Do a single set of repetitions. Theories on the best way to approach weight training abound, including countless repetitions and hours at the gym. But research shows that a single set of exercise with a weight that fatigues your muscle after about 12 to 15 repetitions can build muscle efficiently in most people and can be as effective as three sets of the same exercise. 

Bodybuilding supplements are dietary supplements commonly used by those involved in bodybuilding, weightlifting, mixed martial arts, and athletics for the purpose of facilitating an increase in lean body mass. The intent is to increase muscle, increase body weight, improve athletic performance, and for some sports, to simultaneously decrease percent body fat so as to create better muscle definition. Among the most widely used are high protein drinks, branched-chain amino acids (BCAA), glutamine, arginine, essential fatty acids, creatine, HMB,[1] and weight loss products.[2] Supplements are sold either as single ingredient preparations or in the form of "stacks" – proprietary blends of various supplements marketed as offering synergistic advantages. While many bodybuilding supplements are also consumed by the general public the frequency of use will differ when used specifically by bodybuilders. One meta-analysis concluded that for athletes participating in resistance exercise training and consuming protein supplements for an average of 13 weeks, total protein intake up to 1.6 g/kg of body weight per day would result in an increase in strength and fat-free mass, i.e. muscle, but that higher intakes would not further contribute.[3] The muscle mass increase was statistically significant but modest - averaging 0.3 kg for all trials and 1.0–2.0 kg, for protein intake ≥1.6 g/kg/day.[3]
Aim to eat roughly 250 to 500 extra calories per day. To make sure that any weight gained is from muscle, Fitzgerald recommends that the bulk of those calories come from protein. In a 2014 Pennington Biomedical Research Center study, people who ate a high-calorie diet rich in protein stored about 45 percent of those calories as muscle, while those following a low-protein diet with the same number of calories stored 95 percent of those calories as fat.

xEndurance’s Creatine-JB is a fantastic, all-natural creatine for athletes. It’s a little expensive at a dollar per serving, but it has a really pleasant citrus flavor and it contains a gram of lactate, which has been shown in some studies to improve time to exhaustion in short duration, high intensity workouts. It’s also third party tested by Labdoor and Informed Choice.

Parameters of lung function (main cause of death in ALS is declining respiratory function) have not benefited after creatine supplementation, and when quality of life is measured, there is no benefit either. Despite one study failing to find any significant differences in mortality risk, two other studies have suggested that creatine may reduce the risk. The results were nonsignificant, but due to all treatments being well tolerated it is thought that creatine may still play a role as an adjuvant.
Pro Tip: Zane also suggests that directed concentration is exceptionally important to getting the most from your training and is much easier with lower weight. If you can concentrate on the muscle through its whole movement, you will notice that the intensity will be just as strong, without the risk. We teach you this in our “Mind Muscle Connection” Bonus Guide that we include in our Old School Muscle 8-Week Program.
Anti-depressive effects have been noted in woman with major depressive disorder when 5g of creatine monohydrate was supplemented daily for 8 weeks in combination with an SSRI. Benefits were seen at week two and were maintained until the end of the 8-week trial.[253] The improvement in depressive symptoms was associated with significantly increased prefrontal cortex levels of N-acetylaspartate, a marker of neuronal integrity,[254] and rich club connections, which refers to the ability of nerons to make connections to one another.[255]
Kilduff, L. P., Georgiades, E., James, N., Minnion, R. H., Mitchell, M., Kingsmore, D., Hadjicharlambous, M., and Pitsiladis, Y. P. The effects of creatine supplementation on cardiovascular, metabolic, and thermoregulatory responses during exercise in the heat in endurance-trained humans. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab 2004;14:443-460. View abstract.
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.

