It may seem odd to put such a common supplement as minerals on this list, but few people are aware that minerals are enzyme activators. Many vitamins, on the other hand, are coenzymes, which means that without minerals they're useless. Many minerals, such as zinc and chromium, also interact with various anabolic hormones, such as testosterone, growth hormone and insulin.
One supplement, which a large body of research has proven effective in building muscle mass when combined with intensive strength training, is creatine (sold as creatine monohydrate). Creatine, a source of rapid energy, is stored in the muscles in small amounts. With creatine loading or supplementation, bodybuilders increase muscle stores of the energy-containing compound which then can be used to provide an extra boost for an intense-high-weight lifting session. Studies support that ingestion of a relatively high dose of creatine (20 to 30 grams per day for up to two weeks) increases muscle creatine stores by 10 to 30 percent and can boost muscle strength by about 10 percent when compared with resistance training alone (Rawson & Volek, 2003). Some athletes report (though research does not necessarily support) muscle cramping in response after using creatine supplements.
Product reviews – Since the effectiveness of products varies based on a wide number of factors, one of the best things to do is read creatine product reviews. The best rated creatine products will have consistently good reviews, meaning a lot of people use that product and would recommend it. However – remember to take reviews with a grain of salt, as there’s a lot of ignorance and misinformation out there.
Creatine is a naturally occurring compound found in muscle in large amounts. Creatine monohydrate is the supplement form and combines is a combination of the amino acids arginine, glycine, and methionine. Creatine drives the important creatine phosphate energy pathway, which is important in high-intensity activity such as weightlifting. Creatine can improve body bulk and training performance in high-intensity activities. Be aware that not everyone responds to creatine supplementation and 30 percent of users may not see any improvement. Women may not benefit as much as men. In weight training, increased strength, bulk, and fat loss are reasonably consistent results.
Eat healthy fats. That's right—not only does it make food taste good, fat is good for you, as long as you are eating the right kinds and amounts of fat! Saturated fats—the fat you'll find in a stick of butter, a bag of chips, or bacon—should be limited to about 20g or less. That's the bad news. The good news is that unsaturated fats are actually beneficial, even necessary. Fat is necessary for the proper distribution of vitamins A, D, E, and K, helps promote better eyesight, and healthy skin. Fats are also important for the synthesis of hormones, so maintaining an adequate intake of them will speed up muscle-building and recovery.
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]

Another double-blind study supplemented with 18.75 g/day of creatine monohydrate for 5 days prior to high-intensity intermittent work to exhaustion, and then 2.25 g/day during testing. The workouts consisted of cycling to exhaustion using several protocols: (a) nonstop, (b) 60 seconds work/120 seconds rest, (c) 20 seconds work/40 seconds rest, and (d) 10 seconds work/20 seconds rest. Creatine supplementation significantly increased the total work time for all four protocols [13].

It is possible that females could benefit more than males due to a combined lower creatine kinase activity as well as having altered purine metabolism during depression,[257] but no human comparative studies have been conducted yet. One rat study noted that creatine monohydrate at 2-4% of feed had 4% creatine able to exert anti-depressive and anxiolytic effects in female rats only.[228]
Creatine is found in many protein supplements at baseline in the form of creatine monohydrate. If you take a protein supplement, you may already be getting creatine. What makes this creatine so special? Like the protein supplement above, this creatine supplement contains no artificial sweeteners or dyes. It contains 5000mg of creatine per dose and includes certain compounds to increase the bioavailability of the creatine, allowing it to be better absorbed.
A proper warm-up is an important part of an effective strength workout. Start by foam rolling your muscles to wake 'em up. "Foam rolling loosens up tight muscles so that they work the way they're designed to," says Davis. A dynamic warm-up is another important part of your pre-workout routine, it preps your muscles for the work they're about to do and helps increase your range of motion. Increasing your range of motion allows you to go deeper into those squats and fully extend those bicep curls, which means more muscle recruitment and better results. "These two combined reduce your risk of injury and allow you to push harder during your workout," says Davis. Get started with this five-minute warm-up.
Gualano, B., de, Salles Painelli, V, Roschel, H., Lugaresi, R., Dorea, E., Artioli, G. G., Lima, F. R., da Silva, M. E., Cunha, M. R., Seguro, A. C., Shimizu, M. H., Otaduy, M. C., Sapienza, M. T., da Costa, Leite C., Bonfa, E., and Lancha Junior, A. H. Creatine supplementation does not impair kidney function in type 2 diabetic patients: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, clinical trial. Eur.J.Appl.Physiol 2011;111(5):749-756. View abstract.
Multivitamin supplements may help you reach the recommended daily intakes for vitamins and minerals if you have a less than ideal diet, travel impairs your diet, or strenuous exercise increases requirements. I consider a multivitamin good insurance in these circumstances against possible deficiencies. Choose a reputable brand. You should choose a good all-around supplement with a balanced formula.
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]

