Eat 1.5–3 grams of carbs per pound of your body weight. As with fat, this amount can vary greatly, depending on your personal needs and preferences, so consider these numbers only a starting point. If you’re very skinny and feel that you handle carbs well (i.e. you can eat a lot of them without getting fat), go ahead and eat according to the higher end of the spectrum. The same applies if you’re desperate to gain weight—you should increase your carb intake. If you’re prone to weight gain or feel lethargic on higher carbs, you should eat fewer of them. Again, see our keto guide for more details and options.
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]

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]
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.

While most of these muscle building supplements can be taken at any time of the day, some are best to include in your pre-workout routine. Citrulline malate, in particular, is one that should be taken about an hour ahead of your workout. Because this supplement boosts performance, taking it ahead of your workout will maximize its effect, making sure you get the most out of the supplement.


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.
The harder an exercise is – both in terms of technicality and physical/mental demand – the more rest there should usually be. So exercises like squats and deadlifts should have more rest between sets than exercises like leg extensions and leg curls. And exercises like various bench presses, shoulder presses, rows and pull-ups should have more rest between sets than bicep curls, tricep extensions, chest flies and lateral raises.

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One study on 27 otherwise healthy men supplementing creatine (0.3g/kg loading for a week, 0.05g/kg thereafter for 8 weeks) with a thrice weekly exercise regiment noted that alongside greater increase in lean mass and power relative to placebo at 4 and 8 weeks, myostatin in serum decreased to a greater extent with creatine (around 17% at 8 weeks, derived from graph) than it did with placebo (approximately 7%).[356] Increases in GASP-1, a serum protein that inhibits the actions of myostatin by directly binding to it,[357] were not different between groups.[356]
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.
This increased permeability is noted in glioma cells, where it exerts anti-cancer effects related to cell swelling,[99][100] and in other membranes, such as breast cancer cells[101] and skeletal (contractile) muscle cells.[102] The kinetics of cyclocreatine appear to be first-order,[101] with a relative Vmax of 90, Km of 25mM and a KD of 1.2mM.[103]
In humans, studies that investigate links between serotonin and creatine supplementation find that 21 trained males, given creatine via 22.8g creatine monohydrate (20g creatine equivalent) with 35g glucose, relative to a placebo of 160g glucose, was found to reduce the perception of fatigue in hot endurance training, possibly secondary to serotonergic modulation, specifically attentuating the increase of serotonin seen with exercise (normally seen to hinder exercise capacity in the heat[233]) while possibly increasing dopaminergic activity (conversely seen to benefit activity in the heat[234]).[155] 

^ Jump up to: a b c d e f g h Momaya A, Fawal M, Estes R (April 2015). "Performance-enhancing substances in sports: a review of the literature". Sports Med. 45 (4): 517–531. doi:10.1007/s40279-015-0308-9. PMID 25663250. Wilson et al. [91] demonstrated that when non-resistance trained males received HMB pre-exercise, the rise of lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) levels reduced, and HMB tended to decrease soreness. Knitter et al. [92] showed a decrease in LDH and creatine phosphokinase (CPK), a byproduct of muscle breakdown, by HMB after a prolonged run. ... The utility of HMB does seem to be affected by timing of intake prior to workouts and dosage [97]. 

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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."
Creatine non-response is when muscular loading of creatine is under a certain threshold (10mmol/L), while “response” to creatine means having more muscular creatine loading (20mol/L or more). There also exists a “grey area” inbetween, where some benefits are achieved but not as many as pure responders will experience. Response appears to be positively correlated with muscle mass and type II muscle fibers.
Consult your physician and follow all safety instructions before beginning any exercise program or using any supplement or meal replacement product, especially if you have any unique medical conditions or needs. The contents on our website are for informational purposes only, and are not intended to diagnose any medical condition, replace the advice of a healthcare professional, or provide any medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.
Three additional studies suggest that creatine supplementation may not be beneficial for running velocity, sprint swimming performance, or a maximal cycling effort [7]. Short bouts of repeated anaerobic activity have shown some potential benefits with creatine supplementation use in a laboratory setting. However, creatine supplementation has not been shown to enhance single-event performance such as stationary cycling [16-19]. Taken together, these studies do not support creatine supplementation to enhance aerobic activities such as distance running.

