If you are doing this on your own, but are overwhelmed and confused about strength training, I know how that feels. It can be scary enough to keep MOST people from starting, which is actually why we created our 1-on-1 Coaching Program. Our coach gets to know you, builds a program based on your experience and goals, will check your form on each movement (via video), and keep you accountable and on track!
“Compared to training for strength, intensity is going to drop during the hypertrophy phase of a program, with intensity sitting between 50 and 75 percent of the person’s 1RM, the maximum weight he or she can lift for one rep,” says Ava Fitzgerald, C.S.C.S., C.P.T., a sports performance coach with the Professional Athletic Performance Center in New York.

Sports where strength training is central are bodybuilding, weightlifting, powerlifting, and strongman, highland games, hammer throw, shot put, discus throw, and javelin throw. Many other sports use strength training as part of their training regimen, notably: American football, baseball, basketball, football, hockey, lacrosse, mixed martial arts, rowing, rugby league, rugby union, track and field, boxing and wrestling.

Creatine levels in the blood tend to return to baseline (after a loading with or without the maintenance phase) after 28 days without creatine supplementation.[152][200][201] This number may vary slightly from one individual to another, and for some may exceed 30 days.[202] Assuming an elimination rate of creatinine (creatine’s metabolite) at 14.6mmol per day,[35][201] six weeks of cessation is approaching the upper limit for serum creatine to completely return to baseline.
There is a nuclear receptor known as TIS1 (orphan receptor, since there are no known endogeouns targets at this time) which positively influences transcription of new creatine transporters[171] and, in C2C12 myotubes, seems to be responsive to cAMP or adenyl cyclase stimulation from forskolin (from Coleus Forskohlii) with peak activation at 20µM.[171][172] 
Safety. Iron overload may cause a disease called hemochromatosis in some susceptible people. Iron supplements should only be prescribed by a doctor, and for athletes or those who train heavily, a sports physician combined with a sports dietitian may be preferable. Be sure to take care with this because iron supplements should not be taken casually. Iron supplements may cause constipation and gastric upset in some people.
These supplements can vary considerably from product to product in ingredients, serving sizes, and more. But the goal of each of them is generally quite similar. Most bodybuilding supplements are designed to help stimulate new muscle growth, cut away excess fat, and improve the recovery process so that you can get the most out of each trip to the gym.
“There is a lot of mixed research on creatine’s ability to improve muscle strength,” the government website says. “However, analyses of this research show that creatine seems to modestly improve upper body strength and lower body strength in both younger and older adults.” Creatine has also been shown to improve athletes’ performance in rowing, soccer, and jumping height.
We’ll define the “bigger muscle groups” as being chest, back, quads and hamstrings, and the “smaller muscle groups” as being biceps, triceps and maybe abs. Shoulders are really somewhere in the middle, though I tend to lean more toward the “smaller” guidelines. Calves, while technically small, are another muscle group that is somewhere in the middle, and I can really go either way depending on the needs of the person.
Progression – Throughout the course of your lifting career you should consistently strive for progress both mentally and physically. Initially, you may find that you’re incessantly focused on nutrition and training but as you progress in both maturity and muscular development, you should be focused on improving the balance between lifting and your life. It’s never about having an all or nothing mindset, balance must be incorporated in all aspects but this takes times to develop and occurs with progression over time.
Overload: The first thing you need to do to build lean muscle tissue is use more resistance than your muscles are used to. This is important because the more you do, the more your body is capable of doing, so you should increase your workload to avoid plateaus. In plain language, this means you should be lifting enough weight that you can only complete the desired number of reps. You should be able to finish your last rep with difficulty, but also with good form.
Although research is underway, doctors do not know the long-term health effects of taking creatine supplements, especially in children who are still growing. Because of these unknown risks, children and adolescents younger than 18 years and pregnant or nursing women should never take creatine supplements. People with kidney problems also should never take creatine supplements.
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!
Studies with animal and cellular models demonstrated positive effect of creatine ingestion on neurodegenerative diseases. These effects have been attributed to improved overall cellular bioenergetics due to an expansion of the phosphocreatine pool [50]. Creatine deficiency syndromes, due to deficiency of glycine amidinotransferase and guanidinoacetate methyltransferase, can cause decreases or complete absence of creatine in the central nervous system. Syndromes of this nature have the possibility to be improved by supplementing orally with creatine. Brain creatine deficiency resulting from ineffective crea T1 has been shown not to be effectively treated with oral creatine supplementation [51]. Additionally, oral creatine administration in patients with myopathies has shown conflicting results depending on the type of myopathy and creatine transport systems disorders [4].
“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.
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.
We’ll define the “bigger muscle groups” as being chest, back, quads and hamstrings, and the “smaller muscle groups” as being biceps, triceps and maybe abs. Shoulders are really somewhere in the middle, though I tend to lean more toward the “smaller” guidelines. Calves, while technically small, are another muscle group that is somewhere in the middle, and I can really go either way depending on the needs of the person.

