Other supplements could easily have been included here, but these are considered the most useful and effective for the majority of bodybuilders and athletes. Although food should always come first, supplements offer an effective alternative for getting nutrients that either aren't available in sufficient quantity in food or are in foods that you may not be eating.
Zinc is important to produce the male hormone testosterone and in building the immune system. Magnesium is an essential component of the nervous system and for maintaining heart health. Both have a range of important biochemical function. Zinc and magnesium are often marketed to bodybuilders in combination in a supplement called ZMA. Zinc is in whole grains, seeds, nuts and particularly meat and oysters. After years of research, no evidence exists to show that either mineral offers bodybuilding or athletic performance enhancement in excess of the recommended dietary requirements.
The pancreas is one of the extrahepatic (beyond the liver) organs that can synthesize creatine, alongside the kidneys.[486][487] Freshly prepared pancreatic β-cells will normally secrete insulin in response to glucose stimulation, and it appears that phosphocreatine is required for this effect, since phosphocreatine is increased in response to glucose[488] alongside an increase of the ADP:ATP ratio. They appear to close ATP sensitive potassium channels (KATP channels), causing a release of insulin secondary to calcium release.[488] Both phosphocreatine[488] and ADP[489] are implicated, but it seems that despite the channel being sensitive to ATP,[490] the concentration of ATP in a pancreatic cell (3-5mM[491][492]) is already above the activation threshold (in the micromolar range[493]) and thus a further increase would not have an appreciable effect.
Creatine transport has been shown to increase when muscle creatine stores are depleted. This was only noted to occur in muscle with particular fiber types (soleus and red gastrocnemius), while other fiber types, such as white grastrocnemius, did not show any clear trend.[146] This indicates that transport in relation to total creatine levels varies across different muscle fiber types.
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.
Yang, L., Calingasan, N. Y., Wille, E. J., Cormier, K., Smith, K., Ferrante, R. J., & Beal, M. F. (2009, June). Combination therapy with coenzyme Q10 and creatine produces additive neuroprotective effects in models of Parkinson's and Huntington's diseases [Abstract]. Journal of Neurochemistry. 109(5):1427-39. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19476553
Creatine may preserve dopamine synthesis in the striatum of mice (while protecting against dopaminergic depletion) when fed to mice at 2% of the diet for one week prior to MPTP toxicity[230]. This is possibly secondary to increasing tyrosine hydroxylase activity, the rate-limiting step of dopamine biosynthesis.[210][235] Two percent creatine was as protective as 0.005% rofecoxib (a COX2 inhibitor), but the two were additive in their protective effects (highly synergistic in regard to DOPAC by normalizing it, but not synergistic in preserving HVA).[230]
I'm 6'1" 175 pounds 27 years old. I would like to increase my general muscle mass and reduce my stomach fat. I would consider myself and ectomorph (hard gainer) as I have never really developed much muscle while I've always been very active in sports and periodic weight training. Over the past year I lost about 30 pounds (nearly all fat) by reducing my caloric intake effectively and regular whole body exercises. I was on my way to my ideal body composition until I became a bike courier. I've been a bike messenger for 9 months and recently my stomach fat has started to return. I'm riding 50+ miles each weekday riding for 9 hours a day. How many calories should I be eating? I've tried everywhere between 2400-3,500 cal/day. Is it possible for me to be eating too few calories while still accumulating stomach fat? Is it realistic for me to be able to maintain or even build muscle mass in this scenario? Please help, thanks.
Jason Ferruggia is a highly sought after, world renowned strength & conditioning specialist and muscle building expert. Over the last 17 years he has personally trained more than 700 athletes from over 90 different NCAA, NFL, NHL and MLB organizations. He has also worked extensively with firefighters, police officers, military personnel, Hollywood stars and entertainers. Most importantly, Jason has helped over 53,000 skinny guys and hard gainers in 126 different countries build muscle and gain weight faster than they every thought possible.

