When it comes to building muscle, there are numerous theories, methods, and preferences. Whether the goal is improved health, aesthetics, performance, or a combination of all three, there is no shortage of advice to help you get there. So much so that it can sometimes become overly complicated and you forget about the basic facts. But, it’s simpler than it seems.


It is known that intracellular energy depletion (assessed by a depletion of ATP) stimulates AMPK activity in order to normalize the AMP:ATP ratio,[333][334] and when activated AMPK (active in states of low cellular energy[335] and colocalizes with creatine kinase in muscle tissue[336]) appears to inhibit creatine kinase via phosphorylation (preserving phosphocreatine stores but attenuating the rate that creatine buffers ATP). While phosphocreatine technically inhibits AMPK, this does not occur in the presence of creatine at a 2:1 ratio.[334] It seems that if the ratio of phosphocreatine:creatine increases (indicative of excess cellular energy status) that AMPK activity is then attenuated, since when a cell is in a high energy status, there is less AMP to directly activate AMPK.[334][336][337]
Of the three, protein will of course play the most important role in the muscle building process (like calories, it’s one our required “supplies”), although fat and carbs will still be important for other reasons which range from optimizing hormone production (e.g. testosterone, the muscle building hormone) to enhancing training performance and recovery.
Boosting your workouts with an intra-workout catalyst, Scivation's XTEND holds a revolutionary formula that is both free of sugar and carbohydrates in a powerful BCAA drink mix. Using the 2:1:1 BCAA ratio with 7 grams in each serving, the advanced design of this supplement aids in the building of muscle, incinerating of fat, and shortening of recovery, while supporting hydration with a proprietary blend of electrolytes. XTEND encourages the optimal synthesizing of protein and fuels the body with energy for a power-filled workout. Keep Reading »
Parashos, S. A., Swearingen, C. J., Biglan, K. M., Bodis-Wollner, I., Liang, G. S., Ross, G. W., Tilley, B. C., and Shulman, L. M. Determinants of the timing of symptomatic treatment in early Parkinson disease: The National Institutes of Health Exploratory Trials in Parkinson Disease (NET-PD) Experience. Arch Neurol. 2009;66:1099-1104. View abstract.
In a pilot study on youth with cystic fibrosis, supplementation of creatine at 12g for a week and 6g for eleven weeks afterward was associated with a time-dependent increase in maximal isometric strength reaching 14.3%, which was maintained after 12-24 weeks of supplement cessation (18.2% higher than baseline).[485] This study noted that more patients reported an increase in wellbeing (9 subjects, 50%) rather than a decrease (3, 17%) or nothing (6, 33%) and that there was no influence on chest or lung symptoms.[485]
Eat 1.5–3 grams of carbs per pound of your body weight. As with fat, this amount can vary greatly, depending on your personal needs and preferences, so consider these numbers only a starting point. If you’re very skinny and feel that you handle carbs well (i.e. you can eat a lot of them without getting fat), go ahead and eat according to the higher end of the spectrum. The same applies if you’re desperate to gain weight—you should increase your carb intake. If you’re prone to weight gain or feel lethargic on higher carbs, you should eat fewer of them. Again, see our keto guide for more details and options.
Due to the growing concerns of the high cost, health consequences, and illegal nature of some steroids, many organizations have formed in response and have deemed themselves "natural" bodybuilding competitions. In addition to the concerns noted, many promoters of bodybuilding have sought to shed the "freakish" perception that the general public has of bodybuilding and have successfully introduced a more mainstream audience to the sport of bodybuilding by including competitors whose physiques appear much more attainable and realistic.
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.
Foundational supplements are often overlooked for building muscle, because they work behind the scenes. In actuality, foundational supplements are important to take for building muscle, because they assist with overall health and wellness and contribute to the effectiveness of other muscle building supplements.* Some of the top foundational supplements are:
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. 
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.
The US FDA reports 50,000 health problems a year due to dietary supplements [14] and these often involve bodybuilding supplements.[15] For example, the "natural" best-seller Craze, 2012's "New Supplement of the Year" by bodybuilding.com, widely sold in stores such as Walmart and Amazon, was found to contain N,alpha-Diethylphenylethylamine, a methamphetamine analog.[16] Other products by Matt Cahill have contained dangerous substances causing blindness or liver damage, and experts say that Cahill is emblematic for the whole industry.[17]
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).
For example, say you are pursuing a muscle power objective in which you have decided to perform 3 sets of 8 repetitions each. You'll want to make sure you don't add too much weight so that you are able to perform all 8 repetitions before your muscles are too tired to finish the set. Conversely you'll want to make sure you add enough weight so that you are not simply breezing past the repetitions and finish your sets of plenty of energy still left in the tank. While it may take a few workout sessions to find the right combination, once you'll do it'll be easy to monitor and increase weight as you progress.

