I always recommend starting on the low end of the scale. Only increase volume when you absolutely need to. So, if you’re training chest, you could do 6 work sets of dumbbell bench presses to start out, breaking down to two sets per workout for three sessions per week. You can gradually add sets from there, experimenting with different training splits that will allow you to get in more volume without overtraining (we’ll discuss training splits next).
It has also been noted that supplementing creatine (which reduces internal synthesis of creatine and methylation requirements) preserved folate and tetrahydrofolate status (42% and 23%),[312] which acted to preserve methyl groups for other processes. Despite this effect, global DNA methylation decreases by 22% (assessed by the 5-methylcytosine/cytosine ratio) following creatine supplementation, which is usually seen as an anti-cancer effect in developed mammals.[461] This study was unable to demonstrate why this reduction occured[461] and opposing effects have been noted in females with Rett syndrome supplementing 200mg/kg creatine for 1 year, during which global methylation increased, secondary to preserving other methyl donors.[462]

Without a doubt, you can add muscle simply by eating right and lifting weights. But to truly maximize your growth potential, supplements are a requirement. Hence, we've compiled a rundown of the 11 best mass-gain supplements on which to spend your hard-earned cash. They're listed in order of priority, from the absolute most critical, can't-do-without supplements to the less crucial yet still highly effective ingredients for packing on size. The point is to help those on a tight budget decide which supplements to buy. If money is no object, then by all means knock yourself out and use them all as directed. Because after all, as far as we're concerned, you can never have too much muscle.


Some ingredients found in dietary supplements marketed for bodybuilding or performance enhancement—such as whey protein, creatine, and caffeine—generally aren’t associated with any serious safety concerns (when used appropriately). However, they still have the potential for side effects. Before you take any dietary supplement, talk to your healthcare provider. You also can read the articles below about some of these ingredients:

In addition to the proper amount of sleep, do not overdo your training regimen. While you might be tempted to think that "more is better," in fact the opposite is true. You can reach a point known as "over-training", in which you'll lose the ability to "pump" (engorge the muscles with oxygen-rich blood) your muscles, and this can even lead to muscle wasting—exactly the opposite of what you are trying to achieve. Here are some symptoms to be aware of if you think you may be falling into the over-training zone:

Chin-Ups. The chin-up is the easiest way to determine someone’s relative strength. If you can knock out sets of bench with your bodyweight but can’t perform at least 5 bodyweight chin-ups then it’s time to re-evaluate your priorities. Chin-ups are an excellent mass builder for the lats, biceps, and upper back so they should take the place of machine variations like lat pulldowns whenever possible.


