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.
Site enhancement oil, often called "santol" or "synthol" (no relation to the Synthol mouthwash brand), refers to oils injected into muscles to increase the size or change the shape. Some bodybuilders, particularly at the professional level, inject their muscles with such mixtures to mimic the appearance of developed muscle where it may otherwise be disproportionate or lagging.[54] This is known as "fluffing".[55][56] Synthol is 85% oil, 7.5% lidocaine, and 7.5% alcohol.[55] It is not restricted, and many brands are available on the Internet.[57] The use of injected oil to enhance muscle appearance is common among bodybuilders,[58][59] despite the fact that synthol can cause pulmonary embolisms, nerve damage, infections, sclerosing lipogranuloma,[60] stroke,[55] and the formation of oil-filled granulomas, cysts or ulcers in the muscle.[59][61][62] Rare cases might require surgical intervention to avoid further damage to the muscle and/or to prevent loss of life.[63]
If you’re a beginner, you should train with three full-body workouts per week. In each one, do a compound pushing movement (like a bench press), a compound pulling movement (like a chinup), and a compound lower-body exercise (squat, trap-bar deadlift, for example). If you want to add in 1–2 other exercises like loaded carries or kettlebell swings as a finisher, that’s fine, but three exercises is enough to work the whole body.
Creatine is thought to improve strength, increase lean muscle mass, and help the muscles recover more quickly during exercise. This muscular boost may help athletes achieve bursts of speed and energy, especially during short bouts of high-intensity activities such as weight lifting or sprinting. However, scientific research on creatine has been mixed. Although some studies have found that it does help improve performance during short periods of athletic activity, there is no evidence that creatine helps with endurance sports. Research also shows that not everyone's muscles respond to creatine; some people who use it see no benefit.
If you're serious about putting on some muscle, then the most efficient way to do it is with three intense resistance training sessions and two lighter intensity workouts per week. “You need to have consistency in a workout program, hitting at least each muscle group two times a week to build muscle,” explains Lovitt. If you’re looking to switch up exercises, Olson suggests swaps such as sumo squats instead of traditional squats; step-ups on a bench instead of lunges; and then rotating back to the former. “These types of variation can be very effective in developing muscles, but the weights must still be fairly heavy that you’re using,” she says.
The Branched-Chain Amino Acids, BCAAs for short, are leucine, valine and isoleucine.  Essentially, its a form of protein powder for muscle gain or other uses. These essential amino acids are not made by the body but are found in foods such as meats, dairy products and legumes. In medicine, BCAAs are used for a number of conditions, however, for many uses, further research is necessary to determine whether or not treatment is effective.

That said, many people experience stomach cramps when they consume creatine monohydrate and it’s possible that taking a creatine with a different pH — usually creatine hydrochloride — can have a different effect on stomach acid and make for a creatine that digests more easily. As far as we know, the easier digestion doesn’t necessarily mean it’s more effective or that you need less of it to achieve the desired result.
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: First, you have to realize that when one is gaining weight it’s nearly impossible (steroid discussion aside) to gain solely muscle without the acquisition of some body fat as well. That being said though, you can improve thedistribution of lean body mass to fat mass by ensuring that your calorie consumption isn’t too aggressive (i.e. 1000+ over your BMR). Also, it should go without saying, but you need to be training hard while focusing on progressive overload to ensure that the calories you’re ingesting are actually going towards muscle growth. You shouldn’t be neglecting cardiovascular work either; both HIIT and LISS each play a role in enhancing mitochondrial density, balancing neurotransmitters, improving oxidative capacity, and influencing brain plasticity.
Even if your focus is on a particular body part, say getting flat abs or losing fat around the hips, it's important to work all your muscle groups. Spot reduction doesn't work, so doing crunches for your abs or leg lifts for your thighs isn't going to help you achieve your goal. What does work is building more lean muscle tissue and burning more calories.
Recommended Dose: 3-6 grams before or during exercise. A ratio of two parts leucine to one part each of isoleucine and valine appears to be most beneficial. As Krissy Kendall, PhD, explains in "The Top 7 Supplements to Boost Endurance Performance," BCAAs can be just as effective for endurance athletes like runners, rowers, and cyclists as they can be for lifters and bodybuilders.
If you stop getting the results you want after several weeks of working out, it's time to mix things up. You need to challenge or "confuse" your muscles often to keep them growing. You can do this by putting a twist on your basic moves. Do a biceps curl with a reverse grip, for example. Or find a bench for the step-up move shown here. Change up your workout at least every 4 to 6 weeks for the best results.
Homocysteine is produced after S-adenosyl methionine is used up (as donating a methyl group creates S-adenosylhomocysteine, which then produces homocysteine) mostly from phosphatidylcholine synthesis[307] and its reduction (via either methylation from trimethylglycine via betaine:homocysteine methyltransferase, urinary excretion, or convertion into L-cysteine via cystathionine beta-synthase[308]) is thought to be therapeutic for cardiovascular diseases.

