In addition to adequate protein, you need more calories (your protein intake contributes to your total caloric intake, so these two go hand in hand). Use the following formula to calculate the number you need to take in daily to gain one pound a week, and break down your diet using the macro guidelines listed above. (Give yourself two weeks for results to show up on the scale. If you haven't gained by then, increase your calories by 500 a day.)
However, protein isn’t everything. Contrary to popular belief, carbohydrates and calories from fats are also important. To gain muscle, people who are slender or scrawny need to create a calorie surplus in order to bulk up. That means you need proteins and plenty of healthy carbs, vegetables and even some fats (think healthy fats like nuts, avocado, olive oil, etc.). Carbohydrates play a key role in building muscle. This macronutrient has gotten a bad rap for making people fat. However, if you work out properly, eating plenty of carbs is in your best interest. After training, it’s ideal to ingest some carbs in combination with protein to help replenish your muscles’ glycogen stores.
Sculthorpe et al (2010) has shown that a 5 day (25g/d) loading protocol of creatine supplementation followed by a further 3 days of 5 g/d negatively influence both active ankle dorsiflexion and shoulder abduction and extension range of movement (ROM) in young men. There are two possible theories to explain these effects: 1) Creatine supplementation increases intracellular water content resulting in increased muscle stiffness and resistance to stretch; 2) Neural outflow from the muscle spindles is affected due to an increased volume of the muscle cell. The authors highlight that the active ROM measures were taken immediately after the loading phase and the reduced active ROM may not be seen after several weeks of maintenance phase . Hile et al  observed an increase in compartment pressure in the anterior compartment of the lower leg, which may also have been responsible for a reduced active ROM.
How to Take It: So, you want to give it a go? How much should you take and what should you look for in a supplement? Definitely opt for creatine monohydrate, as it performs better in studies than other varieties, as mentioned above. A standard dose is about 5 grams a day. You can try taking this muscle builder for about 4 weeks to boost your levels. Following this time, you can either cut out creatine or lower to a maintenance dose of 3-5 grams per day. However, you’ll notice if you read the fine print that subjects in studies often have a loading phase of five days where the dosage is upped to 20 g per day, prior to adopting a standard dose (7, 8).
Post workout, it’s important to restore your body’s energy by consuming protein and carbs. When you’re trying to build muscle, this is an especially important step. Protein powder is a great muscle builder for your post-workout routine, as long as you include a carbohydrate as well. You can get this by eating a banana or adding oats or banana to your protein shake. Or simply cook up a batch of healthy oatmeal muffins and include protein powder in your recipe. Then, enjoy your post-workout supplement as a delicious snack!
Another study tested male subjects performing two bouts of 30 second isokinetic cycling before and after ingesting 20 g creatine monohydrate daily for 5 days. Work production improved about 4%. Cumulative increases in both peak and total work production over the two exercise bouts were positively correlated with the increase in muscle creatine .
Genetic deficiencies in the creatine biosynthetic pathway lead to various severe neurological defects. Clinically, there are three distinct disorders of creatine metabolism. Deficiencies in the two synthesis enzymes can cause L-arginine:glycine amidinotransferase deficiency caused by variants in GATM and guanidinoacetate methyltransferase deficiency, caused by variants in GAMT. Both biosynthetic defects are inherited in an autosomal recessive manner. A third defect, creatine transporter defect, is caused by mutations in SLC6A8 and inherited in a X-linked manner. This condition is related to the transport of creatine into the brain.
While the number of reps you do per set is important, of equal importance is the total number of reps you do per muscle group. The National Strength and Conditioning Association has determined that, to maximize growth, you need approximately 20–70 total reps per muscle group. Depending on which end of a rep range you’re working, this can be done in one session or over a few days (a training week, for instance), but that’s the spread you need to cover to see gains.
When you’re planning your high-protein meals, 20 grams of protein is the optimal amount generally accepted for muscle growth. Research has found that the body doesn’t use much more than 20 grams for muscle-building at any one sitting. Around 80 grams of protein per day (or, four meals containing 20-grams of protein each) is about right for most people.
