Focus on form. Good form means you can reap all of the benefits of your workout and avoid injuries at the same time. To maintain proper form, pay attention to your posture (stand tall with chest lifted and abs held tight), move slowly (this ensures you're relying on muscles, not momentum, to do the lifting), and remember to breathe. Many people hold their breath while exerting, but exhaling during the hardest part of the exercise helps fuel the movement.
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.
Anti-depressive effects have been noted in woman with major depressive disorder when 5g of creatine monohydrate was supplemented daily for 8 weeks in combination with an SSRI. Benefits were seen at week two and were maintained until the end of the 8-week trial. The improvement in depressive symptoms was associated with significantly increased prefrontal cortex levels of N-acetylaspartate, a marker of neuronal integrity, and rich club connections, which refers to the ability of nerons to make connections to one another.
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. Other prelimnary human studies suggest creatine might lessen unipolar depression and one study on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) noted improved mood as assessed by the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale.
A loading phase of 10g creatine monohydrate for two weeks and 4g for the final week in subjects with MELAS (Mitochondrial Encephalomyopathy Lactic Acidosis and Stroke-like episodes) has been noted to increase physical strength relative to baseline, although the poor VO2 max seen in these subjects was not affected. A case study exists in which a patient with a relatively novel mutation in their mitochondrial function (affecting cytochrome B) experienced benefits from creatine at 10g daily. Researchers examining another case of MELAS found both cognitive and physical benefits with 5g creatine supplementation, while four controlled case studies of 100-200mg/kg daily in children with myopathies found improved muscular endurance (30-57%) and muscular power (8-17%) after 100-200mg/kg daily for at least three months.
Due to this relative deficiency-state in vegetarians and vegans, some aspects of creatine supplementation are seen as more akin to normalizing a deficiency, rather than providing the benefits of supplementation. In young vegetarians, but not omnivores, creatine supplementation can enhance cognition. The increased gain in lean mass may be more significant in vegetarians, relative to omnivores. Supplementation of creatine in vegetarians appears to normalize the gap in storage between vegetarians and omnivores. This is possibly related to a correlation seen in survey research, where vegetarianism and veganism appear to be more commonly affected by some mental disorders like anxiety and depression.
The United States Army is about to undertake a dramatic and unprecedented overhaul to the way it tests, and promotes, military fitness. The man who headed the research into the new standards talks with us about how and why, as well as the future of Army nutrition and how the Army plans to circulate 80,000 kettlebells to bases around the globe. January 22, 2019 • 43 min read
In nonelite swimmers conducting an intermittent sprint protocol (Six 50m sprints every two minutes), supplementation of a creatine loading period was able to reduce the decrement in speed during the third sprint (2% decrement rather than a 5% decrement) but not the sixth sprint. There were no changes in plasma lactate or other biomarkers of fatigue. When examining a single 50m sprint in amateur swimmers, a creatine loading period is able to reduce the time to complete the sprint by 4.6%, while it had no benefit for the 100m sprint. When the loading phase was followed by three weeks maintenance in youth, there was no apparent benefit to sprint performance (50m sprint with five minutes rest followed by a 100m freestyle) despite benefits to a swim bench test (30s sprints with a five minute break in between).
It’s true—your genes can play a role when it comes to building muscle. In general, there are two types of muscle fibers: Type I, which are slow twitch, and Type II, which are fast twitch. Depending on which you have more of, you may have an easier or harder time gaining muscle. “Fast twitch muscle fibers are two times as thick as slow twitch muscle fibers, lending to the overall thickness of the muscle without any activity,” explains Lovitt. “Those people with a genetic predisposition of a high percentage of these fibers can increase muscle size very easily while the people with a higher percentage of slow twitch muscle fibers have to work really hard to put on mass.” It’s the reason why a world-class sprinter genetically has more fast twitch muscle fibers than a world-class marathoner—it comes down to what we’re born with.
I always recommend starting on the low end of the scale. Only increase volume when you absolutely need to. So, if you’re training chest, you could do 6 work sets of dumbbell bench presses to start out, breaking down to two sets per workout for three sessions per week. You can gradually add sets from there, experimenting with different training splits that will allow you to get in more volume without overtraining (we’ll discuss training splits next).
Yes, you can pack on size while only doing bodyweight exercises – I did it while traveling the world – and gymnasts train mostly with bodyweight movements. However, this can feel like playing Halo on Legendary difficulty. It can be done, but damn it can be challenging – especially for lower body movements. If your sole goal is to get bigger as fast as possible, access to a barbell for squats and deadlift is almost a requirement.
