Moreover, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has identified numerous products marketed as bodybuilding or muscle-building dietary supplements that contain hidden active ingredients, including prescription drugs and steroid and steroid-like ingredients. Not only do these ingredients pose serious health risks, they might cause you to pop positive on a drug test. The only way to be sure a product contains only what’s on the label is to look for one that has been evaluated by an independent, third-party organization. For more information, visit FDA’s Consumer Update about bodybuilding products.
One of the studies noting a reduction in fatigue in healthy subjects given creatine (8g) for five days prior to a mathematical test noted a relative decrease in oxygenation hemoglobin in the brain and an increase in deoxygenated hemoglobin, which normally indicates a reduction in cerebral oxygenation.[245] The authors made note of how cytoplasmic phosphocreatine can increase oxygen uptake into cells (noted in vitro in a concentration dependent manner between 0-25mM[245]) and suggested that either cells were taking up more oxygen from hemoglobin, or that increased mitochondrial efficiency resulted in less of a need for oxygen.[245]
Creatine, which is synthesized in the liver and kidneys, is transported through the blood and taken up by tissues with high energy demands, such as the brain and skeletal muscle, through an active transport system. The concentration of ATP in skeletal muscle is usually 2–5 mM, which would result in a muscle contraction of only a few seconds.[22] During times of increased energy demands, the phosphagen (or ATP/PCr) system rapidly resynthesizes ATP from ADP with the use of phosphocreatine (PCr) through a reversible reaction with the enzyme creatine kinase (CK). In skeletal muscle, PCr concentrations may reach 20–35 mM or more. Additionally, in most muscles, the ATP regeneration capacity of CK is very high and is therefore not a limiting factor. Although the cellular concentrations of ATP are small, changes are difficult to detect because ATP is continuously and efficiently replenished from the large pools of PCr and CK.[22] Creatine has the ability to increase muscle stores of PCr, potentially increasing the muscle’s ability to resynthesize ATP from ADP to meet increased energy demands.[23][24][25]

Creatine, the amino acid, naturally helps your body produce more adenosine triphosphate, or ATP, a small molecule that’s actually your body's primary energy source. But research shows that your body is only capable of storing enough ATP for 8 to 10 seconds of high-intensity exercise — and after that, it needs to produce new ATP for you to continue. (9)

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Studies of so-called "smart drugs" have also been taken out of context. Some "smart" nutrients, available over the counter, are marketed as a way to "increase mental focus and concentration during training." The problem is that the studies they're based upon involved either animals or people with brain pathology. In normal people the effects of smart drugs remain unproven, except anecdotally.

Without supplementation, creatine is formed primarily in the liver, with minor contributions from the pancreas and kidneys. The two amino acids, glycine and arginine, combine via the enzyme Arginine:Glycine amidinotransferase (AGAT) to form ornithine and guanidoacetate. This is the first of two steps in creatine synthesis, and although rare, any deficiency of this enzyme can result in mild mental retardation and muscular weakness.[28] AGAT is also the primary regulatory step, and an excess of dietary creatine can suppress activity of AGAT to reduce creatine synthesis[29] by reducing AGAT mRNA levels, rather than resulting in competitive inhibition.[30]
However, not all proteins are created equal in the muscle building stakes. Always remember the better the quality (biological value) of protein consumed, the more of it will be used for muscle building. To maximise muscle growth, stick to high-quality proteins, such as whey, milk, eggs, fish or lean meats. However, combining lower quality or incomplete protein from plant-based sources, such as nuts and beans, can still be a valuable protein source for muscle building.

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!

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.

