Need the motivation to push past your comfort zone and squeeze out one more push-up or bicep curl? Sure, it helps to remember that you’ll get stronger, rock more toned muscles and rev your metabolism, thanks to all that added muscle mass. But if that wasn’t enough, now comes news that all that pump-itude (yes, that’s an SNL reference) has psychological benefits, too. 

In addition to improving athletic performance and muscle strength, creatine is taken by mouth for creatine deficiency syndromes that affect the brain, aging, bone density, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), congestive heart failure (CHF), depression, diabetes, exercise tolerance, fibromyalgia, Huntington's disease, disease that cause inflammation in the muscles (idiopathic inflammatory myopathies), Parkinson's disease, diseases of the muscles and nerves, multiple sclerosis, muscle atrophy, muscle cramps, breathing problems in infants while sleeping, head trauma, Rett syndrome, an eye disease called gyrate atrophy, inherited disorders that affect the senses and movement, schizophrenia, muscle breakdown in the spine, and recovery from surgery. It is also taken by mouth to slow the worsening of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, Lou Gehrig's disease), osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, McArdle's disease, and for various muscular dystrophies.
Syrotuik and Bell [57] investigated the physical characteristics of responder and non-responder subjects to creatine supplementation in recreationally resistance trained men with no history of CM usage. The supplement group was asked to ingest a loading dosage of 0.3 g/kg/d for 5 days. The physiological characteristics of responders were classified using Greenhaff et al [58] criterion of >20 mmol/kg dry weight increase in total intramuscular creatine and phosphocreatine and non responders as <10 mmol/kg dry weight increase, a third group labeled quasi responders were also used to classify participants who fell in between the previously mentioned groups (10-20 mmol/kg dry weight). Overall, the supplemented group showed a mean increase in total resting muscle creatine and phosphocreatine of 14.5% (from 111.12 ± 8.87 mmol/kg dry weight to 127.30 ± 9.69 mmol/kg dry weight) whilst the placebo group remained relatively unaffected (from 115.70 ± 14.99 mmol/kg dry weight to 111.74 ± 12.95 mmol/kg dry weight). However when looking at individual cases from the creatine group the results showed a variance in response. From the 11 males in the supplemented group, 3 participants were responders (mean increase of 29.5 mmol/kg dry weight or 27%), 5 quasi responders (mean increase of 14.9 mmol/kg dry weight or 13.6%) and 3 non-responders (mean increase of 5.1 mmol/kg dry weight or 4.8%). Using muscle biopsies of the vastus lateralis, a descending trend for groups and mean percentage fiber type was observed. Responders showed the greatest percentage of type II fibers followed by quasi responders and non-responders. The responder and quasi responder groups had an initial larger cross sectional area for type I, type IIa and type IIx fibers. The responder group also had the greatest mean increase in the cross sectional area of all the muscle fiber types measured (type I, type IIa and type IIx increased 320, 971 and 840 μm2 respectively) and non-responders the least (type I, type IIa and type IIx increased 60, 46 and 78 μm2 respectively). There was evidence of a descending trend for responders to have the highest percentage of type II fibers; furthermore, responders and quasi responders possessed the largest initial cross sectional area of type I, IIa and IIx fibers. Responders were seen to have the lowest initial levels of creatine and phosphocreatine. This has also been observed in a previous study [17] which found that subjects whose creatine levels were around 150 mmol/Kg dry mass did not have any increments in their creatine saturation due to creatine supplementation, neither did they experience any increases of creatine uptake, phosphocreatine resynthesis and performance. This would indicate a limit maximum size of the creatine pool.
Branched-chain amino acids (leucine, isoleucine, valine) play important roles in muscle building. Some researchers have found that following exercise, the branched-chain amino acids, especially leucine, increase the rate of protein synthesis and decrease the rate of protein catabolism (Blomstrand, 2006). The billion dollar supplement industry has been quick to respond; leucine supplements are widely available in health food stores, with a cost upwards of $50 per container. However, because the research findings are inconsistent and little is known about the safety of these products, the American Dietetic Association (soon to be renamed the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics) advises against individual amino acid supplementation and protein supplementation overall (Rodriquez, 2009). It may be that food sources of these proteins and amino acids provide the same effect for a small fraction of the cost.
When Katula started his research on whether weight training would improve quality of life for seniors, he realized that many had never even picked up a dumbbell. “They first had to learn how to use these big intimidating weights and machines,” he says. He recalls the story of one woman who protested that she couldn’t do the leg press machine. Finally, Katula persuaded her to sit in the machine and set the weight at 50 pounds. “I couldn’t believe how fast she whipped out 10 reps,” he says, “When she got out of that machine, she was two inches taller just from increased pride.”
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.[17][18][20] Typically, creatine is produced endogenously at an estimated rate of about 8.3 mmol or 1 gram per day in young adults.[16][17] Creatine is also obtained through the diet at a rate of about 1 gram per day from an omnivorous diet.[17][18] 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.[21]
I know this goes against the recommendations you often see in stereotypical bodybuilding routines (i.e. the ones that involve having a single “chest day” or “arm day” or “shoulder day” once a week), but that’s just one of the many reasons why those types of routines suck for us natural, genetically-average people, and work best for steroid users with great genetics.
Creatine kinase is expressed in eyes. The eyes can take creatine up from the blood via two different transporters, the classic SCL6A8 (creatine transporter) and MCT12. It seems that expression of the receptors and accumulation of creatine occur in a relatively higher level in photoreceptors, which perceive color. Similarly to many other tissues, they appear to protect the cells during periods of low oxygen availability.

