I know this goes against the recommendations you often see in stereotypical bodybuilding routines (i.e. the ones that involve having a single “chest day” or “arm day” or “shoulder day” once a week), but that’s just one of the many reasons why those types of routines suck for us natural, genetically-average people, and work best for steroid users with great genetics.
Long popular among bodybuilders, casein protein absorbs slowly into the bloodstream, meaning it keeps your muscles fed with amino acids for longer compared to other types of protein such as whey and plant proteins. In one Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise study, consuming casein protein immediately before bed boosted young men’s levels of circulating amino acids for 7.5 hours; they built muscle all night long while they slept.
Of course, cardio is an important part of fitness too, but the benefits of strength training are major. Strength training helps build muscle, and lean muscle is better at burning calories when the body is at rest, which is important whether you're trying to lose weight or maintain it. It also helps strengthens joints and bones, avoid injury, improve your muscular endurance, and will help you give it your all during your other workouts, whether that means setting a new PR if you're a runner or pushing (and pulling) a little harder with your legs during your favorite indoor cycling class.
Wilkinson, S. B., Tarnopolsky, M. A., MacDonald, M. J., MacDonald, J. R., Armstrong, D., & Phillips, S. M. (2007). Consumption of fluid skim milk promotes greater muscle protein accretion after resistance exercise than does consumption of an isonitrogenous and isoenergetic soy-protein beverage. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 85(4), 1031-1040.
Tough workouts drive muscle growth, but they generally cause a lot of damage to your muscles to do so. This damage often results in soreness for several days, which can make it tough to get to the gym or sometimes even move. Many bodybuilding supplements contain ingredients that work to reduce the breakdown of muscle during workouts, making the recovery process easier on the body.
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.
The best way to know the real progress you’re making is by recording it on video or taking photos. “Photos mean everything because if you can take them in the same areas and in the same poses, you’ll see your strengths and weaknesses clearly,” says Heath. “Revise your training and diet programs to eliminate weaknesses.” Keep a file of your progress to see just how far you can take your fitness.
*Always remember: weight loss results & health changes/improvements vary from individual to individual. Just because these studies cite certain data does not mean you will experience these results/outcomes. Always consult with your doctor before making decisions about your health. This is not medical advice – simply well-researched information and tips to sleep better. Thanks for reading!
The winner of the annual IFBB Mr. Olympia contest is generally recognized as the world's top male professional bodybuilder. The winner of the Women's Physique portion of the competition is widely regarded as the world's top female professional bodybuilder. The title is currently held by Juliana Malacarne, who has won every year since 2014. Since 1950, the NABBA Universe Championships have been considered the top amateur bodybuilding contests, with notable winners such as Reg Park, Lee Priest, Steve Reeves, and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Winners generally go on to become professional athletes.
Creatine is most commonly used for improving exercise performance and increasing muscle mass in athletes and older adults. There is some science supporting the use of creatine in improving the athletic performance of young, healthy people during brief high-intensity activity such as sprinting. Because of this, creatine is often used as a dietary supplement to improve muscle strength and athletic performance. In the U.S., a majority of sports nutrition supplements, which total $2.7 billion in annual sales, contain creatine.
While the aforementioned study insinuated that after was better, at this time the “just take it at any time” or maybe more appropriately, “take it when it works for you” is the best way to go. Many people take supplements that include creatine, so if that’s in your pre- or post- workout drink, you should receive all the benefits. Optimal dosing still appears to be between 2 to 5 grams per day. You can “load” for the first 5 to 7 days to help saturate your cells, but beyond that there’s no benefit to taking large amounts. So save your money and take the smaller dose; it’ll still offer maximum results.
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.
2-4 Minutes Rest: Ideal for “tension exercises,” which includes most primary compound exercises. I personally take 3 minutes for the big stuff, sometimes going into the 3-4 minute range depending on exactly what I’m doing and what I feel like I need at the time. Since making strength gains is the main focus of these exercises, longer rest periods like this will be optimal for making it happen.
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.
"It's especially important to eat a carb- and protein-rich meal immediately after a workout," Aceto says. "Right after training, it turns out that your body is really lousy at taking carbohydrates and sending them down fat-storing pathways," he says. "So post-training, carbs will be sent down growth-promoting pathways instead." And when these carbs are combined with a protein source, you've got a strong muscle-feeding combination because carbohydrates help deliver the amino acids into muscles by boosting insulin levels. This anabolic hormone drives nutrients into the muscle cells and kick-starts the muscle-growth process.
