To succeed and thrive as a bodybuilder, it takes more than overwhelming muscular strength or athletic prowess. Judges select bodybuilding champions based on muscle mass, definition, proportion, symmetry, and an athlete’s stage presence. Given the criteria, it is no surprise that most serious bodybuilders consider supplementation to be an essential component of their training regimen.
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.
One supplement, which a large body of research has proven effective in building muscle mass when combined with intensive strength training, is creatine (sold as creatine monohydrate). Creatine, a source of rapid energy, is stored in the muscles in small amounts. With creatine loading or supplementation, bodybuilders increase muscle stores of the energy-containing compound which then can be used to provide an extra boost for an intense-high-weight lifting session. Studies support that ingestion of a relatively high dose of creatine (20 to 30 grams per day for up to two weeks) increases muscle creatine stores by 10 to 30 percent and can boost muscle strength by about 10 percent when compared with resistance training alone (Rawson & Volek, 2003). Some athletes report (though research does not necessarily support) muscle cramping in response after using creatine supplements.
Even if you have a schedule that allows for a 5-day workout split, many people (I’d even call it the majority) simply don’t have the recovery capacity needed to make that work. This could be due to genetics, age, injury history, various lifestyle factors (sleep, stress, etc.) and more. In these cases, better results would be seen with 3-4 workouts per week instead.
If you're using a resistance band, keep in mind that one band might not cut it for your entire body. Different muscles have different strengths, so you may want to buy two different resistance bands in different thickness, which determines how difficult they'll be to use. In general, if you're able to complete 8 reps of an exercise using a band, you'll want to select another that provides a greater amount of resistance.
A child’s ability to regenerate high energy phosphates during high intensity exercise is less than that of an adult. Due to this, creatine supplementation may benefit the rate and use of creatine phosphate and ATP rephosporylation. However, performance in short duration high-intensity exercise can be improved through training therefore supplementation may not be necessary .
Creatine monohydrate is the most common form of creatine, and if not otherwise mentioned is the default form of creatine used in most studies on creatine. It has fairly decent intestinal absorption (covered more in depth in the pharmacology section) and is the standard form or “reference” form of creatine, which all other variants are pitted against.
If you're 12 weeks out from a competition, you want to maintain as much muscle as possible while torching fat from every angle. This means low-intensity cardio – high intensity cardio speeds up your metabolism and burns fat very quickly, so you run the risk of burning muscle too, Terry says – either first thing in the morning on an empty stomach, or immediately after your weights session, once you’ve depleted those glycogen levels.
A maintenance phase of 2g daily appears to technically preserve creatine content in skeletal muscle of responders either inherently or after a loading phase, but in sedentary people or those with light activity, creatine content still progressively declines (although it still higher than baseline levels after six weeks) and glycogen increases seem to normalize. This maintenance dose may be wholly insufficient for athletes, a 5g maintenance protocol may be more prudent.
Arguably the most influential factor, exercise is what instigates muscle growth. When you exercise, especially if you engage in resistance training, it causes trauma to your muscles. This is exactly what you want because it’s this trauma that triggers a response from your body that grows your muscles. To repair the injury or damage to your muscles, special cells called satellite cells arrive. Typically, your muscle fibers thicken and lengthen in this process. (1)
Retinol (Vitamin A) B vitamins: Thiamine (B1) Riboflavin (B2) Niacin (B3) Pantothenic acid (B5) Pyridoxine (B6) Biotin (B7) Folic acid (B9) Cyanocobalamin (B12) Ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) Ergocalciferol and Cholecalciferol (Vitamin D) Tocopherol (Vitamin E) Naphthoquinone (Vitamin K) Calcium Choline Chromium Cobalt Copper Fluorine Iodine Iron Magnesium Manganese Molybdenum Phosphorus Potassium Selenium Sodium Sulfur Zinc
Product reviews – Since the effectiveness of products varies based on a wide number of factors, one of the best things to do is read creatine product reviews. The best rated creatine products will have consistently good reviews, meaning a lot of people use that product and would recommend it. However – remember to take reviews with a grain of salt, as there’s a lot of ignorance and misinformation out there.
Naturally produced in the kidneys, pancreas and liver, creatine is transported to muscle tissue where it is transformed into creatine phosphate, from which the energy molecule ATP is produced to regenerate the muscles' ability to contract and generate power during short-burst (anaerobic) activity. This translates to more productive workouts and faster muscle growth.
At the time, low-potency creatine supplements were available in Britain, but creatine supplements designed for strength enhancement were not commercially available until 1993 when a company called Experimental and Applied Sciences (EAS) introduced the compound to the sports nutrition market under the name Phosphagen. Research performed thereafter demonstrated that the consumption of high glycemic carbohydrates in conjunction with creatine increases creatine muscle stores.
Creatine supplementation (11.4g) with glycerol (1g/kg; per se effective) and glucose (75g) in endurance runners in the heat appears to attenuate the increase in internal temperature associated with an increase in total body water of 0.71+/-0.42L, while performance (VO2 max and running economy) were unaffected over 30 minutes. Creatine is effective without glycerol (20g daily with 140g of glucose polymer over a week), again without an improvement in physical performance.
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.
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.
Endurance exercise is also known to produce heat from skeletal muscle tissue, and an increase in internal temperature occurs when the production of heat (from metabolism) exceeds release. This increase in heat is accelerated when training in hot environments and it is thought to be beneficial to retain water (hydration) during exercise, since more water allows a preservation of plasma volume (PV) and the sweat response reduces internal temperature. This particular phenomena may only apply to endurance exercise, since creatine is able to increase sprint performance in heat, independent of altering the decline in PV and sweat rates.