^ 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)
4. Focus on a full range of motion. Moving as far as anatomically possible – for example, in a squat, lowering as low as you can without breaking form – is critical to maximize muscle adaptation, rather than partials or cutting the range of motion short, according to a 2017 study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. And while partials do have their time and place, and can be part of a muscle-building plan, the majority of your exercises should still prioritize a full range of motion, Matheny says.
In regard to carbohydrate oxidation during exercise, it appears that rats subject to intermittent physical exercise (which utilizes glycogen) have decreased lactate production during said exercise, suggesting a preservation of glycogen usage. This occurred alongside an increase in glycogen stores.[359] This is thought to be due to phosphocreatine donating phosphate to replenish ATP. Without any changes in whole body metabolic rate, it indirectly causes less glucose to be required to replenish ATP, due to a quota needing to be met during exercise and creatine phosphate taking up a relatively larger percentage of said quota.

The biggest mistake among young would-be bodybuilders is overdoing it, followed by not learning the proper techniques. Take those breaks and follow the correct form, or you'll give your body stress and injuries instead of muscle. Also make sure you're getting a large but balanced diet. Teens going through growth spurts need lots of food, especially when they're working out.


A: First, you have to realize that when one is gaining weight it’s nearly impossible (steroid discussion aside) to gain solely muscle without the acquisition of some body fat as well. That being said though, you can improve thedistribution of lean body mass to fat mass by ensuring that your calorie consumption isn’t too aggressive (i.e. 1000+ over your BMR). Also, it should go without saying, but you need to be training hard while focusing on progressive overload to ensure that the calories you’re ingesting are actually going towards muscle growth. You shouldn’t be neglecting cardiovascular work either; both HIIT and LISS each play a role in enhancing mitochondrial density, balancing neurotransmitters, improving oxidative capacity, and influencing brain plasticity.
As you've probably heard from any muscle-bound behemoth you've ever encountered, protein is the key to building muscle. Just because the shake-pounding meathead has become a trope, however, doesn't mean they're wrong; protein really is the fuel your muscles need to grow. That's real capital-S Science, not just bro-science manufactured by supplements companies.
A: Start with the calculations above but don’t be afraid to adjust up or down. Your metabolism and physiology will adapt to more food by trying to maintain homeostasis and regulate your bodyweight. Some may have to increase more than others but the number on the scale doesn’t lie. If it’s not going up, then you probably need to increase your calories.
You're aiming to kick start muscle hypertrophy, the cellular process that spurs growth. Researchers have found that the best way to initiate that process is by performing two or three sets of an exercise for six to 12 repetitions, with about 30 to 60 seconds' rest between sets. You're damaging the muscles with the work — then the protein you've been consuming will help build them back up even bigger.
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%.
Creatine is not an essential nutrient[19] as it is naturally produced in the human body from the amino acids glycine and arginine, with an additional requirement for methionine to catalyze the transformation of guanidinoacetate to creatine. In the first step of the biosynthesis these two amino acids are combined by the enzyme arginine:glycine amidinotransferase (AGAT, EC:2.1.4.1) to form guanidinoacetate, which is then methylated by guanidinoacetate N-methyltransferase (GAMT, EC:2.1.1.2), using S-adenosyl methionine as the methyl donor. Creatine itself can be phosphorylated by creatine kinase to form phosphocreatine, which is used as an energy buffer in skeletal muscles and the brain.
The pancreas is one of the extrahepatic (beyond the liver) organs that can synthesize creatine, alongside the kidneys.[486][487] Freshly prepared pancreatic β-cells will normally secrete insulin in response to glucose stimulation, and it appears that phosphocreatine is required for this effect, since phosphocreatine is increased in response to glucose[488] alongside an increase of the ADP:ATP ratio. They appear to close ATP sensitive potassium channels (KATP channels), causing a release of insulin secondary to calcium release.[488] Both phosphocreatine[488] and ADP[489] are implicated, but it seems that despite the channel being sensitive to ATP,[490] the concentration of ATP in a pancreatic cell (3-5mM[491][492]) is already above the activation threshold (in the micromolar range[493]) and thus a further increase would not have an appreciable effect.
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]

