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.

Many other important bodybuilders in the early history of bodybuilding prior to 1930 include: Earle Liederman (writer of some of bodybuilding's earliest books), Zishe Breitbart, Georg Hackenschmidt, Emy Nkemena, George F. Jowett, Finn Hateral (a pioneer in the art of posing), Frank Saldo, Monte Saldo, William Bankier, Launceston Elliot, Sig Klein, Sgt. Alfred Moss, Joe Nordquist, Lionel Strongfort ("Strongfortism"),[6] Gustav Frištenský, Ralph Parcaut (a champion wrestler who also authored an early book on "physical culture"), and Alan P. Mead (who became an impressive muscle champion despite the fact that he lost a leg in World War I). Actor Francis X. Bushman, who was a disciple of Sandow, started his career as a bodybuilder and sculptor's model before beginning his famous silent movie career.


Why it made the list: Whey tops the list of mass-gain supplements because it's the most crucial for pushing protein synthesis. Whey is a milk protein that has a high level of branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs, No. 4 on our list). Bottom line: Whey takes the crown because it digests fast and gets to your muscles rapidly to start building muscle. Whey also contains peptides (small proteins) that increase blood flow to the muscles. This is why we always recommend consuming whey protein immediately after training.


At the time, low-potency creatine supplements were available in Britain, but creatine supplements designed for strength enhancement were not commercially available until 1993 when a company called Experimental and Applied Sciences (EAS) introduced the compound to the sports nutrition market under the name Phosphagen.[14] Research performed thereafter demonstrated that the consumption of high glycemic carbohydrates in conjunction with creatine increases creatine muscle stores.[15]
In vitro, creatine (0.125mM or higher) can reduce excitotoxicity from glutamate, which is thought to be secondary to preserving intracellular creatine phosphate levels.[209] Glutamate-induced excitotoxicity is caused by excessive intracellular calcium levels resulting from ATP depletion. Since high levels of calcium inside the cell are toxic, ATP preserves membrane integrity,[210] in part by promoting calcium homeostasis. When ATP is depleted, the sodium-potassium ATPase pump (Na+,K+-ATPase) stops working, leading to sodium accumulation in the cell. This reduces the activity of the sodium-calcium exchange pump, which, alongside a lack of ATP, reduces calcium efflux through the Na+,K+-ATPase. Thus, ATP depletion leads to intracellular calcium overload, loss of membrane potential, and excitotoxic cell death. Therefore, by helping preserve ATP levels, creatine is protective against excitotoxicity. This protective effect was noted after either creatine preloading or addition up to 2 hours after excitotoxicity.[209] Protection from glutamate-induced toxicity also extends to glial cells[211] and is additive with COX2 inhibition.[212]
Carbohydrates play an important role for bodybuilders. They give the body energy to deal with the rigors of training and recovery. Carbohydrates also promote secretion of insulin, a hormone enabling cells to get the glucose they need. Insulin also carries amino acids into cells and promotes protein synthesis.[26] Insulin has steroid-like effects in terms of muscle gains.[27] It is impossible to promote protein synthesis without the existence of insulin, which means that without ingesting carbohydrates or protein—which also induces the release of insulin—it is impossible to add muscle mass.[28] Bodybuilders seek out low-glycemic polysaccharides and other slowly digesting carbohydrates, which release energy in a more stable fashion than high-glycemic sugars and starches. This is important as high-glycemic carbohydrates cause a sharp insulin response, which places the body in a state where it is likely to store additional food energy as fat. However, bodybuilders frequently do ingest some quickly digesting sugars (often in form of pure dextrose or maltodextrin) just before, during, and/or just after a workout. This may help to replenish glycogen stored within the muscle, and to stimulate muscle protein synthesis.[29]
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.

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.”


COX-2, a pro-inflammatory enzyme, is sometimes a therapeutic target for both muscle soreness and some degenerative diseases that are exacerbated by inflammation. COX-2 inhibitors (in this study, rofecoxib) and creatine monohydrate both appear to protect dopaminergic neurons from being destroyed by toxins, and can protect in an additive manner, suggesting possible usage of both to reduce the risk of Parkinson’s disease.[230]
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.
A double-blind study provided 20 g/day of creatine monohydrate for 5 days to qualified sprinters and jumpers who performed 45 seconds of continuous jumping and 60 seconds of continuous treadmill running. Supplementation enhanced performance in the jumping test by 7% for the first 15 seconds and 12% for the next 15 seconds, but there was no difference for the final 15 seconds. There was a 13% improvement in the time of intensive running to exhaustion [12].

