While muscle growth is critical for bodybuilding, getting rid of extra fat is a necessity to improve your total physique. These supplements can help to increase your metabolism, forcing your body to burn away more of its fat stores. They can also slow down the digestion process to prevent excess fat and carbohydrates from entering the body and being stored.
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.
If you’re a beginner, you should train with three full-body workouts per week. In each one, do a compound pushing movement (like a bench press), a compound pulling movement (like a chinup), and a compound lower-body exercise (squat, trap-bar deadlift, for example). If you want to add in 1–2 other exercises like loaded carries or kettlebell swings as a finisher, that’s fine, but three exercises is enough to work the whole body.
Before getting into the nitty-gritty details about supplements, it’s important to have a good understanding of how muscle growth works. When you take a muscle growth supplement, the role it plays in helping you reach your goals should be very clear. With the supplements available on the market, you can be sure that while some serve an important purpose, others are gimmicks. It’s easier to identify the money wasters if you know how muscle building works.
The 1960s saw the gradual introduction of exercise machines into the still-rare strength training gyms of the time. Weight training became increasingly popular in the 1970s, following the release of the bodybuilding movie Pumping Iron, and the subsequent popularity of Arnold Schwarzenegger. Since the late 1990s increasing numbers of women have taken up weight training, influenced by programs like Body for Life; currently nearly one in five U.S. women engage in weight training on a regular basis.[4]
^ Jump up to: a b c Brioche T, Pagano AF, Py G, Chopard A (April 2016). "Muscle wasting and aging: Experimental models, fatty infiltrations, and prevention". Mol. Aspects Med. 50: 56–87. doi:10.1016/j.mam.2016.04.006. PMID 27106402. In conclusion, HMB treatment clearly appears to be a safe potent strategy against sarcopenia, and more generally against muscle wasting, because HMB improves muscle mass, muscle strength, and physical performance. It seems that HMB is able to act on three of the four major mechanisms involved in muscle deconditioning (protein turnover, apoptosis, and the regenerative process), whereas it is hypothesized to strongly affect the fourth (mitochondrial dynamics and functions). Moreover, HMB is cheap (~30– 50 US dollars per month at 3 g per day) and may prevent osteopenia (Bruckbauer and Zemel, 2013; Tatara, 2009; Tatara et al., 2007, 2008, 2012) and decrease cardiovascular risks (Nissen et al., 2000). For all these reasons, HMB should be routinely used in muscle-wasting conditions especially in aged people. ... 3 g of CaHMB taken three times a day (1 g each time) is the optimal posology, which allows for continual bioavailability of HMB in the body (Wilson et al., 2013).
Post workout, it’s important to restore your body’s energy by consuming protein and carbs. When you’re trying to build muscle, this is an especially important step. Protein powder is a great muscle builder for your post-workout routine, as long as you include a carbohydrate as well. You can get this by eating a banana or adding oats or banana to your protein shake. Or simply cook up a batch of healthy oatmeal muffins and include protein powder in your recipe. Then, enjoy your post-workout supplement as a delicious snack!

When creatine is absorbed it pulls water in with it, causing cells to swell. This “cell volumization” is known to promote a cellular anabolic state associated with less protein breakdown and increased DNA synthesis.[107][108][109] An increase in cellular viability assessed via phase angle (measuring body cell mass[110]) has been noted in humans during supplementation of creatine.[111]
^ Haykowsky MJ, Liang Y, Pechter D, Jones LW, McAlister FA, Clark AM (June 2007). "A meta-analysis of the effect of exercise training on left ventricular remodeling in heart failure patients: the benefit depends on the type of training performed". Journal of the American College of Cardiology. 49 (24): 2329–36. doi:10.1016/j.jacc.2007.02.055. PMID 17572248.
This copyrighted, evidence-based medicine resource is provided by Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Consumer Version. Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database disclaims any responsibility related to consequences of using any product. This monograph should not replace advice from a healthcare professional and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition.