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.
I always recommend starting on the low end of the scale. Only increase volume when you absolutely need to. So, if you’re training chest, you could do 6 work sets of dumbbell bench presses to start out, breaking down to two sets per workout for three sessions per week. You can gradually add sets from there, experimenting with different training splits that will allow you to get in more volume without overtraining (we’ll discuss training splits next).
After all, you’ve probably seen the countless workouts, diets, supplements, programs, products and people claiming that super fast muscle growth is possible. You’ve probably also seen the click-bait headlines (“How To Build 20lbs Of Muscle In Just 6 Weeks!”) and the unbelievable transformations of supposedly “natural” people (bodybuilders, celebrities, athletes, fitness gurus on social media, etc.) that clearly prove it can happen faster than this.
Creatine pyruvate (also known as creatine 2-oxopropanoate) in an isomolar dose relative to creatine monohydrate has been shown to produce higher plasma levels of creatine (peak and AUC) with no discernible differences in absorption or excretion values.[83] The same study noted increased performance from creatine pyruvate at low (4.4g creatine equivalence) doses relative to citrate and monohydrate, possibly due to the pyruvate group.
In otherwise sedentary and healthy men given a loading phase of creatine followed by 11 weeks of maintenance, the glucose response to an oral glucose tolerance test is reduced by 11-22% (measurements at 4-12 weeks with no time dependence noted) which was not associated with changes in insulin levels or sensitivity.[350] Elsewhere, a study in vegetarians (5g daily for 42 days) failed to find a reduction in postprandial blood glucose.[351]
In a later study, it was found that biologically relevant concentrations (10-30mM) of creatine bind synthetic membranes with lipid compositions mimicking the inner mitochondrial membrane or plasma membrane in a concentration-dependent manner. This also conferred a degree of protection, increasing membrane stability in response to challenge from a number of destabilizing agents. Phosphocreatine was more effective than creatine in this context, although both were able to bind and stabilize membranes.[119]
If you want to take creatine as a supplement for bigger and stronger muscles, then the standard protocol is to have a “loading period” where you significantly increase your creatine intake for a few days or weeks. “This can prime your muscles to increase the amount of creatine that they ‘hold,’” explains Bates. “During the loading period, you generally take 5 g of creatine four times per day. After the loading period, you decrease the amount of creatine you take to a ‘maintenance’ level of 3 to 5 g per day.” (That’s also the recommendation from the International Society of Sports Nutrition.) (5)
Due to the growing concerns of the high cost, health consequences, and illegal nature of some steroids, many organizations have formed in response and have deemed themselves "natural" bodybuilding competitions. In addition to the concerns noted, many promoters of bodybuilding have sought to shed the "freakish" perception that the general public has of bodybuilding and have successfully introduced a more mainstream audience to the sport of bodybuilding by including competitors whose physiques appear much more attainable and realistic.
This suppression of creatine synthesis is thought to actually be beneficial, since creatine synthesis requires s-adenosyl methionine as a cofactor and may use up to 40-50% of SAMe for methylation[35][36][122] (initially thought to be above 70%, but this has since been re-evaluated[122]) though the expected preservation of SAMe may not occur with supplementation.[487] Reduced creatine synthesis, via preserving methyl groups and trimethylglycine (which would normally be used up to synthesize SAMe), is also thought to suppress homocysteine levels in serum,[37] but this may also not occur to a practical level following supplementation.[487]
Objective: Are you getting stronger? Increasing either weight or reps? If you're measuring individual markers on a daily basis like vertical jump, grip strength, or resting heart rate then what sort of trends are you noticing in these variables? If they're staying the same while your strength is increasing, then you're recovering well. If they're decreasing and you find yourself weaker over time then you're not recovering well.
Many athletes follow a "loading" protocol of around 25 grams a day for five days, but this isn't essential. But as Ciaran Fairman notes in the article "Do I Need to Load With Creatine," you can also get the same benefits with around 5 grams a day, potentially with none of the mild side effects of the loading protocol, which include stomach pain and water weight gain. The catch is that you have to take it consistently. Don't skip it!
Retinol (Vitamin A) B vitamins: Thiamine (B1) Riboflavin (B2) Niacin (B3) Pantothenic acid (B5) Pyridoxine (B6) Biotin (B7) Folic acid (B9) Cyanocobalamin (B12) Ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) Ergocalciferol and Cholecalciferol (Vitamin D) Tocopherol (Vitamin E) Naphthoquinone (Vitamin K) Calcium Choline Chromium Cobalt Copper Fluorine Iodine Iron Magnesium Manganese Molybdenum Phosphorus Potassium Selenium Sodium Sulfur Zinc
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?
In muscle cells, the creatine transporter is predominantly localized to the sarcolemmal membrane. Western blot analysis of creatine transporter expression revealed the presence of two distinc protein bands, migrating at 55kDa and 70kDa on reducing SDS-PAGE gels.[147][148] The 73kDa band has been reported to be the predominant band in humans, with no differences based on gender.[148] A more recent report demonstrated that the 55kDa creatine transporter variant is glycosylated, forming the 73 kDa protein. Therefore, the 55 and 75kDa protein bands are actually immature and mature/processed forms of the creatine transporter protein, respectively.[149]
When splitting a sample into exercisers and non-exercisers, it appears that exercise as a pre-requisite precedes a higher range of activity. Inactive people tend to be on the lower end of creatine kinase activity and relatively clustered in magnitude, while exercise generally increases activity, but also introduces a larger range of possible activity.[56]
A dose of 5g daily has strong evidence supporting it not causing any adverse side effects[605] and 10g has been used daily for 310 days in older adults (aged 57+/-11.1) with no significant differences from placebo.[519] Such a dose has also been demonstrated for long-term safety for people with Parkinson’s disease,[606] and at least one small retrospective study in athletes (surverying people taking creatine for up to or over a year) failed to find any significant differences in a battery of serum health parameters.[502] Other studies measuring serum parameters have also failed to find abnormalities outside the normal range.[607]
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.[150][151][152][153] A phenomena known as “creatine nonresponse” occurs when people have less than a 10mM influx of creatine into muscle after prolonged supplementation.[154] Quasi-responders (10-20mM increase) also exist.[154] 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.[155] There are clear differences between those who respond and those who do not, in regard to physical performance.[156] 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.[154][157]
Unfortunately, many people haven't gotten the message that strong is in. Indeed, statistics on strength training are grim: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), less than 30 percent of American adults engage in muscle-strengthening activities like lifting weights or doing push-ups at least twice a week—the recommendations set out by the government. 
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.