There’s no need to go overboard on creatine intake, though, in search of crazy muscle growth: “The maximum amount of creatine that you can hold depends on the amount of muscle mass you have,” explains Bates. “So if you have more muscle, then your body can store more creatine. In general, the muscle can hold about 2 to 3 g of creatine per kilogram of muscle mass. So the amount of creatine you use will depend on the amount of muscle mass you have.” (7)
I mean the first two ‘BS’ items focal point is lifting heavy, and then immediately the article goes into Step 1 – focus on 5-10 rep and 6-8 rep (heavier sets) — given we’re not powerlifting 1 rep or 3 rep max. Generally 6 rep sets we’re lifting heavy still… Does have a lot of good general info, but to me it almost feels like the bullet points of what supposedly not to do is actually a table of contents of what Jason is recommending we do do throughout the article…
If you’re a beginner, you should train with three full-body workouts per week. In each one, do a compound pushing movement (like a bench press), a compound pulling movement (like a chinup), and a compound lower-body exercise (squat, trap-bar deadlift, for example). If you want to add in 1–2 other exercises like loaded carries or kettlebell swings as a finisher, that’s fine, but three exercises is enough to work the whole body.
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.
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.
Naturally produced in the kidneys, pancreas and liver, creatine is transported to muscle tissue where it is transformed into creatine phosphate, from which the energy molecule ATP is produced to regenerate the muscles' ability to contract and generate power during short-burst (anaerobic) activity. This translates to more productive workouts and faster muscle growth.
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.
Older women with knee osteoarthritis given supplemental creatine at 20g for five days followed by 5g for the rest of the twelve week trial experienced improvements in stiffness (52% reduction), pain (45%), and physical function (41%) as assessed by WOMAC, despite no improvements in physical power output relative to placebo. This study paired supplementation and placebo with a mild exercise regimen.
Ancient Greek sculptures also depict lifting feats. The weights were generally stones, but later gave way to dumbbells. The dumbbell was joined by the barbell in the later half of the 19th century. Early barbells had hollow globes that could be filled with sand or lead shot, but by the end of the century these were replaced by the plate-loading barbell commonly used today.
Naturo Nitro Creatine Chrome is an interesting choice for bulking. During the bulking process, many athletes lament losing muscle definition and feeling bloated. The magnesium creatine chelate in Naturo Nitro may help to counteract that effect as there’s some evidence that it could potentially improve performance without adding water weight. If you want to bulk but you want to keep definition, this may be worth considering.
The general sentiment among nutrition experts is that creatine monohydrate is, for most people, the best bet. It’s the cheapest form and more importantly, it’s the most well-researched. Hundreds of studies have been performed on creatine monohydrate and there’s no evidence of ill effects, whereas many of the more novel forms of creatine have one or sometimes no studies supporting them.
Our bodies store creatine in our muscles so that we have quick access to it for fast, high-intensity movements, like sprinting or powerlifting, explains Autumn Bates, a certified clinical nutritionist and sports nutritionist in private practice in Manhattan Beach, California. “It's a nonessential amino acid, meaning your body creates it and you don't need to primarily get it from food.”
In the United States, the manufacturers of dietary supplements do not need to provide the Food and Drug Administration with evidence of product safety prior to marketing. As a result, the incidence of products adulterated with illegal ingredients has continued to rise. In 2013, one-third of the supplements tested were adulterated with unlisted steroids. More recently, the prevalence of designer steroids with unknown safety and pharmacological effects has increased.
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. It may also be recommended that a weight lifter simply breathes in a manner which feels appropriate.
The lower the rep range (and therefore the higher the intensity and the heavier the weight), the more rest there should be between sets. So most of the time, exercises being done in the 5-8 rep range need longer rest periods than exercises being done in the 8-10 rep range, which need longer rest periods than exercises being done in the 10-15 rep range.
We’ll be talking more about this later, but for now, just give it a shot! In strength training you can see your progress so clearly that as you can do more and more, you’ll also be rewarded by seeing your strength progress from level 1 to level 50! If you aren’t a fan of the downtime, put on a book on tape or throw on your favorite playlist while circuit training to ensure you’re always moving (instead of sitting and waiting in between sets).
Take time to rest. To give your muscles time to recover, rest one full day between exercising each specific muscle group. You might choose to work the major muscle groups at a single session two or three times a week, or plan daily sessions for specific muscle groups. For example, on Monday work your arms and shoulders, on Tuesday work your legs, and so on.
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.
Peirano, R. I., Achterberg, V., Dusing, H. J., Akhiani, M., Koop, U., Jaspers, S., Kruger, A., Schwengler, H., Hamann, T., Wenck, H., Stab, F., Gallinat, S., and Blatt, T. Dermal penetration of creatine from a face-care formulation containing creatine, guarana and glycerol is linked to effective antiwrinkle and antisagging efficacy in male subjects. J.Cosmet.Dermatol. 2011;10:273-281. View abstract.