Creatine supplementation appears to attenuate decreases in GLUT4 expression seen with immobility and may increase GLUT4 expression during exercise. While it seems capable of increasing GLUT4 during resting conditions, it has failed to reach significance, suggesting that creatine supplementation works best with some stimuli associated with exercise. 

If you're a serious strength or physique athlete, you've surely heard that supplements can help you get the most from your intense training sessions and on-point diet. But which supplements? The market is overstuffed like a bodybuilder in a child's blazer! You might be tempted to wander through a digital forest of get-big blogs and personal guru websites, but unfortunately those places can often be rife with misinformation.
Even if you have a schedule that allows for a 5-day workout split, many people (I’d even call it the majority) simply don’t have the recovery capacity needed to make that work. This could be due to genetics, age, injury history, various lifestyle factors (sleep, stress, etc.) and more. In these cases, better results would be seen with 3-4 workouts per week instead.
1. Are you tracking calories? Doesn't have to be religiously but one should have a general idea of where they're at if the goal is mass gain and things have stalled. I'm not talking about weighing every gram of food you put in your mouth and meticulously logging your life on MyFitnessPal. As long as you're aware (within 100-200 calories) of what's going in, you should have an idea of what to adjust.
Daily, Heath usually eats five to six pounds of protein-rich meats — filet mignon, chicken, turkey, salmon and tilapia, mostly. He consumes up to 75 grams of carbohydrates in the form of grits or oatmeal, white or brown rice, and various types of potatoes, including sweet potatoes. Mornings might bring 16 ounces of scrambled egg whites. He tries to drink two gallons of water a day. His off-season weight usually reaches 275 pounds or more, still chiseled.
In the early 2000s, the IFBB was attempting to make bodybuilding an Olympic sport. It obtained full IOC membership in 2000 and was attempting to get approved as a demonstration event at the Olympics, which would hopefully lead to it being added as a full contest. This did not happen and Olympic recognition for bodybuilding remains controversial since many argue that bodybuilding is not a sport.[11]
The specific mechanism of intestinal uptake for creatine is not clear, although transporters have been identified in rat jujenum, and confirmed at the mRNA level in humans.[129][130] The observation that creatine can be absorbed against a concentration gradient to a max ratio of 8:1 (8 times more creatine in the intestinal cell post absorption, relative to the lumen) supports transporter-mediated uptake, and the dependence on sodium and chloride implicate SLC6A8 (Creatine Transporter 1) as the operative transporter.[102]
Myotonic Dystrophy type I (DM1) is an inhereted muscular disorder caused by an expanded CTG repeat in the DMPK gene on chromosome 19q13.3 (genetic cause of the disorder[561]) resulting in muscular degeneration and myotonia. The related myopathy, Myotonic Dystrophy type II (DM2) which is also known as proximal myotonic myopathy (PROMM) is due to a CCTG repeat on 3q,[562] and is less affected by myotonia and more by muscular pain and weakness. There is no cure for either because they are genetic disorders, so current therapies are aimed at reducing side-effects. Therapies include modafinil for the somnolence[563] and perhaps creatine for the reduction in strength and functionality.[548]
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.
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.[38] 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%.[38]
Han:SPRD‐cy rats (human polycystic kidney disease model[514][515]) have pre-existing renal damage, which is accelerated upon ingestion of creatine supplementation at 0.3% of the diet for five days and 0.03-0.05% for the next 35 days (equivalent to human loading and maintenance).[516] During this particular disease state, renal water content and size progressively increases.[514][515] Since creatine supplementation furthered the increase by an additional 2.1%, it was thought that this property of creatine explained the 23% increased cyst scores seen relative to control.[516]
Kidney damage (from anything) will cause high levels of creatinine in blood, and creatine can also increase blood creatinine levels in a manner that is not due to damaging the kidneys. This results in a false positive when trying to diagnose kidney damange when the subject also supplements creatine, and does not signify any actual damage to the kidneys.
The majority of studies have used nothing but a loading period and the duration, overall, was about a week. This is partially because one study that noted benefit with a loading period failed to note benefit with prolonged supplementation.[156] Lowballing supplementation at 2g a day in high active swimmers does not appear to be sufficient to alter any function in skeletal muscle.[383]
Perform the workout three days a week for four weeks, resting at least one day between each session. On the weight exercises, choose a load that allows you to complete a few more reps than the prescribed number (you may need to adjust this load between sets as you discover your strength levels). For instance, if an exercise calls for 12 reps, choose a load that you estimate you can perform 15 reps with before having to stop (but complete only 12).
For many people in rehabilitation or with an acquired disability, such as following stroke or orthopaedic surgery, strength training for weak muscles is a key factor to optimise recovery.[35] For people with such a health condition, their strength training is likely to need to be designed by an appropriate health professional, such as a physiotherapist.
Rice Protein: An alternative protein powder for muscle gain, rice protein is ideal for people who are lactose intolerant or have a milk allergy. As far as muscle gain and body composition when taken post-workout, this study showed that there was zero difference in outcomes when comparing taking whey protein and rice protein. So, if you prefer using rice protein, you can take it with confidence knowing that you’ll be able to achieve the same results you’d achieve if you were taking whey protein.
That means it's an important part of your overall fitness and it benefits people of all ages, plus it may be particularly important for people with health issues such as obesity, arthritis, or a heart condition. The Centers for Disease Control Prevention physical activity guidelines recommend that adults do muscle-strengthening activities on at least two or more days each week (targeting the legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms). (2)
Once training is resumed under these conditions, there may be little in the way of caloric support to ensure that protein synthesis and muscle growth occurs. Muscle may even begin to cannibalize itself as the body enters into a catabolic state. Even with the best of diets this can sometimes happen if training demands override the nutritional balance or imbalance.