Focus on form. Good form means you can reap all of the benefits of your workout and avoid injuries at the same time. To maintain proper form, pay attention to your posture (stand tall with chest lifted and abs held tight), move slowly (this ensures you're relying on muscles, not momentum, to do the lifting), and remember to breathe. Many people hold their breath while exerting, but exhaling during the hardest part of the exercise helps fuel the movement.
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Bodybuilders also understand how to diet. This is perhaps the most important aspect other athletes can learn from. I can’t think of any athlete that comes close to bodybuilders who know how to build massive amounts of muscle and then can diet with the type of precision that gets them absolutely shredded on a specific date. Most resistance training sports use weight classes to compete. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that shedding body fat without losing muscle can be a major advantage. Competing at a lower weight class because you are leaner while maintaining strength and performance is a very valuable and effective strategy. Diet to build LEAN muscle to keep weight low for a competitive advantage.
Creatine has been noted to increase the amplitude (0.5-5mM) and frequency (25mM only) of NMDA receptors, although concentrations of 0.5-25mM also reduced signaling intensity. This was credited to creatine causing an increase in ligand binding of glutamate with an EC50 of 67µM and maximal activity at 1mM creatine (158±16% of baseline).[214] Creatine appears to modulate the polyamine binding site of the NMDA receptor, as it is abolished by arcaine and potentiated by spermidine.[215] This binding site is known to modify NMDA receptor affinity.[216][217]
Objective: Are you getting stronger? Increasing either weight or reps? If you're measuring individual markers on a daily basis like vertical jump, grip strength, or resting heart rate then what sort of trends are you noticing in these variables? If they're staying the same while your strength is increasing, then you're recovering well. If they're decreasing and you find yourself weaker over time then you're not recovering well.
According to research from the University of Stirling, for optimal protein growth, weight lifters need to eat 0.25 to 0.30 grams of protein per kilogram body weight per meal. For a 175-pound person, that works out to 20 to 24 grams of protein at every meal. You’ll get that in three to four eggs, a cup of Greek yogurt, or one scoop of protein powder.

A big clue is digestion. He does occasional cleanses. (“There’s no planes that week,” he said. “And no judgment at home.”) The slightest change in a muscle, just a stripe in a striation, is noticed. And while Heath does most workouts alone, he has a trainer, Hany Rambod, who is based in California. They see each other about once a month. In between, Heath sends photos and receives workout and dietary advice in return.


Trimethylglycine (TMG, betaine) is a dietary supplement and component of beet root, which is a methyl donor. It contributes to metabolic processes in the body which require a methyl group either directly (the methylation of homocysteine) or indirectly via replenishing the active form of folate or via replenishing S-adenosyl methionine (SAMe). As the synthesis of creatine (via GAMT) requires a donation from SAMe,[597] it is thought that TMG can aid in creatine synthesis, which has been noted in the rat liver in the absence of creatine supplementation.[598]
The largest determiner of your metabolic rate is actually your total body mass. “The more cells, even fat cells, in your body, the more furnaces you have burning at any given time,” Dr. Church says. Think of it this way: It takes more juice to charge your tablet than it does to charge your phone. People who are taller and have a larger bone structure, therefore, will have a higher BMR than people who are shorter and have a slimmer build. While you can control your body mass to some extent by gaining or losing weight, you can’t change your height or your bone structure. All in all, most of a person’s BMR is determined by genetic factors, Dr. Church says.
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]
As mentioned, protein is essential for building muscle. If you are unable to consume the recommended amount of protein through diet alone, add protein powder for building muscle as a supplement. This applies to nearly anyone hoping to gain muscle mass since it’s not easy to pack in nearly 100 grams of protein a day through chicken, eggs and legumes alone.
Genetic deficiencies in the creatine biosynthetic pathway lead to various severe neurological defects.[26] Clinically, there are three distinct disorders of creatine metabolism. Deficiencies in the two synthesis enzymes can cause L-arginine:glycine amidinotransferase deficiency caused by variants in GATM and guanidinoacetate methyltransferase deficiency, caused by variants in GAMT. Both biosynthetic defects are inherited in an autosomal recessive manner. A third defect, creatine transporter defect, is caused by mutations in SLC6A8 and inherited in a X-linked manner. This condition is related to the transport of creatine into the brain.[27]
If you're a beginner, start with a basic total body strength workout to build a strong foundation in all your muscle groups. Taking this time will help you figure out any weaknesses you have, as well as any issues you may need to address with your doctor, and learn the basic exercises you need for a strong, fit body. Your first step is to figure out where you're going to exercise.
This ingredient also plays a major role in cell growth, recovery, and communication. Increasing the amount of creatine stored in your muscles can speed up the growth of new muscle and help prevent current muscles from being degraded during exercise. By reducing muscle breakdown, creatine can speed up the healing and recovery processes, as there will be less damage to repair.

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?

Carducci, C., Birarelli, M., Leuzzi, V., Carducci, C., Battini, R., Cioni, G., and Antonozzi, I. Guanidinoacetate and creatine plus creatinine assessment in physiologic fluids: an effective diagnostic tool for the biochemical diagnosis of arginine:glycine amidinotransferase and guanidinoacetate methyltransferase deficiencies. Clin Chem 2002;48(10):1772-1778. View abstract.

Although creatine is a natural component of food, the amount of food required to supersaturate the muscle with PCr may not be feasible. For example, it could require 22 pounds of meat daily [8]. If creatine monohydrate is proven to be a safe and effective ergogenic aid, creatine supplementation may be the simplest way to increasing muscle stores. It may be beneficial to avoid caffeine if taking creatine supplements. One study showed that caffeine diminished strength gains seen with creatine use [9].
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