Remember, this is for the extreme skinny guy...But I want you to start hitting a buffet once a week. Try and position this eating frenzy after a hard workout so that the majority of calories get shuttled into the muscles which will really help you pack on those pounds and gain weight in the right places. Don't go too overboard, but this will train your body to 'accept' more food and it will increase your appetite in the days to come. Take advantage of this strategy.
In a study on Alpha-Lipoic Acid, 1,000mg of ALA paired with 100g sucrose and 20g creatine monohydrate was more effective in increasing muscular creatine levels relative to creatine alone and creatine combined with sucrose. This apparent augmentation of creatine uptake into muscle cells was used alongside a loading period. Another study investigating a nutrient mixture (150g glucose, 20g creatine, 2g/kg bodyweight glycerol) on heat tolerance in trained athletes found that replacing one third (50g) of the glucose with 1g ALA resulted in no significant differences between groups (in regard to heat tolerance and cardiovascular performance) despite the reduction of 50g carbohydrate.
Athletic performance. Creatine seems to help improve rowing performance, jumping height, and soccer performance in athletes. But the effect of creatine on sprinting, cycling, or swimming performance varies. The mixed results may relate to the small sizes of the studies, the differences in creatine doses, and differences in test used to measure performance. Creatine does not seem to improve serving ability in tennis players.
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.
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, yet a later trial trying to replicate the obsevations using 150mg/kg daily for five weeks noted the opposite, that creatine supplementation exacerbated symptoms.
Every 4-8 weeks, vary your routine. As your body adapts to stress, you'll hit a plateau where the benefits of weight training will begin to diminish. The only way to prevent this from happening is to change things up, such as by increasing weight and changing exercises. Try a week of really piling the weights on, and do six to eight reps per set at the maximum weight you can manage with proper form. The more lifting experience you have, the more often you should vary your routine.
GLUTs are vesicle transporters that are the rate-limiting steps for bringing glucose into a cell, and GLUT4 is the most active variant. Agents that reduce blood glucose (insulin or AMPK) are known to act via mobilizing GLUT4, and increased GLUT4 expression and activity is indicative of a greater ability to bring glucose into a cell, while reducing it impairs glucose uptake. Rat studies have confirmed that creatine feeding increases muscular GLUT4 expression associated with increased insulin-stimulated glucose uptake.
When lifting to complete fatigue, it takes an average of two to five minutes for your muscles to rest for the next set. When using lighter weight and more repetitions, it takes between 30 seconds and a minute for your muscles to rest. For beginners, working to fatigue isn't necessary, and starting out too strong can lead to too much post-exercise soreness.
Adequate hydration is essential to muscle building, yet few people get enough water, even without daily exercise. So in addition to the daily 8 to 10 glasses of water recommended by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, Karas suggests an additional 12 to 16 ounces before working out. He then recommends another 8 to 10 ounces for every 15 minutes of vigorous exercise.
1-3 Minutes Rest: Ideal for “tension and fatigue exercises,” which include most secondary compound exercises. This range is sort of the midpoint between being ideal for strength and being ideal for generating fatigue. So while it’s not entirely what’s best for either, it is what’s perfect for achieving an equal combination of the two… which is exactly what we want from these exercises.
Kreider, R. B., Kalman, D. S., Antonio, J., Ziegenfuss, T. N., Wildman, R., Collins, R., … Lopez, H. (2017, June 13). International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: safety and efficacy of creatine supplementation in exercise, sport, and medicine. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 14(18). Retrieved from https://jissn.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12970-017-0173-z
In elite swimmers, the growth hormone response to sprints appears to be attenuated (39%) following creatine loading, although after a 3g maintenance phase (22-27 weeks), this attenuation was reduced to less than 5%. Elsewhere in swimmers, resting growth hormone was unaffected by the loading phase, suggesting that this is an exercise-exclusive effect.
In the early 2000s, the IFBB was attempting to make bodybuilding an Olympic sport. It obtained full IOC membership in 2000 and was attempting to get approved as a demonstration event at the Olympics, which would hopefully lead to it being added as a full contest. This did not happen and Olympic recognition for bodybuilding remains controversial since many argue that bodybuilding is not a sport.
Bench Press. The bench press is about as American as apple pie, fireworks, or bald eagles. If you’re in a gym on a Monday, then you can pretty guarantee at least 85% of the males in the building will be benching. With good reason though, variations such as the flat bench barbell or dumbbell press and the incline bench barbell or dumbbell press are very effective mass builders for the chest, shoulders, and triceps.
It raised the question about performance-enhancing drugs. Their murky role in bodybuilding has long shrouded the sport. A 2013 documentary on Heath and Mr. Olympia called “Generation Iron” (a sort of bookend piece to 1977’s “Pumping Iron,” which launched Schwarzenegger and others to fame) called the topic “taboo.” It then insinuated that, of course, bodybuilders competing in top-level contests like Mr. Olympia use steroids.
Listen, I know in the beginning of this post I was sympathetic to your problem, but I am also here to say, Suck It Up. I can tell you that to gain weight, you need to focus on making your meals a habit rather than an afterthought. Your body is pre-programmed with your genetic disposition. And in your case, you have a very fast metabolism that digests and burns calories quickly. Focus on having 5-6 calorie-dense meals a day spaced 2-3 hours apart so that your body is constantly being provided with something to metabolize and build muscle.
Beast Creature could be another good option for female athletes. It’s tasty, it contains five types of creatine, and it contains ingredients that could improve fat loss by increasing insulin sensitivity. One potential bonus is that it also has 70 percent of your daily biotin, a nutrient often included in women’s multivitamins due its purported benefits for hair and nails.