If you have been training properly for at least three years, you’ll find that advanced pump-enhancing techniques like rest-pause sets, drop sets, and some of the other old-school bodybuilding techniques you’ve no doubt heard of can be effective when used sparingly. Just be sure not to overdo the use of them. And never get away from the most important rule: setting PR’s to get stronger.
After supplementation of creatine monohydrate (loading phase, followed by 19 weeks maintenance), creatine precursors are decreased by up to 50% (loading) or 30% (maintenance), which suggests a decrease in endogenous creatine synthesis during supplementation. This appears to occur through creatine’s own positive feedback and suppression of the l-arginine:glycine amidinotransferase enzyme, the rate-limiting step in creatine synthesis, as levels of intermediates before this stage are typically elevated by up to 75%.
Vegetarians and other people who have lower total creatine levels when they start taking creatine supplements seem to get more benefit than people who start with a higher level of creatine. Skeletal muscle will only hold a certain amount of creatine; adding more won't raise levels any more. This "saturation point" is usually reached within the first few days of taking a "loading dose."
In muscle cells, the creatine transporter is predominantly localized to the sarcolemmal membrane. Western blot analysis of creatine transporter expression revealed the presence of two distinc protein bands, migrating at 55kDa and 70kDa on reducing SDS-PAGE gels. The 73kDa band has been reported to be the predominant band in humans, with no differences based on gender. A more recent report demonstrated that the 55kDa creatine transporter variant is glycosylated, forming the 73 kDa protein. Therefore, the 55 and 75kDa protein bands are actually immature and mature/processed forms of the creatine transporter protein, respectively.
The creatine transporter (CrT) is positively regulated by proteins known to be involved in sensing and responding to the cellular energy state, including the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR). Upon activation, mTOR stimulates SGK1 and SGK3 to act upon PIKfyve and subsequently PI(3,5)P2 to increase CrT activity. Beyond mTOR, SGK1 also is stimulated by intracellular calcium and a lack of oxygen (ischemia). Because transient ischemia is associated with increased reactive oxygen species (ROS) production after blood flow is restored (reperfusion) it has been hypothesized that muscle contraction may increase creatine uptake through a similar ROS-mediated mechanism.
Honestly, I did a lot of research on this one, because I wanted to find a single group of people who should not strength train. I even found studies on how strength training can be beneficial for paraplegics. Not to mention it can be safe for children, adolescents, and pregnant women. Obviously, you should take a break from strength training if you’re injured, and always check with your doctor before you start any sort of strength training program, but it’s natural for us, as humans, to move around and carry things.
Synthesis primarily takes place in the kidney and liver, with creatine then being transported to the muscles via the blood. The majority of the human body's total creatine and phosphocreatine stores is located in skeletal muscle, while the remainder is distributed in the blood, brain, and other tissues. Typically, creatine is produced endogenously at an estimated rate of about 8.3 mmol or 1 gram per day in young adults. Creatine is also obtained through the diet at a rate of about 1 gram per day from an omnivorous diet. Some small studies suggest that total muscle creatine is significantly lower in vegetarians than non-vegetarians, as expected since foods of animal origin are the primary source of creatine. However, subjects happened to show the same levels after using supplements.
Ghost Size takes the cake for muscle growth. The key to this formula is epicatechin, an antioxidant found in chocolate and certain plants that is linked to a wide array of benefits. These include increased nitric oxide produciton, better oxygenation to the brain, and muscle growth: epicatechin appears to inhibit myostatin, which suppresses muscle growth, and the dosage found in Ghost Size is in line with studies that examined this effect.
Most weightlifters, athletes and bodybuilders know about creatine. They know it’s an important substance to take to give you an important edge in your workouts. Kaged Muscle made two different creatine products to give you the purest edge possible. They’re known as Kaged Muscle C-HCL Powder. There is a powder version and a capsule version. Keep Reading »
The important role of nutrition in building muscle and losing fat means bodybuilders may consume a wide variety of dietary supplements. 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.
Despite all the awesomeness of hypertrophy, athletes may be more interested in effects on power. Power is the ability to generate high amounts of force in relatively short periods of time — more power means you can pull more weight in low-rep sets — and independent of the hypertrophy, just five to ten grams of creatine per day appears to improve power output by 12 to 26 percent.
Creatine is a natural source of energy for muscle contraction. The body produces creatine in the liver, kidneys, and pancreas. People can also get creatine by eating meat or fish. (Vegetarians may have lower amounts of creatine in their bodies.) Most of the creatine in the body is stored in skeletal muscle and used during physical activity. The rest is used in the heart, brain, and other tissues.
