The first thing you need is a weight training program that signals the muscle building process to begin. Research has shown that a well designed program will generate this “signal” via a combination of progressive tension overload (as in, getting stronger over time), metabolic stress (as in, fatiguing the muscle and getting “the pump”), and muscular damage (as in, actual damage to the muscle tissue itself). 

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.”
For several years, research studies have shown that adolescents concerned with both athletics and appearance are taking performance-enhancing supplements. A study by the American Academy of Pediatrics of middle-school and high-school students ages 10 to 18 years found creatine use in all grades 6 through 12. About 5.6% of the study participants and 44% of high-school senior athletes admitted taking creatine.

You are encouraged to confirm information obtained from or through this website with other sources. Our content is not a substitute for qualified medical advice. The supplement summaries on this website may not include all the information pertinent to your use. Before starting a diet, taking new supplements, or beginning an exercise program, check with your doctor to clear any lifestyle changes. Only your doctor can determine what is right for you based on your medical history and prescriptions.
Creatine is used and researched in a clinical setting to investigate various pathologies or disorders such as myopathies [3,4] and is also used as an ergogenic aid for improving health and sports performance in athletes [5]. As an oral supplement, the most widely used and researched form is creatine monohydrate (CM). When orally ingested, CM has shown to improve exercise performance and increase fat free mass [5-9].
Without supplementation, approximately 14.6mmol (2g) of creatinine, creatine’s urinary metabolite, is lost on a daily basis in a standard 70kg male ages 20-39. The value is slightly lower in females and the elderly due to a presence of less muscle mass.[35] This amount is considered necessary to obtain in either food or supplemental form to avoid creatine deficiency. Requirements may be increased in people with higher than normal lean mass.[35][198] Creatine excretion rates on a daily basis are correlated with muscle mass, and the value of 2g a day is derived from the aforementioned male population with about 120g creatine storage capacity.[35] Specifically, the rate of daily creatine losses is about 1.6%[199]-1.7%,[25] and mean losses for women are approximately 80% that of men due to less average lean mass.[35] For weight-matched elderly men (70kg, 70-79 years of age) the rate of loss of 7.8mmol/day,[49] or about half (53%) that of younger men.
The concentration in healthy controls (57+/-8 years) without supplementation of creatine appears to be around 1.24+/-0.26µM per gram of hemoglobin[292] and appears to decrease in concentration during the aging process of the erythrocyte.[294][295][296] Otherwise healthy subjects who take a loading phase of creatine (5g four times daily for five days) can experience a 129.6% increase in erythrocytic creatine concentrations from an average value of 418µM (per liter) up to 961µM with a large range (increases in the range of 144.4-1004.8µM),[297] and this effect appears to correlate somewhat with muscular creatine stores.[297]

When lifting to complete fatigue, it takes an average of two to five minutes for your muscles to rest for the next set. When using lighter weight and more repetitions, it takes between 30 seconds and a minute for your muscles to rest. For beginners, working to fatigue isn't necessary, and starting out too strong can lead to too much post-exercise soreness.
Most experts recommend starting with your larger muscle groups and then proceeding to the smaller muscle groups. The most demanding exercises are those performed by your large muscle groups and you will need your smaller muscles to get the most out of these exercises. But, don't feel limited by that. You can do your exercises in any order you like and changing the order is a great way to challenge yourself in different ways.
When splitting a sample into exercisers and non-exercisers, it appears that exercise as a pre-requisite precedes a higher range of activity. Inactive people tend to be on the lower end of creatine kinase activity and relatively clustered in magnitude, while exercise generally increases activity, but also introduces a larger range of possible activity.[56]
How much of a difference does EPOC make? Well, in one research study of young women, basal metabolic rate spiked by 4.2 percent 16 hours following a strength-training session that lasted an hour and 40 minutes—the equivalent of burning an extra 60 calories, on average. That’s a long workout, and 60 extra calories isn’t exactly huge. Plus, EPOC is not a permanent boost. Research suggests it may last anywhere from 12 hours to a few days, depending on the workout and who is doing it. The calories you burn through EPOC can add up over time, especially if you’re lifting weights three or four times a week, but all in all, it doesn’t have a very big effect on your metabolism.
^ Jump up to: a b Barcelos RP, Stefanello ST, Mauriz JL, Gonzalez-Gallego J, Soares FA (2016). "Creatine and the Liver: Metabolism and Possible Interactions". Mini Reviews in Medicinal Chemistry. 16 (1): 12–8. doi:10.2174/1389557515666150722102613. PMID 26202197. The process of creatine synthesis occurs in two steps, catalyzed by L-arginine:glycine amidinotransferase (AGAT) and guanidinoacetate N-methyltransferase (GAMT), which take place mainly in kidney and liver, respectively. This molecule plays an important energy/pH buffer function in tissues, and to guarantee the maintenance of its total body pool, the lost creatine must be replaced from diet or de novo synthesis.
This period also saw the rise of anabolic steroids in bodybuilding and many other sports. In bodybuilding lore, this is partly attributed to the rise of "mass monsters", beginning with Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sergio Oliva, and Lou Ferrigno in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and continuing through the 1980s with Lee Haney, the 1990s with Dorian Yates, Ronnie Coleman, and Markus Rühl, and up to the present day. Bodybuilders such as Greg Kovacs attained mass and size never seen previously but were not successful at the pro level. Others were renowned for their spectacular development of a particular body part, like Tom Platz or Paul Demayo for the leg muscles. At the time of shooting Pumping Iron, Schwarzenegger (while never admitting to steroid use until long after his retirement) said that "you have to do anything you can to get the advantage in competition".[citation needed] He would later say that he does not regret using anything.[8]

