Related to exercise and fitness, BCAAs are taken to help reduce muscle breakdown, which is why they may be known as muscle building supplements. Leucine, in particular, is known for playing an important role in muscle protein synthesis, which can help with muscle gain and maintenance. Some also claim that BCAAs can enhance performance, although many studies also refute this claim.
The bulking and cutting strategy is effective because there is a well-established link between muscle hypertrophy and being in a state of positive energy balance. A sustained period of caloric surplus will allow the athlete to gain more fat-free mass than they could otherwise gain under eucaloric conditions. Some gain in fat mass is expected, which athletes seek to oxidize in a cutting period while maintaining as much lean mass as possible.
There's good news, though: These temporary muscle pumps are critical to improving muscle hypertrophy, or muscle growth, according to 2014 research in the Strength and Conditioning Journal. So you can think of your weight-room pump as a preview of the muscle results that are to come. Speaking of which, here's an expert-endorsed timeline to reach your muscle-building goals.
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Earlier during your workout, you might have thought you were starting to see some muscle definition. "Called transient hypertrophy, or a muscle pump, this physiological phenomenon occurs when blood rushes to your muscles to supply them with workout-powering fuel and even jump-start the recovery process," explains certified strength and conditioning specialist Samuel Simpson, co-owner and vice president of B-Fit Training Studio in Miami. He notes that this muscle pump often starts mid-workout and subsides within a few hours after leaving the gym. And as the muscle pump deflates, it's easy to lose determination.
If you’ve been training longer than 6–12 months, you can split your workouts into upper- and lower-body days. The most common setup is to train upper body one day and lower the next so that each area gets trained twice in one week. If you train four days per week, you can train upper body on Monday, lower Tuesday, rest Wednesday, and then do upper body again on Thursday, lower body on Friday, and then rest on the weekend.
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.
Oral ingestion of 1-1000mg/kg bodyweight of creatine in mice was able to exert an anti-depressive effect, which was blocked by dopamine receptor antagonists. A low dose of creatine (0.1mg/kg) was able to enhance the dopaminergic effects of dopamine receptor activators, suggesting supplemental creatine can positively influence dopamine signaling and neurotransmission.
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.
A quantitative, comprehensive scientific summary and view of knowledge up to 2007 on the effects of creatine supplementation in athletes and active people was published in a 100 citation review position paper by the International Society of Sports Nutrition. More recent literature has provided greater insight into the anabolic/performance enhancing mechanisms of creatine supplementation [15,25] suggesting that these effects may be due to satellite cell proliferation, myogenic transcription factors and insulin-like growth factor-1 signalling . Saremi et al  reported a change in myogenic transcription factors when creatine supplementation and resistance training are combined in young healthy males. It was found that serum levels of myostatin, a muscle growth inhibitor, were decreased in the creatine group.
However, the basis of “take creatine after your workout” comes from a 2013 study published in the JISSN, which can be found here (open access too!). In this study, recreational male bodybuilders (19 men overall) were given five grams of creatine either before or after their workouts. They trained five days per week but were also directed to consume 5g on their rest days at any time they wanted. The workouts were fairly similar to most gym workouts, and the methodology (what they did and how they did it) suggests that the findings would apply to most weightlifters.
Nephrotoxic drugs. Because taking high doses of creatine might harm your kidneys, there is concern about combining creatine with drugs that might damage the kidneys (nephrotoxic drugs). Potentially nephrotoxic drugs include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) and naproxen sodium (Aleve, others), cyclosporine (Neoral, Sandimmune) and others.
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". 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.
According to the two meta-analyses on the topic, creatine significantly increases power when supplemented in both sexes over a period of time up to 8 weeks, during which improvement over placebo is maintained, rather than being enhanced further. The rate at which power is derived from a resistance training regimen appears to be up to 78.5% greater with creatine relative to placebo, and in active trained men who are naive to creatine, this can be quantified at about 7kg for the bench press and 10kg for the squat over 8 weeks.