Entry into neural tissues in general is mediated by the secondary creatine transporter (CrT-2) known as SLC6A10,[186] which is the same transporter that is active in a male’s testicles.[145] CrT-2 belongs to the family of SLC6 transporters that act to move solutes across the membrane by coupling transport with sodium and chloride.[187][188] Genetic deletions in the 16p11.2 region, which encodes both SLC6A8[189] and SLC6A10[186] can result in severe mental retardation in humans and is one of the causes of “Creatine Deficiency Syndrome.” Creatine Deficiency Syndrome is not only caused by lack creatine transporter expression, however, as creatine synthesis is also critical for neural function.[190].[189] Retardation caused by defective creatine synthesis[31] can be reversed with creatine supplementation and dietary changes.[191]
If you have hit a plateau, a good supplement could be all you need to pull yourself out of a slump and make the progress you want to be making. Creatine is widely known as the most effective sports supplement. Scientific studies have proven that creatine maximizes ATP production which is responsible for energy in your body. Essentially, creatine will give you more energy to allow you to do the things that will make you stronger.
Researchers described the study as one of the first to examine how strength training can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, separate from the effects of aerobic activity like running or long walks. The point: for those who are not meeting recommended guidelines for aerobic activity—perhaps because they lack the time—bursts of weight training can be enough.
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.
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.
Another category of muscle-building supplements that lifters and bodybuilders use to improve their results are branched-chained amino acids (BCAAs), or BCAAs. Of the 20 amino acids that make up protein, just three are referred to as BCAAs: leucine, isoleucine, and valine. These are the specific amino acids that have been shown to stimulate protein synthesis and help regulate protein metabolism.
Many athletes follow a "loading" protocol of around 25 grams a day for five days, but this isn't essential. But as Ciaran Fairman notes in the article "Do I Need to Load With Creatine," you can also get the same benefits with around 5 grams a day, potentially with none of the mild side effects of the loading protocol, which include stomach pain and water weight gain. The catch is that you have to take it consistently. Don't skip it!
^ Jump up to: a b c Morton RW, Murphy KT, McKellar SR, Schoenfeld BJ, Henselmans M, Helms E, Aragon AA, Devries MC, Banfield L, Krieger JW, Phillips SM (2017). "A systematic review, meta-analysis and meta-regression of the effect of protein supplementation on resistance training-induced gains in muscle mass and strength in healthy adults". Br J Sports Med. 52 (6): bjsports–2017–097608. doi:10.1136/bjsports-2017-097608. PMC 5867436. PMID 28698222.
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.
It has also been noted that supplementing creatine (which reduces internal synthesis of creatine and methylation requirements) preserved folate and tetrahydrofolate status (42% and 23%),[312] which acted to preserve methyl groups for other processes. Despite this effect, global DNA methylation decreases by 22% (assessed by the 5-methylcytosine/cytosine ratio) following creatine supplementation, which is usually seen as an anti-cancer effect in developed mammals.[461] This study was unable to demonstrate why this reduction occured[461] and opposing effects have been noted in females with Rett syndrome supplementing 200mg/kg creatine for 1 year, during which global methylation increased, secondary to preserving other methyl donors.[462]
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.
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.

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.
Supplementation of creatine at 20g daily for a loading phase, followed by 10g daily for eight weeks in healthy volunteers resulted in a 23% reduction of triglycerides, which remained lower than baseline for four weeks after supplementation ceased, [321] while vLDL (the lipid particle which carries most of the triglyerides. which TMG causes to be released from the liver) was also reduced by 22% in this study.[321] 
When assessing type I muscle (slow twitch) against type II muscles (fast twitch) in response to creatine supplementation, it seems that glycogen accumulation may only occur in the latter as assessed in rats,[359] where the soleus muscle is a model for slow twitch muscle fibers and the gastrocnemius is a model for fast twitch. This is similar to human creatine distribution, which seems to accumulate in type II muscles rather than type I.[367]
While seasoned lifters may choose to do different exercises every day during a week-long period (and repeat the same moves the following week), there's no need to follow this type of program when you're just getting comfortable, says Davis. "Stick to the same basic moves two to three times a week to build a basic level of fitness and strength," says Davis. "Why complicate things if you don’t have to? Great results can be made by repeating the same workout but increasing weights as you become stronger." Switching things up can help you avoid a training plateau, explains Davis, but so can increasing weights while doing the same exercises.
Another category of muscle-building supplements that lifters and bodybuilders use to improve their results are branched-chained amino acids (BCAAs), or BCAAs. Of the 20 amino acids that make up protein, just three are referred to as BCAAs: leucine, isoleucine, and valine. These are the specific amino acids that have been shown to stimulate protein synthesis and help regulate protein metabolism.
How long and how often? Two or three weekly 20- to 30-minute, weight-training sessions are sufficient to start reaping noticeable benefits within four to 12 weeks, such as improved energy and muscle tone. Within six months, most people increase their strength 40 percent or more. Give your body at least one recovery day between sessions (although some people may need more, especially in the beginning).
These terms combine the prefix iso- (meaning "same") with tonic ("strength") and plio- ("more") with metric ("distance"). In "isotonic" exercises the force applied to the muscle does not change (while the length of the muscle decreases or increases) while in "plyometric" exercises the length of the muscle stretches and contracts rapidly to increase the power output of a muscle. 