A dose of 5g daily has strong evidence supporting it not causing any adverse side effects[605] and 10g has been used daily for 310 days in older adults (aged 57+/-11.1) with no significant differences from placebo.[519] Such a dose has also been demonstrated for long-term safety for people with Parkinson’s disease,[606] and at least one small retrospective study in athletes (surverying people taking creatine for up to or over a year) failed to find any significant differences in a battery of serum health parameters.[502] Other studies measuring serum parameters have also failed to find abnormalities outside the normal range.[607]
Age-related muscle loss: Many different dosing regimens have been used; however, most use a short-term “loading dose” followed by a long-term maintenance dose. Loading doses are typically 20 grams daily for 4-7 days. Maintenance doses are typically 2-10 grams daily. Older adults seem to only experience benefits from creatine supplementation when it is combined with resistance training.
The basic principles of weight training are essentially identical to those of strength training, and involve a manipulation of the number of repetitions (reps), sets, tempo, exercise types, and weight moved to cause desired increases in strength, endurance, and size. The specific combinations of reps, sets, exercises, and weights depends on the aims of the individual performing the exercise.

This concept of timing has been applied to everything from fat burners, protein supplements, carbohydrates, and various other supplements. In some cases, you can see a difference based on when you take a product. But more often, the timing is based more on anecdotal evidence than any hard science. Recently, this nutrient timing aspect has even been extended to creatine, a product that is so effective that it’s worth the investigation of determining if there’s an element that can give you even greater benefits.
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. 

Although creatine supplementation has been shown to be more effective on predominantly anaerobic intermittent exercise, there is some evidence of its positive effects on endurance activities. Branch [28] highlights that endurance activities lasting more than 150s rely on oxidative phosphorylation as primary energy system supplier. From this meta analysis [28], it would appear that the ergogenic potential for creatine supplementation on predominantly aerobic endurance exercise diminishes as the duration of the activity increases over 150s. However it is suggested that creatine supplementation may cause a change in substrate utilization during aerobic activity possibly leading to an increase in steady state endurance performance.
In 1990, professional wrestling promoter Vince McMahon announced that he was forming a new bodybuilding organization named the World Bodybuilding Federation (WBF). McMahon wanted to bring WWF-style showmanship and bigger prize money to the sport of bodybuilding. A number of IFBB stars were recruited but the roster was never very large and featured the same athletes competing; the most notable winner and first WBF champion was Gary Strydom. McMahon formally dissolved the WBF in July 1992. Reasons for this reportedly included lack of income from the pay-per-view broadcasts of the contests, slow sales of the WBF's magazine Bodybuilding Lifestyles (later WBF Magazine), and the expense of paying multiple six-figure contracts while producing two TV shows and a monthly magazine.
But muscle can’t turn into fat, just like mud can’t turn into gold. If you quit lifting, your muscles mass will decrease over time because there’s no training to stimulate your body to keep it. And your body-fat level will increase if you don’t start eating less (since you burn less). The obvious solution when you stop lifting is to also stop eating so much.

