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.
Over time, we naturally lose muscle mass in a process called sarcopenia. On average, men lose about 30% of their muscle mass during their lives. Usually, this begins in your 30s and progresses slowly as you age. But, don’t despair. You can rebuild and maintain muscle mass even as you age. Often, diet and exercise are enough. But, sometimes, if the above hormones play a role, your doctor may recommend medications and additional treatments (4).
Contrast loading is the alternation of heavy and light loads. Considered as sets, the heavy load is performed at about 85-95% 1 repetition max; the light load should be considerably lighter at about 30-60% 1RM. Both sets should be performed fast with the lighter set being performed as fast as possible. The joints should not be locked as this inhibits muscle fibre recruitment and reduces the speed at which the exercise can be performed. The lighter set may be a loaded plyometric exercise such as loaded squat jumps or jumps with a trap bar.
Start with the barbell on the supports of a power rack at about shoulder height. Grab the bar overhand and raise your elbows until your upper arms are parallel to the floor. Now lift the bar off the rack, letting it roll toward your fingers-this is where it should rest throughout the exercise (as long as you keep your elbows raised, you won’t have trouble balancing the bar) [1]. Squat as low as you can [2], and then drive with your legs to return to the starting position. That’s one rep.
Creatine is not an essential nutrient[19] as it is naturally produced in the human body from the amino acids glycine and arginine, with an additional requirement for methionine to catalyze the transformation of guanidinoacetate to creatine. In the first step of the biosynthesis these two amino acids are combined by the enzyme arginine:glycine amidinotransferase (AGAT, EC:2.1.4.1) to form guanidinoacetate, which is then methylated by guanidinoacetate N-methyltransferase (GAMT, EC:2.1.1.2), using S-adenosyl methionine as the methyl donor. Creatine itself can be phosphorylated by creatine kinase to form phosphocreatine, which is used as an energy buffer in skeletal muscles and the brain.
In fact, in one new study comparing the effects of aerobic exercise versus resistance training on the psychological health of obese adolescents, researchers found that people in the resistance group experienced significantly greater self-esteem and perceived strength over four weeks. But what’s most interesting is that the feeling of getting stronger — rather than any measurable gains — was all it took to give them a boost.
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.
^ Jump up to: a b c d e Cooper R, Naclerio F, Allgrove J, Jimenez A (July 2012). "Creatine supplementation with specific view to exercise/sports performance: an update". Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. 9 (1): 33. doi:10.1186/1550-2783-9-33. PMC 3407788. PMID 22817979. Creatine is produced endogenously at an amount of about 1 g/d. Synthesis predominately occurs in the liver, kidneys, and to a lesser extent in the pancreas. The remainder of the creatine available to the body is obtained through the diet at about 1 g/d for an omnivorous diet. 95% of the bodies creatine stores are found in the skeletal muscle and the remaining 5% is distributed in the brain, liver, kidney, and testes [1].
After a tough sweat, it's important to rehydrate your body: "Drink lots of water and thank your body for what it was just able to accomplish," says Davis. A balanced post-workout snack is also a good idea. Go for one with carbs refuel your glycogen stores (one of your body's main energy sources) and about 10 to 20 grams of protein to help build and repair your muscles. "Don’t overcomplicate it," says Davis. If you're lifting and weight loss is one of your goals, though, it's still important to keep calories in mind—a post-workout snack shouldn't be more than 150 to 200 calories. Here's a guide to how many calories you should be eating for weight loss.
When assessing the antioxidant effects of creatine, it does not appear to sequester superoxide and may not be a direct antioxidant.[241] Additionally, creatine failed to protect neurons from H2O2 incubation to induce cell death via pro-oxidative means.[241] These results are in contrast to previously recorded results suggesting creatine acts as a direct anti-oxidant.[242]
Of course, cardio is an important part of fitness too, but the benefits of strength training are major. Strength training helps build muscle, and lean muscle is better at burning calories when the body is at rest, which is important whether you're trying to lose weight or maintain it. It also helps strengthens joints and bones, avoid injury, improve your muscular endurance, and will help you give it your all during your other workouts, whether that means setting a new PR if you're a runner or pushing (and pulling) a little harder with your legs during your favorite indoor cycling class.
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]
Three amino acids (glycine, arginine and methionine) and three enzymes (L-arginine:glycine amidinotransferase, guanidinoacetate methyltransferase and methionine adenosyltransferase) are required for creatine synthesis. The impact creatine synthesis has on glycine metabolism in adults is low, however the demand is more appreciable on the metabolism of arginine and methionine [11].
Most experts recommend starting with your larger muscle groups and then proceeding to the smaller ones. The most demanding exercises are those performed by your large muscle groups, and you will need your smaller muscles to get the most out of these exercises. But don't feel limited by that. You can do your exercises in any order you like, and changing the order is a great way to challenge yourself in different ways.
XPI's Decacor Creatine steals the #1 spot, with its 10 patented forms of rapid-release Creatine blend. This advanced, high-performance Creatine formula was developed to meet the needs of athletes looking to develop lean mass, strength, and intensify workouts. If it's extreme results you're looking for, Decacor is a cutting-edge, one-of-a-kind formula ready to deliver. Backed with a 100% Money Back Guarantee. Keep Reading »
MuscleTech Cell-Tech is the best creatine stack. A lot of products claim to be more effective than regular monohydrate and while that’s seldom true, Cell-Tech has the goods. It combines creatine with a big 38 grams of carbohydrates and some alpha-lipolic acid, and some studies actually show that this trifecta could be more effective at sending creatine to the muscles than plain creatine.
Transparent Labs' StrengthSeries Creatine HMB is an impressive blend that includes 5 grams of Creatine Monohydrate, 2 Grams Beta-Hydroxy Beta- Methylbutrate (HMB), and 5 mg of Black Pepper Extract for increased absorption. These clinically effective doses have been shown to enhance strength, boost muscle gains, and minimize fat and muscle loss. Made with no artificial sweeteners, coloring, or preservatives, each serving of is pure, unadulterated Creatine.	Keep Reading »