The motor proteins actin and myosin generate the forces exerted by contracting muscles. Current recommendations suggest that bodybuilders should consume 25–30% of protein per total calorie intake to further their goal of maintaining and improving their body composition.[30] This is a widely debated topic, with many arguing that 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight per day is ideal, some suggesting that less is sufficient, while others recommending 1.5, 2, or more.[31] It is believed that protein needs to be consumed frequently throughout the day, especially during/after a workout, and before sleep.[32] There is also some debate concerning the best type of protein to take. Chicken, turkey, beef, pork, fish, eggs and dairy foods are high in protein, as are some nuts, seeds, beans, and lentils. Casein or whey are often used to supplement the diet with additional protein. Whey protein is the type of protein contained in many popular brands of protein supplements and is preferred by many bodybuilders because of its high Biological Value (BV) and quick absorption rates. Whey protein also has a bigger effect than casein on insulin levels, triggering about double the amount of insulin release.[33] That effect is somewhat overcome by combining casein and whey. Bodybuilders are usually thought to require protein with a higher BV than that of soy, which is additionally avoided due to its claimed estrogenic properties. Still, some nutrition experts believe that soy, flax seeds and many other plants that contain the weak estrogen-like compounds or phytoestrogens, can be used beneficially, as phytoestrogens compete with estrogens for receptor sites in the male body and can block its actions. This can also include some inhibition of pituitary functions while stimulating the P450 system (the system that eliminates hormones, drugs and metabolic waste product from the body) in the liver to more actively process and excrete excess estrogen.[34][35] Cortisol decreases amino acid uptake by muscle, and inhibits protein synthesis.[36]
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.
K. Aleisha Fetters, M.S., C.S.C.S., is a Chicago-based personal and online trainer. She has a graduate degree in health and science reporting from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and regularly contributes to Men's Health, Women's Health, USNews.com, TIME, and SHAPE. When she's not lifting something heavy, she's usually guzzling coffee and writing about the health benefits of doing so.

Keep in mind that while creatine boosts your performance in the gym, helping you achieve better muscle building results, it is also associated with some side effects. One of the main concerns is that creatine may worsen or cause kidney problems. Creatine shouldn’t be taken in combination with diabetes medications, acetaminophen, diuretics or caffeine. As always, speak with your doctor before taking supplements to make sure that the product is safe for you (6). Generally, for most people, the supplement is considered to be among the safer weight lifting supplements.

Chwalbinska-Monteta [34] 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 [35] 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 [36] 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 general strategy adopted by most present-day competitive bodybuilders is to make muscle gains for most of the year (known as the "off-season") and, approximately 12–14 weeks from competition, lose a maximum of body fat (referred to as "cutting") while preserving as much muscular mass as possible. The bulking phase entails remaining in a net positive energy balance (calorie surplus). The amount of a surplus in which a person remains is based on the person's goals, as a bigger surplus and longer bulking phase will create more fat tissue. The surplus of calories relative to one's energy balance will ensure that muscles remain in a state of anabolism.
I’m going to cover this in detail in a bit, but for right now, just know this: it’s VERY possible (and common) to gain weight fast in the hopes of gaining muscle fast. The problem, however, is that the majority of the “weight” a person in this scenario will end up gaining will be body fat rather than muscle mass. This is something that needs to be avoided at all costs, and I’ll show you how a little later.
The biggest mistake among young would-be bodybuilders is overdoing it, followed by not learning the proper techniques. Take those breaks and follow the correct form, or you'll give your body stress and injuries instead of muscle. Also make sure you're getting a large but balanced diet. Teens going through growth spurts need lots of food, especially when they're working out.
What you eat plays a big role in how much muscle your body can build. Proteins are especially important for building muscle. When you eat protein, your body breaks it down into amino acids which are the building blocks of muscle. How much protein you should include in your diet depends on a number of factors including your age and muscle building goals. Older adults who engage in resistance training and those hoping for maximum muscle growth should eat 1 to 1.3 grams of protein per kg of body weight (2, 3). If you weigh 150 lbs, that means you should take between 68 and 88 g of protein daily. Other recommendations are more modest, suggesting that .36 grams of protein per pound of body weight is enough.
"Eating well" is tough to objectively quantify. One can eat "well" but that doesn't necessarily mean that you are eating enough to build muscle or recover adequately from workouts. Also, taking protein shakes doesn't guarantee that one will start to accrue massive slabs of lean body mass. Muscle anabolism is a fairly complex metabolic process which has a number of contributing factors at the cellular level and can't be reduced to a single supplement or dietary component.