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.
A 2001 study at the University of Texas found that lifters who drank a shake containing amino acids and carbohydrates before working out increased their protein synthesis more than lifters who drank the same shake after exercising. The shake contained 6 grams of essential amino acids — the muscle-building blocks of protein — and 35 grams of carbohydrates.
Incubation of a β-cell with additional creatine (5-10mM), even at saturated concentrations of glucose, is able to further increase insulin secretion in response to glucose, specifically as the leucine metabolite 2-ketoisocaproic acid, potassium, and a potassium channel blocker were all ineffective.[494] This has been found to occur in rats given 2% of the diet as creatine[345] but has since failed in humans given 5g of creatine.[351]
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.
There appears to be some potential for creatine supplementation. However, many questions remain. Are there any long-term harmful effects from supplementation? Is there a point where enhanced performance levels off from long-term supplement usage? What effect does "stacking" or taking two ergogenic aids simultaneously have on the body? What happens if you immediately stop taking the creatine supplement? Is the enhanced performance great enough to warrant the expense of the supplement? Until further research answers these questions, creatine is not recommended for the average athlete.
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.
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] 
^ Jump up to: a b c d e f g h Momaya A, Fawal M, Estes R (April 2015). "Performance-enhancing substances in sports: a review of the literature". Sports Med. 45 (4): 517–531. doi:10.1007/s40279-015-0308-9. PMID 25663250. Wilson et al. [91] demonstrated that when non-resistance trained males received HMB pre-exercise, the rise of lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) levels reduced, and HMB tended to decrease soreness. Knitter et al. [92] showed a decrease in LDH and creatine phosphokinase (CPK), a byproduct of muscle breakdown, by HMB after a prolonged run. ... The utility of HMB does seem to be affected by timing of intake prior to workouts and dosage [97].
Increasing creatine levels in skeletal muscle to 687% of baseline (0.5mM creatine, thought to be equivalent to 5g creatine[135]) doesn’t seem to per se increase glucose uptake, but increases glucose oxidation (140% of baseline)[341] which is due to a two-fold increase in the activity of α1 and α2 subunits of AMPK, a potency comparable to 1mM of the reference drug AICAR.[341] Glucose uptake associated with AMPK has indeed been noted in diabetic people who are undergoing physical exercise[342] and in contracting skeletal muscle cells,[153][330] but according to rat[343][344][345] and in vitro studies of cells not being contracted,[341] this is not a per se effect of non-exercising tissue but an augmentation of exercise-induced glucose uptake.
The incidence of liver damage from herbal and dietary supplements is about 16–20% of all supplement products causing injury, with the occurrence growing globally over the early 21st century.[2] The most common liver injuries from weight loss and bodybuilding supplements involve hepatocellular damage with resulting jaundice, and the most common supplement ingredients attributed to these injuries are catechins from green tea, anabolic steroids, and the herbal extract, aegeline.[2]
The majority of studies have used nothing but a loading period and the duration, overall, was about a week. This is partially because one study that noted benefit with a loading period failed to note benefit with prolonged supplementation.[156] Lowballing supplementation at 2g a day in high active swimmers does not appear to be sufficient to alter any function in skeletal muscle.[383]
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]
Consuming sufficient high-quality protein is essential for building muscle. Current recommendations are to consume a minimum of 0.8g of protein for each kg of body weight, however, this is really only applicable to the average sedentary individual. Current evidence shows that to support muscle development, protein intake is the key, therefore the recommended 0.8g per kg should be increased to 1.5-2.0g of protein per kg of body weight. For an 80 kg individual, that would equate to 120-160 grams of protein per day.

