The high levels of muscle growth and repair achieved by bodybuilders require a specialized diet. Generally speaking, bodybuilders require more calories than the average person of the same weight to provide the protein and energy requirements needed to support their training and increase muscle mass. In preparation of a contest, a sub-maintenance level of food energy is combined with cardiovascular exercise to lose body fat. Proteins, carbohydrates and fats are the three major macronutrients that the human body needs in order to build muscle. The ratios of calories from carbohydrates, proteins, and fats vary depending on the goals of the bodybuilder.
Creatine has been incubated in various cell lines (HUVEC, C2C12, U937) and noted to reduce cellular death from various pro-oxidant stressors, such as H2O2 or peroxynitrate in an intracellular range between 0.1-10mM. This protective effect was only noted with preincubation and was comparable to 10-100µM of Trolox. This protective effect did not require conversion into phosphocreatine nor a buffering of ATP, and only worked during a preloading to the stressor, rather than in a rehabilitative manner.
In regard to liver fat buildup (steatosis), which is normally associated with reduced availability of S-adenosyl methionine and a suppression in expression of genes involved in fatty acid oxidation (PPARα and CPT1), creatine supplementation at 1% of the rat diet alongside a diet that induces fatty liver is able to fully prevent (and nonsignificantly reduce relative to the control given standard diets) the aforementioned changes and the state of steatosis, as well as changes in serum biomarkers (glucose and insulin) that accompany steatosis.
It is possible that females could benefit more than males due to a combined lower creatine kinase activity as well as having altered purine metabolism during depression, but no human comparative studies have been conducted yet. One rat study noted that creatine monohydrate at 2-4% of feed had 4% creatine able to exert anti-depressive and anxiolytic effects in female rats only.
Men appear to have higher active creatine-kinase systems, and racial differences favor black people over hispanic people over white people in terms of the activity of the creatine-kinase system. This system is more variable in men, independent of supplementation. Exercise may increase the activity of the creatine-kinase system independent of supplementation.
According to the two meta-analyses on the topic, creatine significantly increases power when supplemented in both sexes over a period of time up to 8 weeks, during which improvement over placebo is maintained, rather than being enhanced further. The rate at which power is derived from a resistance training regimen appears to be up to 78.5% greater with creatine relative to placebo, and in active trained men who are naive to creatine, this can be quantified at about 7kg for the bench press and 10kg for the squat over 8 weeks.
However, if you increase the demands you are placing on your body by increasing the weight being lifted, lifting the same weight for additional reps, or just doing something that increases the demands that your body needs to meet, then your body will have no other choice but to make the changes and improvements necessary for it to adapt to this environment and remain capable of performing these tasks.
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!
Kilduff, L. P., Georgiades, E., James, N., Minnion, R. H., Mitchell, M., Kingsmore, D., Hadjicharlambous, M., and Pitsiladis, Y. P. The effects of creatine supplementation on cardiovascular, metabolic, and thermoregulatory responses during exercise in the heat in endurance-trained humans. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab 2004;14:443-460. View abstract.
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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.
This suppression of creatine synthesis is thought to actually be beneficial, since creatine synthesis requires s-adenosyl methionine as a cofactor and may use up to 40-50% of SAMe for methylation (initially thought to be above 70%, but this has since been re-evaluated) though the expected preservation of SAMe may not occur with supplementation. Reduced creatine synthesis, via preserving methyl groups and trimethylglycine (which would normally be used up to synthesize SAMe), is also thought to suppress homocysteine levels in serum, but this may also not occur to a practical level following supplementation.
Chin-Ups. The chin-up is the easiest way to determine someone’s relative strength. If you can knock out sets of bench with your bodyweight but can’t perform at least 5 bodyweight chin-ups then it’s time to re-evaluate your priorities. Chin-ups are an excellent mass builder for the lats, biceps, and upper back so they should take the place of machine variations like lat pulldowns whenever possible.
When assessing type I muscle (slow twitch) against type II muscles (fast twitch) in response to creatine supplementation, it seems that glycogen accumulation may only occur in the latter as assessed in rats, where the soleus muscle is a model for slow twitch muscle fibers and the gastrocnemius is a model for fast twitch. This is similar to human creatine distribution, which seems to accumulate in type II muscles rather than type I.
The creatine kinase system appears to be detectable in endothelial cells. Under basal conditions, creatine itself is expressed at around 2.85+/-0.62μM (three-fold higher than HUVEC cells). When incubating the medium with 0.5mM creatine, endothelial cells can take up creatine via the creatine transporter (SLC6A8) and increase both creatine (almost doubling) and phosphocreatine (nearly 2.5-fold) concentrations.
Longer rest periods are more ideal for making progressive tension overload happen, and shorter rest periods are more ideal for generating metabolic fatigue. So, if you’re doing an exercise that is better suited for progressive overload (i.e. primary compound exercises), you’re going to want to rest longer between sets to maximize strength output. And if you’re doing an exercise that is better suited for metabolic fatigue (i.e. isolation exercises), you’re going to want to rest less between sets to make that happen. And if you’re doing an exercise that is suited equally for a combination of the two (i.e. secondary compound exercises), you’re usually going to want a moderate rest period somewhere in between.
Due to this relative deficiency-state in vegetarians and vegans, some aspects of creatine supplementation are seen as more akin to normalizing a deficiency, rather than providing the benefits of supplementation. In young vegetarians, but not omnivores, creatine supplementation can enhance cognition. The increased gain in lean mass may be more significant in vegetarians, relative to omnivores. Supplementation of creatine in vegetarians appears to normalize the gap in storage between vegetarians and omnivores. This is possibly related to a correlation seen in survey research, where vegetarianism and veganism appear to be more commonly affected by some mental disorders like anxiety and depression.
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Researchers found that 5g of creatine four times daily for a week (loading) before sleep deprivation for 12-36 hours was able to preserve cognition during complex tasks of executive function at 36 hours only, without significant influence on immediate recall or mood. A similar protocol replicated the failure to improve memory and attention, but noted less reports of fatigue (24 hours) and less decline of vigor (24 hours) although other mood parameters were not measured.
2-4 Minutes Rest: Ideal for “tension exercises,” which includes most primary compound exercises. I personally take 3 minutes for the big stuff, sometimes going into the 3-4 minute range depending on exactly what I’m doing and what I feel like I need at the time. Since making strength gains is the main focus of these exercises, longer rest periods like this will be optimal for making it happen.
When endothelial cells have a higher creatine concentration, they appear to be mildly less permeable when incubated with 0.5-5mM creatine, while the higher concentration (5mM) is able to fully ablate TNF-α-induced neutrophil adhesion and both E-selectin and ICAM-1 expression. This effect was prevented with ZM241385, an A2A (adenosine) receptor antagonist, and since adenosine released by this receptor is known to be protective of endothelial cells, it is thought that creatine works vicariously through this receptor and adenosine release, thought to be due to releasing ATP (occurs in response to stress) which protects the cell via the A2A signaling system.
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. As a result, the incidence of products adulterated with illegal ingredients has continued to rise. In 2013, one-third of the supplements tested were adulterated with unlisted steroids. More recently, the prevalence of designer steroids with unknown safety and pharmacological effects has increased.
This is how the NPC differs from the NANBF. The NANBF takes a more direct approach by taking urine samples from all competitors that are tested for steroids and any other substances on the banned list. The NANBF also differs from the NPC when it comes to judging. The criteria for certain poses differs from organization to organization. The NANBF even has an elevated calf pose which is unique for their competitions.
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.