The major controversies regarding creatine are its side effects and the best form to use. Nearly all side effects attributed to creatine, such as muscle cramps, kidney disease and gastrointestinal disturbances, haven't proved significant under controlled scientific scrutiny. Although various claims are made for a variety of creatine supplements, creatine monohydrate, which is 99 percent absorbed, is the best form to use.
Another study tested male subjects performing two bouts of 30 second isokinetic cycling before and after ingesting 20 g creatine monohydrate daily for 5 days. Work production improved about 4%. Cumulative increases in both peak and total work production over the two exercise bouts were positively correlated with the increase in muscle creatine [14].
Neurological and cognitive function has also been shown to be improved by creatine supplementation [47,48]. Rawson and Venezia [49] review the effects of creatine supplementation on cognitive function highlighting that higher brain creatine has been associated with improved neuropsychological performance. Creatine supplementation protocols have been shown to increase brain creatine and phosphocreatine contents. Cognitive processing hindered due to sleep deprivation and natural impairment due to aging can be improved by creatine supplementation. This review also highlights other possible benefits of creatine ingestion to older adults, such as improvements in: fatigue resistance, strength, muscle mass, bone mineral density, and performance of activities of daily living. Some of these benefits occur without concurrent exercise. The authors inform that discrepancies between studies do exist and are hard to explain but may be possibly due to differences in diet, race and/or supplementation protocols. However, the ideal dose of creatine to maximize brain uptake is not known. Patients have been supplemented with 40 g while in healthy adults positive results have been reported with around 20 g per day [49].
So, one way to make the soreness go away, at least temporarily, is to continue exercising.  This increases blood flow to the muscles and helps them heal.  However, remember that we still need them to heal. So if you’re sore from heavy squats, don’t turn around and do heavy squats again. Try doing squats with no weight or yoga/stretching to help bring the soreness down.

CONDITIONS OF USE AND IMPORTANT INFORMATION: This information is meant to supplement, not replace advice from your doctor or healthcare provider and is not meant to cover all possible uses, precautions, interactions or adverse effects. This information may not fit your specific health circumstances. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice from your doctor or other qualified health care provider because of something you have read on WebMD. You should always speak with your doctor or health care professional before you start, stop, or change any prescribed part of your health care plan or treatment and to determine what course of therapy is right for you.


Stash away your scale for several weeks — and set a strength training goal instead. That’s the advice of Lisette Cifaldi, director of behavioral health at Hilton Head Health weight loss resort who counsels patients. “I think strength training shifts your perspective,” she says. “The happiness doesn’t come from achieving a certain number [on the scale]. It comes from the process of getting stronger and feeling empowered that you’re navigating your own success.”
It is regularly reported that creatine supplementation, when combined with heavy resistance training leads to enhanced physical performance, fat free mass, and muscle morphology [18-22]. A 2003 meta analysis [8] showed individuals ingesting creatine, combined with resistance training, obtain on average +8% and +14% more performance on maximum (1RM) or endurance strength (maximal repetitions at a given percent of 1RM) respectively than the placebo groups. However, contradicting studies have reported no effects of creatine supplementation on strength performance. Jakobi et al [23] found no effects of a short term creatine loading protocol upon isometric elbow flexion force, muscle activation, and recovery process. However, this study did not clearly state if creatine supplementation was administered concurrent with resistance training. Bemben et al [24] have shown no additional benefits of creatine alone or combined with whey protein for improving strength and muscle mass after a progressive 14 weeks (3 days per week) resistance training program in older men. These conflicting results can be explained by the possibility that the supplemented groups were formed by a greater amount of non-responders or even because creatine supplementation was administered on the training days only (3 times a week). This strategy has not been adequately tested as effective in middle aged and older men for maintaining post loading elevated creatine stores [5].
Myotonic Dystrophy type I (DM1) is an inhereted muscular disorder caused by an expanded CTG repeat in the DMPK gene on chromosome 19q13.3 (genetic cause of the disorder[561]) resulting in muscular degeneration and myotonia. The related myopathy, Myotonic Dystrophy type II (DM2) which is also known as proximal myotonic myopathy (PROMM) is due to a CCTG repeat on 3q,[562] and is less affected by myotonia and more by muscular pain and weakness. There is no cure for either because they are genetic disorders, so current therapies are aimed at reducing side-effects. Therapies include modafinil for the somnolence[563] and perhaps creatine for the reduction in strength and functionality.[548]

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.