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]


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.
In fact, in one new study comparing the effects of aerobic exercise versus resistance training on the psychological health of obese adolescents, researchers found that people in the resistance group experienced significantly greater self-esteem and perceived strength over four weeks. But what’s most interesting is that the feeling of getting stronger — rather than any measurable gains — was all it took to give them a boost. 

That said, many people experience stomach cramps when they consume creatine monohydrate and it’s possible that taking a creatine with a different pH — usually creatine hydrochloride — can have a different effect on stomach acid and make for a creatine that digests more easily. As far as we know, the easier digestion doesn’t necessarily mean it’s more effective or that you need less of it to achieve the desired result.

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.
The first thing you need is a weight training program that signals the muscle building process to begin. Research has shown that a well designed program will generate this “signal” via a combination of progressive tension overload (as in, getting stronger over time), metabolic stress (as in, fatiguing the muscle and getting “the pump”), and muscular damage (as in, actual damage to the muscle tissue itself).

Transparent Labs' StrengthSeries Creatine HMB is an impressive blend that includes 5 grams of Creatine Monohydrate, 2 Grams Beta-Hydroxy Beta- Methylbutrate (HMB), and 5 mg of Black Pepper Extract for increased absorption. These clinically effective doses have been shown to enhance strength, boost muscle gains, and minimize fat and muscle loss. Made with no artificial sweeteners, coloring, or preservatives, each serving of is pure, unadulterated Creatine. Keep Reading »


By increasing the overall pool of cellular phosphocreatine, creatine supplementation can accelerate the reycling of ADP into ATP. Since ATP stores are rapidly depleted during intense muscular effort, one of the major benefits of creatine supplementation is its ability to regenerate ATP stores faster, which can promote increased strength and power output. Over 95% of creatine is stored in muscle at a maximum cellular concentration of 30uM. Creatine storage capacity is limited, though it increases as muscle mass increases.[24] A 70 kg male with an average physique is assumed to have total creatine stores of approximately 120g.[25] The body can store a lot more energy as glycogen in the liver, brain, and muscles,[26][27] and even more as fat.
Although creatine supplementation has been shown to be more effective on predominantly anaerobic intermittent exercise, there is some evidence of its positive effects on endurance activities. Branch [28] highlights that endurance activities lasting more than 150s rely on oxidative phosphorylation as primary energy system supplier. From this meta analysis [28], it would appear that the ergogenic potential for creatine supplementation on predominantly aerobic endurance exercise diminishes as the duration of the activity increases over 150s. However it is suggested that creatine supplementation may cause a change in substrate utilization during aerobic activity possibly leading to an increase in steady state endurance performance.
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.[253] The improvement in depressive symptoms was associated with significantly increased prefrontal cortex levels of N-acetylaspartate, a marker of neuronal integrity,[254] and rich club connections, which refers to the ability of nerons to make connections to one another.[255]
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