Weight training is primarily an isotonic form of exercise, as the force produced by the muscle to push or pull weighted objects should not change (though in practice the force produced does decrease as muscles fatigue). Any object can be used for weight training, but dumbbells, barbells, and other specialised equipment are normally used because they can be adjusted to specific weights and are easily gripped. Many exercises are not strictly isotonic because the force on the muscle varies as the joint moves through its range of motion. Movements can become easier or harder depending on the angle of muscular force relative to gravity; for example, a standard biceps curl becomes easier as the hand approaches the shoulder as more of the load is taken by the structure of the elbow. Originating from Nautilus, Inc., some machines use a logarithmic-spiral cam to keep resistance constant irrespective of the joint angle.
How much weight? Start with a pair of light dumbbell hand weights (2 to 3 pounds for women and 5 to 8 pounds for men). If you can’t do 12 repetitions (or reps are the number of times you do the exercise) the weight is too heavy. If your muscles don’t feel tired after 12 reps, it’s too light. Adjustable weights that can be strapped to wrists or ankles may be convenient if you have arthritis in your hands. You can also use home or gym weight machines, or resistance bands.
“I would really focus on learning how macros work, how your body works and how it reacts to certain foods, and what your body requires each day to maintain your weight,” he advises. “Then you can start playing around with increasing calories [to bulk up], and decreasing calories when you're dieting.” Our beginner's guide to macros will definitely help.
When looking for a whey protein powder to purchase, seek out powders that offer at least 20 g of protein per serving (one scoop) and are low in carbohydrates (aim for 5 g per serving or less). You may run into whey protein isolate, which looks attractive because it’s a higher concentration of protein. However, avoid this one as in the extreme processing, proteins are denatured that can render them less effective. In addition, these formulas are also often chock full of artificial sweeteners. Instead, look for powders from grass-fed cows that aren’t pumped with hormones.
A: Eat more frequently, drink less liquids while eating (they compete for stomach volume along with food), eat from larger plates and bowls, add lime or lemon juice to your water with meals (can help to increase production of hydrochloric acid that breaks down food), and consume more liquid calories (especially around the workout if appetite is suffering the rest of the day).
AAKG β-hydroxy β-methylbutyrate Carnitine Chondroitin sulfate Cod liver oil Copper gluconate Creatine/Creatine supplements Dietary fiber Echinacea Elemental calcium Ephedra Fish oil Folic acid Ginseng Glucosamine Glutamine Grape seed extract Guarana Iron supplements Japanese Honeysuckle Krill oil Lingzhi Linseed oil Lipoic acid Milk thistle Melatonin Red yeast rice Royal jelly Saw palmetto Spirulina St John's wort Taurine Wheatgrass Wolfberry Yohimbine Zinc gluconate
Heath suggests incorporating dropsets into your training routine by immediately decreasing the weight and repping out again to failure. “Dropsets overload the muscle with shorter rest periods and increasing volume which you need to grow,” says Heath. “That overload improves your body’s abilities to utilize more nutrients, natural growth hormone, and natural testosterone into those areas and makes the supplements you take more effective.” Heath’s favorite way to do dropsets is on a pin-loaded machine since it’s faster to switch weights.
As mentioned earlier, supplementation of creatine in youth has been noted to improve the swim bench test (a thirty second sprint followed by another after a five minute break). One study noted improvement when examining a 400 meter test after 10g of creatine was taken over seven days with some orange juice. The improvement was mostly attributable to increased performance on the last 50m stretch.
Aim to eat roughly 250 to 500 extra calories per day. To make sure that any weight gained is from muscle, Fitzgerald recommends that the bulk of those calories come from protein. In a 2014 Pennington Biomedical Research Center study, people who ate a high-calorie diet rich in protein stored about 45 percent of those calories as muscle, while those following a low-protein diet with the same number of calories stored 95 percent of those calories as fat.
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.
