You’d have to look hard to find a fitness expert who doesn’t recommend taking supplemental protein powder for building muscle. It’s one of the best supplements for building muscle on the market! In addition to serving as a muscle building supplement, protein powder can be the perfect complement to a successful weight loss plan. Studies show that the supplement can prevent loss of muscle mass, helping you lose fat exclusively instead.
Our bodies store creatine in our muscles so that we have quick access to it for fast, high-intensity movements, like sprinting or powerlifting, explains Autumn Bates, a certified clinical nutritionist and sports nutritionist in private practice in Manhattan Beach, California. “It's a nonessential amino acid, meaning your body creates it and you don't need to primarily get it from food.”

When you’re doing higher reps, focus on the muscle you are trying to build and squeeze every ounce of effort out of it. Yes, cheesie as it may sound, visualizing the muscles working and growing while you train them can be helpful. A 2016 study in the European Journal of Applied Physiology found that, when lifters thought about their pecs and triceps during a workout, they activated them better.
^ Jump up to: a b Wallimann T, Wyss M, Brdiczka D, Nicolay K, Eppenberger HM (January 1992). "Intracellular compartmentation, structure and function of creatine kinase isoenzymes in tissues with high and fluctuating energy demands: the 'phosphocreatine circuit' for cellular energy homeostasis". The Biochemical Journal. 281 ( Pt 1) (Pt 1): 21–40. doi:10.1042/bj2810021. PMC 1130636. PMID 1731757.

The muscle strength objective is pursued when you want your muscles to be effective when a high number of repetitions will be involved, or in other words when you want your muscles to be strong for a continued period of time. You'll want to use approximately 4 sets from which 10-12 reps are performed. The muscle strength objective is often used for muscles located in your back and your abdominals. 

The major controversies regarding creatine are its side effects and the best form to use. Nearly all side effects attributed to creatine, such as muscle cramps, kidney disease and gastrointestinal disturbances, haven't proved significant under controlled scientific scrutiny. Although various claims are made for a variety of creatine supplements, creatine monohydrate, which is 99 percent absorbed, is the best form to use.
After your standard whey protein powder, creatine may be the most popular sports supplement on Earth, and with good reason. A lot of supplements out there have a few promising studies suggesting they may improve some aspect of performance. Creatine has hundreds of them, and study after study has shown that among most people (a small percentage of are non-responders) it can have a significant effect on several areas of performance.
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.
Natalie Digate Muth, MD, MPH, RD, is the ACE senior consultant for healthcare solutions, a practicing pediatrician and registered dietitian. Recognized as a Certified Obesity Specialist, Natalie has written for more than 50 publications and, in 2012, published her first book, 'Eat Your Vegetables' and Other Mistakes Parents Make: Redefining How to Raise Healthy Eaters.
MuscleTech Cell-Tech could also be a solid pick for muscle growth. Detractors may not be a fan of the artificial ingredients, but there is evidence that including carbohydrates and alpha-lipoic acid with creatine may increase muscle creatine content. That said, this product uses a little less alpha-lipoic acid than was used in the study suggesting this synergistic effect.
For several years, research studies have shown that adolescents concerned with both athletics and appearance are taking performance-enhancing supplements. A study by the American Academy of Pediatrics of middle-school and high-school students ages 10 to 18 years found creatine use in all grades 6 through 12. About 5.6% of the study participants and 44% of high-school senior athletes admitted taking creatine.
Dumbbells: These are more expensive, though there are plenty of affordable options. You'll eventually want to get a variety of weights, but you can easily start with three sets of dumbbells: A light set (3 to 5 pounds for women, 5 to 8 pounds for men), a medium set (5 to 10 pounds for women, 10 to 15 pounds for men), and a heavy set (10 to 20 pounds for women, 15 to 30 pounds for men).
Duchenne’s Muscular Dystrophy (DMD) is associated with a reduction in intracellular creatine stores[554] known to only affects males. It is an X-linked progressive myopathy associated with abnormalities in the dystrophin gene.[555] The standard therapy at this moment involves corticosteroids such as prednisone.[556][557] Creatine is thought to be therapeutic since the known targetable abnormalities in DMD (impairment in protein synthesis associated with oxidative stress and increased protein breakdown) is a property of creatine and supplementation showed promise in the first case study[558] and benefit in a group of mixed dystrophinopathies.[559]

