If you’re the kind of person who shops for popular dietary supplements like protein or collagen powder, you’ve probably seen another popular bottle on the shelves: creatine. This supplement, which can be taken as a powder or liquid (and usually in some kind of healthy shake), is a staple in the bodybuilding community thanks to its ability to help you pack on muscle and work out longer and harder. (1) While creatine is generally considered safe — and is one of the most researched supplements out there (according to a review published in July 2012 in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition) — it is still a supplement, which means it’s not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and product claims don’t necessarily need to be substantiated (though the FDA can pull products that are found to be unsafe). (2,3)
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.
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.
We’ll define the “bigger muscle groups” as being chest, back, quads and hamstrings, and the “smaller muscle groups” as being biceps, triceps and maybe abs. Shoulders are really somewhere in the middle, though I tend to lean more toward the “smaller” guidelines. Calves, while technically small, are another muscle group that is somewhere in the middle, and I can really go either way depending on the needs of the person.
Contrary to certain rumors that animal-based protein is more suitable to trigger muscle growth than plant-based protein, a study by Mangano et al. (2017) could not provide any evidence for this. In contrast, if combined properly, plant-based protein can even have a higher biological quality. A combination of one part wheat protein (e.g. seitan) and two parts soy protein (e.g. tofu) has thus been favored by many bodybuilders. Some bodybuilders, such as Patrik Baboumian and Robert Cheeke, follow a strict vegan diet.
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.
Some protein powders are loaded with junk. We recommend this grass-fed protein isolate because it is a non-GMO product and contains no artificial sweeteners. It is a US-based product, and the whey protein is cultivated from American cows. With 28 grams of protein in one scoop, one spoonful of this powder may provide the equivalent protein profile of a whole meal. What’s even better is that one scoop is only 120 calories. This powder gives you quite a bit of protein for minimal calories, keeping you lean.
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. A 70 kg male with an average physique is assumed to have total creatine stores of approximately 120g. The body can store a lot more energy as glycogen in the liver, brain, and muscles, and even more as fat.
Reducing creatine synthesis by supplementing it has preliminary evidence supporting its ability to reduce homocysteine concentrations in the body, since the synthesis of creatine would normally produce some homocysteine as a byproduct. This may apply to a certain subset of people (MTHFR TT homozygotes, about 10% of North Americans) but at the moment there is not enough evidence to suggest that this occurs in all people supplementing creatine.
Now, while all three are definitely beneficial to the process, I’d consider metabolic stress and muscular damage to be of secondary and tertiary importance, respectively. In addition, they are also things that will pretty much take care of themselves when implementing the workout guidelines and recommendations we’ve already covered (namely for volume, rep ranges, rest periods and exercise selection).
Those are very reasonable starting percentages for your target calories. We can raise or lower your carbohydrate and fat numbers depending on your food preferences (i.e. if you’re more of a rice/potatoes guy… stick with 45% carbs; if you’re more of a bacon and eggs guy… lower your carbs to around 35% and bump your fat percentage to 30% total calories)
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.
A: Depending upon your experience level, preference, recovery capacity, and time available, you’ll likely find that 3-5 strength training sessions per week is the sweet spot. If you’re just getting started with weight training, then you should stick with 3 days per week and work your way up. Novices and early intermediates can handle 4 days per week with a split such as an upper lower and seasoned intermediate lifters may be able to handle 5 sessions per week depending upon the programming, recovery, and nutrition strategies that are in place.
There’s no need to go overboard on creatine intake, though, in search of crazy muscle growth: “The maximum amount of creatine that you can hold depends on the amount of muscle mass you have,” explains Bates. “So if you have more muscle, then your body can store more creatine. In general, the muscle can hold about 2 to 3 g of creatine per kilogram of muscle mass. So the amount of creatine you use will depend on the amount of muscle mass you have.” (7)
These supplements can vary considerably from product to product in ingredients, serving sizes, and more. But the goal of each of them is generally quite similar. Most bodybuilding supplements are designed to help stimulate new muscle growth, cut away excess fat, and improve the recovery process so that you can get the most out of each trip to the gym.
