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.
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)
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.
Chwalbinska-Monteta  observed a significant decrease in blood lactate accumulation when exercising at lower intensities as well as an increase in lactate threshold in elite male endurance rowers after consuming a short loading (5 days 20 g/d) CM protocol. However, the effects of creatine supplementation on endurance performance have been questioned by some studies. Graef et al  examined the effects of four weeks of creatine citrate supplementation and high-intensity interval training on cardio respiratory fitness. A greater increase of the ventilatory threshold was observed in the creatine group respect to placebo; however, oxygen consumption showed no significant differences between the groups. The total work presented no interaction and no main effect for time for any of the groups. Thompson et al  reported no effects of a 6 week 2 g CM/d in aerobic and anaerobic endurance performance in female swimmers. In addition, of the concern related to the dosage used in these studies, it could be possible that the potential benefits of creatine supplementation on endurance performance were more related to effects of anaerobic threshold localization.
The creatine transporter (CrT) is positively regulated by proteins known to be involved in sensing and responding to the cellular energy state, including the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR). Upon activation, mTOR stimulates SGK1 and SGK3 to act upon PIKfyve and subsequently PI(3,5)P2 to increase CrT activity. Beyond mTOR, SGK1 also is stimulated by intracellular calcium and a lack of oxygen (ischemia). Because transient ischemia is associated with increased reactive oxygen species (ROS) production after blood flow is restored (reperfusion) it has been hypothesized that muscle contraction may increase creatine uptake through a similar ROS-mediated mechanism.
Eat 0.4–0.5 grams of fat per pound of your body weight. Fat is essential for hormone optimization, brain function, and joint health. Now, if you’re following a ketogenic diet (or modified keto diet), or you just feel better with more fat in your diet, you can certainly add more fat and lower your protein and carb intake to accommodate it. The 0.4–0.5 grams per pound recommendation just represents a starting point and a minimum so that you don’t eat too little fat, either out of fear that it will make you fat or damage your heart (both untrue). For more about ketogenic diets, see Onnit’s guide HERE.
According to BodyBuilding.com, adenosine triphosphate (ATP) is made up of a nucleotide bonded to three phosphate groups. When one of those phosphate groups is cleaved from the ATP molecule, a lot of energy is made available. That energy is used to fuel chemical reactions in cells, and ATP becomes adenosine diphosphate (ADP). Creatine enables the release of energy from stored ATP and is converted to creatinine.
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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.
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.
Creatine Ethyl Ester, or CEE for short, is a powdered form of creatine which has an ethyl group attached to the creatine. This is said to make the creatine more easily absorbed in the human body which would allow you to benefit the most. The studies have not been entirely conclusive as to whether CEE is better than creatine monohydrate. Since Creatine monohydrate is the single most researched form of creatine, it is
Why it made the list: Whey tops the list of mass-gain supplements because it's the most crucial for pushing protein synthesis. Whey is a milk protein that has a high level of branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs, No. 4 on our list). Bottom line: Whey takes the crown because it digests fast and gets to your muscles rapidly to start building muscle. Whey also contains peptides (small proteins) that increase blood flow to the muscles. This is why we always recommend consuming whey protein immediately after training.
Some people do have allergies to soy, or they have an intolerance to soy. If you notice certain symptoms (like a headache) after soy consumption, you may have an intolerance. Discovering your food intolerances/allergies would also be handled by a Dietitian. For the general population who are not allergic/intolerant to soy, however, soy-based products can be a part of a healthy diet. New research has shown that soy is not harmful as people fear. If soy gives you issues, you could always opt for whey protein, pea protein or other forms of vegetable protein. Have you seen our article on protein powders? Click here.
Liquid creatine has been shown to be less effective than creatine monohydrate. This reduced effect is due to the passive breakdown of creatine over a period of days into creatinine, which occurs when it is suspended in solution. This breakdown is not an issue for at-home use when creatine is added to shakes, but it is a concern from a manufacturing perspective in regard to shelf-life before use.
One case study on a subject with a methylentetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) 677TT homozygote, a relatively common genetic mutation known as “mild MTHFR deficiency,” which causes mild homocysteinemia, has seen benefits due to creatine supplementation where homocysteine was approximately halved (49% reduction) while CT heterozygotes and CC homozygotes (n=9) were unaffected. Additionally, one rat study suggested a possible role for creatine in reducing homocysteine levels in a model of high uric acid levels (model for end stage renal disease) but this was not replicated when investigated in humans.
Longer rest periods are more ideal for making progressive tension overload happen, and shorter rest periods are more ideal for generating metabolic fatigue. So, if you’re doing an exercise that is better suited for progressive overload (i.e. primary compound exercises), you’re going to want to rest longer between sets to maximize strength output. And if you’re doing an exercise that is better suited for metabolic fatigue (i.e. isolation exercises), you’re going to want to rest less between sets to make that happen. And if you’re doing an exercise that is suited equally for a combination of the two (i.e. secondary compound exercises), you’re usually going to want a moderate rest period somewhere in between.
I HATE that the resistance training community can be so tribal. I have been preaching to bodybuilders for years about the benefits of powerlifting, or Olympic lifting or kettlebells or even Crossfit style conditioning and many have been receptive. Learn from each other and achieve levels of fitness you simply could not have otherwise. Don’t brush off bodybuilding wisdom…it could be the missing factor in your program.
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.
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.