Spero Karas, MD, assistant professor of orthopaedics in the division of sports medicine at Emory University, says that testosterone, the male hormone responsible for muscle growth, maxes out between the ages of 16 and 18. It reaches a plateau during the 20s and then begins to decline. As a result, muscle building after the adolescent years can be challenging, he says.
A 2011 survey of 33 supplements commercially available in Italy found that over 50% of them exceeded the European Food Safety Authority recommendations in at least one contaminant. The most prevalent of these contaminants was creatinine, a breakdown product of creatine also produced by the body.[47] Creatinine was present in higher concentrations than the European Food Safety Authority recommendations in 44% of the samples. About 15% of the samples had detectable levels of dihydro-1,3,5-triazine or a high dicyandiamide concentration. Heavy metals contamination was not found to be a concern, with only minor levels of mercury being detectable. Two studies reviewed in 2007 found no impurities.[41]

Consuming sufficient high-quality protein is essential for building muscle. Current recommendations are to consume a minimum of 0.8g of protein for each kg of body weight, however, this is really only applicable to the average sedentary individual. Current evidence shows that to support muscle development, protein intake is the key, therefore the recommended 0.8g per kg should be increased to 1.5-2.0g of protein per kg of body weight. For an 80 kg individual, that would equate to 120-160 grams of protein per day.
Warm up sets are also important. For example, the same lifter working on his chest would also be advised to complete at least two warm up sets prior to hitting his "core tonnage." Core tonnage refers to the heavier lifts that actually strain your muscles. For example, if the lifter's main sets were at 205 lbs, 225 lbs and 235 lbs on the bench, then a warmup of 5 reps of 135 and 5 reps of 185 would be advisable. Some lifters will warm up with a 50/50 set for example 50% of the target weight for 50% of the target repetitions. When properly warmed up the lifter will then have more strength and stamina since the blood has begun to flow to the muscle groups.[7]
There appears to be some potential for creatine supplementation. However, many questions remain. Are there any long-term harmful effects from supplementation? Is there a point where enhanced performance levels off from long-term supplement usage? What effect does "stacking" or taking two ergogenic aids simultaneously have on the body? What happens if you immediately stop taking the creatine supplement? Is the enhanced performance great enough to warrant the expense of the supplement? Until further research answers these questions, creatine is not recommended for the average athlete.
I know this goes against the recommendations you often see in stereotypical bodybuilding routines (i.e. the ones that involve having a single “chest day” or “arm day” or “shoulder day” once a week), but that’s just one of the many reasons why those types of routines suck for us natural, genetically-average people, and work best for steroid users with great genetics.
Despite the popularity of creatine among young people, there has been very little research conducted in children under age 18. Of those studies, a few have suggested a positive effect but the overall evidence is inconclusive. In one study, teenage swimmers performed better after taking creatine; in another study, it helped high school soccer players sprint, dribble, and jump more effectively.
A loading phase of 10g creatine monohydrate for two weeks and 4g for the final week in subjects with MELAS (Mitochondrial Encephalomyopathy Lactic Acidosis and Stroke-like episodes) has been noted to increase physical strength relative to baseline, although the poor VO2 max seen in these subjects was not affected.[549] A case study exists in which a patient with a relatively novel mutation in their mitochondrial function (affecting cytochrome B) experienced benefits from creatine at 10g daily.[550] Researchers examining another case of MELAS found both cognitive and physical benefits with 5g creatine supplementation,[551] while four controlled case studies of 100-200mg/kg daily in children with myopathies found improved muscular endurance (30-57%) and muscular power (8-17%) after 100-200mg/kg daily for at least three months.[552]