Several review studies assessing the safety of creatine supplementation tend to make note of increases in formaldehyde and possible carcinogenic results.[451][452] Specifically, creatine is metabolized into an intermediate called methylamine, which can be converted to formaldehyde by the SSAO enzyme.[453] An increase in urinary formaldehyde has been noted in youth given 21g of creatine for one week, during which both methylamine (820% increase) and formaldehyde (350%) were increased, relative to control.[454] However, a more prolonged study using 300mg/kg (loading dose of around 20g) in adults for ten weeks failed to replicate these effects.[455]
This move can help lean abs really pop, especially once you've lost any extra belly fat. Sit on the floor, knees bent and heels down. Lean back, keep your back straight, and tense your abs. Place the kettlebell on the floor, switching from one side to the other. For faster results, hold your feet off the floor, but only if you can still use good form.
It is suggested [16,37] that another mechanism for the effect of creatine could be enhanced muscle glycogen accumulation and GLUT4 expression, when creatine supplementation is combined with a glycogen depleting exercise. Whereas it has been observed [38] that creatine supplementation alone does not enhance muscle glycogen storage. Hickner et al [15] observed positive effects of creatine supplementation for enhancing initial and maintaining a higher level of muscle glycogen during 2 hours of cycling. In general, it is accepted that glycogen depleting exercises, such as high intensity or long duration exercise should combine high carbohydrate diets with creatine supplementation to achieve heightened muscle glycogen stores [39].
Start with the barbell on the supports of a power rack at about shoulder height. Grab the bar overhand and raise your elbows until your upper arms are parallel to the floor. Now lift the bar off the rack, letting it roll toward your fingers-this is where it should rest throughout the exercise (as long as you keep your elbows raised, you won’t have trouble balancing the bar) [1]. Squat as low as you can [2], and then drive with your legs to return to the starting position. That’s one rep.
Do standard/oblique crunches. Lie down on a mat and position both arms behind your head without locking the hands. Bend your knees so that your feet are flat on the ground. Pushing the small of your back into the ground, slowly roll your shoulders off the ground only a couple of inches (not to a full sitting position). Don't use your momentum to help you up; use slow, regulated movements. Repeat 3 x 20.

Without supplementation, approximately 14.6mmol (2g) of creatinine, creatine’s urinary metabolite, is lost on a daily basis in a standard 70kg male ages 20-39. The value is slightly lower in females and the elderly due to a presence of less muscle mass.[35] This amount is considered necessary to obtain in either food or supplemental form to avoid creatine deficiency. Requirements may be increased in people with higher than normal lean mass.[35][198] Creatine excretion rates on a daily basis are correlated with muscle mass, and the value of 2g a day is derived from the aforementioned male population with about 120g creatine storage capacity.[35] Specifically, the rate of daily creatine losses is about 1.6%[199]-1.7%,[25] and mean losses for women are approximately 80% that of men due to less average lean mass.[35] For weight-matched elderly men (70kg, 70-79 years of age) the rate of loss of 7.8mmol/day,[49] or about half (53%) that of younger men.