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
"Start with two days for two to three weeks, then add a third day," says Davis*.*"Ideally, you should strength train three to five days per week, but work your way up—starting off at five days a week might shock your body." Here's a comprehensive three-day-per-week plan to get you started. Aim to complete 20-minute sessions, then gradually add on time in ten-minute increments until you're working for 45 to 60 minutes, suggests Davis.
Taking creatine supplements may increase the amount of creatine in the muscles. Muscles may be able to generate more energy or generate energy at a faster rate. Some people think that taking creatine supplements along with training will improve performance by providing quick bursts of intense energy for activities such as sprinting and weightlifting.

Using too much weight, too soon; always start lower than your expected ability and work your way up that first workout. If your form suffers, you are swinging the weight, or using momentum, this indicates you may be using too much weight. Greater momentum increases the potential for injury and reduces the effectiveness to the muscle group being targeted.
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.

Before getting into the nitty-gritty details about supplements, it’s important to have a good understanding of how muscle growth works. When you take a muscle growth supplement, the role it plays in helping you reach your goals should be very clear. With the supplements available on the market, you can be sure that while some serve an important purpose, others are gimmicks. It’s easier to identify the money wasters if you know how muscle building works.
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.

Muscle imbalances are quite common among strength athletes and are arguably the most common cause of their injuries. Many times this is due to a “weak link” in the kinetic chain of muscles that activate during their activity. Identifying the “weak” muscle and being able to feel, isolate and contract that “weak” muscle makes correctional exercise and rehab much easier. Bodybuilding training, with its focus on “feel” rather than movement, helps to train and develop the mind to muscle connection. This comes in handy when you need to train a muscle imbalance with correctional exercise and, in the case of injury, for rehab.
Prison food isn’t as bad as people think. Prisoners often get three meals a day. Meals need to meet a certain amount of calories. You don’t need that much protein to build muscle, but prisoners can buy protein powder (and also extra food like oatmeal). Prisoners aren’t underfed in most western countries. The diet may not be optimal, but it’s sufficient to build muscle.
Great! Start with strength training 🙂 When you’re overweight, my guess is that you want to be preserving the muscle you have while losing the majority of your weight through fat. With strength training, your overall weight loss may seem slower, but you will lose inches faster. Strength training increases your metabolism; as long as you’re still eating in a deficit, you’ll lose weight.
A: Eat more frequently, drink less liquids while eating (they compete for stomach volume along with food), eat from larger plates and bowls, add lime or lemon juice to your water with meals (can help to increase production of hydrochloric acid that breaks down food), and consume more liquid calories (especially around the workout if appetite is suffering the rest of the day).
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)
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.

Glycogen synthesis is known to respond directly and positively to cellular swelling. This was demonstrated in an earlier study, during which rat muscle cells were exposed to a hypotonic solution in vitro to induce cell swelling, which increased glycogen synthesis by 75%. In contrast, exposing these same cells to a hypertonic solution hindered glycogen synthesis by 31%. These changes were not due to alterations in glucose uptake, but are blocked by hindering the PI3K/mTOR signaling pathway.[112] It was later noted that stress proteins of the MAPK class (p38 and JNK) as well as heat shock protein 27 (Hsp27) are activated in response to increasing osmolarity.[113][114] Furthermore, activation of MAPK signaling in skeletal muscle cells is known to induce myocyte differentiation[115] via GSK3β and MEF2 signaling, which can induce muscle cell growth.[116][117]


Creatine is involved indirectly in whole body methylation processes. This is due to creatine synthesis having a relatively large methyl cost, as the creatine precursor known as guanidinoacetate (GAA) requires a methyl donation from S-adenosyl methionine (SAMe) in order to produce creatine. This may require up to half of the methyl groups available in the human body.[35][122]
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.
The concentration in healthy controls (57+/-8 years) without supplementation of creatine appears to be around 1.24+/-0.26µM per gram of hemoglobin[292] and appears to decrease in concentration during the aging process of the erythrocyte.[294][295][296] Otherwise healthy subjects who take a loading phase of creatine (5g four times daily for five days) can experience a 129.6% increase in erythrocytic creatine concentrations from an average value of 418µM (per liter) up to 961µM with a large range (increases in the range of 144.4-1004.8µM),[297] and this effect appears to correlate somewhat with muscular creatine stores.[297] 

