Still, any supplement should be used carefully and after discussion with a dietitian or doctor. There are some potential health risks and side effects that you should be aware of before taking creatine. Muscle cramping, nausea, diarrhea, dizziness, gastrointestinal pain, dehydration, weight gain, water retention, heat intolerance, and fever have all been linked to the supplement. (13)
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Using too much weight, too soon; always start lower than your expected ability and work your way up that first workout. If your form suffers, you are swinging the weight, or using momentum, this indicates you may be using too much weight. Greater momentum increases the potential for injury and reduces the effectiveness to the muscle group being targeted.

In regard to practical interventions, concurrent glycogen loading has been noted to increase creatine stores by 37-46% regardless of whether the tissue was exercised prior to loading phase.[176] It is important to note, however, that creatine levels in response to the creatine loading protocol were compared in one glycogen-depleted leg to the contralateral control leg, which was not exercised.[176] This does not rule out a possible systemic exercise-driven increase in creatine uptake, and the increase in creatine noted above[176] was larger than typically seen with a loading protocol (usually in the 20-25% range). Consistent with an exercise-effect, others have reported that exercise itself increases creatine uptake into muscle, reporting 68% greater creatine uptake in an exercised limb, relative to 14% without exercise.[153]
Some protein powders are loaded with junk. We recommend this grass-fed protein isolate because it is a non-GMO product and contains no artificial sweeteners. It is a US-based product, and the whey protein is cultivated from American cows. With 28 grams of protein in one scoop, one spoonful of this powder may provide the equivalent protein profile of a whole meal. What’s even better is that one scoop is only 120 calories. This powder gives you quite a bit of protein for minimal calories, keeping you lean.
The incidence of liver damage from herbal and dietary supplements is about 16–20% of all supplement products causing injury, with the occurrence growing globally over the early 21st century.[2] The most common liver injuries from weight loss and bodybuilding supplements involve hepatocellular damage with resulting jaundice, and the most common supplement ingredients attributed to these injuries are catechins from green tea, anabolic steroids, and the herbal extract, aegeline.[2]

Put simply, "strength training means using resistance to create work for your muscles," says Hannah Davis, C.S.C.S. and author of Operation Bikini Body. So even if your mind jumps straight to those hardcore machines and massive weights, there are a lot of ways to create this resistance that require minimal equipment (or none at all). Bodyweight workouts can be an incredibly effective way to strength train. Squats and push-ups FTW. You can also use tools like dumbbells, medicine balls, TRX bands, resistance bands, kettlebells, and slider disks, to help get the job done, explains Davis. But if that sounds like gibberish don't worry about it. Keep it simple and focus on equipment-free routines first. No matter what you do, the most important thing is to find something that challenges you, says Davis.
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.[38]
CONDITIONS OF USE AND IMPORTANT INFORMATION: This information is meant to supplement, not replace advice from your doctor or healthcare provider and is not meant to cover all possible uses, precautions, interactions or adverse effects. This information may not fit your specific health circumstances. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice from your doctor or other qualified health care provider because of something you have read on WebMD. You should always speak with your doctor or health care professional before you start, stop, or change any prescribed part of your health care plan or treatment and to determine what course of therapy is right for you.
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.
Cribb et al (2007) [29] observed greater improvements on 1RM, lean body mass, fiber cross sectional area and contractile protein in trained young males when resistance training was combined with a multi-nutrient supplement containing 0.1 g/kg/d of creatine, 1.5 g/kg/d of protein and carbohydrate compared with protein alone or a protein carbohydrate supplement without the creatine. These findings were novel because at the time no other research had noted such improvements in body composition at the cellular and sub cellular level in resistance trained participants supplementing with creatine. The amount of creatine consumed in the study by Cribb et al was greater than the amount typically reported in previous studies (a loading dose of around 20 g/d followed by a maintenance dose of 3-5 g/d is generally equivalent to approximately 0.3 g/kg/d and 0.03 g/kg/d respectively) and the length of the supplementation period or absence of resistance exercise may explain the observed transcriptional level changes that were absent in previous studies [30,31].