Different exercises will require different weights, but there are some markers that can help guide you towards the right resistance, whether you're using dumbbells, kettlebells, or a barbell. Go for a weight that feel heavy enough to challenge you, but not so heavy that you sacrifice your form. For example, if you're doing 15 reps, you should feel pretty fatigued by the time you hit rep 15. If you can breeze through all your reps, though, that's a sign you should up the weight.
Most experts recommend starting with your larger muscle groups and then proceeding to the smaller ones. The most demanding exercises are those performed by your large muscle groups, and you will need your smaller muscles to get the most out of these exercises. But don't feel limited by that. You can do your exercises in any order you like, and changing the order is a great way to challenge yourself in different ways.
Creatine helps create essential adenosine triphosphate (ATP). This is the energy source of muscle contractions. By upping your levels, you can increase the amount of energy available to your muscles, boosting your performance. Because your muscle strength and size increases when you add weight and reps, improving your performance can be a game changer in terms of increasing your muscle mass. If you’re able to lift longer and harder, your muscles will grow. Creatine is certainly a winner among muscle building supplements.
Boosting your workouts with an intra-workout catalyst, Scivation's XTEND holds a revolutionary formula that is both free of sugar and carbohydrates in a powerful BCAA drink mix. Using the 2:1:1 BCAA ratio with 7 grams in each serving, the advanced design of this supplement aids in the building of muscle, incinerating of fat, and shortening of recovery, while supporting hydration with a proprietary blend of electrolytes. XTEND encourages the optimal synthesizing of protein and fuels the body with energy for a power-filled workout. Keep Reading »
Most people require around 20 calories per pound (or 44 kcal / kg) of bodyweight to gain muscle mass. Using a 180-pound (82kg) male as an example, the required daily calorie intake is 3600 calories (20 kcal x 180 lb = 3600 kcal). When it comes to gaining weight, it is likely that you may put on a few pounds of fat along the way, but if you do find your body fat increasing, either increase the amount of aerobic exercise (moderate intensity) you are doing or slightly reduce the total number of calories you are consuming. Remember you can’t force feed muscle gain!
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] 

Mercimek-Mahmutoglu, S., Stoeckler-Ipsiroglu, S., Adami, A., Appleton, R., Araujo, H. C., Duran, M., Ensenauer, R., Fernandez-Alvarez, E., Garcia, P., Grolik, C., Item, C. B., Leuzzi, V., Marquardt, I., Muhl, A., Saelke-Kellermann, R. A., Salomons, G. S., Schulze, A., Surtees, R., van der Knaap, M. S., Vasconcelos, R., Verhoeven, N. M., Vilarinho, L., Wilichowski, E., and Jakobs, C. GAMT deficiency: features, treatment, and outcome in an inborn error of creatine synthesis. Neurology 8-8-2006;67(3):480-484. View abstract.
^ The effect of HMB on skeletal muscle damage has been assessed in studies using four different biomarkers of muscle damage or protein breakdown: serum creatine kinase, serum lactate dehydrogenase, urinary urea nitrogen, and urinary 3-methylhistidine.[38][41][42] When exercise intensity and volume are sufficient to cause skeletal muscle damage, such as during long-distance running or progressive overload, HMB supplementation has been demonstrated to attenuate the rise in these biomarkers by 20–60%.[38][42]

I can’t predict what sort of results you’ll see in that first year, but it can be pretty epic if you attack it right! Muscle growth might happen slower than you want, but I expect something different will happen along the way – you’ll fall in love with this idea of building STRENGTH! In fact, getting hooked on progress, and strength training is one of the best things you can do for yourself.

