Similarly to complex training, contrast loading relies upon the enhanced activation of the nervous system and increased muscle fibre recruitment from the heavy set, to allow the lighter set to be performed more powerfully.[41] Such a physiological effect is commonly referred to as post-activation potentiation, or the PAP effect. Contrast loading can effectively demonstrate the PAP effect: if a light weight is lifted, and then a heavy weight is lifted, and then the same light weight is lifted again, then the light weight will feel lighter the second time it has been lifted. This is due to the enhanced PAP effect which occurs as a result of the heavy lift being utilised in the subsequent lighter lift; thus making the weight feel lighter and allowing the lift to be performed more powerfully.

One study on 27 otherwise healthy men supplementing creatine (0.3g/kg loading for a week, 0.05g/kg thereafter for 8 weeks) with a thrice weekly exercise regiment noted that alongside greater increase in lean mass and power relative to placebo at 4 and 8 weeks, myostatin in serum decreased to a greater extent with creatine (around 17% at 8 weeks, derived from graph) than it did with placebo (approximately 7%).[356] Increases in GASP-1, a serum protein that inhibits the actions of myostatin by directly binding to it,[357] were not different between groups.[356]


Drink plenty of water throughout the day, especially in the hours leading up to your workout. This can help you feel full and reduce hunger pangs. During training, drink about 8 ounces every 15-20 minutes, more when it's hot and humid. The reason is simple: Your performance quickly begins to suffer when the body is dehydrated just 1%-–2%. And if you wait till you feel thirsty, you've waited too long. A flavorful, low-calorie sports drink is a great way to hydrate. Try drinking fluids stored at cooler temperatures; studies show that people consume more when the liquid is colder.
That soreness you feel post-strength session may seem like a setback. Yet over time, you’ll come to acknowledge that it signifies you’re getting stronger. “You think, ‘I’ve done something worthwhile. My body is telling me I’ve had a workout.’ You look forward to the fatigue and interpret it in a positive way,” says John Spence, PhD, professor of physical education and recreation at the University of Alberta in Canada, who wrote a review on the effect of exercise on self-esteem. (Wondering how sore is too sore to work out? Here’s your answer.)
Kerksick, C. M., Wilborn, C. D., Campbell, W. I., Harvey, T. M., Marcello, B. M., Roberts, M. D., Parker, A. G., Byars, A. G., Greenwood, L. D., Almada, A. L., Kreider, R. B., and Greenwood, M. The effects of creatine monohydrate supplementation with and without D-pinitol on resistance training adaptations. J.Strength.Cond.Res. 2009;23(9):2673-2682. View abstract.
Contrast loading is the alternation of heavy and light loads. Considered as sets, the heavy load is performed at about 85-95% 1 repetition max; the light load should be considerably lighter at about 30-60% 1RM. Both sets should be performed fast with the lighter set being performed as fast as possible. The joints should not be locked as this inhibits muscle fibre recruitment and reduces the speed at which the exercise can be performed. The lighter set may be a loaded plyometric exercise such as loaded squat jumps or jumps with a trap bar. 

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.