Multivitamin: A bodybuilder’s regime is strict and consuming the essential nutrients is an integral part of the process. The entire process can take a very nasty turn if one is not careful with the amount and type of food intake. The intake of multi vitamins can, therefore, have a good impact on a body builder. These multivitamins are used so that essential vitamins and minerals are supplied to the body, to promote good health and also allow a constant flow of energy.
Creatine is involved indirectly in whole body methylation processes. This is due to creatine synthesis having a relatively large methyl cost, as the creatine precursor known as guanidinoacetate (GAA) requires a methyl donation from S-adenosyl methionine (SAMe) in order to produce creatine. This may require up to half of the methyl groups available in the human body.
Researchers have long been interested in how exercise improves cognitive thinking — and whether it can ward off dementia later in life. Now, a whole slew of new studies is comparing whether strength training affects the brain differently than cardio. One Italian study of 80 older people found that those who completed a 12-week strength regimen showed improved capacity for practical skills, whereas cardio training helped bolster them on analytic tasks. Researchers are still trying to understand the “why” behind this study — but so far, we’re impressed.
Beast Creature could be another good option for female athletes. It’s tasty, it contains five types of creatine, and it contains ingredients that could improve fat loss by increasing insulin sensitivity. One potential bonus is that it also has 70 percent of your daily biotin, a nutrient often included in women’s multivitamins due its purported benefits for hair and nails.
2. What's your training like? Are you crushing 25 sets for chest like the average juiced out bodybuilder? If so, there's a pretty good chance you might be working above your MRV (maximal recoverable volume) and as such any physiological adaptation which could have taken place is going to be minimal given the cellular environment which occurs in a state of functional overreaching.
Peirano, R. I., Achterberg, V., Dusing, H. J., Akhiani, M., Koop, U., Jaspers, S., Kruger, A., Schwengler, H., Hamann, T., Wenck, H., Stab, F., Gallinat, S., and Blatt, T. Dermal penetration of creatine from a face-care formulation containing creatine, guarana and glycerol is linked to effective antiwrinkle and antisagging efficacy in male subjects. J.Cosmet.Dermatol. 2011;10(4):273-281. View abstract.
In general, muscle content of creatine tends to be elevated to 15-20% above baseline (more than 20mM increase) in response to oral supplementation. People who get a sufficiently high influx of creatine are known as responders. A phenomena known as “creatine nonresponse” occurs when people have less than a 10mM influx of creatine into muscle after prolonged supplementation. Quasi-responders (10-20mM increase) also exist. Nonresponse is thought to explain instances where people do not benefit from creatine supplementation in trials, since some trials that find no significant effect do find one when only investigating people with high creatine responsiveness. There are clear differences between those who respond and those who do not, in regard to physical performance. People who are creatine responsive tend to be younger, have higher muscle mass and type II muscle fiber content, but this has no correlation with dietary protein intake.
If you're a beginner, just about any workout will be intense enough to increase protein synthesis. But if you've been lifting for a while, you'll build the most muscle quickest if you focus on the large muscle groups, like the chest, back, and legs. Add compound lifts like squats, deadlifts, pullups, bent-over rows, bench presses, dips, and military presses to your workout to work them the most efficiently.
Minor liver lesions (grade I, no grade II or III, pathology not indicative of toxicity) have been studied in SOD1 G93A transgenic mice (a research model for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or ALS, but used in this study to assess a state of chronic pro-oxidative stress) for 159 days with 2% of feed intake and in CD-1 rats (seen as normal) over 56 days with 0.025-0.5mg/kg in CD-1 mice, although in Sprague-Dawley rats (normal controls) there were no significant differences noted even after 2% of feed intake for 365 days. These observations appear to be due to the strain of the rodents used, and human studies on amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS; what the SOD1 G93A transgenic mice are thought to represent) lasting from nine to sixteen months with subjects supplementing with up to 10g of creatine daily have failed to find any abnormalities in serum biomarkers of liver or kidney health.
