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.
When it comes to building muscle, there are numerous theories, methods, and preferences. Whether the goal is improved health, aesthetics, performance, or a combination of all three, there is no shortage of advice to help you get there. So much so that it can sometimes become overly complicated and you forget about the basic facts. But, it’s simpler than it seems.
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Related to exercise and fitness, BCAAs are taken to help reduce muscle breakdown, which is why they may be known as muscle building supplements. Leucine, in particular, is known for playing an important role in muscle protein synthesis, which can help with muscle gain and maintenance. Some also claim that BCAAs can enhance performance, although many studies also refute this claim.
This claim has not been demonstrated at this time, and a recent comparative study of buffered creatine against basic creatine monohydrate found no significant differences between the two in 36 resistance trained individuals, in regard to the effects or the accumulation of creatine in muscle tissue. There also were no significant differences in the amount of adverse side-effects reported.
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. This is possibly secondary to increasing tyrosine hydroxylase activity, the rate-limiting step of dopamine biosynthesis. 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).
Lung disease (Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). Early research on the effects of creatine in people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is inconsistent. Some research suggests that taking creating daily does not improve lung function. However, other research suggests that taking creatine may improve lung function or exercise capacity.
Men appear to have higher active creatine-kinase systems, and racial differences favor black people over hispanic people over white people in terms of the activity of the creatine-kinase system. This system is more variable in men, independent of supplementation. Exercise may increase the activity of the creatine-kinase system independent of supplementation.
For the sake of mental focus, it’s best to keep any carbs you eat low during the day when you’re working and active and get the lion’s share of them at night with dinner. A typical breakfast could include eggs, yogurt, and fruit, or a shake, and lunch could be meat or fish and steamed veggies. For dinner, have meat or fish again, along with sweet potatoes or rice, and vegetables.
For the bench press, start with a weight that you can lift comfortably. If you are a beginner, try lifting the bar along with 5lbs or 10lbs on each side. With arms at shoulder-width apart, grab onto the bar and slowly lower the bar until it's at nipple level; push up until your arms are fully extended upwards. Do 8–10 repetitions (reps) like this for three sets (3 x 8), adding additional weight each set. Once you have a few months of practice, slowly increase weight and go down to 6–8 reps per set, aiming to reach muscle failure at the end of the third set.
Creatine has been investigated for its effects on depression, due to the significant changes occurring in brain morphology and neuronal structure associated with depression and low brain bioenergetic turnover in depression, perhaps related to abnormal mitochondrial functioning, which reduces available energy for the brain. The general association of low or otherwise impaired phosphate energy systems (of which creatine forms the energetic basis of) with depression, has been noted previously. Due to associations with cellular death and impaired bioenergetics with depression, creatine was subsequently investigated.
The bulking and cutting strategy is effective because there is a well-established link between muscle hypertrophy and being in a state of positive energy balance. A sustained period of caloric surplus will allow the athlete to gain more fat-free mass than they could otherwise gain under eucaloric conditions. Some gain in fat mass is expected, which athletes seek to oxidize in a cutting period while maintaining as much lean mass as possible.
After all, you’ve probably seen the countless workouts, diets, supplements, programs, products and people claiming that super fast muscle growth is possible. You’ve probably also seen the click-bait headlines (“How To Build 20lbs Of Muscle In Just 6 Weeks!”) and the unbelievable transformations of supposedly “natural” people (bodybuilders, celebrities, athletes, fitness gurus on social media, etc.) that clearly prove it can happen faster than this.
It was later noted that creatine was able to nonsignificantly augment various proinflammatory cytokines (CCL2, iNOS, ICAM-1, TGF-β, TIMP-1) and the presence of eosinophils in lung tissue, as well as to per se cause lung infiltration of these immune cells without requiring the presence of the allergen. Neutrophils and macrophages were unaffected, reflecting the past study of no influence on macrophages, but the only instance where creatine appeared to either significantly add to ovalbumin or to per se induce statistically significant increases were in IL-5 secretion and goblet cell infiltration, although VCAM-1 expression was close. While creatine per se increased nF-κB activity, it suppressed the ovalbumin-induced increase.
Vegetarians and other people who have lower total creatine levels when they start taking creatine supplements seem to get more benefit than people who start with a higher level of creatine. Skeletal muscle will only hold a certain amount of creatine; adding more won't raise levels any more. This "saturation point" is usually reached within the first few days of taking a "loading dose."
In the stomach, creatine can degrade by about 13% due to the digestive hormone pepsin, as assessed by simulated digestion. Although creatinine is a known byproduct of creatine degradation, simulated gastric digestion did not increase creatinine levels, indicating that other breakdown products were formed. However, creatinine was noted to increase in the presence of pancreatin, a mixture of pancreatic enzymes.
The creatine kinase (CK) enzyme in rat heart tissue appears to have a KM around 6mM of creatine as substrate. and is known to positively influence mitochondrial function as higher cytoplasmic phosphocreatine concentrations (not so much creatine per se) increase the oxidative efficiency of mitochondria This is thought to be due to the transfer of high energy phosphate groups.