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.
Despite a possible decreasing creatine content in the muscles when maintenance is deemed suboptimal, the overall retention of weight and lean mass is merely additive over time. This is thought to be due to increases in skeletal muscle production (increase in body weight) compensating for the progressive declines in water and glycogen content (decreases in body weight).
If you’re the kind of person who shops for popular dietary supplements like protein or collagen powder, you’ve probably seen another popular bottle on the shelves: creatine. This supplement, which can be taken as a powder or liquid (and usually in some kind of healthy shake), is a staple in the bodybuilding community thanks to its ability to help you pack on muscle and work out longer and harder. (1) While creatine is generally considered safe — and is one of the most researched supplements out there (according to a review published in July 2012 in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition) — it is still a supplement, which means it’s not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and product claims don’t necessarily need to be substantiated (though the FDA can pull products that are found to be unsafe). (2,3)
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.
This muscle-building, power-enhancing supplement has an extremely high safety profile and a plethora of evidence to support its efficacy. Creatine supplementation works by increasing the availability of creatine and phosphocreatine (PCr) within the muscle, helping to maintain energy during high-intensity exercise such as weightlifting. Furthermore, increasing the availability of PCr may help speed up recovery between sets.
Neurological and cognitive function has also been shown to be improved by creatine supplementation [47,48]. Rawson and Venezia  review the effects of creatine supplementation on cognitive function highlighting that higher brain creatine has been associated with improved neuropsychological performance. Creatine supplementation protocols have been shown to increase brain creatine and phosphocreatine contents. Cognitive processing hindered due to sleep deprivation and natural impairment due to aging can be improved by creatine supplementation. This review also highlights other possible benefits of creatine ingestion to older adults, such as improvements in: fatigue resistance, strength, muscle mass, bone mineral density, and performance of activities of daily living. Some of these benefits occur without concurrent exercise. The authors inform that discrepancies between studies do exist and are hard to explain but may be possibly due to differences in diet, race and/or supplementation protocols. However, the ideal dose of creatine to maximize brain uptake is not known. Patients have been supplemented with 40 g while in healthy adults positive results have been reported with around 20 g per day .
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.
One study investigating the effects of creatine supplementation on people with osteoarthritis undergoing knee arthroplasty (surgical procedure for osteoarthritis), who received creatine at 10g daily for 10 days prior to surgery and 5g daily for a month afterward, failed to find benefit with supplementation. This study failed to find any differences in muscular creatine stores or weight changes.
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. Creatine also protected these cells from death induced by low oxygen or glucose. 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, and creatine showed some growth-enhancing effects while helping reducing destruction of dopaminergic neurons by various insults.
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. 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. This does not rule out a possible systemic exercise-driven increase in creatine uptake, and the increase in creatine noted above 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.
Perform the exercise pairs (marked A and B) as alternating sets, resting 60 seconds between sets. You’ll complete one set of exercise A and rest; then one set of B and rest again; and repeat until you’ve completed all sets for that pair. On your very first training day, perform only one set for each exercise. Progress to two or more sets (as the set prescriptions below dictate) from your second workout on.
A push–pull workout is a method of arranging a weight training routine so that exercises alternate between push motions and pull motions. A push–pull superset is two complementary segments (one pull/one push) done back-to-back. An example is bench press (push) / bent-over row (pull). Another push–pull technique is to arrange workout routines so that one day involves only push (usually chest, shoulders and triceps) exercises, and an alternate day only pull (usually back and biceps) exercises so the body can get adequate rest.
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, yet a later trial trying to replicate the obsevations using 150mg/kg daily for five weeks noted the opposite, that creatine supplementation exacerbated symptoms.
These complete proteins include all of the essential amino acids that the body cannot produce itself. Different proteins, such as whey and casein, egg and soy have different absorption rates. Whether you should favor one over another for muscle building is still a subject of popular and scientific debate, although whey protein isolate, a more rapidly absorbed protein, has some support from various scientific studies. For protein powders, assess the value by checking out the protein listed on the label. Combined with resistance training, sufficient protein consumption along with an appropriate diet can lead to increased muscle and reduced body fat. You should read more about The Bodybuilding Diet for supplement timing issues before and after training.
Specifically targeted to be used by natural bodybuilders and powerlifters, Universal Nutrition Animal M-Stak is the ideal supplement for hard-gainers. Containing ingredients that help promote protein synthesis while preventing muscle breakdown, Animal M-Stak is designed to naturally maximize the muscle mass building process. Optimize your performance and strength, and overcome your plateaus with Animal M-Stak. Keep Reading »