Creatine helps create essential adenosine triphosphate (ATP). This is the energy source of muscle contractions. By upping your levels, you can increase the amount of energy available to your muscles, boosting your performance. Because your muscle strength and size increases when you add weight and reps, improving your performance can be a game changer in terms of increasing your muscle mass. If you’re able to lift longer and harder, your muscles will grow. Creatine is certainly a winner among muscle building supplements.
The majority of studies have used nothing but a loading period and the duration, overall, was about a week. This is partially because one study that noted benefit with a loading period failed to note benefit with prolonged supplementation.[156] Lowballing supplementation at 2g a day in high active swimmers does not appear to be sufficient to alter any function in skeletal muscle.[383]
When splitting a sample into exercisers and non-exercisers, it appears that exercise as a pre-requisite precedes a higher range of activity. Inactive people tend to be on the lower end of creatine kinase activity and relatively clustered in magnitude, while exercise generally increases activity, but also introduces a larger range of possible activity.[56]

Our bodies store creatine in our muscles so that we have quick access to it for fast, high-intensity movements, like sprinting or powerlifting, explains Autumn Bates, a certified clinical nutritionist and sports nutritionist in private practice in Manhattan Beach, California. “It's a nonessential amino acid, meaning your body creates it and you don't need to primarily get it from food.”

Liquid creatine has been shown to be less effective than creatine monohydrate.[69] This reduced effect is due to the passive breakdown of creatine over a period of days into creatinine, which occurs when it is suspended in solution.[70] This breakdown is not an issue for at-home use when creatine is added to shakes, but it is a concern from a manufacturing perspective in regard to shelf-life before use.
For several years, research studies have shown that adolescents concerned with both athletics and appearance are taking performance-enhancing supplements. A study by the American Academy of Pediatrics of middle-school and high-school students ages 10 to 18 years found creatine use in all grades 6 through 12. About 5.6% of the study participants and 44% of high-school senior athletes admitted taking creatine.
Naturo Nitro Creatine Chrome could be an interesting choice for women. It’s actually magnesium creatine chelate, a type of creatine that may help to improve performance without increasing water weight. We don’t have a lot of studies on it just yet, but the research we do have suggests it could potentially be a good choice for women who want to improve performance without experiencing the “bloat” of regular creatine.
Anti-depressive effects have been noted in woman with major depressive disorder when 5g of creatine monohydrate was supplemented daily for 8 weeks in combination with an SSRI. Benefits were seen at week two and were maintained until the end of the 8-week trial.[253] The improvement in depressive symptoms was associated with significantly increased prefrontal cortex levels of N-acetylaspartate, a marker of neuronal integrity,[254] and rich club connections, which refers to the ability of nerons to make connections to one another.[255]
If you stop getting the results you want after several weeks of working out, it's time to mix things up. You need to challenge or "confuse" your muscles often to keep them growing. You can do this by putting a twist on your basic moves. Do a biceps curl with a reverse grip, for example. Or find a bench for the step-up move shown here. Change up your workout at least every 4 to 6 weeks for the best results.
This cellular influx may also decrease protein oxidation rates, which leads to increases in nitrogen balance and indirectly increases muscle mass.[379] This lowering of protein oxidation is from signaling changes caused vicariously through cell swelling[380][381] and appears to upregulate 216 genes[378] in a range of 1.3 to 5-fold increases, with the largest increase seen in the protein involved in satellite cell recruitment, sphingosine kinase-1. Most importantly for muscle hypertrophy, the protein content of PKBa/Akt1, p38 MAPK, and ERK6 increased 2.8+/-1.2 fold.[378] Sixty-nine genes are also downregulated after creatine supplementation, to less notable degrees.