In regard to the blood brain barrier (BBB), which is a tightly woven mesh of non-fenestrated microcapillary endothelial cells (MCECs) that prevents passive diffusion of many water-soluble or large compounds into the brain, creatine can be taken into the brain via the SLC6A8 transporter.[192] In contrast, the creatine precursor (guanidinoacetate, or GAA) only appears to enter this transporter during creatine deficiency.[192] More creatine is taken up than effluxed, and more GAA is effluxed rather than taken up, suggesting that creatine utilization in the brain from blood-borne sources[192] is the major source of neural creatine.[193][192] However, “capable of passage” differs from “unregulated passage” and creatine appears to have tightly regulated entry into the brain in vivo[193]. After injecting rats with a large dose of creatine, creatine levels increased and plateaued at 70uM above baseline levels. These baseline levels are about 10mM, so this equates to an 0.7% increase when superloaded.[193] These kinetics may be a reason for the relative lack of neural effects of creatine supplementation in creatine sufficient populations.
Creatine non-response is when muscular loading of creatine is under a certain threshold (10mmol/L), while “response” to creatine means having more muscular creatine loading (20mol/L or more). There also exists a “grey area” inbetween, where some benefits are achieved but not as many as pure responders will experience. Response appears to be positively correlated with muscle mass and type II muscle fibers.
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)
It’s important to remember that since everybody is different, these estimates are just that. How the numbers work out for each person will definitely vary. So many factors—like genetics, hormones, sleep, and diet—can change the rate at which our bodies burn calories. And some people may have a harder time than others when it comes losing fat or gaining muscle—again, there are so many factors at play and our body chemistries are all different. Strength training is important for many, many, many other reasons (more on that later), but if you’re looking to increase your metabolism, it’s important to have realistic expectations and know that strength training can make a difference, but probably won’t drastically affect how many calories you burn from one day to the next.
Creatine is most commonly used for improving exercise performance and increasing muscle mass in athletes and older adults. There is some science supporting the use of creatine in improving the athletic performance of young, healthy people during brief high-intensity activity such as sprinting. Because of this, creatine is often used as a dietary supplement to improve muscle strength and athletic performance. In the U.S., a majority of sports nutrition supplements, which total $2.7 billion in annual sales, contain creatine.
As a ingredient that has been tested time and time again and shown to positively affect the building of muscle, GAT has taken the highest-quality compound to create Essentials Creatine. Using HPLC-tested pharmaceutical grade creatine that's tested to be 99.9% pure, Essentials Creatine provides 5 grams in every serving which can increase muscle size, boost strength, and enhance muscle recovery. Keep Reading »

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(5):749-756. View abstract.


No. It’s not easy for everyone to get the recommended amount of protein in their diets through good eating habits alone. Others may not have clinically low testosterone, but still benefit from boosting their levels to improve their muscle building capacity. You can fix these common problems through muscle building supplements. These easy to take pills and powders can also help you boost your performance at the gym which will, in turn, spur your body’s muscle building and recovery response.
The maximum amount of creatine the body can store is about 0.3 gram per kilogram of body weight [6]. The creatine content of skeletal (voluntary) muscles averages 125 millimoles per kilogram of dry matter (mmol/kg/dm) and ranges from about 60 to 160 mmol/kg/dm. Approximately 60% of muscle creatine is in the form of PCr. Human muscle seems to have an upper limit of creatine storage of 150 to 160 mmol/kg/dm. Athletes with high creatine stores don't appear to benefit from supplementation, whereas individuals with the lowest levels, such as vegetarians, have the most pronounced increases following supplementation. Without supplementation, the body can replenish muscle creatine at the rate of about 2 g/day [7].
Young adult athletes who reported creatine usage for over two years prior to the study (retrospective design) were not significantly different than controls.[501] Elsewhere, in a similar cohort of athletes reporting creatine usage for up to four years, failed to note significant differences in liver enzymes, although a nonsignificant reduction in LDH was noted.[502]
