Related to exercise and fitness, BCAAs are taken to help reduce muscle breakdown, which is why they may be known as muscle building supplements. Leucine, in particular, is known for playing an important role in muscle protein synthesis, which can help with muscle gain and maintenance. Some also claim that BCAAs can enhance performance, although many studies also refute this claim.
When it comes to building muscle, there are numerous theories, methods, and preferences. Whether the goal is improved health, aesthetics, performance, or a combination of all three, there is no shortage of advice to help you get there. So much so that it can sometimes become overly complicated and you forget about the basic facts. But, it’s simpler than it seems.
When looking specifically at human studies, there has been a failure of creatine supplementation to induce or exacerbate kidney damage in people with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Subjects do not experience kidney damage for up to or over a year’s worth of supplementation in the 5-10g range.[505][506][507] Postmenopausal women,[517] people with type II diabetes,[518] people on hemodialysis,[313] otherwise healthy elderly,[519] young people,[454][520][521] and athletes do not experience kidney damage either.[324] Moreover, numerous scientific reviews on both the long- and short-term safety of supplemental creatine have consistently found no adverse effects on kidney function in a wide range of doses.[522][523][524][452][525][451][526][527] However, while doses >10 g/day have been found not to impair kidney function, there are fewer long-term trials using such high chronic daily intakes.[527]
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.
You may have heard hardcore lifters talk about things like "leg day," but when it comes to a beginner strength workout that's only a few days a week, a full-body workout is often the way to go (rather than splitting your days up by body part). "Full-body workouts maximize your caloric burn and the muscles worked each session," says Davis. The best way to do this is to pair one upper body exercise with one lower body exercise. "This way, the lower body has time to recover while the upper body works and vice-versa," says Davis. You should also aim for a balance between movements that feel like pulling and ones that feel like pushing. For example, Davis suggests pairing these exercises together:
It’s important to remember that since everybody is different, these estimates are just that. How the numbers work out for each person will definitely vary. So many factors—like genetics, hormones, sleep, and diet—can change the rate at which our bodies burn calories. And some people may have a harder time than others when it comes losing fat or gaining muscle—again, there are so many factors at play and our body chemistries are all different. Strength training is important for many, many, many other reasons (more on that later), but if you’re looking to increase your metabolism, it’s important to have realistic expectations and know that strength training can make a difference, but probably won’t drastically affect how many calories you burn from one day to the next.

Incubation of a β-cell with additional creatine (5-10mM), even at saturated concentrations of glucose, is able to further increase insulin secretion in response to glucose, specifically as the leucine metabolite 2-ketoisocaproic acid, potassium, and a potassium channel blocker were all ineffective.[494] This has been found to occur in rats given 2% of the diet as creatine[345] but has since failed in humans given 5g of creatine.[351]
Supplementation of a loading phase of creatine has been noted to augment the increase in RBC levels of superoxide dismutase (SOD) from exercise, when measured immediately after, by 8.1%, but control groups increased to match within an hour.[299] Glutathione (normally decreases with exercise) and catalase (increases) were both unaffected,[299] and elsewhere in vitro red blood cells incubated with 3mM of creatine (within the supplemental range) is able to improve filterability (a measure of cell rheology, or fluid structure of the cell[300]) when RBC creatine was increased by 12.3% to reach 554µM.[301] This was thought to be due to reduced oxidative stress (assessed via MDA) in the red blood cells, which in the presence of 1-5mM creatine was progressively reduced by 20-41%.[301]
Peirano, R. I., Achterberg, V., Dusing, H. J., Akhiani, M., Koop, U., Jaspers, S., Kruger, A., Schwengler, H., Hamann, T., Wenck, H., Stab, F., Gallinat, S., and Blatt, T. Dermal penetration of creatine from a face-care formulation containing creatine, guarana and glycerol is linked to effective antiwrinkle and antisagging efficacy in male subjects. J.Cosmet.Dermatol. 2011;10(4):273-281. View abstract.
Studies conducted in vegetarians tend to show cognitive enhancement in youth, possibly due to a creatine deficiency, as compared to omnivores.[272][60][61] Vegetarian diets have lower levels of circulating creatine prior to supplementation, but attain similar circulating levels as omnivores when both groups supplement.[272][273] Building on the latter, supplementation of creatine monohydrate in a loading protocol (20g daily in orange juice) in omnivores does not alter levels of creatine in white matter tissue in the brain (test subjects: competitive athletes).[274] In most of the parameters that vegetarians experience benefits, omnivores fail to experience statistically significant benefits[275], except possibly when sleep deprived, where the cognitive improvements rival that seen in vegetarians.[276] Elderly people who are omnivorous may also experience increases in cognition to a similar level, in regard to long-term memory as well as forward number and spatial recall, although the study in question failed to find any significant benefit on backward recall or random number generation,[38] the latter of which is a test for executive working memory.[277]
Beach muscles and Olympic lifts draw more attention. But the many little stabilizer muscles around your shoulders, hips, and midsection — collectively the core — provide a strong foundation. Challenging the stability and mobility of these key muscles with medicine balls, physioballs, mini-bands, and rotational movements (lifting, chopping) pays huge dividends.
In standard dosages (5-10g creatine monohydrate) the bioavailability of creatine in humans is approximately 99%,[68][83] although this value is subject to change with different conjugates (forms) of creatine and dosages.[83] Coingestion of cyclocreatine (an analogue) can reduce uptake by about half[131] and coincubation of taurine, choline, glycine, or beta-alanine had minimal attenuation of absorption, which is likely not practically relevant.[131] The inhibition noted with cyclocreatine may be due to receptor saturation.
One of the studies noting a reduction in fatigue in healthy subjects given creatine (8g) for five days prior to a mathematical test noted a relative decrease in oxygenation hemoglobin in the brain and an increase in deoxygenated hemoglobin, which normally indicates a reduction in cerebral oxygenation.[245] The authors made note of how cytoplasmic phosphocreatine can increase oxygen uptake into cells (noted in vitro in a concentration dependent manner between 0-25mM[245]) and suggested that either cells were taking up more oxygen from hemoglobin, or that increased mitochondrial efficiency resulted in less of a need for oxygen.[245]
Creatine kinase enzymes (of which there are numerous isozymes) exist in both the mitochondria and the cytosol of the cell.[45][40] The four isozymes of creatine kinase include the Muscle Creatine Kinase (MCK), present in contractile muscle and cardiac muscle, and the Brain Creatine Kinase (BCK), expressed in neuron and glial cells and several other non-muscle cells. These two creatine kinases are met with Sarcolemmic Mitochondrial Creatine Kinase (sMitCK), expressed alongside MCK, and the ubiquitous Mitochondrial Creatine Kinase (uMitCK), which is expressed alongside BCK everywhere else.[25][39]