Creatine has demonstrated neuromuscular performance enhancing properties on short duration, predominantly anaerobic, intermittent exercises. Bazzucch et al [27] observed enhanced neuromuscular function of the elbow flexors in both electrically induced and voluntary contractions but not on endurance performance after 4 loading doses of 5 g creatine plus 15 g maltodextrin for 5/d in young, moderately trained men. Creatine supplementation may facilitate the reuptake of Ca2+ into the sacroplasmic reticulum by the action of the Ca2+ adenosine triphosphatase pump, which could enable force to be produced more rapidly through the faster detachment of the actomyosin bridges.
Brain injury. Early research shows that taking creatine by mouth daily for 7 days increases the ability to exercise by increasing lung function in people with a spinal cord injury. However, other research shows that creatine does not improve wrist muscle or hand function. Early research also shows that taking creatine by mouth daily for 6 months reduces amnesia following a traumatic brain injury in children.
However, in the beginning weeks of starting a new workout routine, the majority of strength gains aren't actually a result of this muscle protein synthesis and hypertrophy. Rather, they are a result of the body's neurological system learning when and how to fire the needed muscle cells, explains Abbie E. Smith-Ryan, associate professor of exercise physiology at the department of exercise and sport science at the University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill. Think of it this way: The first time you perform a new exercise, say a bench press, you likely feel pretty shaky. Your arms aren't totally in sync and the weights may sway a bit from side to side. But by the time you perform your second or third set of that same exercise, the practice gets a little smoother. That's your neurological system at work.
Gualano, B., de, Salles Painelli, V, Roschel, H., Lugaresi, R., Dorea, E., Artioli, G. G., Lima, F. R., da Silva, M. E., Cunha, M. R., Seguro, A. C., Shimizu, M. H., Otaduy, M. C., Sapienza, M. T., da Costa, Leite C., Bonfa, E., and Lancha Junior, A. H. Creatine supplementation does not impair kidney function in type 2 diabetic patients: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, clinical trial. Eur.J.Appl.Physiol 2011;111:749-756. View abstract.
Homocyteine (normal serum range of 5-14µM) is known to adversely affect motor control in genetically susceptible people when their levels exceed 500µM, which is usually associated with genetically induced deficiencies of B12.[360][361] In these particular instances (assessed by rats fed homocysteine to increase serum levels to such a high level[362][363]) it appears that administration of 50mg/kg creatine (injections) to these rats can protect dysfunction in muscle metabolism (pyruvate kinase activity, Krebs cycle intermediates, and muscle cell viability) induced by homocysteine.[363]

One thing to keep in mind with this set is that it contains animal products from gelatin and milk. If you are vegan, do not consume these capsules. In terms of weight gain, it is important to note that these capsules do not contain calories. You need extra calories to gain weight. Above all, since this bulking stack requires you to take several pills daily, make sure to talk to your doctor before starting this supplement regimen.


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.
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.
Creatine is normally metabolized into creatinine (note the difference in spelling), which is eliminated by the kidneys under normal conditions. When the kidneys fail and cannot clear the blood as effectively, many metabolites get “backlogged” in the blood. Creatinine is easy to measure and as such it is a biomarker of kidney damage.[623][624] If serum creatinine levels are elevated, the doctor may suspect some kidney damage. Low-dose creatine (≤5 g/day) may not cause alterations in this biomarker in otherwise normal adults[524][625][525] but high doses of supplemental creatine may cause a false positive (an increase in creatinine, due to creatine turning into creatinine, which does not signify kidney damage) and is a diagnostic error.[520][518][626][523][517] Most studies, however, have noted only a small increase in creatinine levels even with doses ≈20 g/day.[524][626][627]

Beginners are advised to build up slowly to a weight training program. Untrained individuals may have some muscles that are comparatively stronger than others; nevertheless, an injury can result if (in a particular exercise) the primary muscle is stronger than its stabilizing muscles. Building up slowly allows muscles time to develop appropriate strengths relative to each other. This can also help to minimize delayed onset muscle soreness. A sudden start to an intense program can cause significant muscular soreness. Unexercised muscles contain cross-linkages that are torn during intense exercise. A regimen of flexibility exercises should be implemented before weight training begins, to help avoid soft tissue pain and injuries.