Extracellular creatine (creatine outside of a cell) appears to influence creatine uptake into a cell. It seems that prolonged and excessive levels of creatine actually suppress uptake (a form of negative regulation to prevent excessive influx).[180] In vitro studies in rat muscle cells have shown that including 1mM creatine into cell culture medium substantially reduces creatine uptake into cells. The inhibitory effect was partially negated by protein synthesis inhibitors, suggesting that high levels of creatine induce the expression of a protein that suppresses creatine transporter activity.[180] Similar findings were reported in a later study in cultured mouse myoblasts, which noted a 2.4-fold increase in intracellular creatine levels in the presence of the protein synthesis inhibitor cyclohexamide.[174]
Polyethylene glycol is a non-toxic, water-soluble polymer that is capable of enhancing the absorption of creatine and various other substances [66]. Polyethylene glycol can be bound with CM to form polyethylene glycosylated creatine. One study [67] found that 5 g/d for 28 days of polyethylene glycosylated creatine was capable of increasing 1RM bench press in 22 untrained young men but not for lower body strength or muscular power. Body weight also did not significantly change in the creatine group which may be of particular interest to athletes in weight categories that require upper body strength. Herda et al [68] analyzed the effects of 5 g of CM and two smaller doses of polyethylene glycosylated creatine (containing 1.25 g and 2.5 g of creatine) administered over 30 days on muscular strength, endurance, and power output in fifty-eight healthy men. CM produced a significantly greater improvement in mean power and body weight meanwhile both CM and polyethylene glycosylated form showed a significantly (p < 0.05) greater improvement for strength when compared with control group. These strength increases were similar even though the dose of creatine in the polyethylene glycosylated creatine groups was up to 75% less than that of CM. These results seem to indicate that the addition of polyethylene glycol could increase the absorption efficiency of creatine but further research is needed before a definitive recommendation can be reached.
These effects were noted before in a preliminary study of depressed adolescents (with no placebo group) showing a 55% reduction in depressive symptoms at 4g daily when brain phosphocreatine levels increased.[231] Other prelimnary human studies suggest creatine might lessen unipolar depression[256] and one study on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) noted improved mood as assessed by the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale.[232]
Sculthorpe et al (2010) has shown that a 5 day (25g/d) loading protocol of creatine supplementation followed by a further 3 days of 5 g/d negatively influence both active ankle dorsiflexion and shoulder abduction and extension range of movement (ROM) in young men. There are two possible theories to explain these effects: 1) Creatine supplementation increases intracellular water content resulting in increased muscle stiffness and resistance to stretch; 2) Neural outflow from the muscle spindles is affected due to an increased volume of the muscle cell. The authors highlight that the active ROM measures were taken immediately after the loading phase and the reduced active ROM may not be seen after several weeks of maintenance phase [45]. Hile et al [46] observed an increase in compartment pressure in the anterior compartment of the lower leg, which may also have been responsible for a reduced active ROM.
Most causes of brain injury (calcium influx, excitotoxicity, lipid peroxidation, reactive oxygen intermediates or ROIs) all tend to ultimately work secondary to damaging the mitochondrial membrane and reducing its potential, which ultimately causes cellular apoptosis.[258][259][260][261] Traumatic brain injuries are thought to work vicariously through ROIs by depleting ATP concentrations.[262][263] Creatine appears to preserve mitochondrial membrane permeability in response to traumatic brain injury (1% of the rat’s diet for four weeks),[264] which is a mechanism commonly attributed to its ATP-buffering ability.
These terms combine the prefix iso- (meaning "same") with tonic ("strength") and plio- ("more") with metric ("distance"). In "isotonic" exercises the force applied to the muscle does not change (while the length of the muscle decreases or increases) while in "plyometric" exercises the length of the muscle stretches and contracts rapidly to increase the power output of a muscle.
More recent studies on the regulation of CrT creatine transport activity have identified the protein kinase (Janus-Activating Kinase 2) JAK2, which suppresses the rate of creatine uptake via CrT without affecting creatine binding.[181] JAK2 is a regulatory protein involved in stabilizing the cellular membrane and controlling water concentrations in response to osmotic stress.[182][183] Similar to c-Src (a positive creatine transport regulator), Jak2 can also be activated by growth hormone signaling.[169][184] The growth hormone receptor seems to activate these two factors independently, as gh-mediated activation of c-Src does not require JAK2.[168] Given that c-Src is a positive regulator of CrT, JAK2 is a negative regulator, and the fact that downstream signals from both are induced by growth hormone, it is tempting to speculate that JAK2 activation downstream of the gh receptor may function as a homeostatic response to limit c-src induced creatine uptake. This has not been studied, however, and the effects of gh-induced JAK2 signaling on CrT activity have not been examined.