Creatine may preserve dopamine synthesis in the striatum of mice (while protecting against dopaminergic depletion) when fed to mice at 2% of the diet for one week prior to MPTP toxicity. This is possibly secondary to increasing tyrosine hydroxylase activity, the rate-limiting step of dopamine biosynthesis. Two percent creatine was as protective as 0.005% rofecoxib (a COX2 inhibitor), but the two were additive in their protective effects (highly synergistic in regard to DOPAC by normalizing it, but not synergistic in preserving HVA).
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.
Creatine monohydrate is highly regarded as one of the most powerful and all-around best bodybuilding supplements for athletes hoping to make big gains fast. Creatine is one of the go-to supplements for building mass because it maximizes power output, strength, endurance, and overall performance, helping you to crush your fitness goals time and time again.
Listen, I know in the beginning of this post I was sympathetic to your problem, but I am also here to say, Suck It Up. I can tell you that to gain weight, you need to focus on making your meals a habit rather than an afterthought. Your body is pre-programmed with your genetic disposition. And in your case, you have a very fast metabolism that digests and burns calories quickly. Focus on having 5-6 calorie-dense meals a day spaced 2-3 hours apart so that your body is constantly being provided with something to metabolize and build muscle.
Fish oils are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, which provide myriad benefits for the body. For strength athletes and bodybuilders, we're most concerned with their anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Intense resistance training can cause microscopic tears in your muscle fibers, leading to muscle damage and inflammation. While some inflammation is desirable, too much can delay the post-exercise recovery process.
In people whose kidneys don’t function optimally, supplemental creatine seems to be safe, too. However, studies in people with suboptimal kidney function are fewer than in healthy people, and they are short-term. People with kidney dysfunction, or at risk for developing kidney dysfunction (e.g., people with diabetes, high blood pressure, or family history of kidney disease; people over sixty; and non-Hispanic blacks), might wish to forgo creatine, or otherwise take only the lowest effective dose (3 g/day) after talking to their doctor.
Brain injury. Early research shows that taking creatine by mouth daily for 7 days increases the ability to exercise by increasing lung function in people with a spinal cord injury. However, other research shows that creatine does not improve wrist muscle or hand function. Early research also shows that taking creatine by mouth daily for 6 months reduces amnesia following a traumatic brain injury in children.
MET-Rx Advanced Creatine Blast also contains a lot of ingredients that work synergistically with creatine. There’s the 33 grams of carbohydrates, which may help to drive creatine to the muscles, plus there’s some taurine to help with recovery and two grams of branched chain amino acids, which may help with muscle retention. However, it contains creatine ethyl ester, which is probably less effective than monohydrate.
The first published results (not blinded) noted that a loading phase of 20g of creatine for a week, followed by 3g daily for up to six months, was able to enhance maximal voluntary isometric muscular contraction (MVIC) on a dynamometer for both the knee and elbow joints, with enhanced fatigue resistance on the same joints in more than half of subjects (53-70% response rate).
In humans, studies that investigate links between serotonin and creatine supplementation find that 21 trained males, given creatine via 22.8g creatine monohydrate (20g creatine equivalent) with 35g glucose, relative to a placebo of 160g glucose, was found to reduce the perception of fatigue in hot endurance training, possibly secondary to serotonergic modulation, specifically attentuating the increase of serotonin seen with exercise (normally seen to hinder exercise capacity in the heat) while possibly increasing dopaminergic activity (conversely seen to benefit activity in the heat).
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
Elsewhere, it has been noted that in chronic progressive external ophthalmoplegia (CPEO, a progressive weakening of the muscles around the eye and a mitochondrial disorder), there was a failure of creatine supplementation to benefit symptoms when subjects were provided 20g daily for four weeks. Creatine supplementation failed again at 150mg/kg for six weeks in people with either CPEO or another disorder associated with single gene deletions affecting the eyes (Kearns–Sayre syndrome, KSS) in improving muscular function.