Creatine has been shown to influence androgen levels. Three weeks of creatine supplementation has been shown to increase dihydrotestosterone (DHT) levels, as well as the DHT:testosterone ratio with no effects on testosterone levels.[430] In contrast, creatine supplementation has been shown to increase testosterone levels when taken alongside a 10-week resistance training program.[431] A study in male amateur swimmers also noted that a creatine loading phase (20g daily for six days) was able to increase testosterone levels by around 15% relative to baseline.[397] 


One supplement, which a large body of research has proven effective in building muscle mass when combined with intensive strength training, is creatine (sold as creatine monohydrate). Creatine, a source of rapid energy, is stored in the muscles in small amounts. With creatine loading or supplementation, bodybuilders increase muscle stores of the energy-containing compound which then can be used to provide an extra boost for an intense-high-weight lifting session. Studies support that ingestion of a relatively high dose of creatine (20 to 30 grams per day for up to two weeks) increases muscle creatine stores by 10 to 30 percent and can boost muscle strength by about 10 percent when compared with resistance training alone (Rawson & Volek, 2003). Some athletes report (though research does not necessarily support) muscle cramping in response after using creatine supplements.
A major benefit of the creatine pills is that they are much more convenient than the powder, so you can just throw a few in your bag without worrying about the mess of a powder spill or having to carry the entire tub around. Reviewers confirm that they’ve seen serious strength and muscle size gains since starting to take this supplement, even after just two weeks of use. One bottle of this creatine includes 90 capsules so you will be set for months of lifting sessions.

A commercially available pre-workout formula comprised of 2.05 g of caffeine, taurine and glucuronolactone, 7.9 g of L-leucine, L-valine, L-arginine and L-glutamine, 5 g of di-creatine citrate and 2.5 g of β-alanine mixed with 500 ml of water taken 10 minutes prior to exercise has been shown to enhance time to exhaustion during moderate intensity endurance exercise and to increase feelings of focus, energy and reduce subjective feelings of fatigue before and during endurance exercise due to a synergistic effect of the before mentioned ingredients [72]. The role of creatine in this formulation is to provide a neuroprotective function by enhancing the energy metabolism in the brain tissue, promoting antioxidant activities, improving cerebral vasculation and protecting the brain from hyperosmotic shock by acting as a brain cell osmolyte. Creatine can provide other neuroprotective benefits through stabilisation of mitochondrial membranes, stimulation of glutamate uptake into synaptic vesicles and balance of intracellular calcium homeostasis [72].

In standard dosages (5-10g creatine monohydrate) the bioavailability of creatine in humans is approximately 99%,[68][83] although this value is subject to change with different conjugates (forms) of creatine and dosages.[83] Coingestion of cyclocreatine (an analogue) can reduce uptake by about half[131] and coincubation of taurine, choline, glycine, or beta-alanine had minimal attenuation of absorption, which is likely not practically relevant.[131] The inhibition noted with cyclocreatine may be due to receptor saturation.

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?
Prohormones are precursors to hormones and are most typically sold to bodybuilders as a precursor to the natural hormone testosterone. This conversion requires naturally occurring enzymes in the body. Side effects are not uncommon, as prohormones can also convert further into DHT and estrogen. To deal with this, many supplements also have aromatase inhibitors and DHT blockers such as chrysin and 4-androstene-3,6,17-trione. To date most prohormone products have not been thoroughly studied, and the health effects of prolonged use are unknown. Although initially available over the counter, their purchase was made illegal without a prescription in the US in 2004, and they hold similar status in many other countries. They remain legal, however, in the United Kingdom and the wider European Union. Their use is prohibited by most sporting bodies.
Casein, the source of the white color of milk, accounts for 70-80% of milk protein. Casein exists in what’s known as a micelle, a compound similar to a soap sud which has a water-averse inside and water-loving outside. This property allows the protein to provide a sustained, slow release of amino acids into the blood stream, sometimes lasting for hours. This makes casein a good protein source immediately before a workout to provide a continual amino acid supply to the muscles. Some studies suggest that combined supplementation with casein and whey offers the greatest muscular strength improvement (Kerksick, 2006).

