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.
A recent review article published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition highlighted the benefits of protein supplementation and showed that supplementing with protein during prolonged (greater than 6 weeks) resistance-type training can lead to significantly greater increases in muscle mass and strength when compared to resistance training without a dietary protein intervention.[15]

It is equally important, if not more so, to ensure that you supply your body with more protein than it is breaking down each day. Your body uses protein for many things daily, and when you are working out, your body may start to break down proteins to provide extra energy. But your body also requires proteins to create new muscle cells and repair damaged ones. Many bodybuilding supplements contain large amounts of protein to ensure that your body has plenty for all required processes. Jump to Our 10 Best Bodybuilding Supplement List


Skin degradation is caused by a loss of collagen and degradation of the extracellular matrix,[536] which is enhanced by UV radiation (produces reactive oxygen species which stimulate MMPs[537]) and contributes to skin integrity loss and wrinkling. Due to the stimulation of collagen being associated with a cellular surplus of energy[538] and intracellular stores of energy declining with age,[539][540] creatine has been investigated as a topical anti-aging agent. In vitro, creatine appears to be rapidly absorbed through the skin (52% within an hour, remaining similar at 3 hours) with most creatine found in the stratum corneum (79.6-86.5%) follwed by the epidermis (9-13.2%) and dermis (4.5-7.1%).[541] It is successful in stimulating collagen expression and procollagen secretion in fibroblasts, with the latter increasing to 449+/-204% of control.[541]
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.
There you have it — our five favorite creatine products on the market. But when you’ve tried as many creatines as we have, there were a lot of others that we loved but didn’t make the very top of our list for the previous categories. That’s why we’ve also come up with a list of the best creatines for men, best creatines for women, best creatines for muscle growth, for bulking, for the brain, and the best micronized creatine. Keep reading for our favorite picks!
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]
Whey Protein: This protein is a product of cheese making. Whey is the watery milk that’s separated and removed from the cheese curd. Through further processing, it’s turned into a powder. Whey protein is a great source of amino acids and nutrients. You can find whey protein from a number of manufacturers in different flavors including vanilla and chocolate.

Creatine supplementation at 300mg/kg for one week (loading with no maintenance) in youth subject to six repeated 35m sprints (10s rest, known as the Running-based Anaerobic Sprint Test or RAST) noted that the increased average and peak power output seen in creatine was not met with a reduction in fatigue, although there was an attenuation in inflammation from exercise (TNFα and CRP).[299]


One pilot study using 150mg/kg creatine monohydrate for a five day loading phase followed by maintenance (60mg/kg) for the remainder of the five weeks noted that supplementation was associated with fewer muscle symptoms and complaints alongside improved muscular function,[572] yet a later trial trying to replicate the obsevations using 150mg/kg daily for five weeks noted the opposite, that creatine supplementation exacerbated symptoms.[573] 
Bottom Line: Con-Cret is one of the best creatine HCI products available. Its unique use of creatine HCI allow it to offer all the great benefits of creatine, without the bloating and water retention that creatine monohydrate sometimes causes – making Con-Cret a good creatine to take if you’re concerned about the potential for bloating with other products.
Second, strength training has a much greater level of excess post-exercise oxygen consumption than aerobic exercise.  What does this mean?  When you finish a workout, your body needs to do a lot of work to replenish itself in order to bring itself back to a normal state (the way it was before you worked out).  This takes a lot of energy, and some studies have shown that it can boost your metabolism for up to 38 hours after you finish your workout.

The materials and information provided in this presentation, document and/or any other communication (“Communication”) from Onnit Labs, Inc. or any related entity or person (collectively “Onnit”) are strictly for informational purposes only and are not intended for use as diagnosis, prevention or treatment of a health problem or as a substitute for consulting a qualified medical professional. Some of the concepts presented herein may be theoretical.


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:
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]
This cellular influx may also decrease protein oxidation rates, which leads to increases in nitrogen balance and indirectly increases muscle mass.[379] This lowering of protein oxidation is from signaling changes caused vicariously through cell swelling[380][381] and appears to upregulate 216 genes[378] in a range of 1.3 to 5-fold increases, with the largest increase seen in the protein involved in satellite cell recruitment, sphingosine kinase-1. Most importantly for muscle hypertrophy, the protein content of PKBa/Akt1, p38 MAPK, and ERK6 increased 2.8+/-1.2 fold.[378] Sixty-nine genes are also downregulated after creatine supplementation, to less notable degrees.
It’s true—your genes can play a role when it comes to building muscle. In general, there are two types of muscle fibers: Type I, which are slow twitch, and Type II, which are fast twitch. Depending on which you have more of, you may have an easier or harder time gaining muscle. “Fast twitch muscle fibers are two times as thick as slow twitch muscle fibers, lending to the overall thickness of the muscle without any activity,” explains Lovitt. “Those people with a genetic predisposition of a high percentage of these fibers can increase muscle size very easily while the people with a higher percentage of slow twitch muscle fibers have to work really hard to put on mass.” It’s the reason why a world-class sprinter genetically has more fast twitch muscle fibers than a world-class marathoner—it comes down to what we’re born with.