Amanda is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist in Chicago who graduated with a bachelor's in Nutrition from Northern Illinois University. She completed her dietetic internship at Edward Hines Jr. VA Hospital in Hines, IL. Amanda has a strong background in clinical nutrition, nutrition education, and experience working with specialized populations like children, acute care, intensive care, outpatients, and eating disorders. Amanda works with athletes and weight loss clients in the Los Angeles and southwestern Arizona area as a virtual Dietitian. Amanda prides herself in connecting with her audience while providing evidenced-based information and practical nutrition therapy for a complex population.
Creatine monohydrate is highly regarded as one of the most powerful and all-around best bodybuilding supplements for athletes hoping to make big gains fast. Creatine is one of the go-to supplements for building mass because it maximizes power output, strength, endurance, and overall performance, helping you to crush your fitness goals time and time again.
Don’t take sets to the point of failure—where you absolutely can’t perform another rep. You should never get to where you’re turning purple and screaming like you’re getting interviewed by “Mean” Gene Okerlund before WrestleMania. Most of the time, you want to end your sets two reps before total failure. Not sure when that is? The moment your form breaks down, or you’re pretty sure it’s going to break down, end the set.
Injections of creatine are known to be neuroprotective against low oxygen levels (hypoxia) even to neonatal rats.[532] This is thought to be associated with the increased collective pool of phosphocreatine and creatine.[236] Since oral ingestion of creatine by the mother increases brain concentrations of creatine by 3.6% in the fetus prior to birth,[531] it is thought to be protective in the fetuses subject to hypoxic (low oxygen) stressors, such as a caesarean section.
The general sentiment among nutrition experts is that creatine monohydrate is, for most people, the best bet. It’s the cheapest form and more importantly, it’s the most well-researched. Hundreds of studies have been performed on creatine monohydrate and there’s no evidence of ill effects, whereas many of the more novel forms of creatine have one or sometimes no studies supporting them.
Weight gain might be the most common side effect. “Creatine can cause your body to hold on to water by pulling fluid into your cells via osmosis,” says Bates. “It doesn't necessarily cause you to gain weight as fat, but it can increase edema, or water weight.” Also, muscle is denser than fat, so in some cases building muscle can increase body weight overall (even if you’re simultaneously burning fat).
A double-blind study provided 20 g/day of creatine monohydrate for 5 days to qualified sprinters and jumpers who performed 45 seconds of continuous jumping and 60 seconds of continuous treadmill running. Supplementation enhanced performance in the jumping test by 7% for the first 15 seconds and 12% for the next 15 seconds, but there was no difference for the final 15 seconds. There was a 13% improvement in the time of intensive running to exhaustion [12].

By that logic, a 160-pound man should consume around 160 grams of protein a day—the amount he'd get from an 8-ounce chicken breast, 1 cup of cottage cheese, a roast-beef sandwich, two eggs, a glass of milk, and 2 ounces of peanuts.) If you don't eat meat for ethical or religious reasons, don't worry — you can count on other sources, too. Soy, almonds, lentils, spinach, peas, and beans are packed with protein.
Take your vitamins. In addition to a well-balanced diet, include a multivitamin supplement to your dietary regimen. It will ensure that your body is getting the full amount of vitamins and minerals it needs to stay healthy. There are many options, depending on your age, your sex, and your particular health and diet needs. Find the one that's right for you, and make it part of your daily routine.

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.
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.
While they don’t play a big role, your body’s lean body mass and muscle strength is somewhat influenced by genetics. Actually, it’s good that they don’t have too much of an influence. Why? Because that means you have more of an influence on your muscle mass through your lifestyle. You can control it! If genetics were a determining factor, there wouldn’t be much you could do to change your situation.
How much weight? Start with a pair of light dumbbell hand weights (2 to 3 pounds for women and 5 to 8 pounds for men). If you can’t do 12 repetitions (or reps are the number of times you do the exercise) the weight is too heavy. If your muscles don’t feel tired after 12 reps, it’s too light. Adjustable weights that can be strapped to wrists or ankles may be convenient if you have arthritis in your hands. You can also use home or gym weight machines, or resistance bands.

Pro Tip: Zane also suggests that directed concentration is exceptionally important to getting the most from your training and is much easier with lower weight. If you can concentrate on the muscle through its whole movement, you will notice that the intensity will be just as strong, without the risk. We teach you this in our “Mind Muscle Connection” Bonus Guide that we include in our Old School Muscle 8-Week Program.
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.
The creatine transporter is a sodium[139][140] and chloride[141][142] dependent membrane-associated transporter that belongs to the Na+/Cl-dependent family of neurotransmitter transporters.[143] In muscle cells and most other cell types,[131][141] the isomer of the creatine transporter is known as SLC6A8 (solute carrier family 6, member 8). SLC6A8 is encoded by the gene present on the Xq28 region of the human X-chromosome and is expressed in most tissues.[144] A related gene encoding a creatine transporter variant has also been identified at 16p11.1 that is expressed exclusively in the testes.[145] These two transporters share 98% homology.[144][145]

This move can help lean abs really pop, especially once you've lost any extra belly fat. Sit on the floor, knees bent and heels down. Lean back, keep your back straight, and tense your abs. Place the kettlebell on the floor, switching from one side to the other. For faster results, hold your feet off the floor, but only if you can still use good form.


