*Always remember: weight loss results & health changes/improvements vary from individual to individual. Just because these studies cite certain data does not mean you will experience these results/outcomes. Always consult with your doctor before making decisions about your health. This is not medical advice – simply well-researched information and tips to sleep better. Thanks for reading!
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.
In natural contests, the testing protocol ranges among organizations from lie detectors to urinalysis. Penalties also range from organization to organization from suspensions to strict bans from competition. It is also important to note that natural organizations also have their own list of banned substances and it is important to refer to each organization's website for more information about which substances are banned from competition. There are many natural bodybuilding organizations; some of the larger ones include: MuscleMania, Ultimate Fitness Events (UFE), INBF/WNBF, and INBA/PNBA. These organizations either have an American or worldwide presence and are not limited to the country in which they are headquartered.
In October 1994, the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) was signed into law in the USA. Under DSHEA, responsibility for determining the safety of the dietary supplements changed from government to the manufacturer and supplements no longer required approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) before distributing product. Since that time manufacturers did not have to provide FDA with the evidence to substantiate safety or effectiveness unless a new dietary ingredient was added. It is widely believed that the 1994 DSHEA further consolidated the position of the supplement industry and lead to additional product sales.[6]
However, if you increase the demands you are placing on your body by increasing the weight being lifted, lifting the same weight for additional reps, or just doing something that increases the demands that your body needs to meet, then your body will have no other choice but to make the changes and improvements necessary for it to adapt to this environment and remain capable of performing these tasks.
D-aspartic acid can also help to reduce cortisol levels. Cortisol is known as the “stress” hormone because its production increases during stressful situations. High cortisol levels can have many negative side effects, such as weight gain, muscle tissue breakdown, or increased blood sugar. Taking a supplement that includes cortisol can reduce stress and prevent excess fat storage or muscle loss.