Second, strength training has a much greater level of excess post-exercise oxygen consumption than aerobic exercise.  What does this mean?  When you finish a workout, your body needs to do a lot of work to replenish itself in order to bring itself back to a normal state (the way it was before you worked out).  This takes a lot of energy, and some studies have shown that it can boost your metabolism for up to 38 hours after you finish your workout.
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.
In particular situations, a coach may advise performing the valsalva maneuver during exercises which place a load on the spine. The vasalva maneuver consists of closing the windpipe and clenching the abdominal muscles as if exhaling, and is performed naturally and unconsciously by most people when applying great force. It serves to stiffen the abdomen and torso and assist the back muscles and spine in supporting the heavy weight. Although it briefly increases blood pressure, its is still recommended by weightlifting experts such as Rippetoe since the risk of a stroke by aneurysm is far lower than the risk of an orthopedic injury caused by inadequate rigidity of the torso.[10] Some medical experts warn that the mechanism of building "high levels of intra-abdominal pressure (IAP)...produced by breath holding using the Valsava maneuver", to "ensure spine stiffness and stability during these extraordinary demands", "should be considered only for extreme weight-lifting challenges — not for rehabilitation exercise".[11]

Naturo Nitro Creatine Chrome is an interesting choice for bulking. During the bulking process, many athletes lament losing muscle definition and feeling bloated. The magnesium creatine chelate in Naturo Nitro may help to counteract that effect as there’s some evidence that it could potentially improve performance without adding water weight. If you want to bulk but you want to keep definition, this may be worth considering.
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]
There are several ways to enhance the quality of a workout, and some changes can even be made during each rep. “Constant tension should be applied to the last five reps of every working set, meaning, do the first 5-6 reps normal tempo, and the last few reps should be held for at least two seconds at the peak of the contraction,” says Heath. “This allows your muscles to have more time under tension and you work different muscle fibers.” Hold the weight at the top for a maximum pump.

Creatine levels in the blood tend to return to baseline (after a loading with or without the maintenance phase) after 28 days without creatine supplementation.[152][200][201] This number may vary slightly from one individual to another, and for some may exceed 30 days.[202] Assuming an elimination rate of creatinine (creatine’s metabolite) at 14.6mmol per day,[35][201] six weeks of cessation is approaching the upper limit for serum creatine to completely return to baseline.


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.
Español: aumentar la masa muscular, Deutsch: Muskeln aufbauen, Português: Aumentar a Musculatura, Nederlands: Spieren opbouwen, Français: se muscler le corps, Русский: нарастить мышечную массу, 中文: 增长肌肉, Čeština: Jak budovat svalovou hmotu, Bahasa Indonesia: Membangun Otot, Italiano: Sviluppare Massa Muscolare, 日本語: 筋肉をつける, हिन्दी: बॉडी बनायें (Kaise Body Banaye), العربية: بناء العضلات, 한국어: 근육을 키우는 법, Tiếng Việt: Tạo Cơ bắp, ไทย: สร้างกล้ามเนื้อ, Türkçe: Nasıl Kas Yapılır
In particular situations, a coach may advise performing the valsalva maneuver during exercises which place a load on the spine. The vasalva maneuver consists of closing the windpipe and clenching the abdominal muscles as if exhaling, and is performed naturally and unconsciously by most people when applying great force. It serves to stiffen the abdomen and torso and assist the back muscles and spine in supporting the heavy weight. Although it briefly increases blood pressure, its is still recommended by weightlifting experts such as Rippetoe since the risk of a stroke by aneurysm is far lower than the risk of an orthopedic injury caused by inadequate rigidity of the torso.[10] Some medical experts warn that the mechanism of building "high levels of intra-abdominal pressure (IAP)...produced by breath holding using the Valsava maneuver", to "ensure spine stiffness and stability during these extraordinary demands", "should be considered only for extreme weight-lifting challenges — not for rehabilitation exercise".[11]
Bird, L. M., Tan, W. H., Bacino, C. A., Peters, S. U., Skinner, S. A., Anselm, I., Barbieri-Welge, R., Bauer-Carlin, A., Gentile, J. K., Glaze, D. G., Horowitz, L. T., Mohan, K. N., Nespeca, M. P., Sahoo, T., Sarco, D., Waisbren, S. E., and Beaudet, A. L. A therapeutic trial of pro-methylation dietary supplements in Angelman syndrome. Am J Med Genet.A 2011;155A:2956-2963. View abstract.