Boosting your workouts with an intra-workout catalyst, Scivation's XTEND holds a revolutionary formula that is both free of sugar and carbohydrates in a powerful BCAA drink mix. Using the 2:1:1 BCAA ratio with 7 grams in each serving, the advanced design of this supplement aids in the building of muscle, incinerating of fat, and shortening of recovery, while supporting hydration with a proprietary blend of electrolytes. XTEND encourages the optimal synthesizing of protein and fuels the body with energy for a power-filled workout. Keep Reading »
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]
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.[252]
Creatine monohydrate is regarded as a necessity by most bodybuilders. Creatine monohydrate is the most cost-effective dietary supplement in terms of muscle size and strength gains. … There is no preferred creatine supplement, but it is believed that creatine works best when it is consumed with simple carbohydrates. This can be accomplished by mixing powdered creatine with grape juice, lemonade, or many high glycemic index drinks.[36]
Many athletes follow a "loading" protocol of around 25 grams a day for five days, but this isn't essential. But as Ciaran Fairman notes in the article "Do I Need to Load With Creatine," you can also get the same benefits with around 5 grams a day, potentially with none of the mild side effects of the loading protocol, which include stomach pain and water weight gain. The catch is that you have to take it consistently. Don't skip it!
While it'’s okay to chow down on the occasional fast-food choice for convenience, a mass-gain program isn'’t an excuse to gorge on pizza and chocolate sundaes. “"Rebuilding muscle tissue broken down by training requires energy -— in other words, calories,"” says bodybuilding nutritional guru Chris Aceto. "“But many people, including many nutritionists, overestimate the energy needs for gaining mass, encouraging extreme high-calorie intakes. This often leads to an increase in bodyfat, making you bigger, for sure, but also leaving you fat." In general, aim for 300-500 more calories every day than your body burns through exercise and normal functioning (multiply bodyweight by 17). And that'’s divided among six meals a day.
Universal Real Gains is a powerful mass gainer -- each serving contains 602 calories with 53 grams of protein, 84 grams of effective carbohydrates and 5 grams of fiber. It also includes over 15 amino acids and 10 vitamins and minerals to support your muscle building quest. This easy to mix formula is a convenient addition to any shake so you can put on mass and size. You will not find a mass gainer like this anywhere else on the market. Keep Reading »
The first open label trial on ALS failed to significantly alter lung function as assessed by FEV (when comparing the rate of decline pretreatment relative to treatment).[545] Creatine has elsewhere failed to benefit lung function at 5g daily for months relative to control[546] and failed to significantly attenuate the rate of lung function deterioration over 16 months at 10g daily[505] and 5g daily over nine months.[507]
Mr. Olympia is part of the International Federation of Bodybuilding Professional League. The I.F.B.B. says that it operates under the guidelines of the World Anti-Doping Agency and that competitors are subject to drug testing. Chang, who oversees the Mr. Olympia contest, said that I.F.B.B. testing is random, but is not conducted during the Mr. Olympia contest itself.
Other human studies have yielded mixed results concerning creatine’s influence on triglyceride levels. In healthy male football players, creatine supplementation (5g monohydrate daily) over eight weeks did not influence triglyceride levels[324] but in martial artists given approximately 3.5g daily, a statistically significant increase in triglycerides was found despite no changes in total cholesterol.[325] In people with cardiovascular complications, given an exercise program and creatine, no significant change in triglycerides was noted relative to a placebo control group, which was also exercising.[326]
^ Burd, Nicholas A.; Yang, Yifan; Moore, Daniel R.; Tang, Jason E.; Tarnopolsky, Mark A.; Phillips, Stuart M. (2012). "Greater stimulation of myofibrillar protein synthesis with ingestion of whey protein isolate v. Micellar casein at rest and after resistance exercise in elderly men". British Journal of Nutrition. 108 (6): 958–62. doi:10.1017/S0007114511006271. PMID 22289570.
In contrast to the above null effects, ingestion of creatine both before and after a workout (alongside protein and carbohydrate) over 10 weeks seems to promote muscle growth more than the same supplement taken in the morning, farther away from the time of the workout.[386] The benefits of creatine around the workout, relative to other times, have been hypothesized[387] to be related to an upregulation of creatine transport secondary to muscle contraction, a known phenomena.[153]
Bodybuilders may supplement their diets with protein for reasons of convenience, lower cost (relative to meat and fish products), ease of preparation, and to avoid the concurrent consumption of carbohydrates and fats. Additionally, some argue that bodybuilders, by virtue of their unique training and goals, require higher-than-average quantities of protein to support maximal muscle growth.[19][20][21][22][23][24][25] However, there is no scientific consensus for bodybuilders to consume more protein than the recommended dietary allowance.[18][26] Protein supplements are sold in ready-to-drink shakes, bars, meal replacement products (see below), bites, oats, gels and powders. Protein powders are the most popular and may have flavoring added for palatability. The powder is usually mixed with water, milk or fruit juice and is generally consumed immediately before and after exercising or in place of a meal. The sources of protein are as follows and differ in protein quality depending on their amino acid profile and digestibility:
Chin-Ups. The chin-up is the easiest way to determine someone’s relative strength. If you can knock out sets of bench with your bodyweight but can’t perform at least 5 bodyweight chin-ups then it’s time to re-evaluate your priorities. Chin-ups are an excellent mass builder for the lats, biceps, and upper back so they should take the place of machine variations like lat pulldowns whenever possible.