Creatine supplementation often causes weight gain that can be mistaken for increase in muscle mass. Increasing intracellular creatine may cause an osmotic influx of water into the cell because creatine is an osmotically active substance [10]. It is possible that the weight gained is water retention and not increased muscle. The retention of water may be connected to reports of muscle cramps, dehydration, and heat intolerance when taking creatine supplements. It would be prudent to encourage proper hydration for creatine users. Further research is needed to investigate these and other possible side effects.
Homocyteine (normal serum range of 5-14µM) is known to adversely affect motor control in genetically susceptible people when their levels exceed 500µM, which is usually associated with genetically induced deficiencies of B12.[360][361] In these particular instances (assessed by rats fed homocysteine to increase serum levels to such a high level[362][363]) it appears that administration of 50mg/kg creatine (injections) to these rats can protect dysfunction in muscle metabolism (pyruvate kinase activity, Krebs cycle intermediates, and muscle cell viability) induced by homocysteine.[363]
Generally, you should consume about 20 grams of protein with some carbs shortly after a workout. During the post-workout anabolic window, you’ll also want to limit fats, which can slow the absorption of protein. While there is some recent research that suggests the window may actually extend up to several hours following exercise, there’s no harm in getting nutrients in early as long as you’re sticking to your overall caloric and macronutrient goals.
A typical creatine supplementation protocol of either a loading phase of 20 to 25 g CM/d or 0.3 g CM/kg/d split into 4 to 5 daily intakes of 5 g each have been recommended to quickly saturate creatine stores in the skeletal muscle. However a more moderate protocol where several smaller doses of creatine are ingested along the day (20 intakes of 1 g every 30 min) could be a better approach to get a maximal saturation of the intramuscular creatine store. In order to keep the maximal saturation of body creatine, the loading phase must be followed by a maintenance period of 3-5 g CM/d or 0.03 g CM/kg/d. These strategies appear to be the most efficient way of saturating the muscles and benefitting from CM supplementation. However more recent research has shown CM supplementation at doses of 0.1 g/kg body weight combined with resistance training improves training adaptations at a cellular and sub-cellular level. Creatine retention by the body from supplementation appears to be promoted by about 25% from the simultaneous ingestion of carbohydrate and/or protein mediated through an increase in insulin secretion. This combination would produce a faster saturation rate but has not been shown to have a greater effect on performance.
Escolar, D. M., Buyse, G., Henricson, E., Leshner, R., Florence, J., Mayhew, J., Tesi-Rocha, C., Gorni, K., Pasquali, L., Patel, K. M., McCarter, R., Huang, J., Mayhew, T., Bertorini, T., Carlo, J., Connolly, A. M., Clemens, P. R., Goemans, N., Iannaccone, S. T., Igarashi, M., Nevo, Y., Pestronk, A., Subramony, S. H., Vedanarayanan, V. V., and Wessel, H. CINRG randomized controlled trial of creatine and glutamine in Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Ann Neurol 2005;58(1):151-155. View abstract.
Mercimek-Mahmutoglu, S., Stoeckler-Ipsiroglu, S., Adami, A., Appleton, R., Araujo, H. C., Duran, M., Ensenauer, R., Fernandez-Alvarez, E., Garcia, P., Grolik, C., Item, C. B., Leuzzi, V., Marquardt, I., Muhl, A., Saelke-Kellermann, R. A., Salomons, G. S., Schulze, A., Surtees, R., van der Knaap, M. S., Vasconcelos, R., Verhoeven, N. M., Vilarinho, L., Wilichowski, E., and Jakobs, C. GAMT deficiency: features, treatment, and outcome in an inborn error of creatine synthesis. Neurology 8-8-2006;67:480-484. View abstract.
^ Jump up to: a b c d Brosnan ME, Brosnan JT (August 2016). "The role of dietary creatine". Amino Acids. 48 (8): 1785–91. doi:10.1007/s00726-016-2188-1. PMID 26874700. The daily requirement of a 70-kg male for creatine is about 2 g; up to half of this may be obtained from a typical omnivorous diet, with the remainder being synthesized in the body ... More than 90% of the body’s creatine and phosphocreatine is present in muscle (Brosnan and Brosnan 2007), with some of the remainder being found in the brain (Braissant et al. 2011). ... Creatine synthesized in liver must be secreted into the bloodstream by an unknown mechanism (Da Silva et al. 2014a)
Creatine is an energy substrate: a small peptide serving as a reservoir for high-energy phosphate groups that can regenerate ATP, the main currency of cellular energy. An increase in creatine intake (through food or supplementation) increases cellular energy stores, promoting the regeneration of ATP in the short term. Stores are limited, however, and glucose or fatty acids are responsible for ATP replenishment over longer durations.
A meta-analysis found that creatine treatment increased muscle strength in muscular dystrophies, and potentially improved functional performance.[57] Creatine treatment does not appear to improve muscle strength in people who have metabolic myopathies.[57] High doses of creatine lead to increased muscle pain and an impairment in activities of daily living when taken by people who have McArdle disease.[57]
In addition to the HIIT sessions, it’s always a good idea to go for a 30–60-minute walk as many days per week as you can. I recommend getting a minimum of 10,000 steps every day. Use a phone app to track them. If you’re into jogging, swimming, hiking, or some other form of long-duration, fairly low-intensity cardio, that is fine to do as well, and as often as you like.
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).
Anti-cancer effects have been observed with the creatine analogue cyclocreatine[456][104][457] and have been replicated with creatine itself. These effects tend to be a reduction in which the rate of implanted tumors progresses.[458][459] It is suspected that these observed effects (inhibition of growth or attenuation of the rate of growth) are not due to the bioenergetic effect of creatine, secondary to creatine kinase. These anti-cancer effects do not have a known reliability, as the expression of creatine kinase varies widely based on the type of tumor.[460] However, some studies suggest an inverse relationship between tumor progression in mice and concentrations of creatine in cells, with creatine depletion coinciding with tumor development.[460]
Heart Failure is one of the single most common complications that face many people today. When a heart ages, the cells collect a yellow-brown layer which is waste and can lead to heart complications. This process is known as lipofuscin, or “aging pigment” which leads to death opposed to someone who can delay that as far as possible. [3] In mice, a study was performed where two groups of mice who had lipofuscin underwent different experiments, one group received creatine supplementation, and one group did not receive supplementation. What they found was that the mice who supplemented creatine lived 9% longer than the ones who did not receive creatine. 9% translated into human years results in almost 7 years, which could suggest that if you suffer from this deterioration, creatine supplementation could potentially increase your longevity by 7 years. [3]
Compound exercises work several muscle groups at once, and include movement around two or more joints. For example, in the leg press, movement occurs around the hip, knee and ankle joints. This exercise is primarily used to develop the quadriceps, but it also involves the hamstrings, glutes and calves. Compound exercises are generally similar to the ways that people naturally push, pull and lift objects, whereas isolation exercises often feel a little unnatural.
Side-Effects: While the signs of a great body may make one think that there cannot be anything wrong with bodybuilding supplements, the facts speak otherwise. Bodybuilding supplements do have side-effects and you must listen to your trainer before giving in to the thoughts of buying one. Creatine can cause heart problems, kidney problems, dehydration, diarrhoea and muscle cramping. You must also discuss your medical history with the trainer.  