The biggest mistake among young would-be bodybuilders is overdoing it, followed by not learning the proper techniques. Take those breaks and follow the correct form, or you'll give your body stress and injuries instead of muscle. Also make sure you're getting a large but balanced diet. Teens going through growth spurts need lots of food, especially when they're working out.
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!
Foundational supplements are often overlooked for building muscle, because they work behind the scenes. In actuality, foundational supplements are important to take for building muscle, because they assist with overall health and wellness and contribute to the effectiveness of other muscle building supplements.* Some of the top foundational supplements are:
A: No. You should ensure that the squat and hinge motor pattern are both emphasized but other variations (front squat, sumo deadlift, safety bar squat, Romanian deadlift) should be included until you can master technique on the more advanced variations. For more information on exercise progressions and regressions see this article: Train Like An Athlete, Look Like a Bodybuilder.
How much of a difference does EPOC make? Well, in one research study of young women, basal metabolic rate spiked by 4.2 percent 16 hours following a strength-training session that lasted an hour and 40 minutes—the equivalent of burning an extra 60 calories, on average. That’s a long workout, and 60 extra calories isn’t exactly huge. Plus, EPOC is not a permanent boost. Research suggests it may last anywhere from 12 hours to a few days, depending on the workout and who is doing it. The calories you burn through EPOC can add up over time, especially if you’re lifting weights three or four times a week, but all in all, it doesn’t have a very big effect on your metabolism.
However, in the beginning weeks of starting a new workout routine, the majority of strength gains aren't actually a result of this muscle protein synthesis and hypertrophy. Rather, they are a result of the body's neurological system learning when and how to fire the needed muscle cells, explains Abbie E. Smith-Ryan, associate professor of exercise physiology at the department of exercise and sport science at the University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill. Think of it this way: The first time you perform a new exercise, say a bench press, you likely feel pretty shaky. Your arms aren't totally in sync and the weights may sway a bit from side to side. But by the time you perform your second or third set of that same exercise, the practice gets a little smoother. That's your neurological system at work.
So it was popular then, but is it effective now? Just because something is popular doesn’t mean it works. In the case of creatine supplementation, however, you can be confident that increased muscle strength and less fatigue is possible. All thanks to a critical chemical reaction taking place in your muscle cells. Read on and learn how creatine works and why it lives up to that nostalgic ‘90s hype.
Bench Press. The bench press is about as American as apple pie, fireworks, or bald eagles. If you’re in a gym on a Monday, then you can pretty guarantee at least 85% of the males in the building will be benching. With good reason though, variations such as the flat bench barbell or dumbbell press and the incline bench barbell or dumbbell press are very effective mass builders for the chest, shoulders, and triceps.
Rheumatoid arthritis. Early research shows that taking creatine by mouth daily increases lean muscle mass and may improve muscle strength, but does not improve physical functioning in adults with rheumatoid arthritis. In children, taking a specific supplement containing creatine and fatty acids twice daily for 30 days might reduce pain and swelling. But the effects of creatine alone are not clear.
A: Depending upon your experience level, preference, recovery capacity, and time available, you’ll likely find that 3-5 strength training sessions per week is the sweet spot. If you’re just getting started with weight training, then you should stick with 3 days per week and work your way up. Novices and early intermediates can handle 4 days per week with a split such as an upper lower and seasoned intermediate lifters may be able to handle 5 sessions per week depending upon the programming, recovery, and nutrition strategies that are in place.
The main consequence to using weight training exercises is the increase in muscle strength that you'll develop over time. You'll also develop stronger bones as well as gain a better general posture. In short, maintaining good muscle strength will allow your body to move more freely from the moment you wake up in the morning to the moment you fall asleep at night.
Volek, J. S., Ratamess, N. A., Rubin, M. R., Gomez, A. L., French, D. N., McGuigan, M. M., Scheett, T. P., Sharman, M. J., Hakkinen, K., and Kraemer, W. J. The effects of creatine supplementation on muscular performance and body composition responses to short-term resistance training overreaching. Eur.J.Appl.Physiol 2004;91(5-6):628-637. 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.
Without a doubt, you can add muscle simply by eating right and lifting weights. But to truly maximize your growth potential, supplements are a requirement. Hence, we've compiled a rundown of the 11 best mass-gain supplements on which to spend your hard-earned cash. They're listed in order of priority, from the absolute most critical, can't-do-without supplements to the less crucial yet still highly effective ingredients for packing on size. The point is to help those on a tight budget decide which supplements to buy. If money is no object, then by all means knock yourself out and use them all as directed. Because after all, as far as we're concerned, you can never have too much muscle.