How much weight? Start with a pair of light dumbbell hand weights (2 to 3 pounds for women and 5 to 8 pounds for men). If you can’t do 12 repetitions (or reps are the number of times you do the exercise) the weight is too heavy. If your muscles don’t feel tired after 12 reps, it’s too light. Adjustable weights that can be strapped to wrists or ankles may be convenient if you have arthritis in your hands. You can also use home or gym weight machines, or resistance bands.

Kerksick, C. M., Wilborn, C. D., Campbell, W. I., Harvey, T. M., Marcello, B. M., Roberts, M. D., Parker, A. G., Byars, A. G., Greenwood, L. D., Almada, A. L., Kreider, R. B., and Greenwood, M. The effects of creatine monohydrate supplementation with and without D-pinitol on resistance training adaptations. J.Strength.Cond.Res. 2009;23:2673-2682. View abstract.
Studies with animal and cellular models demonstrated positive effect of creatine ingestion on neurodegenerative diseases. These effects have been attributed to improved overall cellular bioenergetics due to an expansion of the phosphocreatine pool [50]. Creatine deficiency syndromes, due to deficiency of glycine amidinotransferase and guanidinoacetate methyltransferase, can cause decreases or complete absence of creatine in the central nervous system. Syndromes of this nature have the possibility to be improved by supplementing orally with creatine. Brain creatine deficiency resulting from ineffective crea T1 has been shown not to be effectively treated with oral creatine supplementation [51]. Additionally, oral creatine administration in patients with myopathies has shown conflicting results depending on the type of myopathy and creatine transport systems disorders [4].
Small but significant is good. It’s especially helpful during short periods of extremely powerful physical activity, particularly if those short bursts of activity are repeated, as in weightlifting, sprinting or football, for example. The study also says that creatine supplementation is associated with enhanced strength gains in strength training programs, which could be related to the greater volume and intensity of training that you can achieve when you’re taking creatine supplements. Plus, according to the study, there’s no evidence of gastrointestinal, renal or muscle cramping complications – more good news.
Creatine supplementation (11.4g) with glycerol (1g/kg; per se effective[394][395]) and glucose (75g) in endurance runners in the heat appears to attenuate the increase in internal temperature associated with an increase in total body water of 0.71+/-0.42L, while performance (VO2 max and running economy) were unaffected over 30 minutes.[3] Creatine is effective without glycerol (20g daily with 140g of glucose polymer over a week),[346] again without an improvement in physical performance.
Who makes it: Creapure HMB is made by Transparent Labs, one of the best companies in the sports nutrition industry. Transparent labs is all about, well, transparency! They always clearly list everything that goes into their products. They use pure, simple, and clinically proven ingredients to create products that get real results. Instead of relying on marketing gimmicks to sell their products, Transparent Labs relies on proven science and word-of-mouth. Transparent Labs has grown their business by providing the one ingredient seldom found in sports nutrition products: honesty.
Using clinically effective doses of potent ingredients, Transparent Labs' StrengthSeries Creatine HMB combines creatine monohydrate with HMB in order to boost strength, lengthen endurance, and reduce fat. Along with the addition of BioPerine, StrengthSeries Creatine HMB is able to increase the rate of absorption and dispersion of this powerful creatine formula. Each serving of Creatine HMB contains 5g of Creatine, 2 g of HMB, and 5mg of BioPerine! Keep Reading »
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.
A: Depending upon your experience level, preference, recovery capacity, and time available, you’ll likely find that 3-5 strength training sessions per week is the sweet spot. If you’re just getting started with weight training, then you should stick with 3 days per week and work your way up. Novices and early intermediates can handle 4 days per week with a split such as an upper lower and seasoned intermediate lifters may be able to handle 5 sessions per week depending upon the programming, recovery, and nutrition strategies that are in place.