First off, every single resistance-training athlete in the world should be very thankful for bodybuilding training. It was bodybuilding that brought weight training to the mainstream. The bottom line is that the average gym goer is MORE interested in how they look vs. how they perform. 99% of every client I ever trained had an aesthetic goal as their primary goal. In my 20 plus years as a trainer I can count maybe 10 clients who said, “My goal is to be able to bench press or squat or lift more weight.” It was the aesthetic focus of bodybuilding that opened the doors for all other resistance training pursuits to enter into the mainstream.

Energy: Energy is found in amino acids, also known as creatine, produced naturally in the body and also found in meat such as beef, chicken and pork. The problem with naturally found creatine is that the amount of protein in it is not high, which therefore, draws bodybuilders to supplement it with a powdered version. Bodybuilders use creatine to increase anaerobic energy; this allows them to lift weights for longer periods of time. Creatine also helps to give volume to the muscle cells by adding more water in them, thus making them look fuller. 

Studies measuring extracellular water versus intracellular water note similar increases in both, associated with creatine. Creatine does not tend to disturb the ratios of water to dry mass in various tissues measured.[609] At least one study in older men (48-72 years) has failed to find a significant difference in both intracellular and extracellular water concentration after 14 weeks of 5g creatine daily (with gatorade) relative to gatorade in isolation, with the ratio being maintained.[615]
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.
Arguably the most influential factor, exercise is what instigates muscle growth. When you exercise, especially if you engage in resistance training, it causes trauma to your muscles. This is exactly what you want because it’s this trauma that triggers a response from your body that grows your muscles. To repair the injury or damage to your muscles, special cells called satellite cells arrive. Typically, your muscle fibers thicken and lengthen in this process. (1)
The creatine transporter is a sodium[139][140] and chloride[141][142] dependent membrane-associated transporter that belongs to the Na+/Cl-dependent family of neurotransmitter transporters.[143] In muscle cells and most other cell types,[131][141] the isomer of the creatine transporter is known as SLC6A8 (solute carrier family 6, member 8). SLC6A8 is encoded by the gene present on the Xq28 region of the human X-chromosome and is expressed in most tissues.[144] A related gene encoding a creatine transporter variant has also been identified at 16p11.1 that is expressed exclusively in the testes.[145] These two transporters share 98% homology.[144][145]
There is a great amount of research published on creatine supplementation; protocols of administration, forms of creatine, as well as potential side effects. Despite this, the mechanisms by which creatine acts in the human body to improve physical and cognitive performance are still not clear. The main objectives of this review are to analyze the more recent findings on the effects and mechanisms of creatine supplementation in sports and health. As a secondary purpose, we will analyze the most recommended protocols of ingestion and its potential side effects.
Now that you've got the training part down, it's time to stretch it out. (Can you say ahhh?) Stretching while your muscles are warm can help improve your flexibility, says Davis, not to mention it just feels phenomenal after you've pushed yourself hard. A light cool-down is also great for calming the nervous system. While dynamic stretches should be your go-to during a warm-up, the cool-down is where static stretching comes in—this means holding a stretch for 20-30 seconds. These four passive stretches will do nicely.
When assessing the antioxidant effects of creatine, it does not appear to sequester superoxide and may not be a direct antioxidant.[241] Additionally, creatine failed to protect neurons from H2O2 incubation to induce cell death via pro-oxidative means.[241] These results are in contrast to previously recorded results suggesting creatine acts as a direct anti-oxidant.[242]
Hartman, J. W., Tang, J. E., Wilkinson, S. B., Tarnopolsky, M. A., Lawrence, R. L., Fullerton, A. V., & Phillips, S. M. (2007). Consumption of fat-free fluid milk after resistance exercise promotes greater lean mass accretion than does consumption of soy or carbohydrate in young, novice, male weightlifters. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 86(2), 373-381.