The first published results (not blinded) noted that a loading phase of 20g of creatine for a week, followed by 3g daily for up to six months, was able to enhance maximal voluntary isometric muscular contraction (MVIC) on a dynamometer for both the knee and elbow joints, with enhanced fatigue resistance on the same joints in more than half of subjects (53-70% response rate).[545]
If you want to take creatine as a supplement for bigger and stronger muscles, then the standard protocol is to have a “loading period” where you significantly increase your creatine intake for a few days or weeks. “This can prime your muscles to increase the amount of creatine that they ‘hold,’” explains Bates. “During the loading period, you generally take 5 g of creatine four times per day. After the loading period, you decrease the amount of creatine you take to a ‘maintenance’ level of 3 to 5 g per day.” (That’s also the recommendation from the International Society of Sports Nutrition.) (5)
Some ingredients found in dietary supplements marketed for bodybuilding or performance enhancement—such as whey protein, creatine, and caffeine—generally aren’t associated with any serious safety concerns (when used appropriately). However, they still have the potential for side effects. Before you take any dietary supplement, talk to your healthcare provider. You also can read the articles below about some of these ingredients:
Creatine is used and researched in a clinical setting to investigate various pathologies or disorders such as myopathies [3,4] and is also used as an ergogenic aid for improving health and sports performance in athletes [5]. As an oral supplement, the most widely used and researched form is creatine monohydrate (CM). When orally ingested, CM has shown to improve exercise performance and increase fat free mass [5-9].
Creatine is involved indirectly in whole body methylation processes. This is due to creatine synthesis having a relatively large methyl cost, as the creatine precursor known as guanidinoacetate (GAA) requires a methyl donation from S-adenosyl methionine (SAMe) in order to produce creatine. This may require up to half of the methyl groups available in the human body.[35][122]
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] 
In a later study, it was found that biologically relevant concentrations (10-30mM) of creatine bind synthetic membranes with lipid compositions mimicking the inner mitochondrial membrane or plasma membrane in a concentration-dependent manner. This also conferred a degree of protection, increasing membrane stability in response to challenge from a number of destabilizing agents. Phosphocreatine was more effective than creatine in this context, although both were able to bind and stabilize membranes.[119]
Increasing creatine levels in skeletal muscle to 687% of baseline (0.5mM creatine, thought to be equivalent to 5g creatine[135]) doesn’t seem to per se increase glucose uptake, but increases glucose oxidation (140% of baseline)[341] which is due to a two-fold increase in the activity of α1 and α2 subunits of AMPK, a potency comparable to 1mM of the reference drug AICAR.[341] Glucose uptake associated with AMPK has indeed been noted in diabetic people who are undergoing physical exercise[342] and in contracting skeletal muscle cells,[153][330] but according to rat[343][344][345] and in vitro studies of cells not being contracted,[341] this is not a per se effect of non-exercising tissue but an augmentation of exercise-induced glucose uptake.
Even if your focus is on a particular body part, say getting flat abs or losing fat around the hips, it's important to work all your muscle groups. Spot reduction doesn't work, so doing crunches for your abs or leg lifts for your thighs isn't going to help you achieve your goal. What does work is building more lean muscle tissue and burning more calories.

If you’re not lifting super-heavy weights, doing high-intensity workouts, or eating a mainly vegan or vegetarian diet, your body probably makes as much creatine as it needs. “Creatine is naturally found in animal-based products,” says Bates, “so your body can make plenty of creatine as long as you have a balanced diet that includes animal-based products.” Protein sources like beef, chicken, pork, and fish help your body produce the creatine it needs — it varies depending on the source, but, in general, a 3-ounce serving of meat will have about 0.4 grams (g) of creatine, Bates says. (6)

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.
It has been argued that purposely overtraining for a brief period can be beneficial. One article published by Muscle & Fitness magazine stated that you can "Overtrain for Big Gains". It suggested that if one is planning a restful holiday and does not wish to inhibit their bodybuilding lifestyle too much, they should overtrain before taking the holiday, so the body can recuperate and grow during the prolonged rest period. Overtraining can be used advantageously, as when a bodybuilder is purposely overtrained for a brief period of time to super compensate during a regeneration phase. These are known as "shock micro-cycles" and were a key training technique used by Soviet athletes.[53]
In contrast to strongman or powerlifting competitions, where physical strength is paramount, or to Olympic weightlifting, where the main point is equally split between strength and technique, bodybuilding competitions typically emphasize condition, size, and symmetry. Different organizations emphasize particular aspects of competition, and sometimes have different categories in which to compete.