Supplementation of creatine at 5g daily alongside rehabilitation (after limb immobilization for two weeks while taking 20g daily) is associated with a preservation in GLUT4 levels, which were reduced during immobilization. During exercise rehabilitation, it increased to 40% above placebo.[330] This study failed to note an increase in GLUT4 in control, despite exercise normally doing so.[331][332] This effect is thought to be the result of the low frequency of activity. Thus, creatine was thought to augment the increase (insignificant due to low exercise) to significant levels.[330] In other studies, creatine was found to increase GLUT by approximately 30% relative to control, but this effect failed to reach statistical significance. This study did not issue an exercise protocol.[207]


Beast Creature could be another good option for female athletes. It’s tasty, it contains five types of creatine, and it contains ingredients that could improve fat loss by increasing insulin sensitivity. One potential bonus is that it also has 70 percent of your daily biotin, a nutrient often included in women’s multivitamins due its purported benefits for hair and nails.
Who makes it: Creapure HMB is made by Transparent Labs, one of the best companies in the sports nutrition industry. Transparent labs is all about, well, transparency! They always clearly list everything that goes into their products. They use pure, simple, and clinically proven ingredients to create products that get real results. Instead of relying on marketing gimmicks to sell their products, Transparent Labs relies on proven science and word-of-mouth. Transparent Labs has grown their business by providing the one ingredient seldom found in sports nutrition products: honesty.
Branched-chain amino acids (leucine, isoleucine, valine) play important roles in muscle building. Some researchers have found that following exercise, the branched-chain amino acids, especially leucine, increase the rate of protein synthesis and decrease the rate of protein catabolism (Blomstrand, 2006). The billion dollar supplement industry has been quick to respond; leucine supplements are widely available in health food stores, with a cost upwards of $50 per container. However, because the research findings are inconsistent and little is known about the safety of these products, the American Dietetic Association (soon to be renamed the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics) advises against individual amino acid supplementation and protein supplementation overall (Rodriquez, 2009). It may be that food sources of these proteins and amino acids provide the same effect for a small fraction of the cost.
After the ingestion of 5g creatine in otherwise healthy humans, serum levels of creatine were elevated from fasting levels (50-100µM) to 600-800µM within one hour after consumption.[135] The receptor follows Michaelis-Menten kinetics with a Vmax obtained at concentrations higher than 0.3-0.4mmol/L,[136] with prolonged serum concentrations above this amount exerting most of its saturation within two days.[137]
^ Jump up to: a b c d Brosnan ME, Brosnan JT (August 2016). "The role of dietary creatine". Amino Acids. 48 (8): 1785–91. doi:10.1007/s00726-016-2188-1. PMID 26874700. The daily requirement of a 70-kg male for creatine is about 2 g; up to half of this may be obtained from a typical omnivorous diet, with the remainder being synthesized in the body ... More than 90% of the body’s creatine and phosphocreatine is present in muscle (Brosnan and Brosnan 2007), with some of the remainder being found in the brain (Braissant et al. 2011). ... Creatine synthesized in liver must be secreted into the bloodstream by an unknown mechanism (Da Silva et al. 2014a)
We’re confident you’ll love your Onnit supplements. If the product doesn't perform for you, however, we’re not gonna play games with you. Order any of our entry size supplements, and if you don’t like it, you can keep it! Notify our team, telling us why it wasn't a fit for you, and we’ll get you a refund right there on the spot - no return necessary. We just ask that you try it out for at least two weeks to give it a fair shot.
ZMA: This supplement is a combination of zinc, magnesium and vitamin B-6. Some research shows that this combination can help raise testosterone levels. In the trial, subjects took a daily dose of ZMA (which included 30 mg zinc monomethionine, 450 mg magnesium aspartate and 10.5 mg vitamin B-6) at night during 7 weeks. Other hormones like IGF also increased, while the stress hormone, cortisol was reduced, creating an overall more favorable hormone profile. Not surprisingly, muscle performance also improved. (n) This paper is surrounding in controversy, however, because one of the scientists involved also holds the trademark for ZMA, and the research is company-funded.

A double-blind study provided 20 g/day of creatine monohydrate for 5 days to qualified sprinters and jumpers who performed 45 seconds of continuous jumping and 60 seconds of continuous treadmill running. Supplementation enhanced performance in the jumping test by 7% for the first 15 seconds and 12% for the next 15 seconds, but there was no difference for the final 15 seconds. There was a 13% improvement in the time of intensive running to exhaustion [12].