There appears to be some potential for creatine supplementation. However, many questions remain. Are there any long-term harmful effects from supplementation? Is there a point where enhanced performance levels off from long-term supplement usage? What effect does "stacking" or taking two ergogenic aids simultaneously have on the body? What happens if you immediately stop taking the creatine supplement? Is the enhanced performance great enough to warrant the expense of the supplement? Until further research answers these questions, creatine is not recommended for the average athlete.

“I would really focus on learning how macros work, how your body works and how it reacts to certain foods, and what your body requires each day to maintain your weight,” he advises. “Then you can start playing around with increasing calories [to bulk up], and decreasing calories when you're dieting.” Our beginner's guide to macros will definitely help.

For a 180 lb (82 kg) person, this translates to 25 g/day during the loading phase and 2.5 g/day afterward, although many users take 5 g/day due to the low price of creatine and the possibility of experiencing increased benefits. Higher doses (up to 10 g/day) may be beneficial for people with a high amount of muscle mass and high activity levels or for those who are non-responders to the lower 5 g/day dose.
Creatine supplementation may be able to enhance lifespan, secondary to increasing intracellular carnosine stores. Carnosine is the metabolic compound formed from beta-alanine supplementation, and in a mouse-model for premature aging (senescence-accelerated premature aging, SAMP8) creatine supplementation without any beta-alanine has been shown to increase cellular carnosine stores.[126] That being said, the aforemented SAMP8 study noted an increase in carnosine levels at middle age, but not old age in the mice.[126] A human study using 20g of creatine for one week in otherwise healthy people failed to find an increase in intracellular carnosine stores.[126]
Jager et al [60] observed 1.17 and 1.29 greater peak plasma creatine concentration 1 hour after ingesting creatine pyruvate compared to isomolar amount of CM and creatine citrate respectively. However time to peak concentration, and velocity constants of absorption and elimination, was the same for all three forms of creatine. Although not measured in this study it is questionable that these small differences in plasma creatine concentrations would have any effect on the increase of muscle creatine uptake. Jäger et al [61] investigated the effects of 28-days of creatine pyruvate and citrate supplementation on endurance capacity and power measured during an intermittent handgrip (15 s effort per 45s rest) exercise in healthy young athletes. The authors used a daily dose protocol with the intention to slowly saturate muscle creatine stores. Both forms of creatine showed slightly different effects on plasma creatine absorption and kinetics. The two creatine salts significantly increased mean power but only pyruvate forms showed significant effects for increasing force and attenuating fatigability during all intervals. These effects can be attributed to an enhanced contraction and relaxation velocity as well as a higher blood flow and muscle oxygen uptake. On the other hand, the power performance measured with the citrate forms decreases with time and improvements were not significant during the later intervals. In spite of these positive trends further research is required about the effects of these forms of creatine as there is little or no evidence for their safety and efficacy. Furthermore the regularity status of the novel forms of creatine vary from country to country and are often found to be unclear when compared to that of CM [62].
Bodybuilders do cardio training such as running and using a StairMaster StepMill to burn fat and make their muscles more visible. “Do cardio throughout the year at least three days a week for at least 30-40 minutes, whether it be first thing in the morning on an empty stomach or after a post-workout protein shake,” says Heath. “Cardio won’t kill your gains as much as you think, you’ll see how much muscle you really have.” Break a sweat to stay lean ’round the clock.
However, the basis of “take creatine after your workout” comes from a 2013 study published in the JISSN, which can be found here (open access too!). In this study, recreational male bodybuilders (19 men overall) were given five grams of creatine either before or after their workouts. They trained five days per week but were also directed to consume 5g on their rest days at any time they wanted. The workouts were fairly similar to most gym workouts, and the methodology (what they did and how they did it) suggests that the findings would apply to most weightlifters.