How to Take It: So, you want to give it a go? How much should you take and what should you look for in a supplement? Definitely opt for creatine monohydrate, as it performs better in studies than other varieties, as mentioned above. A standard dose is about 5 grams a day. You can try taking this muscle builder for about 4 weeks to boost your levels. Following this time, you can either cut out creatine or lower to a maintenance dose of 3-5 grams per day. However, you’ll notice if you read the fine print that subjects in studies often have a loading phase of five days where the dosage is upped to 20 g per day, prior to adopting a standard dose (7, 8).


Creatine ethyl ester is more a pronutrient for creatinine rather than creatine,[74] and was originally created in an attempt to bypass the creatine transporter. It is currently being studied for its potential as a treatment for situations in which there is a lack of creatine transporters (alongside cyclocreatine as another possible example).[77] Its efficacy may rely on intravenous administration, however.
We live by a higher standard and artificial does not cut it for Performance Inspired. Clean means that we don’t junk up our formulas just to add ingredients to the label that does nothing but confuse and mislead. We make robust, high-performance formulas with the most effective amount of each active ingredient that are all natural formulas without any synthetic ingredients added. Inspired to be better!
Despite all the awesomeness of hypertrophy, athletes may be more interested in effects on power. Power is the ability to generate high amounts of force in relatively short periods of time — more power means you can pull more weight in low-rep sets — and independent of the hypertrophy, just five to ten grams of creatine per day appears to improve power output by 12 to 26 percent.
This basic form of creatine comes in two forms, one of which involves the removal of the monohydrate (which results in creatine anhydrous) that converts to creatine monohydrate in an aqueous environment,[66][67] but due to the exclusion of the monohydrate it is 100% creatine by weight despite creatine monohydrate being 88% creatine by weight, as the monohydrate is 12%. This allows more creatine to be present in a concentrated formula, like capsules.[68]
AAOS does not endorse any treatments, procedures, products, or physicians referenced herein. This information is provided as an educational service and is not intended to serve as medical advice. Anyone seeking specific orthopaedic advice or assistance should consult his or her orthopaedic surgeon, or locate one in your area through the AAOS Find an Orthopaedist program on this website.
Cornelissen, V. A., Defoor, J. G., Stevens, A., Schepers, D., Hespel, P., Decramer, M., Mortelmans, L., Dobbels, F., Vanhaecke, J., Fagard, R. H., and Vanhees, L. Effect of creatine supplementation as a potential adjuvant therapy to exercise training in cardiac patients: a randomized controlled trial. Clin.Rehabil. 2010;24(11):988-999. View abstract.

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. 