In addition to the HIIT sessions, it’s always a good idea to go for a 30–60-minute walk as many days per week as you can. I recommend getting a minimum of 10,000 steps every day. Use a phone app to track them. If you’re into jogging, swimming, hiking, or some other form of long-duration, fairly low-intensity cardio, that is fine to do as well, and as often as you like.
In regard to bioenergetics, phosphorylated cyclocreatine appears to have less affinity for the creatine kinase enzyme than phosphorylated creatine in terms of donating the high energy phosphate group (about 160-fold less affinity) despite the process of receiving phosphorylation being similar. When fed to chickens, phosphorylated cyclocreatine can accumulate up to 60mM in skeletal muscle, which suggests a sequestering of phosphate groups before equilibrium is reached. Cyclocreatine still has the capacity to donate phosphate, however, as beta-adrenergic stimulated skeletal muscle (which depletes ATP and glycogen) exhibits an attenuation of glycogen depletion (indicative of preservation of ATP) with phosphocreatine.
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If you’re not lifting super-heavy weights, doing high-intensity workouts, or eating a mainly vegan or vegetarian diet, your body probably makes as much creatine as it needs. “Creatine is naturally found in animal-based products,” says Bates, “so your body can make plenty of creatine as long as you have a balanced diet that includes animal-based products.” Protein sources like beef, chicken, pork, and fish help your body produce the creatine it needs — it varies depending on the source, but, in general, a 3-ounce serving of meat will have about 0.4 grams (g) of creatine, Bates says. (6)
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).
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.
Caffeine is the naturally occurring alkaloid and stimulant in coffee, tea, cocoa, guarana, cola and other plant product beverages. A strong cup of brewed coffee will give you about 100 milligrams of caffeine, instant coffee around 80 milligrams, often less, and tea down around the 40 milligrams. It varies from product to product and how you prepare the drink.
Creatine retention (assessed by urinary analysis) tends to be very high on the first loading dose (65±11%) and declines throughout the loading phase (23±27%). This is likely due to increased muscular uptake when creatine stores are relatively low, which has been noted in vegetarians. So, creatine absorption is very high initially, but decreases througout the loading phase, as muscle creatine stores increase.
Neurological and cognitive function has also been shown to be improved by creatine supplementation [47,48]. Rawson and Venezia  review the effects of creatine supplementation on cognitive function highlighting that higher brain creatine has been associated with improved neuropsychological performance. Creatine supplementation protocols have been shown to increase brain creatine and phosphocreatine contents. Cognitive processing hindered due to sleep deprivation and natural impairment due to aging can be improved by creatine supplementation. This review also highlights other possible benefits of creatine ingestion to older adults, such as improvements in: fatigue resistance, strength, muscle mass, bone mineral density, and performance of activities of daily living. Some of these benefits occur without concurrent exercise. The authors inform that discrepancies between studies do exist and are hard to explain but may be possibly due to differences in diet, race and/or supplementation protocols. However, the ideal dose of creatine to maximize brain uptake is not known. Patients have been supplemented with 40 g while in healthy adults positive results have been reported with around 20 g per day .
For several years, research studies have shown that adolescents concerned with both athletics and appearance are taking performance-enhancing supplements. A study by the American Academy of Pediatrics of middle-school and high-school students ages 10 to 18 years found creatine use in all grades 6 through 12. About 5.6% of the study participants and 44% of high-school senior athletes admitted taking creatine.
It can be hard to know where to start when beginning strength training. There are countless exercises you can do, some of which work some muscles, but not others. There are safety concerns to beware of, a wide variety of sometimes confusing equipment to help you in your efforts, and so on. With some familiarity of the basics of getting started with strength training, actually doing so can become far less daunting, and you can begin to craft a routine that is targeted toward helping you achieve your personal goals.