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.
The specific mechanism of intestinal uptake for creatine is not clear, although transporters have been identified in rat jujenum, and confirmed at the mRNA level in humans.[129][130] The observation that creatine can be absorbed against a concentration gradient to a max ratio of 8:1 (8 times more creatine in the intestinal cell post absorption, relative to the lumen) supports transporter-mediated uptake, and the dependence on sodium and chloride implicate SLC6A8 (Creatine Transporter 1) as the operative transporter.[102]
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]
So how does that play out in the real world? Well, if, for example, a woman adds 10 pounds of muscle and loses 10 pounds of fat, she’ll burn 40 extra calories per day. Forty calories a day isn’t nearly as significant as a dietary change could be, but for people who are looking to lose weight, it can still make a minor difference over the long term.

In competitive bodybuilding, bodybuilders aspire to develop and maintain an aesthetically pleasing body and balanced physique.[16][17] In prejudging, competitors do a series of mandatory poses: the front lat spread, rear lat spread, front double biceps, back double biceps, side chest, side triceps, Most Muscular (men only), abdominals and thighs. Each competitor also performs a personal choregraphed routine to display their physique. A posedown is usually held at the end of a posing round, while judges are finishing their scoring. Bodybuilders usually spend a lot of time practising their posing in front of mirrors or under the guidance of their coach.
Who Makes It: This product is made by Cellucor, a sports and fitness supplement firm best-known for their C4 line of pre-workout supplements. While C4 is their best seller (and a top seller overall), Cellucor also manufactures a wide range of high-quality supplements for a variety of uses. They have been in business for over 15 years and are a trusted name in the fitness community.
2-[carbamimidoyl(methyl)amino]acetic acid, Cr, Creatin, Creatina, Créatine, Créatine Anhydre, Creatine Anhydrous, Creatine Citrate, Créatine Citrate, Creatine Ethyl Ester, Créatine Ethyl Ester, Creatine Ethyl Ester HCl, Créatine Ethyl Ester HCl, Creatine Gluconate, Creatine Hydrochloride, Créatine Kré Alkaline, Creatine Malate, Créatine Malate, Creatine Monohydrate, Créatine Monohydrate, Créatine Monohydratée, Creatine Pyroglutamate, Créatine Pyroglutamate, Creatine Pyruvate, Créatine Pyruvate, Dicreatine Malate, Dicréatine Malate, Di-Creatine Malate, Éthyle Ester de Créatine, Glycine, Kreatin, Kre-Alkalyn Pyruvate, Malate de Tricréatine, N-(aminoiminométhyl)-N-Méthyl, N-(aminoiminomethyl)-N methyl glycine, N-amidinosarcosine, Phosphocreatine, Phosphocréatine, Tricreatine HCA, Tricréatine HCA, Tricreatine Malate, Tricréatine Malate.
A 2001 study at the University of Texas found that lifters who drank a shake containing amino acids and carbohydrates before working out increased their protein synthesis more than lifters who drank the same shake after exercising. The shake contained 6 grams of essential amino acids — the muscle-building blocks of protein — and 35 grams of carbohydrates.
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Perform bent over rows to work your back. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, about 6 to 10 inches (15–25 cm) behind the barbell or two dumbbells. Bend slightly at the knees but keep your shins vertical. Bend forward at the waist with your spine and head straight. Lift the weight with an overhand grip up to your lower chest or upper abdomen. Lower slowly until your arms are nearly extended, without touching the ground. 3 x 8.[5]
Athletic performance. Creatine seems to help improve rowing performance, jumping height, and soccer performance in athletes. But the effect of creatine on sprinting, cycling, or swimming performance varies. The mixed results may relate to the small sizes of the studies, the differences in creatine doses, and differences in test used to measure performance. Creatine does not seem to improve serving ability in tennis players.

It can be hard not to compare yourself to Schwarzenegger, with his action-star movie career, his stint as a president-appointed fitness ambassador and his election as governor of California. Chang said that Heath’s personality, including his charisma and outspokenness, is similar to that of Schwarzenegger, who is still omnipresent and beloved in the sport.