Taking high doses of creatine might harm the kidneys. Some medications can also harm the kidneys. Taking creatine with medications that can harm the kidneys might increase the chance of kidney damage.

Some of these medications that can harm the kidneys include cyclosporine (Neoral, Sandimmune); aminoglycosides including amikacin (Amikin), gentamicin (Garamycin, Gentak, others), and tobramycin (Nebcin, others); nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) including ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, Nuprin, others), indomethacin (Indocin), naproxen (Aleve, Anaprox, Naprelan, Naprosyn), piroxicam (Feldene); and numerous others.

Nutrient timing is a hot topic, especially for athletes and anyone looking for that extra edge in the gym or in body transformation. Part of this stems from science showing that the timing of carbohydrate consumption does influence important aspects, such as glycogen replenishment (and in limited cases, muscle protein synthesis). The other side is practical: You want the most bang for your buck when it comes to the nutritional products and supplements you purchase.
A study showed that 100mg/kg creatine monohydrate daily over four months supplemented by boys with DMD is able to enhance handgrip strength in the dominant hand only (less than 10% increase) and increase whole-body lean mass. While the trend toward whole body strength reduction seen in placebo was ablated and there was no interaction with corticosteroids,[560] this study failed to find an influence on activities of daily living or lung function.[560] Elsewhere in children not on corticosteroids with DMD, supplementation of 5g creatine for eight weeks was confirmed to increase muscular phosphocreatine content[554] and according to a manual muscle test (MMT) there was a significant improvement in muscular function relative to placebo, with more parents reporting benefit with creatine (53.8%) relative to placebo (14%).[554]
Carducci, C., Birarelli, M., Leuzzi, V., Carducci, C., Battini, R., Cioni, G., and Antonozzi, I. Guanidinoacetate and creatine plus creatinine assessment in physiologic fluids: an effective diagnostic tool for the biochemical diagnosis of arginine:glycine amidinotransferase and guanidinoacetate methyltransferase deficiencies. Clin Chem 2002;48:1772-1778. View abstract.
If you'’re looking to add muscle mass to your frame, hitting the weights hard is a given. Quality time in the gym begins a cascade of changes that will stimulate your muscles to grow bigger in response to the challenges you throw their way. It'’s tempting to think that'’s all it takes to add muscle to your body. After all, you can actually feel your biceps growing after an intense set of curls.
While muscle growth is critical for bodybuilding, getting rid of extra fat is a necessity to improve your total physique. These supplements can help to increase your metabolism, forcing your body to burn away more of its fat stores. They can also slow down the digestion process to prevent excess fat and carbohydrates from entering the body and being stored.
The best way to know the real progress you’re making is by recording it on video or taking photos. “Photos mean everything because if you can take them in the same areas and in the same poses, you’ll see your strengths and weaknesses clearly,” says Heath. “Revise your training and diet programs to eliminate weaknesses.” Keep a file of your progress to see just how far you can take your fitness.
In October 1994, the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) was signed into law in the USA. Under DSHEA, responsibility for determining the safety of the dietary supplements changed from government to the manufacturer and supplements no longer required approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) before distributing product. Since that time manufacturers did not have to provide FDA with the evidence to substantiate safety or effectiveness unless a new dietary ingredient was added. It is widely believed that the 1994 DSHEA further consolidated the position of the supplement industry and lead to additional product sales.[6]
Collectively the above investigations indicate that creatine supplementation can be an effective strategy to maintain total creatine pool during a rehabilitation period after injury as well as to attenuate muscle damage induced by a prolonged endurance training session. In addition, it seems that creatine can act as an effective antioxidant agent after more intense resistance training sessions.
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