Most people require around 20 calories per pound (or 44 kcal / kg) of bodyweight to gain muscle mass. Using a 180-pound (82kg) male as an example, the required daily calorie intake is 3600 calories (20 kcal x 180 lb = 3600 kcal). When it comes to gaining weight, it is likely that you may put on a few pounds of fat along the way, but if you do find your body fat increasing, either increase the amount of aerobic exercise (moderate intensity) you are doing or slightly reduce the total number of calories you are consuming. Remember you can’t force feed muscle gain!
Heath is an unlikely Mr. Olympia. He grew up on playgrounds in Seattle playing basketball. His backcourt mate on the 1998 state championship team at Rainier Beach High School was Jamal Crawford, still in the N.B.A. Heath, just 5 feet 9 inches and a naturally chiseled 175 pounds, got a Division I basketball scholarship at the University of Denver. He majored in business and averaged 1.3 points over four seasons.
While I’m not well-versed in DNP, it is important to note that most supplements are not regulated by the FDA. The FDA has minimal standards for governing supplements before they make it to the shelves. All supplementation should be a case-by-case basis and under the discretion of a doctor and/or registered dietitian who knows your personal needs. Also, if you are consuming a well-rounded, healthy diet, supplementation may not be needed, even for making gains at the gym.
While the number of reps you do per set is important, of equal importance is the total number of reps you do per muscle group. The National Strength and Conditioning Association has determined that, to maximize growth, you need approximately 20–70 total reps per muscle group. Depending on which end of a rep range you’re working, this can be done in one session or over a few days (a training week, for instance), but that’s the spread you need to cover to see gains.