Nephrectomized rats may have significantly reduced creatine synthesis rates[509] via impairment of methylation (the GAMT enzyme)[510] although creatine reuptake from the urine seems unimpaired.[511] Supplemental creatine in a rat model of 2/3rds nephrectomy (2% creatine in the diet) does not appear to negatively influence kidney function as assessed by the serum biomarkers of cystatin C and urinary protein or creatinine clearance rates.[512] Elsewhere, 2% creatine in the diet in rats for two weeks again failed to show negative effects on kidney function, but showed benefit in reducing homocysteine in late-stage uremic rats.[312] While there is not much human evidence for the rat nephrectomy model, a lone case study in a man with a single kidney failed to find an impairing effect of creatine (20g daily for five days and 5g for another month) in conjunction with a high protein diet.[513]
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.
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.
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.
Studies that use a dosage range typical of creatine supplementation (in the range of 5g a day following an acute loading period) note increases to total body water of 6.2% (3.74lbs) over 9 weeks and[608] 1.1kg over 42 days.[609] Interestingly, some studies comparing creatine paired with training against training itself fail to find a significant difference in percentage of water gained (which is inherently to activity) with standard oral doses of creatine[609][607][610] (although low dose creatine supplementation of 0.03g/kg or 2.3g daily doesn’t appear to increase water retention[611]) despite more overall water weight being gained, due to an equal gain of dry mass in muscles. One study has quantified the percentage increase in mass of muscle cells to be 55% water, suggesting the two groups are fairly equal.[609]
Specifically targeted to be used by natural bodybuilders and powerlifters, Universal Nutrition Animal M-Stak is the ideal supplement for hard-gainers. Containing ingredients that help promote protein synthesis while preventing muscle breakdown, Animal M-Stak is designed to naturally maximize the muscle mass building process. Optimize your performance and strength, and overcome your plateaus with Animal M-Stak. Keep Reading »
If you’re not lifting super-heavy weights, doing high-intensity workouts, or eating a mainly vegan or vegetarian diet, your body probably makes as much creatine as it needs. “Creatine is naturally found in animal-based products,” says Bates, “so your body can make plenty of creatine as long as you have a balanced diet that includes animal-based products.” Protein sources like beef, chicken, pork, and fish help your body produce the creatine it needs — it varies depending on the source, but, in general, a 3-ounce serving of meat will have about 0.4 grams (g) of creatine, Bates says. (6)
Contrary to the sound of the name, glucosamine is not a glucose replacement drink but a naturally occurring compound that has received publicity and wide support as a supplement for the relief of arthritis pain and possible prevention of further joint damage. Glucosamine has been popular with sports people of all types, including weight trainers, particularly for knee arthritis and pain. Glucosamine seems to be safe to use.
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]
For example, a 2015 review published in the peer-reviewed journal Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism suggests that, for maximal muscle growth, people consume 25 to 35 grams of protein at breakfast, lunch and dinner. You'll find that amount of protein in a chicken breast, a cup of Greek yogurt with slivered almonds or about a three-quarter block of tofu.
Bodybuilding became more popular in the 1950s and 1960s with the emergence of strength and gymnastics champions, and the simultaneous popularization of bodybuilding magazines, training principles, nutrition for bulking up and cutting down, the use of protein and other food supplements, and the opportunity to enter physique contests. The number of bodybuilding organizations grew, and most notably the International Federation of Bodybuilders (IFBB) was founded in 1946 by Canadian brothers Joe and Ben Weider. Other bodybuilding organizations included the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU), National Amateur Bodybuilding Association (NABBA), and the World Bodybuilding Guild (WBBG). Consequently, the male-dominated contests grew both in number and in size. Besides the many "Mr. XXX" (insert town, city, state, or region) championships, the most prestigious titles[according to whom?] were Mr. America, Mr. World, Mr. Universe, Mr. Galaxy, and ultimately Mr. Olympia, which was started in 1965 by the IFBB and is now considered the most important bodybuilding competition in the world.

In isolated striatal cells (expressing creatine kinase), seven day incubation of 5mM creatine (maximal effective dose) appears to increase the density of GABAergic neurons and DARPP-32 (biomarker for spiny neurons[225]) with only a minor overall trend for all cells[226] and showed increased GABA uptake into these cells, as well as providing protection against oxygen and glucose deprivation.[226]
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.

If your fitness goals are to get strong and build hard, visible muscle, then you’re going to want to train in three phases according to Heath. Strength, conditioning, and a blend of the two that works for you. “If you can get to the gym 4-5 days a week, that would be perfect,” he says. “You can still do chest/tri’s, back/bi’s, legs, shoulders, and make the fifth day a cleanup day, meaning focus on body parts you may be weaker in.” Check out Heath’s guide to finding your best muscle-building routine.


If you’re not lifting super-heavy weights, doing high-intensity workouts, or eating a mainly vegan or vegetarian diet, your body probably makes as much creatine as it needs. “Creatine is naturally found in animal-based products,” says Bates, “so your body can make plenty of creatine as long as you have a balanced diet that includes animal-based products.” Protein sources like beef, chicken, pork, and fish help your body produce the creatine it needs — it varies depending on the source, but, in general, a 3-ounce serving of meat will have about 0.4 grams (g) of creatine, Bates says. (6)
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]
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It is equally important, if not more so, to ensure that you supply your body with more protein than it is breaking down each day. Your body uses protein for many things daily, and when you are working out, your body may start to break down proteins to provide extra energy. But your body also requires proteins to create new muscle cells and repair damaged ones. Many bodybuilding supplements contain large amounts of protein to ensure that your body has plenty for all required processes. Jump to Our 10 Best Bodybuilding Supplement List