In the United States, the manufacturers of dietary supplements do not need to provide the Food and Drug Administration with evidence of product safety prior to marketing.[8] As a result, the incidence of products adulterated with illegal ingredients has continued to rise.[8] In 2013, one-third of the supplements tested were adulterated with unlisted steroids.[9] More recently, the prevalence of designer steroids with unknown safety and pharmacological effects has increased.[10][11]
Weight training has also been shown to benefit dieters as it inhibits lean body mass loss (as opposed to fat loss) when under a caloric deficit. Weight training also strengthens bones, helping to prevent bone loss and osteoporosis. By increasing muscular strength and improving balance, weight training can also reduce falls by elderly persons. Weight training is also attracting attention for the benefits it can have on the brain, and in older adults, a 2017 meta analysis found that it was effective in improving cognitive performance.[38]

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.

McArdle’s disease is a myopathy associated with impaired glucose release from glycogen and impairments in muscle function at times when glucose would be the primary energy substrate. Creatine is thought to be therapeutic, but has shown differing effects in the two trials so far (both benefit and worsening of symptoms) for currently unknown reasons.
A dose of 5g daily has strong evidence supporting it not causing any adverse side effects[605] and 10g has been used daily for 310 days in older adults (aged 57+/-11.1) with no significant differences from placebo.[519] Such a dose has also been demonstrated for long-term safety for people with Parkinson’s disease,[606] and at least one small retrospective study in athletes (surverying people taking creatine for up to or over a year) failed to find any significant differences in a battery of serum health parameters.[502] Other studies measuring serum parameters have also failed to find abnormalities outside the normal range.[607]
Always consult your doctor before you begin taking a creatine supplement to make sure that there are no negative interactions with whatever diabetes medication you are on. If they deem you to be safe to take creatine, we recommend this unflavored powder from MET-Rx. It’s made without artificial sweeteners, flavors, and colors, so it's just pure creatine monohydrate powder to promote increased muscle strength. One reviewer noted the product is easy to mix and another said the formula was effect for their needs.

Why it made the list: Whey tops the list of mass-gain supplements because it's the most crucial for pushing protein synthesis. Whey is a milk protein that has a high level of branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs, No. 4 on our list). Bottom line: Whey takes the crown because it digests fast and gets to your muscles rapidly to start building muscle. Whey also contains peptides (small proteins) that increase blood flow to the muscles. This is why we always recommend consuming whey protein immediately after training.

Fish oils are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, which provide myriad benefits for the body. For strength athletes and bodybuilders, we're most concerned with their anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Intense resistance training can cause microscopic tears in your muscle fibers, leading to muscle damage and inflammation. While some inflammation is desirable, too much can delay the post-exercise recovery process.

Recommended dose: The fastest way to increase muscle creatine stores is to follow the loading method of 20 grams per day for 5-7 days, followed by the standard maintenance dose of 5 grams per day. However, a lower dose of 5 grams for 28 days will also increase creatine stores without causing the 2-4 pound weight gain typically seen with a loading protocol.
Ghost Size takes the cake for muscle growth. The key to this formula is epicatechin, an antioxidant found in chocolate and certain plants that is linked to a wide array of benefits. These include increased nitric oxide produciton, better oxygenation to the brain, and muscle growth: epicatechin appears to inhibit myostatin, which suppresses muscle growth, and the dosage found in Ghost Size is in line with studies that examined this effect.