By that logic, a 160-pound man should consume around 160 grams of protein a day—the amount he'd get from an 8-ounce chicken breast, 1 cup of cottage cheese, a roast-beef sandwich, two eggs, a glass of milk, and 2 ounces of peanuts.) If you don't eat meat for ethical or religious reasons, don't worry — you can count on other sources, too. Soy, almonds, lentils, spinach, peas, and beans are packed with protein.
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.
^ Jump up to: a b c d e Cooper R, Naclerio F, Allgrove J, Jimenez A (July 2012). "Creatine supplementation with specific view to exercise/sports performance: an update". Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. 9 (1): 33. doi:10.1186/1550-2783-9-33. PMC 3407788. PMID 22817979. Creatine is produced endogenously at an amount of about 1 g/d. Synthesis predominately occurs in the liver, kidneys, and to a lesser extent in the pancreas. The remainder of the creatine available to the body is obtained through the diet at about 1 g/d for an omnivorous diet. 95% of the bodies creatine stores are found in the skeletal muscle and the remaining 5% is distributed in the brain, liver, kidney, and testes [1].
A study showed that 100mg/kg creatine monohydrate daily over four months supplemented by boys with DMD is able to enhance handgrip strength in the dominant hand only (less than 10% increase) and increase whole-body lean mass. While the trend toward whole body strength reduction seen in placebo was ablated and there was no interaction with corticosteroids,[560] this study failed to find an influence on activities of daily living or lung function.[560] Elsewhere in children not on corticosteroids with DMD, supplementation of 5g creatine for eight weeks was confirmed to increase muscular phosphocreatine content[554] and according to a manual muscle test (MMT) there was a significant improvement in muscular function relative to placebo, with more parents reporting benefit with creatine (53.8%) relative to placebo (14%).[554]
Creatine monohydrate is the most common form of creatine, and if not otherwise mentioned is the default form of creatine used in most studies on creatine.[64] It has fairly decent intestinal absorption[65][12] (covered more in depth in the pharmacology section) and is the standard form or “reference” form of creatine, which all other variants are pitted against.
Supplementation of a loading phase of creatine has been noted to augment the increase in RBC levels of superoxide dismutase (SOD) from exercise, when measured immediately after, by 8.1%, but control groups increased to match within an hour.[299] Glutathione (normally decreases with exercise) and catalase (increases) were both unaffected,[299] and elsewhere in vitro red blood cells incubated with 3mM of creatine (within the supplemental range) is able to improve filterability (a measure of cell rheology, or fluid structure of the cell[300]) when RBC creatine was increased by 12.3% to reach 554µM.[301] This was thought to be due to reduced oxidative stress (assessed via MDA) in the red blood cells, which in the presence of 1-5mM creatine was progressively reduced by 20-41%.[301]
Lyoo, I. K., Yoon, S., Kim, T. S., Hwang, J., Kim, J. E., Won, W., Bae, S., & Renshaw, P. F. (2012, September). A randomized, double-blind placebo-controlled trial of oral creatine monohydrate augmentation for enhanced response to a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor in women with major depressive disorder. American Journal of Psychiatry. 169(9):937-45. Retrieved from
Other human studies have yielded mixed results concerning creatine’s influence on triglyceride levels. In healthy male football players, creatine supplementation (5g monohydrate daily) over eight weeks did not influence triglyceride levels[324] but in martial artists given approximately 3.5g daily, a statistically significant increase in triglycerides was found despite no changes in total cholesterol.[325] In people with cardiovascular complications, given an exercise program and creatine, no significant change in triglycerides was noted relative to a placebo control group, which was also exercising.[326]
In nonelite swimmers conducting an intermittent sprint protocol (Six 50m sprints every two minutes), supplementation of a creatine loading period was able to reduce the decrement in speed during the third sprint (2% decrement rather than a 5% decrement) but not the sixth sprint. There were no changes in plasma lactate or other biomarkers of fatigue.[396] When examining a single 50m sprint in amateur swimmers, a creatine loading period is able to reduce the time to complete the sprint by 4.6%, while it had no benefit for the 100m sprint.[397] When the loading phase was followed by three weeks maintenance in youth, there was no apparent benefit to sprint performance (50m sprint with five minutes rest followed by a 100m freestyle) despite benefits to a swim bench test (30s sprints with a five minute break in between).[398]
Heath suggests incorporating dropsets into your training routine by immediately decreasing the weight and repping out again to failure. “Dropsets overload the muscle with shorter rest periods and increasing volume which you need to grow,” says Heath. “That overload improves your body’s abilities to utilize more nutrients, natural growth hormone, and natural testosterone into those areas and makes the supplements you take more effective.” Heath’s favorite way to do dropsets is on a pin-loaded machine since it’s faster to switch weights.

