Without a doubt, you can add muscle simply by eating right and lifting weights. But to truly maximize your growth potential, supplements are a requirement. Hence, we've compiled a rundown of the 11 best mass-gain supplements on which to spend your hard-earned cash. They're listed in order of priority, from the absolute most critical, can't-do-without supplements to the less crucial yet still highly effective ingredients for packing on size. The point is to help those on a tight budget decide which supplements to buy. If money is no object, then by all means knock yourself out and use them all as directed. Because after all, as far as we're concerned, you can never have too much muscle.
Maughan RJ, King DS, Lea T. Dietary supplements. J Sports Sci. 2004 Jan;22(1):95-113.Kreider RB. Dietary supplements and the promotion of muscle growth with resistance exercise. Sports Med. 1999 Feb;27(2):97-110.Kerksick CM, Rasmussen CJ, Lancaster SL, et al. The effects of protein and amino acid supplementation on performance and training adaptations during ten weeks of resistance training. J Strength Cond Res. 2006 Aug;20(3):643-53.Update of Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2001;(1):CD002946. Glucosamine therapy for treating osteoarthritis. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2005 Apr 18;(2):CD002946.AIS Sports Nutrition - AIS Sports Supplement Program 2007.

An isolation exercise is one where the movement is restricted to one joint only. For example, the leg extension is an isolation exercise for the quadriceps. Specialized types of equipment are used to ensure that other muscle groups are only minimally involved—they just help the individual maintain a stable posture—and movement occurs only around the knee joint. Most isolation exercises involve machines rather than dumbbells and barbells (free weights), though free weights can be used when combined with special positions and joint bracing.

Older women with knee osteoarthritis given supplemental creatine at 20g for five days followed by 5g for the rest of the twelve week trial experienced improvements in stiffness (52% reduction), pain (45%), and physical function (41%) as assessed by WOMAC, despite no improvements in physical power output relative to placebo.[425] This study paired supplementation and placebo with a mild exercise regimen.[425]


In regard to practical interventions, concurrent glycogen loading has been noted to increase creatine stores by 37-46% regardless of whether the tissue was exercised prior to loading phase.[176] It is important to note, however, that creatine levels in response to the creatine loading protocol were compared in one glycogen-depleted leg to the contralateral control leg, which was not exercised.[176] This does not rule out a possible systemic exercise-driven increase in creatine uptake, and the increase in creatine noted above[176] was larger than typically seen with a loading protocol (usually in the 20-25% range). Consistent with an exercise-effect, others have reported that exercise itself increases creatine uptake into muscle, reporting 68% greater creatine uptake in an exercised limb, relative to 14% without exercise.[153]
Knowledge – When it comes to building the best physique possible, you have to be willing to experiment and learn from your body. No one will be able to tell you what’s the most effective nutrition or training split for your individual genotype. Not only that, they don’t know your personal preference, injury history, asymmetries, experience level, or current work capacity.
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.
Nutrient timing is a hot topic, especially for athletes and anyone looking for that extra edge in the gym or in body transformation. Part of this stems from science showing that the timing of carbohydrate consumption does influence important aspects, such as glycogen replenishment (and in limited cases, muscle protein synthesis). The other side is practical: You want the most bang for your buck when it comes to the nutritional products and supplements you purchase.
Some of the most common minor side effects include stomach discomfort, nausea, and increased bowel movements. Other potential side effects may include headaches, bloating, and increased thirst. There is always the chance that a supplement could cause an allergic reaction. This can result in rashes, swelling, or difficulty breathing, depending on the severity of the reaction. This is another reason why starting out with lower doses of new products is advisable.
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]
This suppression of creatine synthesis is thought to actually be beneficial, since creatine synthesis requires s-adenosyl methionine as a cofactor and may use up to 40-50% of SAMe for methylation[35][36][122] (initially thought to be above 70%, but this has since been re-evaluated[122]) though the expected preservation of SAMe may not occur with supplementation.[487] Reduced creatine synthesis, via preserving methyl groups and trimethylglycine (which would normally be used up to synthesize SAMe), is also thought to suppress homocysteine levels in serum,[37] but this may also not occur to a practical level following supplementation.[487]
The main consequence to using weight training exercises is the increase in muscle strength that you'll develop over time. You'll also develop stronger bones as well as gain a better general posture. In short, maintaining good muscle strength will allow your body to move more freely from the moment you wake up in the morning to the moment you fall asleep at night.
A retrospective study [81], that examined the effects of long lasting (0.8 to 4 years) CM supplementation on health markers and prescribed training benefits, suggested that there is no negative health effects (including muscle cramp or injuries) caused by long term CM consumption. In addition, despite many anecdotal claims, it appears that creatine supplementation would have positive influences on muscle cramps and dehydration [82]. Creatine was found to increase total body water possibly by decreasing the risk of dehydration, reducing sweat rate, lowering core body temperature and exercising heart rate. Furthermore, creatine supplementation does not increase symptoms nor negatively affect hydration or thermoregulation status of athletes exercising in the heat [83,84]. Additionally, CM ingestion has been shown to reduce the rate of perceived exertion when training in the heat [85].