You are encouraged to confirm information obtained from or through this website with other sources. Our content is not a substitute for qualified medical advice. The supplement summaries on this website may not include all the information pertinent to your use. Before starting a diet, taking new supplements, or beginning an exercise program, check with your doctor to clear any lifestyle changes. Only your doctor can determine what is right for you based on your medical history and prescriptions.
Osteoblast cells are known to express creatine kinase.[39][417] Bone growth factors such as IGF-1,[418] PTH,[419] and even Vitamin D[420][421] seem to induce bone growth alongside increases in creatine kinase activity. Vitamin D has been noted to work indirectly by increasing the cellular energy state (these hormones increase creatine kinase in order to do so) in order to make bone cells more responsive to estrogen.[420] This evidence, paired with enhanced growth rates of osteoblasts in the presence of higher than normal (10-20mM) concentrations of creatine[422] suggest a role of creatine in promoting osteoblastic and bone growth, secondary to increasing energy availability.
Creatine is a naturally occurring compound found in muscle in large amounts. Creatine monohydrate is the supplement form and combines is a combination of the amino acids arginine, glycine, and methionine. Creatine drives the important creatine phosphate energy pathway, which is important in high-intensity activity such as weightlifting. Creatine can improve body bulk and training performance in high-intensity activities. Be aware that not everyone responds to creatine supplementation and 30 percent of users may not see any improvement. Women may not benefit as much as men. In weight training, increased strength, bulk, and fat loss are reasonably consistent results.
A muscle imbalance—when one muscle is stronger than its opposing muscle—can limit your ability to exercise effectively, and could lead to injury down the line. “It’s important to recognize whether you’re really working the muscles you think you are and recognize if you’ve developed an imbalance that alters your movement pattern,” says Eric Ingram, physical therapist at Louisiana Physical Therapy Centers of Pineville. One common imbalance in women is stronger quads and weaker, tighter hamstrings, thanks to prolonged sitting, high heels, and improper training. If you suspect you have a muscle imbalance, make an appointment with a physical therapist, who will prescribe exercises to even you out.
If you decide to join a gym, know that you're not expected to know how all of the equipment works right off the bat—or what to do with it. Be sure to take advantage of the free orientation so you can learn how to properly use everything that's offered and set up a basic strength-training program. At the gym, machines are preferred for beginners, because they're quite safe: Most require little coordination and offer more stability than free weights while performing the movements. 
In the last week leading up to a contest, bodybuilders usually decrease their consumption of water, sodium, and carbohydrates, the former two to alter how water is retained by the body and the latter to reduce glycogen in the muscle. The day before the show, water is removed from the diet, and diuretics may be introduced, while carbohydrate loading is undertaken to increase the size of the muscles through replenishment of their glycogen. The goal is to maximize leanness and increase the visibility of veins, or "vascularity". The muscular definition and vascularity are further enhanced immediately before appearing on stage by darkening the skin through tanning products and applying oils to the skin to increase shine. Some competitors will eat sugar-rich foods to increase the visibility of their veins. A final step, called "pumping", consists in performing exercises with light weights or other kinds of low resistance (for instance two athletes can "pump" each other by holding a towel and pulling in turn), just before the contest, to fill the muscles with blood and further increase their size and density.

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".[18] 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.[3]
Safety. Excess quantities of antioxidants may produce a ‘pro-oxidant’ effect, which is the opposite of what you would take these supplements for. The Australian Institute of Sport recommends that antioxidant vitamin supplements only be taken for a period of a few weeks while the body adjusts to stressful circumstances. Excess vitamin C may promote excess iron absorption, which may not be healthy for everyone.
It’s not just about lifting—it’s about lifting safely and correctly. And if you’re not performing exercises properly, it’s impossible to make any progress. “When someone is just starting to work out, it can help to work closely with a knowledgeable personal trainer in order to learn proper form,” says Ingram. But that goes for experienced lifters, too. If you aren’t sure about a movement, it’s better to ask. “If you’re not working the correct muscles, you can’t expect them to grow,” explains Ingram.