“I would really focus on learning how macros work, how your body works and how it reacts to certain foods, and what your body requires each day to maintain your weight,” he advises. “Then you can start playing around with increasing calories [to bulk up], and decreasing calories when you're dieting.” Our beginner's guide to macros will definitely help.

Less muscle breakdown can also help to reduce post-workout muscle soreness levels. During workouts, the body creates lactic acid as it works to generate extra energy. The buildup of lactic acid can cause muscle fatigue, swelling, and tenderness. Improving the ability of the body to recover can help to more effectively clear out lactic acid, reducing inflammation and soreness.


In addition to adequate protein, you need more calories (your protein intake contributes to your total caloric intake, so these two go hand in hand). Use the following formula to calculate the number you need to take in daily to gain one pound a week, and break down your diet using the macro guidelines listed above. (Give yourself two weeks for results to show up on the scale. If you haven't gained by then, increase your calories by 500 a day.)
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]

Who Makes It: This product is made by Cellucor, a sports and fitness supplement firm best-known for their C4 line of pre-workout supplements. While C4 is their best seller (and a top seller overall), Cellucor also manufactures a wide range of high-quality supplements for a variety of uses. They have been in business for over 15 years and are a trusted name in the fitness community.
Consult your physician and follow all safety instructions before beginning any exercise program or using any supplement or meal replacement product, especially if you have any unique medical conditions or needs. The contents on our website are for informational purposes only, and are not intended to diagnose any medical condition, replace the advice of a healthcare professional, or provide any medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.
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.
The first U.S. Women's National Physique Championship, promoted by Henry McGhee and held in Canton, Ohio in 1978, is generally regarded as the first true female bodybuilding contest—that is, the first contest where the entrants were judged solely on muscularity.[13] In 1980, the first Ms. Olympia (initially known as the "Miss" Olympia), the most prestigious contest for professionals, was held. The first winner was Rachel McLish, who had also won the NPC's USA Championship earlier in the year. The contest was a major turning point for female bodybuilding. McLish inspired many future competitors to start training and competing. In 1985, a movie called Pumping Iron II: The Women was released. It documented the preparation of several women for the 1983 Caesars Palace World Cup Championship. Competitors prominently featured in the film were Kris Alexander, Lori Bowen, Lydia Cheng, Carla Dunlap, Bev Francis, and McLish. At the time, Francis was actually a powerlifter, though she soon made a successful transition to bodybuilding, becoming one of the leading competitors of the late 1980s and early 1990s.
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.
After your standard whey protein powder, creatine may be the most popular sports supplement on Earth, and with good reason. A lot of supplements out there have a few promising studies suggesting they may improve some aspect of performance. Creatine has hundreds of them, and study after study has shown that among most people (a small percentage of are non-responders) it can have a significant effect on several areas of performance.
Rheumatoid arthritis. Early research shows that taking creatine by mouth daily increases lean muscle mass and may improve muscle strength, but does not improve physical functioning in adults with rheumatoid arthritis. In children, taking a specific supplement containing creatine and fatty acids twice daily for 30 days might reduce pain and swelling. But the effects of creatine alone are not clear.
Similarly to complex training, contrast loading relies upon the enhanced activation of the nervous system and increased muscle fibre recruitment from the heavy set, to allow the lighter set to be performed more powerfully.[41] Such a physiological effect is commonly referred to as post-activation potentiation, or the PAP effect. Contrast loading can effectively demonstrate the PAP effect: if a light weight is lifted, and then a heavy weight is lifted, and then the same light weight is lifted again, then the light weight will feel lighter the second time it has been lifted. This is due to the enhanced PAP effect which occurs as a result of the heavy lift being utilised in the subsequent lighter lift; thus making the weight feel lighter and allowing the lift to be performed more powerfully.
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 is a hydrophilic polar molecule that consists of a negatively charged carboxyl group and a positively charged functional group [64]. The hydrophilic nature of creatine limits its bioavailability [65]. In an attempt to increase creatines bioavailability creatine has been esterified to reduce the hydrophilicity; this product is known as creatine ethyl ester. Manufacturers of creatine ethyl ester promote their product as being able to by-pass the creatine transporter due to improved sarcolemmal permeability toward creatine [65]. Spillane et al [65] analyzed the effects of a 5 days loading protocol (0.30 g/kg lean mass) followed by a 42 days maintenance phase (0.075 g/kg lean mass) of CM or ethyl ester both combined with a resistance training program in 30 novice males with no previous resistance training experience. The results of this study [65] showed that ethyl ester was not as effective as CM to enhance serum and muscle creatine stores. Furthermore creatine ethyl ester offered no additional benefit for improving body composition, muscle mass, strength, and power. This research did not support the claims of the creatine ethyl ester manufacturers.
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