Other supplements could easily have been included here, but these are considered the most useful and effective for the majority of bodybuilders and athletes. Although food should always come first, supplements offer an effective alternative for getting nutrients that either aren't available in sufficient quantity in food or are in foods that you may not be eating.
If you are somebody that is tired of not getting results, wants to avoid trial-and-error, or you just want to be told exactly what to do to reach your goals, check out our popular 1-on-1 coaching program. You’ll work with our certified NF instructors who will get to know you better than you know yourself and program your workouts and nutrition strategy for you.
Whey protein contains high levels of all the essential amino acids and branched-chain amino acids. It also has the highest content of the amino acid cysteine, which aids in the biosynthesis of glutathione. For bodybuilders, whey protein provides amino acids used to aid in muscle recovery.[27] Whey protein is derived from the process of making cheese from milk. There are three types of whey protein: whey concentrate, whey isolate, and whey hydrolysate. Whey concentrate is 29–89% protein by weight whereas whey isolate is 90%+ protein by weight. Whey hydrolysate is enzymatically predigested and therefore has the highest rate of digestion of all protein types.[27]
Creatine, which is synthesized in the liver and kidneys, is transported through the blood and taken up by tissues with high energy demands, such as the brain and skeletal muscle, through an active transport system. The concentration of ATP in skeletal muscle is usually 2–5 mM, which would result in a muscle contraction of only a few seconds.[22] During times of increased energy demands, the phosphagen (or ATP/PCr) system rapidly resynthesizes ATP from ADP with the use of phosphocreatine (PCr) through a reversible reaction with the enzyme creatine kinase (CK). In skeletal muscle, PCr concentrations may reach 20–35 mM or more. Additionally, in most muscles, the ATP regeneration capacity of CK is very high and is therefore not a limiting factor. Although the cellular concentrations of ATP are small, changes are difficult to detect because ATP is continuously and efficiently replenished from the large pools of PCr and CK.[22] Creatine has the ability to increase muscle stores of PCr, potentially increasing the muscle’s ability to resynthesize ATP from ADP to meet increased energy demands.[23][24][25]

Spero Karas, MD, assistant professor of orthopaedics in the division of sports medicine at Emory University, says that testosterone, the male hormone responsible for muscle growth, maxes out between the ages of 16 and 18. It reaches a plateau during the 20s and then begins to decline. As a result, muscle building after the adolescent years can be challenging, he says.
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.
Pick a few key exercises that together train the whole body. Presses, chinups, rows, and squat and deadlift variations are the best choices (more on these in Rules #2 and #3). Write down how much weight you can currently do for 5–10 reps on each of them, and, over the next few months, work your way up to where you can either add 10–20 pounds to each of those lifts or do 3–5 more reps with the same weight. That’s how you force your body to grow.
In today's extra-large society, we tend to focus on the admirable guys who train hard and switch up their diet to transform their bodies by losing weight. We highlight their quests to lead healthier lives every chance we get — but there's another side of the wellness scale that can be just as difficult, depending on your body's makeup: Gaining mass and muscle.
For the bench press, start with a weight that you can lift comfortably. If you are a beginner, try lifting the bar along with 5lbs or 10lbs on each side. With arms at shoulder-width apart, grab onto the bar and slowly lower the bar until it's at nipple level; push up until your arms are fully extended upwards. Do 8–10 repetitions (reps) like this for three sets (3 x 8), adding additional weight each set. Once you have a few months of practice, slowly increase weight and go down to 6–8 reps per set, aiming to reach muscle failure at the end of the third set.
The majority of your workouts should be comprised of compound exercises. Common examples include squats, deadlifts, lunges, bench presses, rows, pull-ups, lat pull-downs, overhead presses, and so on. Isolation exercises should definitely also be a part of your program, just a smaller part in comparison. Common examples include bicep curls, tricep extensions, chest flies, lateral raises, leg curls, leg extensions, calf raises, and so on.
Most experts recommend starting with your larger muscle groups and then proceeding to the smaller ones. The most demanding exercises are those performed by your large muscle groups, and you will need your smaller muscles to get the most out of these exercises. But don't feel limited by that. You can do your exercises in any order you like, and changing the order is a great way to challenge yourself in different ways.
In a study on Alpha-Lipoic Acid, 1,000mg of ALA paired with 100g sucrose and 20g creatine monohydrate was more effective in increasing muscular creatine levels relative to creatine alone and creatine combined with sucrose.[600] This apparent augmentation of creatine uptake into muscle cells was used alongside a loading period. Another study investigating a nutrient mixture (150g glucose, 20g creatine, 2g/kg bodyweight glycerol) on heat tolerance in trained athletes found that replacing one third (50g) of the glucose with 1g ALA resulted in no significant differences between groups (in regard to heat tolerance and cardiovascular performance) despite the reduction of 50g carbohydrate.[601]
That being said, men aren’t the only ones who suffer from low testosterone levels. Women can also suffer from testosterone deficiency which can affect their overall well-being in addition to their sex drive. If you’re a woman or man concerned about your testosterone levels, in addition to using supplements like the ones below, you should contact your doctor who will be able to diagnose any deficiencies and recommend additional treatments.