Phosphocreatine is known to be a major source of energy for cardiac tissue alongside fatty acids, which are dominant under periods of normoxia (normal oxygen) while phosphocreatine becomes more important in periods of hypoxic stress. The entire CK system plays a role in the recovery of the heart following ischemic/hypoxic stress, since blocking CK activity impairs recovery and overexpressing CK activity promotes it. This is due to the heart tissue needing high energy phosphate groups at this time, and the ischemic stress reduces CK activity and the ability of CK to donate these groups.
What kind of exercises? Work all major muscle groups, starting with the larger muscles. Always include exercises for opposing muscles: for example, work the biceps and triceps of your arms, and the quadriceps and hamstrings of your thighs. Avoid above-the-shoulder exercises if you have arthritis in your upper body, and talk to your doctor before using leg press machines if you have arthritis in your knees or hips.
Creatine is an organic acid naturally occurring in the body that supplies energy to muscle cells for short bursts of energy (as required in lifting weights) via creatine phosphate replenishment of ATP. A number of scientific studies have shown that creatine can improve strength, energy, muscle mass, and recovery times. In addition, recent studies have also shown that creatine improves brain function. and reduces mental fatigue. Unlike steroids or other performance-enhancing drugs, creatine can be found naturally in many common foods such as herring, tuna, salmon, and beef.
Don’t make the mistake of trying to bulk up when you should be on a diet. While you might have muscle on your mind, most people need to get leaner first. If you’re fat and you start eating for size, you’re only going to get fatter. Get rid of the excess blubber first, to the point where you can see some abs, and then worry about getting big. You should be as low as 12% body fat before you change your diet up to focus on mass gain. That will ensure that your insulin sensitivity is high. When it is, you can eat more carbs and your body won’t store them as fat.
A typical creatine supplementation protocol of either a loading phase of 20 to 25 g CM/d or 0.3 g CM/kg/d split into 4 to 5 daily intakes of 5 g each have been recommended to quickly saturate creatine stores in the skeletal muscle. However a more moderate protocol where several smaller doses of creatine are ingested along the day (20 intakes of 1 g every 30 min) could be a better approach to get a maximal saturation of the intramuscular creatine store. In order to keep the maximal saturation of body creatine, the loading phase must be followed by a maintenance period of 3-5 g CM/d or 0.03 g CM/kg/d. These strategies appear to be the most efficient way of saturating the muscles and benefitting from CM supplementation. However more recent research has shown CM supplementation at doses of 0.1 g/kg body weight combined with resistance training improves training adaptations at a cellular and sub-cellular level. Creatine retention by the body from supplementation appears to be promoted by about 25% from the simultaneous ingestion of carbohydrate and/or protein mediated through an increase in insulin secretion. This combination would produce a faster saturation rate but has not been shown to have a greater effect on performance.
Still, any supplement should be used carefully and after discussion with a dietitian or doctor. There are some potential health risks and side effects that you should be aware of before taking creatine. Muscle cramping, nausea, diarrhea, dizziness, gastrointestinal pain, dehydration, weight gain, water retention, heat intolerance, and fever have all been linked to the supplement. (13)
The first open label trial on ALS failed to significantly alter lung function as assessed by FEV (when comparing the rate of decline pretreatment relative to treatment). Creatine has elsewhere failed to benefit lung function at 5g daily for months relative to control and failed to significantly attenuate the rate of lung function deterioration over 16 months at 10g daily and 5g daily over nine months.
It has also been noted that supplementing creatine (which reduces internal synthesis of creatine and methylation requirements) preserved folate and tetrahydrofolate status (42% and 23%), which acted to preserve methyl groups for other processes. Despite this effect, global DNA methylation decreases by 22% (assessed by the 5-methylcytosine/cytosine ratio) following creatine supplementation, which is usually seen as an anti-cancer effect in developed mammals. This study was unable to demonstrate why this reduction occured and opposing effects have been noted in females with Rett syndrome supplementing 200mg/kg creatine for 1 year, during which global methylation increased, secondary to preserving other methyl donors.
Carbohydrates provide quick energy in an anaerobic environment (high-intensity exercise), while fats provide sustained energy during periods of high oxygen availability (low-intensity exercise or rest). The breakdown of carbohydrates, fats, and ketones produces ATP (adenosine triphosphate). When cells use ATP for energy, this molecule is converted into adenosine diphosphate (ADP) and adenosine monophosphate (AMP). Creatine exists in cells to donate a phosphate group (energy) to ADP, turning this molecule back into ATP.