Nephrectomized rats may have significantly reduced creatine synthesis rates[509] via impairment of methylation (the GAMT enzyme)[510] although creatine reuptake from the urine seems unimpaired.[511] Supplemental creatine in a rat model of 2/3rds nephrectomy (2% creatine in the diet) does not appear to negatively influence kidney function as assessed by the serum biomarkers of cystatin C and urinary protein or creatinine clearance rates.[512] Elsewhere, 2% creatine in the diet in rats for two weeks again failed to show negative effects on kidney function, but showed benefit in reducing homocysteine in late-stage uremic rats.[312] While there is not much human evidence for the rat nephrectomy model, a lone case study in a man with a single kidney failed to find an impairing effect of creatine (20g daily for five days and 5g for another month) in conjunction with a high protein diet.[513]
I get it. Bodybuilding is a subjective sport with judges that determine who wins based on the judges opinions. In the other resistance training sports you win objectively by outperforming your competitors. Bodybuilders also tend to work out differently with little concern for the weight being lifted, so long as the end result is a better-looking body. This can make bodybuilding type training seem narcissistic and shallow. That’s too bad because hard core resistance training athletes can learn a LOT from bodybuilders and how they train.
Over time, we naturally lose muscle mass in a process called sarcopenia. On average, men lose about 30% of their muscle mass during their lives. Usually, this begins in your 30s and progresses slowly as you age. But, don’t despair. You can rebuild and maintain muscle mass even as you age. Often, diet and exercise are enough. But, sometimes, if the above hormones play a role, your doctor may recommend medications and additional treatments (4).
Knowledge – When it comes to building the best physique possible, you have to be willing to experiment and learn from your body. No one will be able to tell you what’s the most effective nutrition or training split for your individual genotype. Not only that, they don’t know your personal preference, injury history, asymmetries, experience level, or current work capacity.
A quantitative, comprehensive scientific summary and view of knowledge up to 2007 on the effects of creatine supplementation in athletes and active people was published in a 100 citation review position paper by the International Society of Sports Nutrition[5]. More recent literature has provided greater insight into the anabolic/performance enhancing mechanisms of creatine supplementation [15,25] suggesting that these effects may be due to satellite cell proliferation, myogenic transcription factors and insulin-like growth factor-1 signalling [16]. Saremi et al [26] reported a change in myogenic transcription factors when creatine supplementation and resistance training are combined in young healthy males. It was found that serum levels of myostatin, a muscle growth inhibitor, were decreased in the creatine group.
In otherwise sedentary and healthy men given a loading phase of creatine followed by 11 weeks of maintenance, the glucose response to an oral glucose tolerance test is reduced by 11-22% (measurements at 4-12 weeks with no time dependence noted) which was not associated with changes in insulin levels or sensitivity.[350] Elsewhere, a study in vegetarians (5g daily for 42 days) failed to find a reduction in postprandial blood glucose.[351]
Sandow was so successful at flexing and posing his physique that he later created several businesses around his fame, and was among the first to market products branded with his name. He was credited with inventing and selling the first exercise equipment for the masses: machined dumbbells, spring pulleys, and tension bands. Even his image was sold by the thousands in "cabinet cards" and other prints. Sandow was a perfect "Gracilian", a standard of ideal body proportions close to those of ancient Greek and Roman statues. Men's physiques were then judged by how closely they matched these proportions.
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
Extracellular creatine (creatine outside of a cell) appears to influence creatine uptake into a cell. It seems that prolonged and excessive levels of creatine actually suppress uptake (a form of negative regulation to prevent excessive influx).[180] In vitro studies in rat muscle cells have shown that including 1mM creatine into cell culture medium substantially reduces creatine uptake into cells. The inhibitory effect was partially negated by protein synthesis inhibitors, suggesting that high levels of creatine induce the expression of a protein that suppresses creatine transporter activity.[180] Similar findings were reported in a later study in cultured mouse myoblasts, which noted a 2.4-fold increase in intracellular creatine levels in the presence of the protein synthesis inhibitor cyclohexamide.[174]