When creatine is absorbed it pulls water in with it, causing cells to swell. This “cell volumization” is known to promote a cellular anabolic state associated with less protein breakdown and increased DNA synthesis.[107][108][109] An increase in cellular viability assessed via phase angle (measuring body cell mass[110]) has been noted in humans during supplementation of creatine.[111]
It was later noted that creatine was able to nonsignificantly augment various proinflammatory cytokines (CCL2, iNOS, ICAM-1, TGF-β, TIMP-1) and the presence of eosinophils in lung tissue, as well as to per se cause lung infiltration of these immune cells without requiring the presence of the allergen.[442] Neutrophils and macrophages were unaffected,[442] reflecting the past study of no influence on macrophages,[440] but the only instance where creatine appeared to either significantly add to ovalbumin or to per se induce statistically significant increases were in IL-5 secretion and goblet cell infiltration, although VCAM-1 expression was close. While creatine per se increased nF-κB activity, it suppressed the ovalbumin-induced increase.[442]
Recently, studies are coming out that show a general decline in testosterone levels of men in the United States and around the world. The trend is across the board and doesn’t appear to be caused simply by a decline in health, aging or an increase in obesity rates. It could be caused because of chemicals or environmental factors. In any case, low levels of testosterone can affect many areas of your health, including your ability to build muscle. If you suspect that you have low testosterone levels, you can ask your doctor to test you for it. In addition to traditional hormone therapies, there are also many natural ways to boost your levels including through supplements, some of which will be discussed later in this article.

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.
Syndromes caused by problems metabolizing creatine. Some people have a disorder that prevents their body from making creatine. This can lead to low levels of creatine in the brain. Low levels of creatine in the brain can lead to decreased mental function, seizures, autism, and movement problems. Taking creating by mouth daily for up to 3 years can increase creatine levels in the brain in children and young adults with a disorder of creatine production called guanidinoacetate methyltransferase (GAMT) deficiency. This can help improve movement and reduce seizures. But it doesn't improve mental ability. Arginine-glycine amidinotransferase (AGAT) deficiency is another disorder that prevents the body from making creatine. In children with this condition, taking creatine for up to 8 years seems to improve attention, language, and mental performance. But taking creatine does not seem to improve brain creatine levels, movement, or mental function in children who have a disorder in which creatine isn't transported properly.

If you’re looking to put on extra muscle mass and build strength, there are a few things that need to occur. The first of these, even though it may seem obvious, is that you will need to have an exercise routine. To stimulate maximum muscle growth, you’ll need to challenge yourself in the gym, forcing your muscles to adapt to heavier workloads by increasing in size and strength.

The muscle strength objective is pursued when you want your muscles to be effective when a high number of repetitions will be involved, or in other words when you want your muscles to be strong for a continued period of time. You'll want to use approximately 4 sets from which 10-12 reps are performed. The muscle strength objective is often used for muscles located in your back and your abdominals.
Pick a few key exercises that together train the whole body. Presses, chinups, rows, and squat and deadlift variations are the best choices (more on these in Rules #2 and #3). Write down how much weight you can currently do for 5–10 reps on each of them, and, over the next few months, work your way up to where you can either add 10–20 pounds to each of those lifts or do 3–5 more reps with the same weight. That’s how you force your body to grow.
Because so many product labels list scientific references to back up the manufacturers' claims of performance and efficacy, or effectiveness, it's important to understand what constitutes a solid scientific study. A single study, even an optimally designed one, isn't considered scientific proof. The results have to be replicated several times before they're officially accepted as fact.

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]
Some ingredients found in dietary supplements marketed for bodybuilding or performance enhancement—such as whey protein, creatine, and caffeine—generally aren’t associated with any serious safety concerns (when used appropriately). However, they still have the potential for side effects. Before you take any dietary supplement, talk to your healthcare provider. You also can read the articles below about some of these ingredients:
Co-ingesting creatine with caffeine partially negated the benefits of creatine supplementation (at 5mg/kg bodyweight) during the loading phase in one study.[590] The exact mechanism responsible for this effect is not known, but might be related to opposing actions on muscle contraction time.[591] However, another study in trained men found that co-ingestion of 300mg caffeine per day during creatine loading at 20g per day (split into 4 doses) had no effect on bench press 1RM, time to fatigue, or sprinting ability.[592] However, this study also found that creatine alone or when combined with caffeine had no effect on any of these parameters over placebo, either. Thus, the study may have been underpowered or done in too short a time frame (the test was done after only 5 days of loading) to observe any possible effects.[592]
We hear this from 30 year olds and 60 year olds alike…and, like “I don’t have time,” it is a big fat lie! Even for the frail elderly, studies have shown that drastic results are possible in just 10 weeks of weightlifting (for both men and women in their 70s through their 90s). In fact, weight training has also been shown to delay Alzheimer’s and stave off dementia. So, if you think you might be “too old,” you’re probably the exact type of person that SHOULD be strength training!
For the bench press, start with a weight that you can lift comfortably. If you are a beginner, try lifting the bar along with 5lbs or 10lbs on each side. With arms at shoulder-width apart, grab onto the bar and slowly lower the bar until it's at nipple level; push up until your arms are fully extended upwards. Do 8–10 repetitions (reps) like this for three sets (3 x 8), adding additional weight each set. Once you have a few months of practice, slowly increase weight and go down to 6–8 reps per set, aiming to reach muscle failure at the end of the third set.
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