How to Take It: If you decide you want to take BCAAs as one of your weight lifting supplements, you can easily get them and take them much like you would protein powders. One scoop provides 2.5g of leucine, 1.25g of isoleucine and 1.25g of valine. Take it before a workout, during or after. As with all supplementation, the aim is to reach your overall daily needs and goals.
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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.
Yes, genetically some of us put on muscle faster than others, but even then it’s fractions of a degree, not DRASTIC sweeping differences. We tend to get this question from men or women who are so thin and have such fast metabolisms, they probably need to put on 40-50+ pounds of both fat and muscle, before they would ever even think to use the word “too bulky.”
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)
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.

Different forms of creatine in combination with other sports supplements as well as varying doses and supplementation methodology should continue to be researched in an attempt to understand further application of creatine to increase sports and exercise performance of varying disciplines. It is important to remain impartial when evaluating the safety of creatine ingested as a natural supplement. The available evidence indicates that creatine consumption is safe. This perception of safety cannot be guaranteed especially that of the long term safety of creatine supplementation and the various forms of creatine which are administered to different populations (athletes, sedentary, patient, active, young or elderly) throughout the globe.


You are encouraged to confirm information obtained from or through this website with other sources. Our content is not a substitute for qualified medical advice. The supplement summaries on this website may not include all the information pertinent to your use. Before starting a diet, taking new supplements, or beginning an exercise program, check with your doctor to clear any lifestyle changes. Only your doctor can determine what is right for you based on your medical history and prescriptions.
Overload: The first thing you need to do to build lean muscle tissue is use more resistance than your muscles are used to. This is important because the more you do, the more your body is capable of doing, so you should increase your workload to avoid plateaus. In plain language, this means you should be lifting enough weight that you can only complete the desired number of reps. You should be able to finish your last rep with difficulty, but also with good form.
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.[23]
The concentration in healthy controls (57+/-8 years) without supplementation of creatine appears to be around 1.24+/-0.26µM per gram of hemoglobin[292] and appears to decrease in concentration during the aging process of the erythrocyte.[294][295][296] Otherwise healthy subjects who take a loading phase of creatine (5g four times daily for five days) can experience a 129.6% increase in erythrocytic creatine concentrations from an average value of 418µM (per liter) up to 961µM with a large range (increases in the range of 144.4-1004.8µM),[297] and this effect appears to correlate somewhat with muscular creatine stores.[297]
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]
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.
Amanda is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist in Chicago who graduated with a bachelor's in Nutrition from Northern Illinois University. She completed her dietetic internship at Edward Hines Jr. VA Hospital in Hines, IL. Amanda has a strong background in clinical nutrition, nutrition education, and experience working with specialized populations like children, acute care, intensive care, outpatients, and eating disorders. Amanda works with athletes and weight loss clients in the Los Angeles and southwestern Arizona area as a virtual Dietitian. Amanda prides herself in connecting with her audience while providing evidenced-based information and practical nutrition therapy for a complex population.

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.
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.
Beach muscles and Olympic lifts draw more attention. But the many little stabilizer muscles around your shoulders, hips, and midsection — collectively the core — provide a strong foundation. Challenging the stability and mobility of these key muscles with medicine balls, physioballs, mini-bands, and rotational movements (lifting, chopping) pays huge dividends.
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]

When it comes to finding the right meal plan, you have to start somewhere. Start with writing down what you eat in a food diary, calculate the calories you’re consuming daily (ex: 3,000 without protein shakes), and break those up into six meals (ex: 500 calories each), says Heath. Then, choose a macronutrient ratio. For example, the 40% protein, 40% carbs, 20% fat ratio is what Heath used to get bigger when he first started bodybuilding. “Buy a food scale, learn how to use it, and you may even have to learn to use the metric system, like grams instead of ounces,” Heath says. “You need to train your body to process food quickly, so eat every three hours.”
Every 4-8 weeks, vary your routine. As your body adapts to stress, you'll hit a plateau where the benefits of weight training will begin to diminish. The only way to prevent this from happening is to change things up, such as by increasing weight and changing exercises. Try a week of really piling the weights on, and do six to eight reps per set at the maximum weight you can manage with proper form. The more lifting experience you have, the more often you should vary your routine.

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] 

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