and can lead to heart complications. This process is known as lipofuscin, or “aging pigment” which leads to death opposed to someone who can delay that as far as possible. [3] In mice, a study was performed where two groups of mice who had lipofuscin underwent different experiments, one group received creatine supplementation, and one group did not receive supplementation. What they found was that the mice who supplemented creatine lived 9% longer than the ones who did not receive creatine. 9% translated into human years results in almost 7 years, which could suggest that if you suffer from this deterioration, creatine supplementation could potentially increase your longevity by 7 years. [3]
This move can help lean abs really pop, especially once you've lost any extra belly fat. Sit on the floor, knees bent and heels down. Lean back, keep your back straight, and tense your abs. Place the kettlebell on the floor, switching from one side to the other. For faster results, hold your feet off the floor, but only if you can still use good form.
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.
Increasing creatine levels in skeletal muscle to 687% of baseline (0.5mM creatine, thought to be equivalent to 5g creatine[135]) doesn’t seem to per se increase glucose uptake, but increases glucose oxidation (140% of baseline)[341] which is due to a two-fold increase in the activity of α1 and α2 subunits of AMPK, a potency comparable to 1mM of the reference drug AICAR.[341] Glucose uptake associated with AMPK has indeed been noted in diabetic people who are undergoing physical exercise[342] and in contracting skeletal muscle cells,[153][330] but according to rat[343][344][345] and in vitro studies of cells not being contracted,[341] this is not a per se effect of non-exercising tissue but an augmentation of exercise-induced glucose uptake.
In the modern bodybuilding industry, the term "professional" generally means a bodybuilder who has won qualifying competitions as an amateur and has earned a "pro card" from their respective organization. Professionals earn the right to compete in competitions that include monetary prizes. A pro card also prohibits the athlete from competing in federations other than the one from which they have received the pro card.[12] Depending on the level of success, these bodybuilders may receive monetary compensation from sponsors, much like athletes in other sports.
Of the three, protein will of course play the most important role in the muscle building process (like calories, it’s one our required “supplies”), although fat and carbs will still be important for other reasons which range from optimizing hormone production (e.g. testosterone, the muscle building hormone) to enhancing training performance and recovery.
To succeed and thrive as a bodybuilder, it takes more than overwhelming muscular strength or athletic prowess. Judges select bodybuilding champions based on muscle mass, definition, proportion, symmetry, and an athlete’s stage presence. Given the criteria, it is no surprise that most serious bodybuilders consider supplementation to be an essential component of their training regimen.
In otherwise healthy adults subject to leg immobilization for two weeks while taking 20g creatine daily during immobilization and then 5g daily during eight weeks of rehabilitation, it was noted that the creatine group failed to reduce atrophy during the immobilization (10% reduction in cross sectional area and 22-25% reduction in force output) despite preventing a decrease in phosphocreatine, yet experienced a significantly enhanced rate of regrowth and power recovery.[358] A similarly structured and dosed study has also noted greater expression of skeletal muscle, GLUT4 expression, and a 12% increase in muscle phosphocreatine content.[330]
Creatine is produced endogenously at an amount of about 1 g/d. Synthesis predominately occurs in the liver, kidneys, and to a lesser extent in the pancreas. The remainder of the creatine available to the body is obtained through the diet at about 1 g/d for an omnivorous diet. 95% of the bodies creatine stores are found in the skeletal muscle and the remaining 5% is distributed in the brain, liver, kidney, and testes [1]. As creatine is predominately present in the diet from meats, vegetarians have lower resting creatine concentrations [2].
Health-food stores sell creatine supplements in capsule, chewable, and powdered form, the most popular being the powder. One teaspoon of powder contains 5 grams (g) of creatine monohydrate. The recommended daily dose is 1-2 teaspoons dissolved in 8 ounces of water or sweetened beverage. Manufacturers and distributors suggest a five- to seven-day loading phase with intake of 10-20 g (2-4 scoops) daily to fill up the muscle. The maintenance phase of 5-10 g/day is recommended before and/or immediately following a workout. This protocol is claimed to increase creatine muscle stores by 20-50%.
These supplements can vary considerably from product to product in ingredients, serving sizes, and more. But the goal of each of them is generally quite similar. Most bodybuilding supplements are designed to help stimulate new muscle growth, cut away excess fat, and improve the recovery process so that you can get the most out of each trip to the gym.
Key point: Past a certain number of sets, the marginal increases in protein synthesis NO LONGER outweigh the cost of doing more sets. If 8 sets of chest exercises produce 95% of possible muscle protein synthesis… then it makes very little sense to do ANOTHER 10 sets (like most chest workouts) to try and inch out the final 5% of stimulation. Those extra 10 sets are simply damaging your muscle unnecessarily and impairing your ability to recover.
Three additional studies suggest that creatine supplementation may not be beneficial for running velocity, sprint swimming performance, or a maximal cycling effort [7]. Short bouts of repeated anaerobic activity have shown some potential benefits with creatine supplementation use in a laboratory setting. However, creatine supplementation has not been shown to enhance single-event performance such as stationary cycling [16-19]. Taken together, these studies do not support creatine supplementation to enhance aerobic activities such as distance running.
SAMe is the primary methyl donor in the human body, and supplements that preserve SAMe (such as trimethylglycine; TMG) promote a variety of benefits in the human body, like a reduction in homocysteine and reduced risk of fatty liver. Creatine has been implicated in both reducing homocysteine[124] and preventing fatty liver in rodents[125], thought to be secondary to preserving SAMe.
AAKG β-hydroxy β-methylbutyrate Carnitine Chondroitin sulfate Cod liver oil Copper gluconate Creatine/Creatine supplements Dietary fiber Echinacea Elemental calcium Ephedra Fish oil Folic acid Ginseng Glucosamine Glutamine Grape seed extract Guarana Iron supplements Japanese Honeysuckle Krill oil Lingzhi Linseed oil Lipoic acid Milk thistle Melatonin Red yeast rice Royal jelly Saw palmetto Spirulina St John's wort Taurine Wheatgrass Wolfberry Yohimbine Zinc gluconate
Nephrectomized rats may have significantly reduced creatine synthesis rates[509] via impairment of methylation (the GAMT enzyme)[510] although creatine reuptake from the urine seems unimpaired.[511] Supplemental creatine in a rat model of 2/3rds nephrectomy (2% creatine in the diet) does not appear to negatively influence kidney function as assessed by the serum biomarkers of cystatin C and urinary protein or creatinine clearance rates.[512] Elsewhere, 2% creatine in the diet in rats for two weeks again failed to show negative effects on kidney function, but showed benefit in reducing homocysteine in late-stage uremic rats.[312] While there is not much human evidence for the rat nephrectomy model, a lone case study in a man with a single kidney failed to find an impairing effect of creatine (20g daily for five days and 5g for another month) in conjunction with a high protein diet.[513]
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You may be wondering what conditions and medications contraindicate the use of creatine supplements. Creatine is contraindicated in people with kidney insufficiency or kidney disease. If you take diabetes medication, diuretics or acetaminophen, do not take a creatine supplement. Use caution if you regularly consume caffeine while taking a creatine supplement. Overall, if you are healthy and have gotten clearance from your doctor, consider this non-GMO creatine supplement.
When assessing the antioxidant effects of creatine, it does not appear to sequester superoxide and may not be a direct antioxidant.[241] Additionally, creatine failed to protect neurons from H2O2 incubation to induce cell death via pro-oxidative means.[241] These results are in contrast to previously recorded results suggesting creatine acts as a direct anti-oxidant.[242]