More specifically, you can expect to end up in the upper half of these ranges ONLY if you are a beginner, younger, and/or have amazing genetics. You can expect to end up in the lower half of these ranges if you are an intermediate or advanced trainee, older, and/or have poor genetics. The average person can expect to end up somewhere in the middle. Additional details here: How Much Muscle Can You Gain?
While I’m not well-versed in DNP, it is important to note that most supplements are not regulated by the FDA. The FDA has minimal standards for governing supplements before they make it to the shelves. All supplementation should be a case-by-case basis and under the discretion of a doctor and/or registered dietitian who knows your personal needs. Also, if you are consuming a well-rounded, healthy diet, supplementation may not be needed, even for making gains at the gym.
The main storage area of creatine in the human body is the skeletal (contractile) muscle, which holds true for other animals. Therefore, consumption of skeletal muscle (meat products) is the main human dietary source of creatine. Since vegetarians and vegans lack the main source of dietary creatine intake, which has been estimated to supply half of the daily requirements of creatine in normal people, both vegetarians and vegans have been reported to have lower levels of creatine.[58][59] This also applies to other meat-exclusive nutrients, such as L-Carnitine.[58]
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)
Cornelissen, V. A., Defoor, J. G., Stevens, A., Schepers, D., Hespel, P., Decramer, M., Mortelmans, L., Dobbels, F., Vanhaecke, J., Fagard, R. H., and Vanhees, L. Effect of creatine supplementation as a potential adjuvant therapy to exercise training in cardiac patients: a randomized controlled trial. Clin.Rehabil. 2010;24(11):988-999. View abstract.
^ "The History of Weightlifting". USA Weightlifting. United States Olympic Committee. Archived from the original on 7 July 2013. Retrieved 3 September 2018. The genealogy of lifting traces back to the beginning of recorded history where man's fascination with physical prowess can be found among numerous ancient writings. A 5,000-year-old Chinese text tells of prospective soldiers having to pass lifting tests.
Do standard squats with a weighted bar. Place enough weight on a bar and rack so that it's a little lower than shoulder height. It should be heavy enough that doing a squat is difficult, but not impossible. If you're a beginner, this may mean using a bar without any weight to start with. Duck under the bar and stand up so that the bar rests comfortably on your trapezius muscles, just below the neck. Keep your knees slightly bent and your legs slightly wider than shoulder width. Lift the bar up off the rack and move backwards one step.
Jason Ferruggia is a highly sought after, world renowned strength & conditioning specialist and muscle building expert. Over the last 17 years he has personally trained more than 700 athletes from over 90 different NCAA, NFL, NHL and MLB organizations. He has also worked extensively with firefighters, police officers, military personnel, Hollywood stars and entertainers. Most importantly, Jason has helped over 53,000 skinny guys and hard gainers in 126 different countries build muscle and gain weight faster than they every thought possible.
Another supplement that’s ideal to take pre-workout is protein. Depending on your goals and your workout time, taking protein before your workout can help you keep your energy levels elevated while working out. Make sure you give yourself at least an hour between the time you take your protein and your workout time so that your body has time to digest.
Take time to rest. To give your muscles time to recover, rest one full day between exercising each specific muscle group. You might choose to work the major muscle groups at a single session two or three times a week, or plan daily sessions for specific muscle groups. For example, on Monday work your arms and shoulders, on Tuesday work your legs, and so on.
Gordon, P. H., Cheung, Y. K., Levin, B., Andrews, H., Doorish, C., Macarthur, R. B., Montes, J., Bednarz, K., Florence, J., Rowin, J., Boylan, K., Mozaffar, T., Tandan, R., Mitsumoto, H., Kelvin, E. A., Chapin, J., Bedlack, R., Rivner, M., McCluskey, L. F., Pestronk, A., Graves, M., Sorenson, E. J., Barohn, R. J., Belsh, J. M., Lou, J. S., Levine, T., Saperstein, D., Miller, R. G., and Scelsa, S. N. A novel, efficient, randomized selection trial comparing combinations of drug therapy for ALS. Amyotroph.Lateral.Scler. 2008;9(4):212-222. View abstract.
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.
One pilot study using 150mg/kg creatine monohydrate for a five day loading phase followed by maintenance (60mg/kg) for the remainder of the five weeks noted that supplementation was associated with fewer muscle symptoms and complaints alongside improved muscular function,[572] yet a later trial trying to replicate the obsevations using 150mg/kg daily for five weeks noted the opposite, that creatine supplementation exacerbated symptoms.[573] 

BulkSupplements.com Creatine is a solid bet for the best micronized creatine. It’s certified Good Manufacturing Practices and it’s produced in an allergen-free facility, something many brands can’t offer. The downside is that if you order smaller quantities, it’s a little more expensive, but once you order one kilogram or higher, it becomes just about cheapest creatine you’re likely to find.
Safety. In general health terms, most medical opinion is that up to three cups of coffee a day are not harmful, and may even have some benefits, although some people respond to the stimulant properties with more problems than others. Heart palpitations and restlessness are experienced by some caffeine drinkers. In pregnancy, one or two cups each day are thought to be without harm to the fetus.
Different exercises will require different weights, but there are some markers that can help guide you towards the right resistance, whether you're using dumbbells, kettlebells, or a barbell. Go for a weight that feel heavy enough to challenge you, but not so heavy that you sacrifice your form. For example, if you're doing 15 reps, you should feel pretty fatigued by the time you hit rep 15. If you can breeze through all your reps, though, that's a sign you should up the weight.
Although creatine is a natural component of food, the amount of food required to supersaturate the muscle with PCr may not be feasible. For example, it could require 22 pounds of meat daily [8]. If creatine monohydrate is proven to be a safe and effective ergogenic aid, creatine supplementation may be the simplest way to increasing muscle stores. It may be beneficial to avoid caffeine if taking creatine supplements. One study showed that caffeine diminished strength gains seen with creatine use [9]. 
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