Competitive and professional bodybuilders, however, can often build up to two to three pounds of muscle per month during dedicated bulking periods. "But they are living and breathing muscle growth. They aren't just in and out of the gym like most people," Simpson says, noting that under extreme conditions, hyperplasia, or the growth in the number of muscle cells in a given muscle tissue, may actually occur, further adding to muscle growth results.
But one question has repeatedly popped up: When is the best time to take creatine? Recent research has suggested that there might be an ideal time. That’s when I decided to speak with the supplement experts at Examine.com. For those of you who don’t know, they have created the world’s largest database of facts about supplements. No marketing BS. Just a bunch of Ph.D’s, PharmD’s, and biomedical researchers who are obsessed with sharing the truth. Their Supplement Guide is the best thing written about supplements since…well…ever. If you’ve ever had a question it’s pack with research and fact-based information to help you make healthier supplement choices.

So it was popular then, but is it effective now? Just because something is popular doesn’t mean it works. In the case of creatine supplementation, however, you can be confident that increased muscle strength and less fatigue is possible. All thanks to a critical chemical reaction taking place in your muscle cells. Read on and learn how creatine works and why it lives up to that nostalgic ‘90s hype.
The main storage area of creatine in the human body is the skeletal (contractile) muscle, which holds true for other animals. Therefore, consumption of skeletal muscle (meat products) is the main human dietary source of creatine. Since vegetarians and vegans lack the main source of dietary creatine intake, which has been estimated to supply half of the daily requirements of creatine in normal people, both vegetarians and vegans have been reported to have lower levels of creatine.[58][59] This also applies to other meat-exclusive nutrients, such as L-Carnitine.[58]