In well-trained endurance runners, creatine (with glycerol for hyperhydration) caused a relatively large increase in body weight gain (0.90+/-0.40kg) and water weight (0.71+/-0.42L) but failed to negatively influence performance over 30 minutes in the heat.[3] This failure to improve physical performance in the heat with creatine loading (despite water retention) has been noted elsewhere.[346]

Studies conducted in vegetarians tend to show cognitive enhancement in youth, possibly due to a creatine deficiency, as compared to omnivores.[272][60][61] Vegetarian diets have lower levels of circulating creatine prior to supplementation, but attain similar circulating levels as omnivores when both groups supplement.[272][273] 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).[274] In most of the parameters that vegetarians experience benefits, omnivores fail to experience statistically significant benefits[275], except possibly when sleep deprived, where the cognitive improvements rival that seen in vegetarians.[276] 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,[38] the latter of which is a test for executive working memory.[277]

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.
The important role of nutrition in building muscle and losing fat means bodybuilders may consume a wide variety of dietary supplements.[41] Various products are used in an attempt to augment muscle size, increase the rate of fat loss, improve joint health, increase natural testosterone production, enhance training performance and prevent potential nutrient deficiencies.
Creatine has been shown before in vitro to protect from MPTP-induced toxicity, which targets dopaminergic neurons in the substantia nigra and induce Parkinson’s disease in research animals.[235] Creatine also protected these cells from death induced by low oxygen or glucose.[574] One study noted that dopaminergic cell survival under the influence of creatine was 1.32-fold higher than control cells, the soma (cell body) was enlarged by 1.12-fold in these cells,[574] and creatine showed some growth-enhancing effects while helping reducing destruction of dopaminergic neurons by various insults.[574]

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.
The basic principles of weight training are essentially identical to those of strength training, and involve a manipulation of the number of repetitions (reps), sets, tempo, exercise types, and weight moved to cause desired increases in strength, endurance, and size. The specific combinations of reps, sets, exercises, and weights depends on the aims of the individual performing the exercise.
If you're 12 weeks out from a competition, you want to maintain as much muscle as possible while torching fat from every angle. This means low-intensity cardio – high intensity cardio speeds up your metabolism and burns fat very quickly, so you run the risk of burning muscle too, Terry says – either first thing in the morning on an empty stomach, or immediately after your weights session, once you’ve depleted those glycogen levels.
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.

There are countless reasons to lift weights and build strong muscles, including injury prevention, improved bone density, and a lower risk for type 2 diabetes and other diseases—not to forget that bad-ass feeling you get when you can haul a giant piece of furniture up the stairs all by yourself. Another often-cited benefit to strength training is that it will increase your metabolism. But how much does your metabolism increase with strength training? The answer depends on many different factors.

Gualano, B., de, Salles Painelli, V, Roschel, H., Lugaresi, R., Dorea, E., Artioli, G. G., Lima, F. R., da Silva, M. E., Cunha, M. R., Seguro, A. C., Shimizu, M. H., Otaduy, M. C., Sapienza, M. T., da Costa, Leite C., Bonfa, E., and Lancha Junior, A. H. Creatine supplementation does not impair kidney function in type 2 diabetic patients: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, clinical trial. Eur.J.Appl.Physiol 2011;111:749-756. View abstract.

It is suggested [16,37] that another mechanism for the effect of creatine could be enhanced muscle glycogen accumulation and GLUT4 expression, when creatine supplementation is combined with a glycogen depleting exercise. Whereas it has been observed [38] that creatine supplementation alone does not enhance muscle glycogen storage. Hickner et al [15] observed positive effects of creatine supplementation for enhancing initial and maintaining a higher level of muscle glycogen during 2 hours of cycling. In general, it is accepted that glycogen depleting exercises, such as high intensity or long duration exercise should combine high carbohydrate diets with creatine supplementation to achieve heightened muscle glycogen stores [39].
There you have it — our five favorite creatine products on the market. But when you’ve tried as many creatines as we have, there were a lot of others that we loved but didn’t make the very top of our list for the previous categories. That’s why we’ve also come up with a list of the best creatines for men, best creatines for women, best creatines for muscle growth, for bulking, for the brain, and the best micronized creatine. Keep reading for our favorite picks!
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.)
According to the abstract, in the stratified analyses by forms of aerobic exercise, weekly resistance exercise of 1 time or 1-59 minutes was associated with lower risks of total cardiovascular events and cardiovascular disease, regardless of meeting the aerobic exercise guidelines. The analysis showed that resistance training reduced the risk of cardiovascular events in 2 ways: training had a direct association with cardiovascular risk, and resistance training indirectly lowered cardiovascular risk by decreasing body mass index.