If you’re looking to put on extra muscle mass and build strength, there are a few things that need to occur. The first of these, even though it may seem obvious, is that you will need to have an exercise routine. To stimulate maximum muscle growth, you’ll need to challenge yourself in the gym, forcing your muscles to adapt to heavier workloads by increasing in size and strength.
Older women with knee osteoarthritis given supplemental creatine at 20g for five days followed by 5g for the rest of the twelve week trial experienced improvements in stiffness (52% reduction), pain (45%), and physical function (41%) as assessed by WOMAC, despite no improvements in physical power output relative to placebo.[425] This study paired supplementation and placebo with a mild exercise regimen.[425]
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.
Discomfort can arise from other factors. Individuals who perform large numbers of repetitions, sets, and exercises for each muscle group may experience a burning sensation in their muscles. These individuals may also experience a swelling sensation in their muscles from increased blood flow (the "pump"). True muscle fatigue is experienced as a marked and uncontrollable loss of strength in a muscle, arising from the nervous system (motor unit) rather than from the muscle fibers themselves. Extreme neural fatigue can be experienced as temporary muscle failure. Some weight training programs, such as Metabolic Resistance Training, actively seek temporary muscle failure; evidence to support this type of training is mixed at best.[24] Irrespective of their program, however, most athletes engaged in high-intensity weight training will experience muscle failure during their regimens.
Vegetarians and other people who have lower total creatine levels when they start taking creatine supplements seem to get more benefit than people who start with a higher level of creatine. Skeletal muscle will only hold a certain amount of creatine; adding more won't raise levels any more. This "saturation point" is usually reached within the first few days of taking a "loading dose."
Still, it's important to realize that for everyone, at a certain point, building muscle becomes more difficult. "We all have an endpoint to our genetic potential," Matheny says. "Someone who is starting strength training for the first time can build muscle with a lower percentage of their 1RM [the maximum amount of weight they can lift one time] than a more tenured athlete. The longer you train and the closer you to get to your natural potential, the more specific you need to get with your training and nutrition to keep making progress. And that week-by-week progress will likely be much smaller than it once was."
Isometric exercise provides a maximum amount of resistance based on the force output of the muscle, or muscles pitted against one another. This maximum force maximally strengthens the muscles over all of the joint angles at which the isometric exercise occurs. By comparison, weight training also strengthens the muscle throughout the range of motion the joint is trained in, but only maximally at one angle, causing a lesser increase in physical strength at other angles from the initial through terminating joint angle as compared with isometric exercise. In addition, the risk of injury from weights used in weight training is greater than with isometric exercise (no weights), and the risk of asymmetric training is also greater than with isometric exercise of identical opposing muscles.
Genetic deficiencies in the creatine biosynthetic pathway lead to various severe neurological defects.[26] Clinically, there are three distinct disorders of creatine metabolism. Deficiencies in the two synthesis enzymes can cause L-arginine:glycine amidinotransferase deficiency caused by variants in GATM and guanidinoacetate methyltransferase deficiency, caused by variants in GAMT. Both biosynthetic defects are inherited in an autosomal recessive manner. A third defect, creatine transporter defect, is caused by mutations in SLC6A8 and inherited in a X-linked manner. This condition is related to the transport of creatine into the brain.[27]
The general strategy adopted by most present-day competitive bodybuilders is to make muscle gains for most of the year (known as the "off-season") and, approximately 12–14 weeks from competition, lose a maximum of body fat (referred to as "cutting") while preserving as much muscular mass as possible. The bulking phase entails remaining in a net positive energy balance (calorie surplus). The amount of a surplus in which a person remains is based on the person's goals, as a bigger surplus and longer bulking phase will create more fat tissue. The surplus of calories relative to one's energy balance will ensure that muscles remain in a state of anabolism.
Whey, the liquid remaining after milk has been curdled and strained, is rapidly digested and absorbed and has a remarkable ability to stimulate muscle protein synthesis (Hayes & Cribb, 2008). Whey is available in three varieties — whey protein powder, whey protein concentrate, whey protein isolate — and all provide high levels of the essential and branched chain amino acids, vitamins and minerals.