Perform bent over rows to work your back. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, about 6 to 10 inches (15–25 cm) behind the barbell or two dumbbells. Bend slightly at the knees but keep your shins vertical. Bend forward at the waist with your spine and head straight. Lift the weight with an overhand grip up to your lower chest or upper abdomen. Lower slowly until your arms are nearly extended, without touching the ground. 3 x 8.[5]
One study lasting 16 months using 10g creatine daily alongside the pharmaceutical riluzole noted that, after 34 of the patients died from ALS, creatine failed to exert protective effects against ALS-related mortality (adjusted hazard ratio of 0.78 with a 95% CI of 0.47–1.48[505]). A smaller study measuring only eight deaths noted that the six in placebo (relative to two in creatine) was too small of a sample size to detect a statistically significant difference.[506] A nonsignificant trend to increase survival has been noted elsewhere with 5g of creatine daily with a similar ratio: 3 deaths in placebo to 1 death in creatine.[507]
Tough workouts drive muscle growth, but they generally cause a lot of damage to your muscles to do so. This damage often results in soreness for several days, which can make it tough to get to the gym or sometimes even move. Many bodybuilding supplements contain ingredients that work to reduce the breakdown of muscle during workouts, making the recovery process easier on the body.
Of course, cardio is an important part of fitness too, but the benefits of strength training are major. Strength training helps build muscle, and lean muscle is better at burning calories when the body is at rest, which is important whether you're trying to lose weight or maintain it. It also helps strengthens joints and bones, avoid injury, improve your muscular endurance, and will help you give it your all during your other workouts, whether that means setting a new PR if you're a runner or pushing (and pulling) a little harder with your legs during your favorite indoor cycling class.
Kilduff, L. P., Georgiades, E., James, N., Minnion, R. H., Mitchell, M., Kingsmore, D., Hadjicharlambous, M., and Pitsiladis, Y. P. The effects of creatine supplementation on cardiovascular, metabolic, and thermoregulatory responses during exercise in the heat in endurance-trained humans. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab 2004;14(4):443-460. View abstract.
Sandow was so successful at flexing and posing his physique that he later created several businesses around his fame, and was among the first to market products branded with his name. He was credited with inventing and selling the first exercise equipment for the masses: machined dumbbells, spring pulleys, and tension bands. Even his image was sold by the thousands in "cabinet cards" and other prints. Sandow was a perfect "Gracilian", a standard of ideal body proportions close to those of ancient Greek and Roman statues. Men's physiques were then judged by how closely they matched these proportions.
Different forms of creatine in combination with other sports supplements as well as varying doses and supplementation methodology should continue to be researched in an attempt to understand further application of creatine to increase sports and exercise performance of varying disciplines. It is important to remain impartial when evaluating the safety of creatine ingested as a natural supplement. The available evidence indicates that creatine consumption is safe. This perception of safety cannot be guaranteed especially that of the long term safety of creatine supplementation and the various forms of creatine which are administered to different populations (athletes, sedentary, patient, active, young or elderly) throughout the globe.
Nephrectomized rats may have significantly reduced creatine synthesis rates[509] via impairment of methylation (the GAMT enzyme)[510] although creatine reuptake from the urine seems unimpaired.[511] Supplemental creatine in a rat model of 2/3rds nephrectomy (2% creatine in the diet) does not appear to negatively influence kidney function as assessed by the serum biomarkers of cystatin C and urinary protein or creatinine clearance rates.[512] Elsewhere, 2% creatine in the diet in rats for two weeks again failed to show negative effects on kidney function, but showed benefit in reducing homocysteine in late-stage uremic rats.[312] While there is not much human evidence for the rat nephrectomy model, a lone case study in a man with a single kidney failed to find an impairing effect of creatine (20g daily for five days and 5g for another month) in conjunction with a high protein diet.[513]
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).

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).
In regard to the blood brain barrier (BBB), which is a tightly woven mesh of non-fenestrated microcapillary endothelial cells (MCECs) that prevents passive diffusion of many water-soluble or large compounds into the brain, creatine can be taken into the brain via the SLC6A8 transporter.[192] In contrast, the creatine precursor (guanidinoacetate, or GAA) only appears to enter this transporter during creatine deficiency.[192] More creatine is taken up than effluxed, and more GAA is effluxed rather than taken up, suggesting that creatine utilization in the brain from blood-borne sources[192] is the major source of neural creatine.[193][192] However, “capable of passage” differs from “unregulated passage” and creatine appears to have tightly regulated entry into the brain in vivo[193]. After injecting rats with a large dose of creatine, creatine levels increased and plateaued at 70uM above baseline levels. These baseline levels are about 10mM, so this equates to an 0.7% increase when superloaded.[193] These kinetics may be a reason for the relative lack of neural effects of creatine supplementation in creatine sufficient populations.