Co-ingesting creatine with caffeine partially negated the benefits of creatine supplementation (at 5mg/kg bodyweight) during the loading phase in one study. The exact mechanism responsible for this effect is not known, but might be related to opposing actions on muscle contraction time. However, another study in trained men found that co-ingestion of 300mg caffeine per day during creatine loading at 20g per day (split into 4 doses) had no effect on bench press 1RM, time to fatigue, or sprinting ability. However, this study also found that creatine alone or when combined with caffeine had no effect on any of these parameters over placebo, either. Thus, the study may have been underpowered or done in too short a time frame (the test was done after only 5 days of loading) to observe any possible effects.
Studies with animal and cellular models demonstrated positive effect of creatine ingestion on neurodegenerative diseases. These effects have been attributed to improved overall cellular bioenergetics due to an expansion of the phosphocreatine pool . Creatine deficiency syndromes, due to deficiency of glycine amidinotransferase and guanidinoacetate methyltransferase, can cause decreases or complete absence of creatine in the central nervous system. Syndromes of this nature have the possibility to be improved by supplementing orally with creatine. Brain creatine deficiency resulting from ineffective crea T1 has been shown not to be effectively treated with oral creatine supplementation . Additionally, oral creatine administration in patients with myopathies has shown conflicting results depending on the type of myopathy and creatine transport systems disorders .
Product reviews – Since the effectiveness of products varies based on a wide number of factors, one of the best things to do is read creatine product reviews. The best rated creatine products will have consistently good reviews, meaning a lot of people use that product and would recommend it. However – remember to take reviews with a grain of salt, as there’s a lot of ignorance and misinformation out there.
Include cardio training. Good cardiovascular health improves blood flow, a requirement for muscle growth. Doing cardio also improves your cardiovascular fitness, which allows you to use your muscle gains for various sports and activities. The standard recommendation is 150 minutes of moderate cardio each week, or 75 minutes of vigorous cardio, or an equivalent combination of the two. A good place to start would be doing 30-60 minutes of cardiovascular activity every other day or 3 times a week. Examples of cardio include running, biking, swimming, and any sport that involves constant movement.
Less muscle breakdown can also help to reduce post-workout muscle soreness levels. During workouts, the body creates lactic acid as it works to generate extra energy. The buildup of lactic acid can cause muscle fatigue, swelling, and tenderness. Improving the ability of the body to recover can help to more effectively clear out lactic acid, reducing inflammation and soreness.
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.”
At the end of the day, you have to focus on how you feel. “Listen to your body,” says Davis. “It tells you when it needs a day off.” As a rule of thumb, take a rest day if your perceived pain is above a seven on a scale of 10, Davis advises. Or, focus on a different body part (say, if your legs are sore, focus on upper-body moves). Can't stop, won't stop—at least, till your next rest day.
Stand on one foot with the arch and heel hanging off of the edge of a step or platform. Hold onto something if you need help balancing. Drop your heel all the way down below the step, and then rise all the way up on your toes. Hold dumbbells to make it harder. If you can balance without holding on to something, you’ll work your core muscles, too. You'll also build more stable joints in the other leg.
The genealogy of lifting can be traced back to the beginning of recorded history where humanity's fascination with physical abilities can be found among numerous ancient writings. In many prehistoric tribes, they would have a big rock they would try to lift, and the first one to lift it would inscribe their name into the stone. Such rocks have been found in Greek and Scottish castles. Progressive resistance training dates back at least to Ancient Greece, when legend has it that wrestler Milo of Croton trained by carrying a newborn calf on his back every day until it was fully grown. Another Greek, the physician Galen, described strength training exercises using the halteres (an early form of dumbbell) in the 2nd century.
Cyclocreatine appears to be passively diffused through membranes and not subject to the creatine transporter, which can be beneficial for cases where creatine transporter function is compromised (creatine non-response and SLG6A8 deficiency). Similar to other forms of creatine, it buffers ATP concentrations, although its efficacy as a supplement in otherwise healthy people is currently unknown.