“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.
A previous meta-analysis [28] reported an overall creatine supplementation effect size (ES) of 0.24 ± 0.02 for activities lasting ≤30 s. (primarily using the ATP- phosphocreatine energy system). For this short high-intensity exercise, creatine supplementation resulted in a 7.5 ± 0.7% increase from base line which was greater than the 4.3 ± 0.6% improvement observed for placebo groups. When looking at the individual selected measures for anaerobic performance the greatest effect of creatine supplementation was observed on the number of repetitions which showed an ES of 0.64 ± 0.18. Furthermore, an increase from base line of 45.4 ± 7.2% compared to 22.9 ± 7.3% for the placebo group was observed. The second greatest ES was on the weight lifted at 0.51 ± 0.16 with an increase from base line of 13.4 ± 2.7% for the placebo group and 24.7 ± 3.9% for the creatine group. Other measures improved by creatine with a mean ES greater than 0 were for the amount of work accomplished, weight lifted, time, force production, cycle ergometer revolutions/min and power. The possible effect of creatine supplementation on multiple high intensity short duration bouts (<30 s) have shown an ES not statistically significant from 0. This would indicate that creatine supplementation might be useful to attenuate fatigue symptoms over multiple bouts of high-intensity, short duration exercise. The ES of creatine on anaerobic endurance exercise (>30 – 150s), primarily using the anaerobic glycolysis energy system, was 0.19 ± 0.05 with an improvement from baseline of 4.9 ± 1.5 % for creatine and -2.0 ± 0.6% for the placebo. The specific aspects of anaerobic endurance performance improved by creatine supplementation were work and power, both of which had a mean ES greater than 0. From the findings of this previous meta-analysis [28] it would appear that creatine supplementation has the most pronounced effect on short duration (<30s) high intensity intermittent exercises.

A typical creatine supplementation protocol consists of a loading phase of 20 g CM/d or 0.3 g CM/kg/d split into 4 daily intakes of 5 g each, followed by a maintenance phase of 3-5 g CM/d or 0.03 g CM/kg/d for the duration of the supplementation period [5]. Other supplementation protocols are also used such as a daily single dose of around 3 – 6 g or between 0.03 to 0.1 g/kg/d [15,55] however this method takes longer (between 21 to 28 days) to produce ergogenic effects [5]. Sale et al [56] found that a moderate protocol consisting of 20 g CM taken in 1g doses (evenly ingested at 30-min intervals) for 5 days resulted in reduced urinary creatine and methylamine excretion, leading to an estimated increase in whole body retention of creatine (+13%) when compared with a typical loading supplementation protocol of 4 x 5 g/d during 5 days (evenly ingested at 3 hour intervals). This enhancement in creatine retention would lead to a significantly higher weight gain when people follow a moderate protocol ingestion of several doses of small amounts of CM evenly spread along the day.


Due to the growing concerns of the high cost, health consequences, and illegal nature of some steroids, many organizations have formed in response and have deemed themselves "natural" bodybuilding competitions. In addition to the concerns noted, many promoters of bodybuilding have sought to shed the "freakish" perception that the general public has of bodybuilding and have successfully introduced a more mainstream audience to the sport of bodybuilding by including competitors whose physiques appear much more attainable and realistic.
There are several different available forms of creatine: creatine anhydrous which is creatine with the water molecule removed in order to increase the concentration of creatine to a greater amount than that found in CM. Creatine has been manufactured in salt form: creatine pyruvate, creatine citrate, creatine malate, creatine phosphate, magnesium creatine, creatine oroate, Kre Alkalyn (creatine with baking soda). Creatine can also be manufactured in an ester form. Creatine ethyl ester (hydrochloride) is an example of this, as is creatine gluconate which is creatine bound to glucose. Another form is creatine effervescent which is creatine citrate or CM with citric acid and bicarbonate. The citric acid and bicarbonate react to produce an effervescent effect. When mixed with water the creatine separates from its carrier leaving a neutrally charged creatine, allowing it to dissolve to a higher degree in water. Manufacturers claim that creatine effervescent has a longer and more stable life in solution. When di-creatine citrate effervescent was studied [59] for stability in solution it was found that the di-creatine citrate dissociates to citric acid and creatine in aqueous solutions which in turn forms CM and eventually crystallises out of the solution due to its low solubility. Some of the creatine may also convert to creatinine.
According to the abstract, in the stratified analyses by forms of aerobic exercise, weekly resistance exercise of 1 time or 1-59 minutes was associated with lower risks of total cardiovascular events and cardiovascular disease, regardless of meeting the aerobic exercise guidelines. The analysis showed that resistance training reduced the risk of cardiovascular events in 2 ways: training had a direct association with cardiovascular risk, and resistance training indirectly lowered cardiovascular risk by decreasing body mass index.
Creatine monohydrate is highly regarded as one of the most powerful and all-around best bodybuilding supplements for athletes hoping to make big gains fast. Creatine is one of the go-to supplements for building mass because it maximizes power output, strength, endurance, and overall performance, helping you to crush your fitness goals time and time again.
It’s important to remember that since everybody is different, these estimates are just that. How the numbers work out for each person will definitely vary. So many factors—like genetics, hormones, sleep, and diet—can change the rate at which our bodies burn calories. And some people may have a harder time than others when it comes losing fat or gaining muscle—again, there are so many factors at play and our body chemistries are all different. Strength training is important for many, many, many other reasons (more on that later), but if you’re looking to increase your metabolism, it’s important to have realistic expectations and know that strength training can make a difference, but probably won’t drastically affect how many calories you burn from one day to the next.
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.