Cornelissen, V. A., Defoor, J. G., Stevens, A., Schepers, D., Hespel, P., Decramer, M., Mortelmans, L., Dobbels, F., Vanhaecke, J., Fagard, R. H., and Vanhees, L. Effect of creatine supplementation as a potential adjuvant therapy to exercise training in cardiac patients: a randomized controlled trial. Clin.Rehabil. 2010;24(11):988-999. View abstract.
While creatine's influence on physical performance has been well documented since the early twentieth century, it came into public view following the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona. An August 7, 1992 article in The Times reported that Linford Christie, the gold medal winner at 100 meters, had used creatine before the Olympics. An article in Bodybuilding Monthly named Sally Gunnell, who was the gold medalist in the 400-meter hurdles, as another creatine user. In addition, The Times also noted that 100 meter hurdler Colin Jackson began taking creatine before the Olympics.[12][13]
The two workouts listed above are completely free and highly recommended. If, however, you’re looking for additional workouts, my book – Superior Muscle Growth – contains ALL of the muscle building routines that I’ve personally used and designed for others (11 different workouts, 40+ different versions). Feel free to check it out to learn more about what’s included.
It turns out yoga isn’t the only form of exercise that could strengthen your inner self. In fact, one study comparing the effects of hatha yoga and resistance exercise found that both activities improved mental health and wellbeing. Each group was less depressed, and the folks pumping iron enjoyed improved body image, too. “We know that all exercise improves mood,” explains Jeffrey A. Katula, PhD, associate professor of health and exercise science at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. “But I think resistance training provides something different emotionally to people.”
Most folks work a 9 to 5 position but if you’re not in the corporate world yet then odds are you’re a student with classes scattered throughout the day and it takes up the vast portion of your free time. That being said, you’re likely going to have to work out in the morning or the evening in order to fit in your session amidst the hectic commitments in your everyday life. Here are a few things to consider in regards to each time period:
Caffeine is the naturally occurring alkaloid and stimulant in coffee, tea, cocoa, guarana, cola and other plant product beverages. A strong cup of brewed coffee will give you about 100 milligrams of caffeine, instant coffee around 80 milligrams, often less, and tea down around the 40 milligrams. It varies from product to product and how you prepare the drink.
When Katula started his research on whether weight training would improve quality of life for seniors, he realized that many had never even picked up a dumbbell. “They first had to learn how to use these big intimidating weights and machines,” he says. He recalls the story of one woman who protested that she couldn’t do the leg press machine. Finally, Katula persuaded her to sit in the machine and set the weight at 50 pounds. “I couldn’t believe how fast she whipped out 10 reps,” he says, “When she got out of that machine, she was two inches taller just from increased pride.”
Heath has 1.8 million Instagram followers, 300,000 Twitter followers, a global fan base and a growing portfolio of muscle magazine covers. He competes in just one competition a year, Mr. Olympia, for which he won the $400,000 first prize this year. He spends the rest of the year staying in shape and flying hundreds of thousands of miles for appearances, conferences and meetings. He has five sponsors, led by Ultimate Nutrition, a supplement company. All told, he earns more than $1 million a year, his agent said.
In the last week leading up to a contest, bodybuilders usually decrease their consumption of water, sodium, and carbohydrates, the former two to alter how water is retained by the body and the latter to reduce glycogen in the muscle. The day before the show, water is removed from the diet, and diuretics may be introduced, while carbohydrate loading is undertaken to increase the size of the muscles through replenishment of their glycogen. The goal is to maximize leanness and increase the visibility of veins, or "vascularity". The muscular definition and vascularity are further enhanced immediately before appearing on stage by darkening the skin through tanning products and applying oils to the skin to increase shine. Some competitors will eat sugar-rich foods to increase the visibility of their veins. A final step, called "pumping", consists in performing exercises with light weights or other kinds of low resistance (for instance two athletes can "pump" each other by holding a towel and pulling in turn), just before the contest, to fill the muscles with blood and further increase their size and density.
Lifters who follow high-volume or high-intensity resistance-training programs, as many bodybuilders do, may also benefit from carbohydrate intake immediately post-workout. Compared with a placebo, carbohydrates combined with protein immediately post-workout and one hour after a bout of resistance exercise have been shown to increase insulin levels and rates of glycogen resynthesis.[19]
The creatine transporter is a sodium[139][140] and chloride[141][142] dependent membrane-associated transporter that belongs to the Na+/Cl-dependent family of neurotransmitter transporters.[143] In muscle cells and most other cell types,[131][141] the isomer of the creatine transporter is known as SLC6A8 (solute carrier family 6, member 8). SLC6A8 is encoded by the gene present on the Xq28 region of the human X-chromosome and is expressed in most tissues.[144] A related gene encoding a creatine transporter variant has also been identified at 16p11.1 that is expressed exclusively in the testes.[145] These two transporters share 98% homology.[144][145]
Recommended Dose: In Shannon Clark's article, "6 Ways To Get More Energized For Your Workouts", Dr. Chris Lockwood recommends between 1.36 and 2.5 milligrams of caffeine per pound of bodyweight. That would be 200-375 milligrams for a 150-pound person. If that leaves you jittery, try less. Determine your tolerance and find the dose that works best for you.
Despite the fact that BCAAs may offer some benefits, you should keep in mind that these three amino acids are also present in any quality whey protein that you purchase. You can also get these essential amino acids from food sources. Basically, as long as you’re meeting your daily protein intake goals, you’re probably getting enough of these essential amino acids. Research supports this approach. So, why spend more on another supplement?
It’s perhaps best known for the aesthetic benefits. Creatine increases muscle size relatively quickly and while that’s in part due to an increase in muscle water content — a good thing, since it means we’re better hydrated — it does indeed appear to lead to actual hypertrophy over time. And bigger muscles aren’t just aesthetic: larger muscles can improve work capacity, explosiveness, fat oxidation, injury resilience, and recovery.
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.
Glycogen synthesis is known to respond directly and positively to cellular swelling. This was demonstrated in an earlier study, during which rat muscle cells were exposed to a hypotonic solution in vitro to induce cell swelling, which increased glycogen synthesis by 75%. In contrast, exposing these same cells to a hypertonic solution hindered glycogen synthesis by 31%. These changes were not due to alterations in glucose uptake, but are blocked by hindering the PI3K/mTOR signaling pathway.[112] It was later noted that stress proteins of the MAPK class (p38 and JNK) as well as heat shock protein 27 (Hsp27) are activated in response to increasing osmolarity.[113][114] Furthermore, activation of MAPK signaling in skeletal muscle cells is known to induce myocyte differentiation[115] via GSK3β and MEF2 signaling, which can induce muscle cell growth.[116][117]
As Heath talked in the office, Cremona presented him with steak and white rice. It was takeout, from Outback Steakhouse, because the two had just returned from a weeklong trip. Heath reached toward a bouquet of round plastic jars filled with powdered supplements. He scooped powder from one into a water bottle, shook it and drank. He compared himself to a racecar, always in need of fuel and delicate tinkering.
How to Take It: Take your gainer at any time of day as your objective is to reach overall calorie intake goals. Ideally, instead of using them as a meal substitute, you’ll use your gainer as a snack between high-calorie, healthy, balanced meals. If you plan on taking protein powder for muscle growth in addition to gainers, make sure you add up all of your dietary protein intakes to make sure it’s worth the investment of taking both. You might be able to skip the plain protein powders.
^ The effect of HMB on skeletal muscle damage has been assessed in studies using four different biomarkers of muscle damage or protein breakdown: serum creatine kinase, serum lactate dehydrogenase, urinary urea nitrogen, and urinary 3-methylhistidine.[38][41][42] When exercise intensity and volume are sufficient to cause skeletal muscle damage, such as during long-distance running or progressive overload, HMB supplementation has been demonstrated to attenuate the rise in these biomarkers by 20–60%.[38][42]