Why less volume for the smaller muscle groups, you ask? Partially because they are smaller, but mostly because they get a ton of indirect volume while training the bigger muscle groups (e.g. your biceps get hit pretty hard while training back, triceps get hit pretty hard while training chest and shoulders, shoulders get hit pretty hard while training chest, etc.).
Even if you have a schedule that allows for a 5-day workout split, many people (I’d even call it the majority) simply don’t have the recovery capacity needed to make that work. This could be due to genetics, age, injury history, various lifestyle factors (sleep, stress, etc.) and more. In these cases, better results would be seen with 3-4 workouts per week instead.
An exercise should be halted if marked or sudden pain is felt, to prevent further injury. However, not all discomfort indicates injury. Weight training exercises are brief but very intense, and many people are unaccustomed to this level of effort. The expression "no pain, no gain" refers to working through the discomfort expected from such vigorous effort, rather than to willfully ignore extreme pain, which may indicate serious soft tissue injuries. The focus must be proper form, not the amount of weight lifted.
You've got your equipment ready, now it's time to choose about eight to 10 exercises, which comes out to about one exercise per muscle group. Use the list below to choose at least one exercise per muscle group to start. For the larger muscles, like the chest, back, and legs, you can usually do more than one exercise. These involve a variety of equipment, so you can choose based on what you have available.
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.
The creatine kinase (CK) enzyme in rat heart tissue appears to have a KM around 6mM of creatine as substrate. and is known to positively influence mitochondrial function as higher cytoplasmic phosphocreatine concentrations (not so much creatine per se) increase the oxidative efficiency of mitochondria This is thought to be due to the transfer of high energy phosphate groups.
If you're 12 weeks out from a competition, you want to maintain as much muscle as possible while torching fat from every angle. This means low-intensity cardio – high intensity cardio speeds up your metabolism and burns fat very quickly, so you run the risk of burning muscle too, Terry says – either first thing in the morning on an empty stomach, or immediately after your weights session, once you’ve depleted those glycogen levels.
Creatine supplementation appears to be somewhat similar to TMG supplementation in the sense that they both promote localized synthesis of phosphatidylcholine, effluxing triglycerides from the liver into serum and thus potently protecting from diet-induced fatty liver. The concentration at which this occurs is within the range supplemented by humans.
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. This study paired supplementation and placebo with a mild exercise regimen.
Athletic performance. Creatine seems to help improve rowing performance, jumping height, and soccer performance in athletes. But the effect of creatine on sprinting, cycling, or swimming performance varies. The mixed results may relate to the small sizes of the studies, the differences in creatine doses, and differences in test used to measure performance. Creatine does not seem to improve serving ability in tennis players.
Creatine supplementation may be able to enhance lifespan, secondary to increasing intracellular carnosine stores. Carnosine is the metabolic compound formed from beta-alanine supplementation, and in a mouse-model for premature aging (senescence-accelerated premature aging, SAMP8) creatine supplementation without any beta-alanine has been shown to increase cellular carnosine stores. That being said, the aforemented SAMP8 study noted an increase in carnosine levels at middle age, but not old age in the mice. A human study using 20g of creatine for one week in otherwise healthy people failed to find an increase in intracellular carnosine stores.
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.
Another supplement that’s ideal to take pre-workout is protein. Depending on your goals and your workout time, taking protein before your workout can help you keep your energy levels elevated while working out. Make sure you give yourself at least an hour between the time you take your protein and your workout time so that your body has time to digest.
Make no mistake: Eating for muscle is just as important as lifting for muscle. The foods you grab in the morning on the way to work, the meals you pack for lunch and mid-afternoon, what you put into your body immediately following your workout, and your final meal of the day impact your results as much as, if not more than, the number of reps you squeeze out at the end of a set. But in reality, it can be tough to stick to a "clean" diet when you're busy. We know that adding another layer of complexity to life in the form of reading food labels and studying ingredient lists just isn't an option for most of us. Not to mention actually preparing all those healthy meals.
Several review studies assessing the safety of creatine supplementation tend to make note of increases in formaldehyde and possible carcinogenic results. Specifically, creatine is metabolized into an intermediate called methylamine, which can be converted to formaldehyde by the SSAO enzyme. An increase in urinary formaldehyde has been noted in youth given 21g of creatine for one week, during which both methylamine (820% increase) and formaldehyde (350%) were increased, relative to control. However, a more prolonged study using 300mg/kg (loading dose of around 20g) in adults for ten weeks failed to replicate these effects.