Furthermore, because creatine can help restore ATP levels, increasing energy, it can lead to reduced amounts of heart muscle stress. More energy in your life will result in less pain, stress, and boost morale in everyday life which has a significant role in improving heart health. The increased capacity to exercise is also crucial in maintaining and improving heart health.
“Don't get set into one form, adapt it and build your own, and let it grow. Be like water. Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless — like water. Now you put water in a cup, it becomes the cup; You put water into a bottle it becomes the bottle; You put it in a teapot it becomes the teapot. Now water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.” Bruce Lee
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 isolated striatal cells (expressing creatine kinase), seven day incubation of 5mM creatine (maximal effective dose) appears to increase the density of GABAergic neurons and DARPP-32 (biomarker for spiny neurons) with only a minor overall trend for all cells and showed increased GABA uptake into these cells, as well as providing protection against oxygen and glucose deprivation.
Forbes, S. C., Sletten, N., Durrer, C., Myette-Côté, E , Candow, D., & Little, J. P. (2017, June). Creatine monohydrate supplementation does not augment fitness, performance, or body composition adaptations in response to four weeks of high-intensity interval training in young females. Human Kinetics Journals, 27(3), 285-292. Retrieved from http://journals.humankinetics.com/doi/abs/10.1123/ijsnem.2016-0129
The creatine kinase system appears to be detectable in endothelial cells. Under basal conditions, creatine itself is expressed at around 2.85+/-0.62μM (three-fold higher than HUVEC cells). When incubating the medium with 0.5mM creatine, endothelial cells can take up creatine via the creatine transporter (SLC6A8) and increase both creatine (almost doubling) and phosphocreatine (nearly 2.5-fold) concentrations.
de Salles Painelli V, Alves VT, Ugrinowitsch C, et al. Creatine supplementation prevents acute strength loss induced by concurrent exercise. Eur J Appl Physiol 2014;114:1749-55.del Favero S, Roschel H, Artioli G, et al. Creatine but not betaine supplementation increases muscle phosphorylcreatine content and strength performance. Amino Acids 2012;42:2299-305. View abstract.
Prohormones are precursors to hormones and are most typically sold to bodybuilders as a precursor to the natural hormone testosterone. This conversion requires naturally occurring enzymes in the body. Side effects are not uncommon, as prohormones can also convert further into DHT and estrogen. To deal with this, many supplements also have aromatase inhibitors and DHT blockers such as chrysin and 4-androstene-3,6,17-trione. To date most prohormone products have not been thoroughly studied, and the health effects of prolonged use are unknown. Although initially available over the counter, their purchase was made illegal without a prescription in the US in 2004, and they hold similar status in many other countries. They remain legal, however, in the United Kingdom and the wider European Union. Their use is prohibited by most sporting bodies.
Now, while all three are definitely beneficial to the process, I’d consider metabolic stress and muscular damage to be of secondary and tertiary importance, respectively. In addition, they are also things that will pretty much take care of themselves when implementing the workout guidelines and recommendations we’ve already covered (namely for volume, rep ranges, rest periods and exercise selection).
In regard to liver fat buildup (steatosis), which is normally associated with reduced availability of S-adenosyl methionine and a suppression in expression of genes involved in fatty acid oxidation (PPARα and CPT1), creatine supplementation at 1% of the rat diet alongside a diet that induces fatty liver is able to fully prevent (and nonsignificantly reduce relative to the control given standard diets) the aforementioned changes and the state of steatosis, as well as changes in serum biomarkers (glucose and insulin) that accompany steatosis.
Great! Start with strength training 🙂 When you’re overweight, my guess is that you want to be preserving the muscle you have while losing the majority of your weight through fat. With strength training, your overall weight loss may seem slower, but you will lose inches faster. Strength training increases your metabolism; as long as you’re still eating in a deficit, you’ll lose weight.
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A recent review article published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition highlighted the benefits of protein supplementation and showed that supplementing with protein during prolonged (greater than 6 weeks) resistance-type training can lead to significantly greater increases in muscle mass and strength when compared to resistance training without a dietary protein intervention.
“Compared to training for strength, intensity is going to drop during the hypertrophy phase of a program, with intensity sitting between 50 and 75 percent of the person’s 1RM, the maximum weight he or she can lift for one rep,” says Ava Fitzgerald, C.S.C.S., C.P.T., a sports performance coach with the Professional Athletic Performance Center in New York.
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.