Although weight training is similar to bodybuilding, they have different objectives. Bodybuilders use weight training to develop their muscles for size, shape, and symmetry regardless of any increase in strength for competition in bodybuilding contests; they train to maximize their muscular size and develop extremely low levels of body fat. In contrast, many weight trainers train to improve their strength and anaerobic endurance while not giving special attention to reducing body fat far below normal.
There are a number of weight machines that are commonly found in neighborhood gyms. The Smith machine is a barbell that is constrained to vertical movement. The cable machine consists of two weight stacks separated by 2.5 metres, with cables running through adjustable pulleys (that can be fixed at any height so as to select different amounts of weight) to various types of handles. There are also exercise-specific weight machines such as the leg press. A multigym includes a variety of exercise-specific mechanisms in one apparatus.
If you are somebody that is tired of not getting results, wants to avoid trial-and-error, or you just want to be told exactly what to do to reach your goals, check out our popular 1-on-1 coaching program. You’ll work with our certified NF instructors who will get to know you better than you know yourself and program your workouts and nutrition strategy for you.

Due to a combination of its neuroprotective effects and dopaminergic modulatory effects, creatine has been hypothesized in at least one review article to be of benefit to drug rehabilitation.[266] This study used parallels between drug abuse (usually methamphetamines) and traumatic brain injury[267][268] and made note of creatine being able to reduce symptoms of brain trauma, such as headaches, fatigue, and dizziness in clinical settings in two pilot studies.[269][270] No studies currently exist that examine creatine supplementation and drug rehabilitation.
Now, if you are somebody that is more of the “do-it-yourself” type, check out our self-paced online course, the Nerd Fitness Academy. The Academy has 20+ workouts for both bodyweight or weight training, a benchmark test to determine your starting workout, HD demonstrations of every movement, boss battles so you know when you to level up your routine, meal plans, a questing system, and supportive community.

Beta-alanine is a naturally occurring non-essential amino acid that comes into the body through foods that are rich in protein. The performance-enhancing aspect of beta-alanine (BA) is due to its ability to increase intra-muscular levels of carnosine. Increasing beta-alanine through supplementation may raise carnosine levels by over 60 percent in as quickly as four weeks.[6]
Sound complicated? Fortunately, there's an easy rule of thumb for increasing your training volume: For each exercise, perform three to six sets of six to 12 reps, resting for 30 to 90 seconds between each set, she says. The weight used should be enough that you can get out your last reps with proper form but wouldn't be able to perform any additional reps.
“Reg Park’s theory was that first you have to build the mass and then chisel it down to get the quality; you work on your body the way a sculptor would work on a piece of clay or wood or steel. You rough it out””the more carefully, the more thoroughly, the better”” then you start to cut and define. You work it down gradually until it’s ready to be rubbed and polished. And that’s when you really know about the foundation. Then all the faults of poor early training stand out as hopeless, almost irreparable flaws. [..]

Take your vitamins. In addition to a well-balanced diet, include a multivitamin supplement to your dietary regimen. It will ensure that your body is getting the full amount of vitamins and minerals it needs to stay healthy. There are many options, depending on your age, your sex, and your particular health and diet needs. Find the one that's right for you, and make it part of your daily routine.
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.