Although some have voiced concerns about kidney damage with creatine supplementation, it’s generally regarded as a safe supplement when taken responsibly. The Mayo Clinic advises against taking it if you have an allergy. When used properly, the incidence of potential side effects such as low blood sugar and dehydration, are minor in healthy people taking a safe dosage.


Jager et al [60] observed 1.17 and 1.29 greater peak plasma creatine concentration 1 hour after ingesting creatine pyruvate compared to isomolar amount of CM and creatine citrate respectively. However time to peak concentration, and velocity constants of absorption and elimination, was the same for all three forms of creatine. Although not measured in this study it is questionable that these small differences in plasma creatine concentrations would have any effect on the increase of muscle creatine uptake. Jäger et al [61] investigated the effects of 28-days of creatine pyruvate and citrate supplementation on endurance capacity and power measured during an intermittent handgrip (15 s effort per 45s rest) exercise in healthy young athletes. The authors used a daily dose protocol with the intention to slowly saturate muscle creatine stores. Both forms of creatine showed slightly different effects on plasma creatine absorption and kinetics. The two creatine salts significantly increased mean power but only pyruvate forms showed significant effects for increasing force and attenuating fatigability during all intervals. These effects can be attributed to an enhanced contraction and relaxation velocity as well as a higher blood flow and muscle oxygen uptake. On the other hand, the power performance measured with the citrate forms decreases with time and improvements were not significant during the later intervals. In spite of these positive trends further research is required about the effects of these forms of creatine as there is little or no evidence for their safety and efficacy. Furthermore the regularity status of the novel forms of creatine vary from country to country and are often found to be unclear when compared to that of CM [62].
Still, it's important to realize that for everyone, at a certain point, building muscle becomes more difficult. "We all have an endpoint to our genetic potential," Matheny says. "Someone who is starting strength training for the first time can build muscle with a lower percentage of their 1RM [the maximum amount of weight they can lift one time] than a more tenured athlete. The longer you train and the closer you to get to your natural potential, the more specific you need to get with your training and nutrition to keep making progress. And that week-by-week progress will likely be much smaller than it once was."
Drink plenty of water throughout the day, especially in the hours leading up to your workout. This can help you feel full and reduce hunger pangs. During training, drink about 8 ounces every 15-20 minutes, more when it's hot and humid. The reason is simple: Your performance quickly begins to suffer when the body is dehydrated just 1%-–2%. And if you wait till you feel thirsty, you've waited too long. A flavorful, low-calorie sports drink is a great way to hydrate. Try drinking fluids stored at cooler temperatures; studies show that people consume more when the liquid is colder.
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;111:749-756. View abstract.
Due to the growing concerns of the high cost, health consequences, and illegal nature of some steroids, many organizations have formed in response and have deemed themselves "natural" bodybuilding competitions. In addition to the concerns noted, many promoters of bodybuilding have sought to shed the "freakish" perception that the general public has of bodybuilding and have successfully introduced a more mainstream audience to the sport of bodybuilding by including competitors whose physiques appear much more attainable and realistic.
Using too much weight, too soon; always start lower than your expected ability and work your way up that first workout. If your form suffers, you are swinging the weight, or using momentum, this indicates you may be using too much weight. Greater momentum increases the potential for injury and reduces the effectiveness to the muscle group being targeted.
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