A commercially available pre-workout formula comprised of 2.05 g of caffeine, taurine and glucuronolactone, 7.9 g of L-leucine, L-valine, L-arginine and L-glutamine, 5 g of di-creatine citrate and 2.5 g of β-alanine mixed with 500 ml of water taken 10 minutes prior to exercise has been shown to enhance time to exhaustion during moderate intensity endurance exercise and to increase feelings of focus, energy and reduce subjective feelings of fatigue before and during endurance exercise due to a synergistic effect of the before mentioned ingredients . The role of creatine in this formulation is to provide a neuroprotective function by enhancing the energy metabolism in the brain tissue, promoting antioxidant activities, improving cerebral vasculation and protecting the brain from hyperosmotic shock by acting as a brain cell osmolyte. Creatine can provide other neuroprotective benefits through stabilisation of mitochondrial membranes, stimulation of glutamate uptake into synaptic vesicles and balance of intracellular calcium homeostasis .
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 .
1. Are you tracking calories? Doesn't have to be religiously but one should have a general idea of where they're at if the goal is mass gain and things have stalled. I'm not talking about weighing every gram of food you put in your mouth and meticulously logging your life on MyFitnessPal. As long as you're aware (within 100-200 calories) of what's going in, you should have an idea of what to adjust.
Do you know what happens when a person attempts to build muscle faster than they legitimately can? They fail, and then they wonder why it’s not working as quickly as they thought it would. From there, they’ll jump from workout to workout, diet to diet and useless supplement to useless supplement in the hopes of finally finding the missing link that will make it happen. But they’re never going to find it. They’ll just keep wasting their time, effort and money searching for something that doesn’t exist.
Transparent Labs’ Creatine HMB really did their homework. The HMB, which stands for hydroxymethylbutyrate, is the main metablite in the branched chain amino acid leucine that prevents the breakdown of muscle protein. Translation: it helps you to retain muscle, and it appears to do so more effectively than leucine alone. One bonus is that combining HMB with creatine also appears to increase strength better than taking either supplement alone. Plus, the blue raspberry flavor is delicious and contains no artificial sweeteners.
Translation: your muscles are going to have more energy. The process of accessing that energy is so complicated, you almost need an organic chemistry degree to totally understand it. Yes, it’s complicated, but completely necessary for biochemical reactions like muscle contractions. And the more your muscle works, the more ATP is depleted and needs to be replaced for you to make progress toward your goals. With creatine supplementation, you can enhance your ATP regeneration and thus delay onset of muscle fatigue and work more intensely for a longer period of time. Little goes a long way in the pursuit of muscle gains.
MuscleTech Cell-Tech could also be a solid pick for muscle growth. Detractors may not be a fan of the artificial ingredients, but there is evidence that including carbohydrates and alpha-lipoic acid with creatine may increase muscle creatine content. That said, this product uses a little less alpha-lipoic acid than was used in the study suggesting this synergistic effect.
If you stop getting the results you want after several weeks of working out, it's time to mix things up. You need to challenge or "confuse" your muscles often to keep them growing. You can do this by putting a twist on your basic moves. Do a biceps curl with a reverse grip, for example. Or find a bench for the step-up move shown here. Change up your workout at least every 4 to 6 weeks for the best results.
A loading phase of 10g creatine monohydrate for two weeks and 4g for the final week in subjects with MELAS (Mitochondrial Encephalomyopathy Lactic Acidosis and Stroke-like episodes) has been noted to increase physical strength relative to baseline, although the poor VO2 max seen in these subjects was not affected. A case study exists in which a patient with a relatively novel mutation in their mitochondrial function (affecting cytochrome B) experienced benefits from creatine at 10g daily. Researchers examining another case of MELAS found both cognitive and physical benefits with 5g creatine supplementation, while four controlled case studies of 100-200mg/kg daily in children with myopathies found improved muscular endurance (30-57%) and muscular power (8-17%) after 100-200mg/kg daily for at least three months.
This is why I never understand why girls who don’t want to “get bulky” are told by trainers to do 3 sets of 10-12 (or 5 sets of 1,000 reps of bicep curls with a 1 lb pink dumbbell). While it’s difficult for women to gain any sort of size lifting in ANY rep range, if we were trying to gain muscle size, that’s EXACTLY what we would want to do (as it would be causing sarcoplasmic hypertrophy).
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.
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. Glutathione (normally decreases with exercise) and catalase (increases) were both unaffected, 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) when RBC creatine was increased by 12.3% to reach 554µM. 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%.
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.
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.
Recently, studies are coming out that show a general decline in testosterone levels of men in the United States and around the world. The trend is across the board and doesn’t appear to be caused simply by a decline in health, aging or an increase in obesity rates. It could be caused because of chemicals or environmental factors. In any case, low levels of testosterone can affect many areas of your health, including your ability to build muscle. If you suspect that you have low testosterone levels, you can ask your doctor to test you for it. In addition to traditional hormone therapies, there are also many natural ways to boost your levels including through supplements, some of which will be discussed later in this article.
Hopefully I didn’t put a big damper on your Captain-America fueled dreams! I just want to set proper expectations so you don’t get discouraged with slow progress, and instead get SUPER encouraged with any progress. Getting strong should be freakin’ fun! Weirdly enough, once I stopped trying to get there quickly is when I started to actually make permanent progress.