Naturo Nitro Creatine Chrome could be an interesting choice for women. It’s actually magnesium creatine chelate, a type of creatine that may help to improve performance without increasing water weight. We don’t have a lot of studies on it just yet, but the research we do have suggests it could potentially be a good choice for women who want to improve performance without experiencing the “bloat” of regular creatine.
Eating the right carbs is important too. Carbohydrate is stored in your body in the form of glycogen. Glycogen in the muscles is an important fuel reserve during intense physical exercise or in times of energy restriction – protein sparing. It is best to restrict or to keep away from junk carbohydrates such as sweets, cakes, and biscuits, and stick to foods like porridge, pasta (wholemeal), rice (brown), bread (wholegrain), and cereals (try to choose the versions with low or reduced sugar and salt). For more on carbohydrate and the effect of sugar on the body, click here.

Dymatize Nutrition maximizes the benefits of protein in ISO-100 through its use of hydrolyzed 100% whey protein isolate. Designed to increase the absorption of protein, this fast-acting protein provides 25 grams of protein and 5.5 grams of BCAAs per serving, with no gluten or lactose. With a formula that aids in the instantaneous delivery of effective and advanced protein forms straight to the muscle, ISO-100 is able to repair and build muscle faster, resulting in the ability to reach fitness goals sooner rather than later. Keep Reading »
^ "The History of Weightlifting". USA Weightlifting. United States Olympic Committee. Archived from the original on 7 July 2013. Retrieved 3 September 2018. The genealogy of lifting traces back to the beginning of recorded history where man's fascination with physical prowess can be found among numerous ancient writings. A 5,000-year-old Chinese text tells of prospective soldiers having to pass lifting tests.

© 2019 Condé Nast. All rights reserved. Use of and/or registration on any portion of this site constitutes acceptance of our User Agreement (updated 5/25/18) and  Privacy Policy and Cookie Statement  (updated 5/25/18). SELF may earn a portion of sales from products that are purchased through our site as part of our Affiliate Partnerships with retailers. Your California Privacy Rights. SELF does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Any information published on this website or by this brand is not intended as a substitute for medical advice, and you should not take any action before consulting with a healthcare professional.   The material on this site may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, cached or otherwise used, except with the prior written permission of Condé Nast. Ad Choices 
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]
A meta-analysis found that creatine treatment increased muscle strength in muscular dystrophies, and potentially improved functional performance.[57] Creatine treatment does not appear to improve muscle strength in people who have metabolic myopathies.[57] High doses of creatine lead to increased muscle pain and an impairment in activities of daily living when taken by people who have McArdle disease.[57]

A study showed that 100mg/kg creatine monohydrate daily over four months supplemented by boys with DMD is able to enhance handgrip strength in the dominant hand only (less than 10% increase) and increase whole-body lean mass. While the trend toward whole body strength reduction seen in placebo was ablated and there was no interaction with corticosteroids,[560] this study failed to find an influence on activities of daily living or lung function.[560] Elsewhere in children not on corticosteroids with DMD, supplementation of 5g creatine for eight weeks was confirmed to increase muscular phosphocreatine content[554] and according to a manual muscle test (MMT) there was a significant improvement in muscular function relative to placebo, with more parents reporting benefit with creatine (53.8%) relative to placebo (14%).[554]

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].

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.


There are many camps within the weight training fitness community. We have bodybuilders, Crossfit athletes, powerlifters, Olympic lifters, and strongman athletes just to name the most popular ones off the top of my head. One thing they all have in common is that they all use resistance to achieve a particular goal. They all also “share” particular exercises. Most resistance-training athletes do barbell squats, overhead presses and deadlifts. I can write pages of differences between each of the disciplines I listed above and I can also write quite a bit about their similarities but one form of resistance training is MORE different than the others. Bodybuilding is the only sport that judges the appearance of the athlete rather than their performance. This may be why bodybuilders tend to get poked at the most.
Although weight training is similar to bodybuilding, they have different objectives. Bodybuilders use weight training to develop their muscles for size, shape, and symmetry regardless of any increase in strength for competition in bodybuilding contests; they train to maximize their muscular size and develop extremely low levels of body fat. In contrast, many weight trainers train to improve their strength and anaerobic endurance while not giving special attention to reducing body fat far below normal.
Collectively the above investigations indicate that creatine supplementation can be an effective strategy to maintain total creatine pool during a rehabilitation period after injury as well as to attenuate muscle damage induced by a prolonged endurance training session. In addition, it seems that creatine can act as an effective antioxidant agent after more intense resistance training sessions.
×