Besides the high-quality protein content of casein/whey, the newer formulations have little or no lactose (i.e., milk sugar), which some people have negative reactions to. The native milk proteins also provide a host of smaller proteins called peptides, many of which, such as lactoferrin, have vital health benefits. The rich cysteine content of whey acts as a precursor of glutathione, a primary endogenous antioxidant and liver detoxifier in the body.
All you need to know about low creatinine levels Creatinine is a waste material in the body, and low levels can suggest a shortfall in liver function or activity. This MNT Knowledge Center feature looks at low creatinine levels., as well as information on what creatinine is, how it affects the body, and how to increase low creatinine levels. Read now

At the end of the day, you have to focus on how you feel. “Listen to your body,” says Davis. “It tells you when it needs a day off.” As a rule of thumb, take a rest day if your perceived pain is above a seven on a scale of 10, Davis advises. Or, focus on a different body part (say, if your legs are sore, focus on upper-body moves). Can't stop, won't stop—at least, till your next rest day.
In muscle cells, the creatine transporter is predominantly localized to the sarcolemmal membrane. Western blot analysis of creatine transporter expression revealed the presence of two distinc protein bands, migrating at 55kDa and 70kDa on reducing SDS-PAGE gels.[147][148] The 73kDa band has been reported to be the predominant band in humans, with no differences based on gender.[148] A more recent report demonstrated that the 55kDa creatine transporter variant is glycosylated, forming the 73 kDa protein. Therefore, the 55 and 75kDa protein bands are actually immature and mature/processed forms of the creatine transporter protein, respectively.[149]
"Start with two days for two to three weeks, then add a third day," says Davis*.*"Ideally, you should strength train three to five days per week, but work your way up—starting off at five days a week might shock your body." Here's a comprehensive three-day-per-week plan to get you started. Aim to complete 20-minute sessions, then gradually add on time in ten-minute increments until you're working for 45 to 60 minutes, suggests Davis.

Heath suggests incorporating dropsets into your training routine by immediately decreasing the weight and repping out again to failure. “Dropsets overload the muscle with shorter rest periods and increasing volume which you need to grow,” says Heath. “That overload improves your body’s abilities to utilize more nutrients, natural growth hormone, and natural testosterone into those areas and makes the supplements you take more effective.” Heath’s favorite way to do dropsets is on a pin-loaded machine since it’s faster to switch weights.
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]  

Some bodybuilders use drugs such as anabolic steroids and precursor substances such as prohormones to increase muscle hypertrophy. Anabolic steroids cause hypertrophy of both types (I and II) of muscle fibers, likely caused by an increased synthesis of muscle proteins. They also provoke undesired side effects including hepatotoxicity, gynecomastia, acne, the early onset of male pattern baldness and a decline in the body's own testosterone production, which can cause testicular atrophy.[42][43][44] Other performance-enhancing substances used by competitive bodybuilders include human growth hormone (HGH), which can cause acromegaly.