Although weight training is similar to bodybuilding, they have different objectives. Bodybuilders use weight training to develop their muscles for size, shape, and symmetry regardless of any increase in strength for competition in bodybuilding contests; they train to maximize their muscular size and develop extremely low levels of body fat. In contrast, many weight trainers train to improve their strength and anaerobic endurance while not giving special attention to reducing body fat far below normal.
Creatine has been investigated for its effects on depression, due to the significant changes occurring in brain morphology and neuronal structure associated with depression[246] and low brain bioenergetic turnover in depression[247], perhaps related to abnormal mitochondrial functioning, which reduces available energy for the brain.[248][249] The general association of low or otherwise impaired phosphate energy systems (of which creatine forms the energetic basis of) with depression, has been noted previously.[250][247][251] Due to associations with cellular death and impaired bioenergetics with depression, creatine was subsequently investigated.
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.

The shortest and most preliminary study noted that, over the short term, creatine delivers on its expected improvement in physical strength. However, longer studies that measure the rate of loss for muscle function (deterioration of muscular capacity that is known to occur with ALS) have repeatedly failed to find a benefit with creatine supplementation.
Cooke et al [41] observed positive effects of a prior (0.3 g/d kg BW) loading and a post maintenance protocol (0.1 g/d kg BW) to attenuate the loss of strength and muscle damage after an acute supramaximal (3 set x 10 rep with 120% 1RM) eccentric resistance training session in young males. The authors speculate that creatine ingestion prior to exercise may enhance calcium buffering capacity of the muscle and reduce calcium-activated proteases which in turn minimize sarcolemma and further influxes of calcium into the muscle. In addition creatine ingestion post exercise would enhance regenerative responses, favoring a more anabolic environment to avoid severe muscle damage and improve the recovery process. In addition, in vitro studies have demonstrated the antioxidant effects of creatine to remove superoxide anion radicals and peroxinitrite radicals [42]. This antioxidant effect of creatine has been associated with the presence of Arginine in its molecule. Arginine is also a substrate for nitric oxide synthesis and can increase the production of nitric oxide which has higher vasodilatation properties, and acts as a free radical that modulates metabolism, contractibility and glucose uptake in skeletal muscle. Other amino acids contained in the creatine molecule such as glycine and methinine may be especially susceptible to free radical oxidation because of sulfhydryl groups [42]. A more recent in vitro study showed that creatine exerts direct antioxidant activity via a scavenging mechanism in oxidatively injured cultured mammalian cells [43]. In a recent in vivo study Rhaini et al [44] showed a positive effect of 7 days of creatine supplementation (4 x 5 g CM 20 g total) on 27 recreational resistance trained males to attenuate the oxidation of DNA and lipid peroxidation after a strenuous resistance training protocol.
A great analogy that I like is that the balance between training and recovery is like digging a hole. Each time you lift, you dig yourself deeper and make it harder to climb out of the hole. To get back out again, you have to fill in the hole to return to ground level, and the only way to fill it is with food and rest. If you overdo it in the gym by pushing too hard, you won’t be able to train as often or at a high capacity. Eventually, you’ll get injured.

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.


Now that you've got the training part down, it's time to stretch it out. (Can you say ahhh?) Stretching while your muscles are warm can help improve your flexibility, says Davis, not to mention it just feels phenomenal after you've pushed yourself hard. A light cool-down is also great for calming the nervous system. While dynamic stretches should be your go-to during a warm-up, the cool-down is where static stretching comes in—this means holding a stretch for 20-30 seconds. These four passive stretches will do nicely.
In regard to practical interventions, concurrent glycogen loading has been noted to increase creatine stores by 37-46% regardless of whether the tissue was exercised prior to loading phase.[176] It is important to note, however, that creatine levels in response to the creatine loading protocol were compared in one glycogen-depleted leg to the contralateral control leg, which was not exercised.[176] This does not rule out a possible systemic exercise-driven increase in creatine uptake, and the increase in creatine noted above[176] was larger than typically seen with a loading protocol (usually in the 20-25% range). Consistent with an exercise-effect, others have reported that exercise itself increases creatine uptake into muscle, reporting 68% greater creatine uptake in an exercised limb, relative to 14% without exercise.[153]
Creatine is most commonly found in the basic form of creatine monohydrate, which is the standard form and usually recommended due to the low price. It can also be micronized to improve water solubility, or the monohydrate can be temporarily removed to concentrate creatine in a small volume supplement. Neither alteration changes the properties of creatine.
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]

I know this goes against the recommendations you often see in stereotypical bodybuilding routines (i.e. the ones that involve having a single “chest day” or “arm day” or “shoulder day” once a week), but that’s just one of the many reasons why those types of routines suck for us natural, genetically-average people, and work best for steroid users with great genetics.
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.
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