1. Train each muscle group twice per week. To maximize muscle growth, plan to train every major muscle group at least twice per week. According to a 2016 Sports Medicine review, even if you don't work that muscle any harder or longer, by simply dividing your chest, leg or back workout into two days, you'll spur more muscle growth. While the jury is still out on whether training each muscle group three days per week is better than two at spurring hypertrophy, it is likely better suited toward experienced lifters than beginners, Matheny says.
Creatine concentration is normally increased in the placenta and brain in the midgestation phase until term, with further increases in the brain for another two weeks after birth. This effect appears to be due to the fetus itself expressing the creatine enzymes of synthesis (AGAT and GAMT) after 5% of the gestation time has passed (0.9 days in spiny mice). Despite creatine normally suppressing AGAT when supplemented at high concentrations, it appears that maternal supplementation of the diet with 5% creatine from the halfway point of pregnancy until term does not alter creatine synthesis in the newborn (no alterations in either AGAT or GAMT), nor does it affect the creatine transporter.
Weight training has also been shown to benefit dieters as it inhibits lean body mass loss (as opposed to fat loss) when under a caloric deficit. Weight training also strengthens bones, helping to prevent bone loss and osteoporosis. By increasing muscular strength and improving balance, weight training can also reduce falls by elderly persons. Weight training is also attracting attention for the benefits it can have on the brain, and in older adults, a 2017 meta analysis found that it was effective in improving cognitive performance.
One study lasting 16 months using 10g creatine daily alongside the pharmaceutical riluzole noted that, after 34 of the patients died from ALS, creatine failed to exert protective effects against ALS-related mortality (adjusted hazard ratio of 0.78 with a 95% CI of 0.47–1.48). A smaller study measuring only eight deaths noted that the six in placebo (relative to two in creatine) was too small of a sample size to detect a statistically significant difference. A nonsignificant trend to increase survival has been noted elsewhere with 5g of creatine daily with a similar ratio: 3 deaths in placebo to 1 death in creatine.
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.
A muscle imbalance—when one muscle is stronger than its opposing muscle—can limit your ability to exercise effectively, and could lead to injury down the line. “It’s important to recognize whether you’re really working the muscles you think you are and recognize if you’ve developed an imbalance that alters your movement pattern,” says Eric Ingram, physical therapist at Louisiana Physical Therapy Centers of Pineville. One common imbalance in women is stronger quads and weaker, tighter hamstrings, thanks to prolonged sitting, high heels, and improper training. If you suspect you have a muscle imbalance, make an appointment with a physical therapist, who will prescribe exercises to even you out.
Studies conducted in vegetarians tend to show cognitive enhancement in youth, possibly due to a creatine deficiency, as compared to omnivores. Vegetarian diets have lower levels of circulating creatine prior to supplementation, but attain similar circulating levels as omnivores when both groups supplement. Building on the latter, supplementation of creatine monohydrate in a loading protocol (20g daily in orange juice) in omnivores does not alter levels of creatine in white matter tissue in the brain (test subjects: competitive athletes). In most of the parameters that vegetarians experience benefits, omnivores fail to experience statistically significant benefits, except possibly when sleep deprived, where the cognitive improvements rival that seen in vegetarians. Elderly people who are omnivorous may also experience increases in cognition to a similar level, in regard to long-term memory as well as forward number and spatial recall, although the study in question failed to find any significant benefit on backward recall or random number generation, the latter of which is a test for executive working memory.
Weight training also provides functional benefits. Stronger muscles improve posture, provide better support for joints, and reduce the risk of injury from everyday activities. Older people who take up weight training can prevent some of the loss of muscle tissue that normally accompanies aging—and even regain some functional strength—and by doing so, become less frail. They may be able to avoid some types of physical disability. Weight-bearing exercise also helps to prevent osteoporosis. The benefits of weight training for older people have been confirmed by studies of people who began engaging in it even in their eighties and nineties.
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. Postmenopausal women, people with type II diabetes, people on hemodialysis, otherwise healthy elderly, young people, and athletes do not experience kidney damage either. 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. 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.
When assessing the antioxidant effects of creatine, it does not appear to sequester superoxide and may not be a direct antioxidant. Additionally, creatine failed to protect neurons from H2O2 incubation to induce cell death via pro-oxidative means. These results are in contrast to previously recorded results suggesting creatine acts as a direct anti-oxidant.