Despite the fact that BCAAs may offer some benefits, you should keep in mind that these three amino acids are also present in any quality whey protein that you purchase. You can also get these essential amino acids from food sources. Basically, as long as you’re meeting your daily protein intake goals, you’re probably getting enough of these essential amino acids. Research supports this approach. So, why spend more on another supplement?
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!
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.
Zinc is important to produce the male hormone testosterone and in building the immune system. Magnesium is an essential component of the nervous system and for maintaining heart health. Both have a range of important biochemical function. Zinc and magnesium are often marketed to bodybuilders in combination in a supplement called ZMA. Zinc is in whole grains, seeds, nuts and particularly meat and oysters. After years of research, no evidence exists to show that either mineral offers bodybuilding or athletic performance enhancement in excess of the recommended dietary requirements.
Those are very reasonable starting percentages for your target calories. We can raise or lower your carbohydrate and fat numbers depending on your food preferences (i.e. if you’re more of a rice/potatoes guy… stick with 45% carbs; if you’re more of a bacon and eggs guy… lower your carbs to around 35% and bump your fat percentage to 30% total calories)
Creatine is produced endogenously at an amount of about 1 g/d. Synthesis predominately occurs in the liver, kidneys, and to a lesser extent in the pancreas. The remainder of the creatine available to the body is obtained through the diet at about 1 g/d for an omnivorous diet. 95% of the bodies creatine stores are found in the skeletal muscle and the remaining 5% is distributed in the brain, liver, kidney, and testes [1]. As creatine is predominately present in the diet from meats, vegetarians have lower resting creatine concentrations [2].
Kreider, R. B., Kalman, D. S., Antonio, J., Ziegenfuss, T. N., Wildman, R., Collins, R., … Lopez, H. (2017, June 13). International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: safety and efficacy of creatine supplementation in exercise, sport, and medicine. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 14(18). Retrieved from https://jissn.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12970-017-0173-z
Your basal metabolic rate (BMR)—the calories you burn just to live—is driven by a host of factors, including your sex, genetics, and age, Tim Church, M.D., professor of preventative medicine at Pennington Biomedical Research Center at Louisiana State University, tells SELF. Research published in the medical journal PLOS ONE also shows that the size of your internal organs plays a huge role in why some people burn more calories at rest than others—in fact, the study found that 43 percent of the differences between people’s metabolic rates can be explained by organ size.
You don’t have to, but you can. The typical creatine dose is 5 grams once or twice per day, but it’s sometimes suggested that one should “load” creatine by taking 20 to 25 grams per day for the first week of usage. This is then followed with 3 to 4 weeks of 5 grams per day, then a break for a week or two, then repeat. This may bring about more acute increases in strength and muscle size — creatine will “work” more quickly, in other words — but it’s not necessary.
Another favorite bodybuilding supplement, creatine is an amino acid found in the body. The highest levels of this molecule are in your muscles and brain. It is made by your liver, pancreas and kidneys, but is also found in foods including meat, eggs and fish. Research has shown that it may help athletes including weightlifters who need short bursts of energy (5). In this study, creatine monohydrate proved to be an effective muscle builder. It works to improve body composition, muscle mass, strength and power.  Note that it was also more effective than other forms of creatine. How does it do this?
More specifically, you can expect to end up in the upper half of these ranges ONLY if you are a beginner, younger, and/or have amazing genetics. You can expect to end up in the lower half of these ranges if you are an intermediate or advanced trainee, older, and/or have poor genetics. The average person can expect to end up somewhere in the middle. Additional details here: How Much Muscle Can You Gain?
A thermogenic is a broad term for any supplement that the manufacturer claims will cause thermogenesis, resulting in increased body temperature, increased metabolic rate, and consequently an increased rate in the burning of body fat and weight loss. Until 2004 almost every product found in this supplement category comprised the "ECA stack": ephedrine, caffeine and aspirin. However, on February 6, 2004 the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) banned the sale of ephedra and its alkaloid, ephedrine, for use in weight loss formulas. Several manufacturers replaced the ephedra component of the "ECA" stack with bitter orange or citrus aurantium (containing synephrine) instead of the ephedrine.
While it'’s okay to chow down on the occasional fast-food choice for convenience, a mass-gain program isn'’t an excuse to gorge on pizza and chocolate sundaes. “"Rebuilding muscle tissue broken down by training requires energy -— in other words, calories,"” says bodybuilding nutritional guru Chris Aceto. "“But many people, including many nutritionists, overestimate the energy needs for gaining mass, encouraging extreme high-calorie intakes. This often leads to an increase in bodyfat, making you bigger, for sure, but also leaving you fat." In general, aim for 300-500 more calories every day than your body burns through exercise and normal functioning (multiply bodyweight by 17). And that'’s divided among six meals a day.
These effects were noted before in a preliminary study of depressed adolescents (with no placebo group) showing a 55% reduction in depressive symptoms at 4g daily when brain phosphocreatine levels increased.[231] Other prelimnary human studies suggest creatine might lessen unipolar depression[256] and one study on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) noted improved mood as assessed by the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale.[232]
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.
Bryant, a lawyer and sports agent, opened a case of manila file folders and spread them on the desk like playing cards. Each was labeled: Phil Heath Enterprises, Sponsors, Taxes, Travel and so on. Bryant, Heath and Cremona discussed Heath’s clothing line and his sponsorships. They talked about his desire for a shoe deal and a larger hyperbaric chamber at his house.
Terry follows the old-school bodybuilding mentality of isolating each muscle group (back, shoulders, chest, legs and arms) on a five-day cycle. If he’s trying to grow a certain muscle group, he’ll introduce a second workout on the sixth day. Each of Terry’s workouts lasts between 60 and 90 minutes – “any longer and you're either not pushing yourself hard enough or you're talking too much” – and he makes the most of each session by targeting different parts of each muscle.
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] 
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