Creatine is known to increase skeletal muscle cellular volume alongside increases in water weight gain.[346] Since glycogen itself also increases the osmolytic balance of a cell (draws in water)[347][348] and preliminary evidence shows a strong trend of creatine augmenting glycogen loading,[153] creatine is thought to be related to an increase in cell volume, which is known to promote glycogen synthesis.[112]
In the 1970s, bodybuilding had major publicity thanks to the appearance of Arnold Schwarzenegger, Franco Columbu, Lou Ferrigno, and others in the 1977 docudrama Pumping Iron. By this time, the IFBB dominated the competitive bodybuilding landscape and the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) took a back seat. The National Physique Committee (NPC) was formed in 1981 by Jim Manion,[7] who had just stepped down as chairman of the AAU Physique Committee. The NPC has gone on to become the most successful bodybuilding organization in America and is the amateur division of the IFBB. The late 1980s and early 1990s saw the decline of AAU-sponsored bodybuilding contests. In 1999, the AAU voted to discontinue its bodybuilding events.
Cyclocreatine (1-carboxymethyl-2-iminoimidazolidine) is a synthetic analogue of creatine in a cyclic form. It serves as a substrate for the creatine kinase enzyme system, acting as a creatine mimetic. Cyclocreatine may compete with creatine in the CK enzyme system to transfer phosphate groups to ADP, as coincubation of both can reduce cyclocreatine’s anti-motility effects on some cancer cells.[96]
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.
How to maximize its effects: Take 20 grams of whey protein powder in the 30 minutes before working out, and take 40 grams within 60 minutes after training. Also consider taking 20-40 grams of whey immediately upon waking every morning to kick-start muscle growth. Your best bet is to choose a whey powder that contains whey protein hydrolysates (whey protein broken down into smaller fragments for faster digestion) or whey protein isolate.
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To do dips, place your hands at shoulder-width apart on a bench, with your body and feet stretched out in front of the bench. Slowly bend your elbows and lower your body down so that your butt nearly touches the floor. Lift back up with your arms to starting position; repeat, doing 3 x 8. If this isn't a high-intensity set for you, increase the resistance by lifting one foot off the floor.
Discomfort can arise from other factors. Individuals who perform large numbers of repetitions, sets, and exercises for each muscle group may experience a burning sensation in their muscles. These individuals may also experience a swelling sensation in their muscles from increased blood flow (the "pump"). True muscle fatigue is experienced as a marked and uncontrollable loss of strength in a muscle, arising from the nervous system (motor unit) rather than from the muscle fibers themselves. Extreme neural fatigue can be experienced as temporary muscle failure. Some weight training programs, such as Metabolic Resistance Training, actively seek temporary muscle failure; evidence to support this type of training is mixed at best.[24] Irrespective of their program, however, most athletes engaged in high-intensity weight training will experience muscle failure during their regimens.
“There is a lot of mixed research on creatine’s ability to improve muscle strength,” the government website says. “However, analyses of this research show that creatine seems to modestly improve upper body strength and lower body strength in both younger and older adults.” Creatine has also been shown to improve athletes’ performance in rowing, soccer, and jumping height.
Anti-depressive effects have been noted in woman with major depressive disorder when 5g of creatine monohydrate was supplemented daily for 8 weeks in combination with an SSRI. Benefits were seen at week two and were maintained until the end of the 8-week trial.[253] The improvement in depressive symptoms was associated with significantly increased prefrontal cortex levels of N-acetylaspartate, a marker of neuronal integrity,[254] and rich club connections, which refers to the ability of nerons to make connections to one another.[255]
Overtraining occurs when a bodybuilder has trained to the point where his workload exceeds his recovery capacity. There are many reasons why overtraining occurs, including lack of adequate nutrition, lack of recovery time between workouts, insufficient sleep, and training at a high intensity for too long (a lack of splitting apart workouts). Training at a high intensity too frequently also stimulates the central nervous system (CNS) and can result in a hyperadrenergic state that interferes with sleep patterns.[51] To avoid overtraining, intense frequent training must be met with at least an equal amount of purposeful recovery. Timely provision of carbohydrates, proteins, and various micronutrients such as vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, even nutritional supplements are acutely critical. A mental disorder informally called “bigorexia” (by analogy with anorexia) may be held accountable of some people overtraining. Sufferers feel as if they are never big enough or muscular enough, which forces them to overtrain in order to try and reach their goal physique.[52]
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.
Many athletes follow a "loading" protocol of around 25 grams a day for five days, but this isn't essential. But as Ciaran Fairman notes in the article "Do I Need to Load With Creatine," you can also get the same benefits with around 5 grams a day, potentially with none of the mild side effects of the loading protocol, which include stomach pain and water weight gain. The catch is that you have to take it consistently. Don't skip it!
AAOS does not endorse any treatments, procedures, products, or physicians referenced herein. This information is provided as an educational service and is not intended to serve as medical advice. Anyone seeking specific orthopaedic advice or assistance should consult his or her orthopaedic surgeon, or locate one in your area through the AAOS Find an Orthopaedist program on this website.
^ 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.
It raised the question about performance-enhancing drugs. Their murky role in bodybuilding has long shrouded the sport. A 2013 documentary on Heath and Mr. Olympia called “Generation Iron” (a sort of bookend piece to 1977’s “Pumping Iron,” which launched Schwarzenegger and others to fame) called the topic “taboo.” It then insinuated that, of course, bodybuilders competing in top-level contests like Mr. Olympia use steroids.
Creatine citrate is creatine bound to citric acid, or citrate. Creatine citrate does not differ greatly from monohydrate in regard to absorption or kinetics.[83] Note that creatine citrate is more water-soluble than monohydrate,[84] but creatine absorption is generally not limited by solubility. The increased water solubility may play a factor in palatability.
For example, say you are pursuing a muscle power objective in which you have decided to perform 3 sets of 8 repetitions each. You'll want to make sure you don't add too much weight so that you are able to perform all 8 repetitions before your muscles are too tired to finish the set. Conversely you'll want to make sure you add enough weight so that you are not simply breezing past the repetitions and finish your sets of plenty of energy still left in the tank. While it may take a few workout sessions to find the right combination, once you'll do it'll be easy to monitor and increase weight as you progress.
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.

There you have it — our five favorite creatine products on the market. But when you’ve tried as many creatines as we have, there were a lot of others that we loved but didn’t make the very top of our list for the previous categories. That’s why we’ve also come up with a list of the best creatines for men, best creatines for women, best creatines for muscle growth, for bulking, for the brain, and the best micronized creatine. Keep reading for our favorite picks!

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.
On top of this, you’ll need to consume more calories than you’re burning. Burning more calories each day than you eat is a great way to lose weight, but if your goal is to put on muscle mass, this can make the process much harder. Your body requires calories to build new muscle tissue, but this can’t occur if all the body’s energy is being used up for daily processes. Because of this, some bodybuilding supplements include weight gainers to help you get more healthy calories in your diet. 
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