MuscleTech Cell-Tech is the best creatine stack. A lot of products claim to be more effective than regular monohydrate and while that’s seldom true, Cell-Tech has the goods. It combines creatine with a big 38 grams of carbohydrates and some alpha-lipolic acid, and some studies actually show that this trifecta could be more effective at sending creatine to the muscles than plain creatine.
This copyrighted, evidence-based medicine resource is provided by Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Consumer Version. Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database disclaims any responsibility related to consequences of using any product. This monograph should not replace advice from a healthcare professional and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition.
One limitation of many free weight exercises and exercise machines is that the muscle is working maximally against gravity during only a small portion of the lift. Some exercise-specific machines feature an oval cam (first introduced by Nautilus) which varies the resistance, so that the resistance, and the muscle force required, remains constant throughout the full range of motion of the exercise.
If you're serious about putting on some muscle, then the most efficient way to do it is with three intense resistance training sessions and two lighter intensity workouts per week. “You need to have consistency in a workout program, hitting at least each muscle group two times a week to build muscle,” explains Lovitt. If you’re looking to switch up exercises, Olson suggests swaps such as sumo squats instead of traditional squats; step-ups on a bench instead of lunges; and then rotating back to the former. “These types of variation can be very effective in developing muscles, but the weights must still be fairly heavy that you’re using,” she says.
Osteoblast cells are known to express creatine kinase.[39][417] Bone growth factors such as IGF-1,[418] PTH,[419] and even Vitamin D[420][421] seem to induce bone growth alongside increases in creatine kinase activity. Vitamin D has been noted to work indirectly by increasing the cellular energy state (these hormones increase creatine kinase in order to do so) in order to make bone cells more responsive to estrogen.[420] This evidence, paired with enhanced growth rates of osteoblasts in the presence of higher than normal (10-20mM) concentrations of creatine[422] suggest a role of creatine in promoting osteoblastic and bone growth, secondary to increasing energy availability.
Competitive and professional bodybuilders, however, can often build up to two to three pounds of muscle per month during dedicated bulking periods. "But they are living and breathing muscle growth. They aren't just in and out of the gym like most people," Simpson says, noting that under extreme conditions, hyperplasia, or the growth in the number of muscle cells in a given muscle tissue, may actually occur, further adding to muscle growth results.
Creatine is most commonly found in the basic form of creatine monohydrate, which is the standard form and usually recommended due to the low price. It can also be micronized to improve water solubility, or the monohydrate can be temporarily removed to concentrate creatine in a small volume supplement. Neither alteration changes the properties of creatine.
Creatine has been noted to increase the amplitude (0.5-5mM) and frequency (25mM only) of NMDA receptors, although concentrations of 0.5-25mM also reduced signaling intensity. This was credited to creatine causing an increase in ligand binding of glutamate with an EC50 of 67µM and maximal activity at 1mM creatine (158±16% of baseline).[214] Creatine appears to modulate the polyamine binding site of the NMDA receptor, as it is abolished by arcaine and potentiated by spermidine.[215] This binding site is known to modify NMDA receptor affinity.[216][217]
“Reg Park’s theory was that first you have to build the mass and then chisel it down to get the quality; you work on your body the way a sculptor would work on a piece of clay or wood or steel. You rough it out””the more carefully, the more thoroughly, the better”” then you start to cut and define. You work it down gradually until it’s ready to be rubbed and polished. And that’s when you really know about the foundation. Then all the faults of poor early training stand out as hopeless, almost irreparable flaws. [..]
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!
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.
Make no mistake: Eating for muscle is just as important as lifting for muscle. The foods you grab in the morning on the way to work, the meals you pack for lunch and mid-afternoon, what you put into your body immediately following your workout, and your final meal of the day impact your results as much as, if not more than, the number of reps you squeeze out at the end of a set. But in reality, it can be tough to stick to a "“clean"” diet when you'’re busy. We know that adding another layer of complexity to life in the form of reading food labels and studying ingredient lists just isn'’t an option for most of us. Not to mention actually preparing all those healthy meals.
Genetic deficiencies in the creatine biosynthetic pathway lead to various severe neurological defects.[26] Clinically, there are three distinct disorders of creatine metabolism. Deficiencies in the two synthesis enzymes can cause L-arginine:glycine amidinotransferase deficiency caused by variants in GATM and guanidinoacetate methyltransferase deficiency, caused by variants in GAMT. Both biosynthetic defects are inherited in an autosomal recessive manner. A third defect, creatine transporter defect, is caused by mutations in SLC6A8 and inherited in a X-linked manner. This condition is related to the transport of creatine into the brain.[27]
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.
Try this little exercise some time: follow the supplement plan provided above for at least three months. Then quit all supplement use for a further three months and watch what happens. Sure, most supplement marketing involves hype and some companies make laughably outrageous claims, but there is no secret as to why the supplement industry is booming. Supplements work.
The main storage area of creatine in the human body is the skeletal (contractile) muscle, which holds true for other animals. Therefore, consumption of skeletal muscle (meat products) is the main human dietary source of creatine. Since vegetarians and vegans lack the main source of dietary creatine intake, which has been estimated to supply half of the daily requirements of creatine in normal people, both vegetarians and vegans have been reported to have lower levels of creatine.[58][59] This also applies to other meat-exclusive nutrients, such as L-Carnitine.[58]
Endurance exercise is also known to produce heat from skeletal muscle tissue, and an increase in internal temperature occurs when the production of heat (from metabolism) exceeds release. This increase in heat is accelerated when training in hot environments[390] and it is thought to be beneficial to retain water (hydration) during exercise, since more water allows a preservation of plasma volume (PV) and the sweat response reduces internal temperature.[391][392] This particular phenomena may only apply to endurance exercise, since creatine is able to increase sprint performance in heat, independent of altering the decline in PV and sweat rates.[393]