Safety. Iron overload may cause a disease called hemochromatosis in some susceptible people. Iron supplements should only be prescribed by a doctor, and for athletes or those who train heavily, a sports physician combined with a sports dietitian may be preferable. Be sure to take care with this because iron supplements should not be taken casually. Iron supplements may cause constipation and gastric upset in some people.
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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.

That being said, men aren’t the only ones who suffer from low testosterone levels. Women can also suffer from testosterone deficiency which can affect their overall well-being in addition to their sex drive. If you’re a woman or man concerned about your testosterone levels, in addition to using supplements like the ones below, you should contact your doctor who will be able to diagnose any deficiencies and recommend additional treatments.
Do standard/oblique crunches. Lie down on a mat and position both arms behind your head without locking the hands. Bend your knees so that your feet are flat on the ground. Pushing the small of your back into the ground, slowly roll your shoulders off the ground only a couple of inches (not to a full sitting position). Don't use your momentum to help you up; use slow, regulated movements. Repeat 3 x 20.

I HATE that the resistance training community can be so tribal. I have been preaching to bodybuilders for years about the benefits of powerlifting, or Olympic lifting or kettlebells or even Crossfit style conditioning and many have been receptive. Learn from each other and achieve levels of fitness you simply could not have otherwise. Don’t brush off bodybuilding wisdom…it could be the missing factor in your program.
An exercise should be halted if marked or sudden pain is felt, to prevent further injury. However, not all discomfort indicates injury. Weight training exercises are brief but very intense, and many people are unaccustomed to this level of effort. The expression "no pain, no gain" refers to working through the discomfort expected from such vigorous effort, rather than to willfully ignore extreme pain, which may indicate serious soft tissue injuries. The focus must be proper form, not the amount of weight lifted.[23]
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!
In addition to being potentially harmful, some have argued that there is little evidence to indicate any benefit to using bodybuilding protein or amino acid supplements. "In view of the lack of compelling evidence to the contrary, no additional dietary protein is suggested for healthy adults undertaking resistance or endurance exercise".[18] In dispute of this, one more recent meta-analysis concluded that for athletes participating in resistance exercise training and consuming protein supplements for an average of 13 weeks, total protein intake up to 1.6 g per kg body weight per day would result in an increase in strength and fat-free mass, i.e. muscle, but that higher intakes would not further contribute. The muscle mass increase was statistically significant but modest - averaging 0.3 for all trials and 1.0 to 2.0 kg, for protein intake ≥ 1.6 g/kg/day.[3]
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.