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.
ZMA: This supplement is a combination of zinc, magnesium and vitamin B-6. Some research shows that this combination can help raise testosterone levels. In the trial, subjects took a daily dose of ZMA (which included 30 mg zinc monomethionine, 450 mg magnesium aspartate and 10.5 mg vitamin B-6) at night during 7 weeks. Other hormones like IGF also increased, while the stress hormone, cortisol was reduced, creating an overall more favorable hormone profile. Not surprisingly, muscle performance also improved. (n) This paper is surrounding in controversy, however, because one of the scientists involved also holds the trademark for ZMA, and the research is company-funded.
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]
When splitting a sample into exercisers and non-exercisers, it appears that exercise as a pre-requisite precedes a higher range of activity. Inactive people tend to be on the lower end of creatine kinase activity and relatively clustered in magnitude, while exercise generally increases activity, but also introduces a larger range of possible activity.[56]
As a ingredient that has been tested time and time again and shown to positively affect the building of muscle, GAT has taken the highest-quality compound to create Essentials Creatine. Using HPLC-tested pharmaceutical grade creatine that's tested to be 99.9% pure, Essentials Creatine provides 5 grams in every serving which can increase muscle size, boost strength, and enhance muscle recovery. Keep Reading »
Once training is resumed under these conditions, there may be little in the way of caloric support to ensure that protein synthesis and muscle growth occurs. Muscle may even begin to cannibalize itself as the body enters into a catabolic state. Even with the best of diets this can sometimes happen if training demands override the nutritional balance or imbalance.
Supplementation of a loading phase of creatine has been noted to augment the increase in RBC levels of superoxide dismutase (SOD) from exercise, when measured immediately after, by 8.1%, but control groups increased to match within an hour.[299] Glutathione (normally decreases with exercise) and catalase (increases) were both unaffected,[299] and elsewhere in vitro red blood cells incubated with 3mM of creatine (within the supplemental range) is able to improve filterability (a measure of cell rheology, or fluid structure of the cell[300]) when RBC creatine was increased by 12.3% to reach 554µM.[301] This was thought to be due to reduced oxidative stress (assessed via MDA) in the red blood cells, which in the presence of 1-5mM creatine was progressively reduced by 20-41%.[301]
After supplementation of creatine monohydrate (loading phase, followed by 19 weeks maintenance), creatine precursors are decreased by up to 50% (loading) or 30% (maintenance), which suggests a decrease in endogenous creatine synthesis during supplementation.[38] This appears to occur through creatine’s own positive feedback and suppression of the l-arginine:glycine amidinotransferase enzyme, the rate-limiting step in creatine synthesis, as levels of intermediates before this stage are typically elevated by up to 75%.[38]

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.
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]
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Change things up. After six or more weeks of consistent strength training, which is about the amount of time it takes to start seeing improvement in your body, you can change your routine to make it more difficult. Lifting the same weights for the same exercises every week will keep your body in the same place. You can modify weights or repetitions, choose different exercises, or change the order in which you do them. You only have to make one change at a time to make a difference, although more is often better. 
Weight gain might be the most common side effect. “Creatine can cause your body to hold on to water by pulling fluid into your cells via osmosis,” says Bates. “It doesn't necessarily cause you to gain weight as fat, but it can increase edema, or water weight.” Also, muscle is denser than fat, so in some cases building muscle can increase body weight overall (even if you’re simultaneously burning fat).
In weight training, as with most forms of exercise, there is a tendency for the breathing pattern to deepen. This helps to meet increased oxygen requirements. Holding the breath or breathing shallowly is avoided because it may lead to a lack of oxygen, passing out, or an excessive build up of blood pressure. Generally, the recommended breathing technique is to inhale when lowering the weight (the eccentric portion) and exhale when lifting the weight (the concentric portion). However, the reverse, inhaling when lifting and exhaling when lowering, may also be recommended. Some researchers state that there is little difference between the two techniques in terms of their influence on heart rate and blood pressure.[8] It may also be recommended that a weight lifter simply breathes in a manner which feels appropriate.
Progain contains an easily digested source of carbohydrate, providing much needed carbohydrate to fuel your workout before or after. By adding creatine to your diet, in a shake, in food or in capsules, is proven to increase strength, build muscle size and support training intensity. At Maximuscle we have a number of products with added creatine, such as: Creatine Monohydrate, Creatamax Capsules, Cyclone (powder & bars), Progain Flapjack.
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.
In people whose kidneys don’t function optimally, supplemental creatine seems to be safe, too.[513][518][313][528] However, studies in people with suboptimal kidney function are fewer than in healthy people, and they are short-term. People with kidney dysfunction, or at risk for developing kidney dysfunction (e.g., people with diabetes, high blood pressure, or family history of kidney disease; people over sixty; and non-Hispanic blacks), might wish to forgo creatine, or otherwise take only the lowest effective dose (3 g/day)[527] after talking to their doctor.