There have been a few reported renal health disorders associated with creatine supplementation [73,74]. These are isolated reports in which recommended dosages are not followed or there is a history of previous health complaints, such as renal disease or those taking nephrotoxic medication aggravated by creatine supplementation [73]. Specific studies into creatine supplementation, renal function and/or safety conclude that although creatine does slightly raise creatinine levels there is no progressive effect to cause negative consequences to renal function and health in already healthy individuals when proper dosage recommendations are followed [73-77]. Urinary methylamine and formaldehyde have been shown to increase due to creatine supplementation of 20 g/d; this however did not bring the production outside of normal healthy range and did not impact on kidney function [56,78]. It has been advised that further research be carried out into the effects of creatine supplementation and health in the elderly and adolescent [73,75]. More recently, a randomized, double blind, 6 month resistance exercise and supplementation intervention [79] was performed on elderly men and women (age >65 years) in which subjects were assigned to either a supplement or placebo group. The supplement group was given 5 g CM, 2 g dextrose and 6 g conjugated linoleic acid/d, whilst the placebo group consumed 7 g dextrose and 6 g safflower oil/d. CM administration showed significantly greater effects to improve muscular endurance, isokinetic knee extension strength, fat free mass and to reduce fat mass compared to placebo. Furthermore the supplement group had an increase in serum creatinine but not creatinine clearance suggesting no negative effect on renal function.
Exercise is highly effective in increasing your lean body mass, which is essentially muscle. In a study published in 2012, progressive resistance training helped men ages 50 to 83 gain an average of 2.4 pounds of lean body mass over an average of 20.5 weeks. Progressive resistance training involves performing weight bearing exercises. In addition, you must slowly increase the challenge of the exercise over time by increasing the weight, reps and/or sets. Studies show that either increasing reps or weight amount will work. So, if you don’t want to lift more weight, you can just do more reps and still build muscle.
However, a much more accurate determination of how much fluid is necessary can be made by performing appropriate weight measurements before and after a typical exercise session, to determine how much fluid is lost during the workout. The greatest source of fluid loss during exercise is through perspiration, but as long as your fluid intake is roughly equivalent to your rate of perspiration, hydration levels will be maintained.[14]
Exercise is highly effective in increasing your lean body mass, which is essentially muscle. In a study published in 2012, progressive resistance training helped men ages 50 to 83 gain an average of 2.4 pounds of lean body mass over an average of 20.5 weeks. Progressive resistance training involves performing weight bearing exercises. In addition, you must slowly increase the challenge of the exercise over time by increasing the weight, reps and/or sets. Studies show that either increasing reps or weight amount will work. So, if you don’t want to lift more weight, you can just do more reps and still build muscle.

Note that this recommendation is for total weekly volume, which means it would need to be divided up based on how many times you’re training each muscle group per week. So, for example, someone training everything twice per week would do 30-70 reps for each bigger muscle group in each of those workouts, and 15-35 reps for each smaller muscle group in each of those workouts.

Citrulline Malate is an amino acid also known as L-Citrulline and is taken for many different medical conditions. There is some research that shows that the amino acid may help improve performance while exercising by reducing fatigue. What does that mean for you? In your muscle building efforts, you can use this supplement to help you make it through longer, harder workouts. This will spur more muscle building in response to the trauma your muscles experience in a tough workout. Not only that, but Citrulline Malate can also help reduce soreness after a workout. Who doesn’t want to avoid feeling sore? Reduced soreness means you can get back to the gym the next day with renewed enthusiasm.
Side-Effects: While the signs of a great body may make one think that there cannot be anything wrong with bodybuilding supplements, the facts speak otherwise. Bodybuilding supplements do have side-effects and you must listen to your trainer before giving in to the thoughts of buying one. Creatine can cause heart problems, kidney problems, dehydration, diarrhoea and muscle cramping. You must also discuss your medical history with the trainer. 
Sure, using a more effective workout routine or diet plan will work better/faster than a less effective one. However, even when you’re doing everything just right and you’ve optimized every single major and minor factor to work as quickly and effectively as possible (which I’m going to show you how to do), the simple fact is that you’re still not going to build muscle “fast.”

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.
^ Jump up to: a b c d e f g h Momaya A, Fawal M, Estes R (April 2015). "Performance-enhancing substances in sports: a review of the literature". Sports Med. 45 (4): 517–531. doi:10.1007/s40279-015-0308-9. PMID 25663250. Wilson et al. [91] demonstrated that when non-resistance trained males received HMB pre-exercise, the rise of lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) levels reduced, and HMB tended to decrease soreness. Knitter et al. [92] showed a decrease in LDH and creatine phosphokinase (CPK), a byproduct of muscle breakdown, by HMB after a prolonged run. ... The utility of HMB does seem to be affected by timing of intake prior to workouts and dosage [97].
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