Creatine is used up as energy during high intensity exercise. Due to this usage, the amount of glucose required from glycogen is decreased a bit. This both preserves glycogen concentrations in skeletal muscle and reduces lactate production, which is produced when glucose is oxidized for energy. There do not appear to be any alterations in the bioenergetic status of muscle cells during low to moderate intensity exercise.

A pre-workout may contain a variety of different ingredients, but some common ones include caffeine (energy booster), citruline malate (fatigue killer), creatine (muscle recovery), and beta-alanine (reduces fatigue and gives increased feelings of sensation). If you find you are exhausted and need a little pick me up to power through your workouts, consider implementing a pre-workout supplement into your stack.
Start with the barbell on the supports of a power rack at about shoulder height. Grab the bar overhand and raise your elbows until your upper arms are parallel to the floor. Now lift the bar off the rack, letting it roll toward your fingers-this is where it should rest throughout the exercise (as long as you keep your elbows raised, you won’t have trouble balancing the bar) [1]. Squat as low as you can [2], and then drive with your legs to return to the starting position. That’s one rep.
Remember, this is for the extreme skinny guy...But I want you to start hitting a buffet once a week. Try and position this eating frenzy after a hard workout so that the majority of calories get shuttled into the muscles which will really help you pack on those pounds and gain weight in the right places. Don't go too overboard, but this will train your body to 'accept' more food and it will increase your appetite in the days to come. Take advantage of this strategy.
Creatine may preserve dopamine synthesis in the striatum of mice (while protecting against dopaminergic depletion) when fed to mice at 2% of the diet for one week prior to MPTP toxicity[230]. This is possibly secondary to increasing tyrosine hydroxylase activity, the rate-limiting step of dopamine biosynthesis.[210][235] Two percent creatine was as protective as 0.005% rofecoxib (a COX2 inhibitor), but the two were additive in their protective effects (highly synergistic in regard to DOPAC by normalizing it, but not synergistic in preserving HVA).[230]

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]


There is a great amount of research published on creatine supplementation; protocols of administration, forms of creatine, as well as potential side effects. Despite this, the mechanisms by which creatine acts in the human body to improve physical and cognitive performance are still not clear. The main objectives of this review are to analyze the more recent findings on the effects and mechanisms of creatine supplementation in sports and health. As a secondary purpose, we will analyze the most recommended protocols of ingestion and its potential side effects.
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(4):443-460. View abstract.
Weight training also requires the use of 'good form', performing the movements with the appropriate muscle group, and not transferring the weight to different body parts in order to move greater weight (called 'cheating'). Failure to use good form during a training set can result in injury or a failure to meet training goals; since the desired muscle group is not challenged sufficiently, the threshold of overload is never reached and the muscle does not gain in strength. At a particularly advanced level; however, "cheating" can be used to break through strength plateaus and encourage neurological and muscular adaptation.
This suppression of creatine synthesis is thought to actually be beneficial, since creatine synthesis requires s-adenosyl methionine as a cofactor and may use up to 40-50% of SAMe for methylation[35][36][122] (initially thought to be above 70%, but this has since been re-evaluated[122]) though the expected preservation of SAMe may not occur with supplementation.[487] Reduced creatine synthesis, via preserving methyl groups and trimethylglycine (which would normally be used up to synthesize SAMe), is also thought to suppress homocysteine levels in serum,[37] but this may also not occur to a practical level following supplementation.[487]
Chwalbinska-Monteta [34] observed a significant decrease in blood lactate accumulation when exercising at lower intensities as well as an increase in lactate threshold in elite male endurance rowers after consuming a short loading (5 days 20 g/d) CM protocol. However, the effects of creatine supplementation on endurance performance have been questioned by some studies. Graef et al [35] examined the effects of four weeks of creatine citrate supplementation and high-intensity interval training on cardio respiratory fitness. A greater increase of the ventilatory threshold was observed in the creatine group respect to placebo; however, oxygen consumption showed no significant differences between the groups. The total work presented no interaction and no main effect for time for any of the groups. Thompson et al [36] reported no effects of a 6 week 2 g CM/d in aerobic and anaerobic endurance performance in female swimmers. In addition, of the concern related to the dosage used in these studies, it could be possible that the potential benefits of creatine supplementation on endurance performance were more related to effects of anaerobic threshold localization.
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