Yang, L., Calingasan, N. Y., Wille, E. J., Cormier, K., Smith, K., Ferrante, R. J., & Beal, M. F. (2009, June). Combination therapy with coenzyme Q10 and creatine produces additive neuroprotective effects in models of Parkinson's and Huntington's diseases [Abstract]. Journal of Neurochemistry. 109(5):1427-39. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19476553
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.
High extracellular creatine concentrations induce the expression of a factor that inhibits the creatine transporter (CrT). To date, neither the identity of nor mechanism for this putative CrT-suppressing factor has come to light. Future studies that are able to identify this creatine transport-suppressing factor and how it works may provide valuable insight into possible supplementation strategies that might be used to increase creatine uptake into muscle cells.
A study showed that 100mg/kg creatine monohydrate daily over four months supplemented by boys with DMD is able to enhance handgrip strength in the dominant hand only (less than 10% increase) and increase whole-body lean mass. While the trend toward whole body strength reduction seen in placebo was ablated and there was no interaction with corticosteroids,[560] this study failed to find an influence on activities of daily living or lung function.[560] Elsewhere in children not on corticosteroids with DMD, supplementation of 5g creatine for eight weeks was confirmed to increase muscular phosphocreatine content[554] and according to a manual muscle test (MMT) there was a significant improvement in muscular function relative to placebo, with more parents reporting benefit with creatine (53.8%) relative to placebo (14%).[554]
No need to worry! This myth that caffeine counteracts creatine came from the simple, but wrong logic that because caffeine accelerates the nervous system and uses more water, it would counteract creatine because creatine helps your body retain water. While both of these statements are true, it does not mean they “cancel” eachother out, all that it means is that your body will be able to stay hydrated longer if you are taking creatine and caffeine opposed to just taking caffeine.
When lifting any weight, you’ve got a concentric (hard) and eccentric (easy) phase. For instance, as you lower into a squat, you’re performing an eccentric action. When you return to standing, that’s concentric. And, according to research published in the European Journal of Applied Physiology, eccentric work is far better at triggering hypertrophy.
The major controversies regarding creatine are its side effects and the best form to use. Nearly all side effects attributed to creatine, such as muscle cramps, kidney disease and gastrointestinal disturbances, haven't proved significant under controlled scientific scrutiny. Although various claims are made for a variety of creatine supplements, creatine monohydrate, which is 99 percent absorbed, is the best form to use.
Supplementation of a loading phase of creatine has been noted to augment the increase in RBC levels of superoxide dismutase (SOD) from exercise, when measured immediately after, by 8.1%, but control groups increased to match within an hour.[299] Glutathione (normally decreases with exercise) and catalase (increases) were both unaffected,[299] and elsewhere in vitro red blood cells incubated with 3mM of creatine (within the supplemental range) is able to improve filterability (a measure of cell rheology, or fluid structure of the cell[300]) when RBC creatine was increased by 12.3% to reach 554µM.[301] This was thought to be due to reduced oxidative stress (assessed via MDA) in the red blood cells, which in the presence of 1-5mM creatine was progressively reduced by 20-41%.[301]
As the name implies, the muscle power objective can be pursued if you want to achieve maximum size in your muscles or if you want them to be explosively strong (i.e. very powerful for short bursts at a time). In order to develop muscles this way you'll want to use no more than 3 sets in which no more than 8 reps are used. Muscle size and power is often used for muscles that are prominently displayed on the human figure, such as the pectorals, or the biceps and triceps.
Legion’s Recharge is a good pick for muscle growth. Besides the creatine itself, it contains a hefty 2.1 grams of l-carnitine l-tartrate, which has solid links with improving muscle repair in addition to increasing focus during workouts. It’s also delicious, naturally sweetened, and it contains ingredients that may improve insulin sensitivity and help the body to better utilize carbs for recovery.

How to maximize its effects: Take 20 grams of whey protein powder in the 30 minutes before working out, and take 40 grams within 60 minutes after training. Also consider taking 20-40 grams of whey immediately upon waking every morning to kick-start muscle growth. Your best bet is to choose a whey powder that contains whey protein hydrolysates (whey protein broken down into smaller fragments for faster digestion) or whey protein isolate.


After the ingestion of 5g creatine in otherwise healthy humans, serum levels of creatine were elevated from fasting levels (50-100µM) to 600-800µM within one hour after consumption.[135] The receptor follows Michaelis-Menten kinetics with a Vmax obtained at concentrations higher than 0.3-0.4mmol/L,[136] with prolonged serum concentrations above this amount exerting most of its saturation within two days.[137]

By that logic, a 160-pound man should consume around 160 grams of protein a day—the amount he'd get from an 8-ounce chicken breast, 1 cup of cottage cheese, a roast-beef sandwich, two eggs, a glass of milk, and 2 ounces of peanuts.) If you don't eat meat for ethical or religious reasons, don't worry — you can count on other sources, too. Soy, almonds, lentils, spinach, peas, and beans are packed with protein.


Taking high doses of creatine might harm the kidneys. Some medications can also harm the kidneys. Taking creatine with medications that can harm the kidneys might increase the chance of kidney damage.

Some of these medications that can harm the kidneys include cyclosporine (Neoral, Sandimmune); aminoglycosides including amikacin (Amikin), gentamicin (Garamycin, Gentak, others), and tobramycin (Nebcin, others); nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) including ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, Nuprin, others), indomethacin (Indocin), naproxen (Aleve, Anaprox, Naprelan, Naprosyn), piroxicam (Feldene); and numerous others.
×