As I mentioned earlier, the exercises that come first in your workout (aka primary compound exercises) should usually be done in the 5-8 rep range. Exercises in the middle (aka your secondary compound exercises) should usually be done in the 8-10 rep range. Exercises done at the end of your workout (which is typically where isolation exercises belong) should usually be done in the 10-15 rep range.
Dips. You should be able to manipulate your bodyweight in space against the influence of gravity. If you can’t perform simple movements such as pushups, dips, and chin-ups then you need to work on your relative strength. That being said, dips are an excellent muscle builder for the chest, triceps, and shoulders if they are progressively overloaded with weight. 
Despite creatine not interfering with UV(A) irradiation acting upon a cell or the production of oxidation due to it, creatine appears to prevent the functional consequences (such as mitochondrial DNA damage) due to preventing an ATP depletion in the cell, which would normally precede a reduction in mitochondrial membrane potential and mutagenesis, but this effect is prevented for as long as creatine stores are sufficient.[446] Creatine has also been noted to near-fully protect mitochondrial DNA from hydroxyl radicals and oxidative damage, although there was no protective effect for nuclear DNA, due to it being less sensitive to hydroxyl radicals.[447]

The majority of studies focusing on creatine supplementation report an increase in the body’s’ creatine pool [15-17]. There is a positive relationship between muscle creatine uptake and exercise performance [17]. Volek et al [18] observed a significant increase in strength performance after 12 weeks creatine supplementation with a concurrent periodized heavy resistance training protocol. The creatine supplementation protocol consisted of a weeklong loading period of 25 g/d followed by a 5 g maintenance dose for the remainder of the training. These positive effects were attributed to an increased total creatine pool resulting in more rapid adenosine triphosphate (ATP) regeneration between resistance training sets allowing athletes to maintain a higher training intensity and improve the quality of the workouts along the entire training period.

An upper/lower split can last you forever. A lot of massive, strong powerlifters stick with that throughout their entire lifting careers. However, if you’re older and/or have some trouble recovering, you may prefer a push/pull/legs split that has you training everything directly once per week. This is how most famous bodybuilders have trained in the past and many still do.
We can all pile on the pounds, just stay in the fast food lane, but it’s a nutrient-dense healthy diet, that will promote lean muscle development and size. In truth, muscular growth and building that brick house frame, can be harder to achieve than losing weight, and very frustrating. But we are here to help - follow our top 8 tips and you'll pack on lean muscle and size far more easily and be well on your way to achieving that physique you want.
*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!
I get lost every time I walk into my neighborhood GNC… the people who work there know their stuff, but nobody knows my body better than me and that’s where it all falls apart, but I’m working on that. I agree, I rather have grass-fed and more natural options as opposed to anything containing GMO in the products… The point is to become healthier, not go the other way…. But I also don’t want to get too much soy in my diet either… My wife is doesn’t want it for me and it’s given me headaches too, so I’m not really one for those. I guess small amounts of soy should be okay, right? Could someone be allergic to soy? There’s tons of other options though and I’m going to have to really look more into these here coz it has everything I’ve been looking for! Thanks for putting this together!