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.
Overtraining occurs when a bodybuilder has trained to the point where his workload exceeds his recovery capacity. There are many reasons why overtraining occurs, including lack of adequate nutrition, lack of recovery time between workouts, insufficient sleep, and training at a high intensity for too long (a lack of splitting apart workouts). Training at a high intensity too frequently also stimulates the central nervous system (CNS) and can result in a hyperadrenergic state that interferes with sleep patterns.[51] To avoid overtraining, intense frequent training must be met with at least an equal amount of purposeful recovery. Timely provision of carbohydrates, proteins, and various micronutrients such as vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, even nutritional supplements are acutely critical. A mental disorder informally called “bigorexia” (by analogy with anorexia) may be held accountable of some people overtraining. Sufferers feel as if they are never big enough or muscular enough, which forces them to overtrain in order to try and reach their goal physique.[52]
It may seem odd to put such a common supplement as minerals on this list, but few people are aware that minerals are enzyme activators. Many vitamins, on the other hand, are coenzymes, which means that without minerals they're useless. Many minerals, such as zinc and chromium, also interact with various anabolic hormones, such as testosterone, growth hormone and insulin.
There are several ways to enhance the quality of a workout, and some changes can even be made during each rep. “Constant tension should be applied to the last five reps of every working set, meaning, do the first 5-6 reps normal tempo, and the last few reps should be held for at least two seconds at the peak of the contraction,” says Heath. “This allows your muscles to have more time under tension and you work different muscle fibers.” Hold the weight at the top for a maximum pump.

In a pilot study on youth with cystic fibrosis, supplementation of creatine at 12g for a week and 6g for eleven weeks afterward was associated with a time-dependent increase in maximal isometric strength reaching 14.3%, which was maintained after 12-24 weeks of supplement cessation (18.2% higher than baseline).[485] This study noted that more patients reported an increase in wellbeing (9 subjects, 50%) rather than a decrease (3, 17%) or nothing (6, 33%) and that there was no influence on chest or lung symptoms.[485]

In otherwise healthy adults subject to leg immobilization for two weeks while taking 20g creatine daily during immobilization and then 5g daily during eight weeks of rehabilitation, it was noted that the creatine group failed to reduce atrophy during the immobilization (10% reduction in cross sectional area and 22-25% reduction in force output) despite preventing a decrease in phosphocreatine, yet experienced a significantly enhanced rate of regrowth and power recovery.[358] A similarly structured and dosed study has also noted greater expression of skeletal muscle, GLUT4 expression, and a 12% increase in muscle phosphocreatine content.[330]


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.
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.
In the following article I will outline the supplements that have helped me to add a massive 10 kilograms (22lbs) of solid muscle to my physique over the past year—taking my body weight from 80 kilograms (176lbs) to 90 kilograms (198lbs)—and explain how these have helped me to improve my performance and enhance my size as a natural bodybuilder, aged 35.
It can be hard to know where to start when beginning strength training. There are countless exercises you can do, some of which work some muscles, but not others. There are safety concerns to beware of, a wide variety of sometimes confusing equipment to help you in your efforts, and so on. With some familiarity of the basics of getting started with strength training, actually doing so can become far less daunting, and you can begin to craft a routine that is targeted toward helping you achieve your personal goals.
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