As mentioned, protein is essential for building muscle. If you are unable to consume the recommended amount of protein through diet alone, add protein powder for building muscle as a supplement. This applies to nearly anyone hoping to gain muscle mass since it’s not easy to pack in nearly 100 grams of protein a day through chicken, eggs and legumes alone.


How to Take It: If you decide you want to take BCAAs as one of your weight lifting supplements, you can easily get them and take them much like you would protein powders. One scoop provides 2.5g of leucine, 1.25g of isoleucine and 1.25g of valine. Take it before a workout, during or after. As with all supplementation, the aim is to reach your overall daily needs and goals.
D-aspartic acid can also help to reduce cortisol levels. Cortisol is known as the “stress” hormone because its production increases during stressful situations. High cortisol levels can have many negative side effects, such as weight gain, muscle tissue breakdown, or increased blood sugar. Taking a supplement that includes cortisol can reduce stress and prevent excess fat storage or muscle loss.

Bodybuilders have THE BEST mind to muscle connection of any resistance-training athletes. Ask a seasoned bodybuilder to flex their lats or their rhomboids or their hamstrings and they will do it with ease. Ask other strength athletes and you will see them struggle and although they may tense up the target muscle they will also tense up about 15 other surrounding muscles. This is because strength athletes train MOVEMENTS. They don’t care about targeting their lats. They just want to do the most pull ups. They don’t worry about feeling their quads. They just want to squat maximum weight. Although this is an expected and positive thing for the most part, there are real benefits to being able to isolate and target muscles.
The majority of creatine in the human body is in two forms, either the phosphorylated form making up 60% of the stores or in the free form which makes up 40% of the stores. The average 70 kg young male has a creatine pool of around 120-140 g which varies between individuals [10,11] depending on the skeletal muscle fiber type [1] and quantity of muscle mass [11]. The endogenous production and dietary intake matches the rate of creatinine production from the degradation of phosphocreatine and creatine at 2.6% and 1.1%/d respectively. In general, oral creatine supplementation leads to an increase of creatine levels within the body. Creatine can be cleared from the blood by saturation into various organs and cells or by renal filtration [1].
Men appear to have higher active creatine-kinase systems, and racial differences favor black people over hispanic people over white people in terms of the activity of the creatine-kinase system. This system is more variable in men, independent of supplementation. Exercise may increase the activity of the creatine-kinase system independent of supplementation. 
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