If you’re a beginner, you should train with three full-body workouts per week. In each one, do a compound pushing movement (like a bench press), a compound pulling movement (like a chinup), and a compound lower-body exercise (squat, trap-bar deadlift, for example). If you want to add in 1–2 other exercises like loaded carries or kettlebell swings as a finisher, that’s fine, but three exercises is enough to work the whole body.

Less muscle breakdown can also help to reduce post-workout muscle soreness levels. During workouts, the body creates lactic acid as it works to generate extra energy. The buildup of lactic acid can cause muscle fatigue, swelling, and tenderness. Improving the ability of the body to recover can help to more effectively clear out lactic acid, reducing inflammation and soreness.

When combined with an appropriate exercise program, dietary supplementation with β-hydroxy β-methylbutyrate (HMB) has been shown to dose-dependently augment gains in muscle hypertrophy (i.e., the size of a muscle),[38][39] muscle strength,[38][40][41] and lean body mass,[38][40][41] reduce exercise-induced skeletal muscle damage,[note 1][38][39][41] and expedite recovery from high-intensity exercise.[38][42] HMB is believed to produce these effects by increasing muscle protein synthesis and decreasing muscle protein breakdown by various mechanisms, including activation of the mechanistic target of rapamycin (mTOR) and inhibition of the proteasome in skeletal muscles.[40][43]
"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.
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.
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]
Although creatine is a natural component of food, the amount of food required to supersaturate the muscle with PCr may not be feasible. For example, it could require 22 pounds of meat daily [8]. If creatine monohydrate is proven to be a safe and effective ergogenic aid, creatine supplementation may be the simplest way to increasing muscle stores. It may be beneficial to avoid caffeine if taking creatine supplements. One study showed that caffeine diminished strength gains seen with creatine use [9].
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.
It can be hard not to compare yourself to Schwarzenegger, with his action-star movie career, his stint as a president-appointed fitness ambassador and his election as governor of California. Chang said that Heath’s personality, including his charisma and outspokenness, is similar to that of Schwarzenegger, who is still omnipresent and beloved in the sport.

In addition to ALL of the above, strength training is fun! Whether you are looking for the most effective 20-30 minute workout (to stay fit and look great naked), or are looking for a competitive sport that you can really get into, strength training can help you meet your goals. It’s easy and fun to see progress as you strength train, almost like leveling up. And if you’re looking to improve in other areas (a sport, traditional cardio, or an activity like rock climbing), strength training is an easy choice!

Who makes it: Creature is made by Beast Sports Nutrition, the fastest growing company in the entire sports nutrition industry. Their innovative products have taken the industry by storm, and the community response has been overwhelmingly positive. Beast Sports Nutrition makes a wide variety of fitness supplements, but they’re best known for Creature.

Reducing creatine synthesis by supplementing it has preliminary evidence supporting its ability to reduce homocysteine concentrations in the body, since the synthesis of creatine would normally produce some homocysteine as a byproduct. This may apply to a certain subset of people (MTHFR TT homozygotes, about 10% of North Americans) but at the moment there is not enough evidence to suggest that this occurs in all people supplementing creatine.


Researchers described the study as one of the first to examine how strength training can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, separate from the effects of aerobic activity like running or long walks. The point: for those who are not meeting recommended guidelines for aerobic activity—perhaps because they lack the time—bursts of weight training can be enough.
Creatine is marketed as "nature's muscle builder" and "the most legitimate sports supplement around." Professional and amateur athletes alike are gobbling up this alleged ergogenic aid, hoping to increase their strength and performance. Creatine supplementation is claimed to increase muscle power by playing a role in the transfer of energy to help the muscle contract. Supplement labels state that "creatine is converted to phosphocreatine, which is important for short energy bursts such as sprinting and weight lifting" and that "depletion of phosphocreatine can result in muscle fatigue and fading muscle power." Claims are also made that supplementation increases muscle body mass.

Osteoblast cells are known to express creatine kinase.[39][417] Bone growth factors such as IGF-1,[418] PTH,[419] and even Vitamin D[420][421] seem to induce bone growth alongside increases in creatine kinase activity. Vitamin D has been noted to work indirectly by increasing the cellular energy state (these hormones increase creatine kinase in order to do so) in order to make bone cells more responsive to estrogen.[420] This evidence, paired with enhanced growth rates of osteoblasts in the presence of higher than normal (10-20mM) concentrations of creatine[422] suggest a role of creatine in promoting osteoblastic and bone growth, secondary to increasing energy availability.


Dips. You should be able to manipulate your bodyweight in space against the influence of gravity. If you can’t perform simple movements such as pushups, dips, and chin-ups then you need to work on your relative strength. That being said, dips are an excellent muscle builder for the chest, triceps, and shoulders if they are progressively overloaded with weight. 
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.
A push–pull workout is a method of arranging a weight training routine so that exercises alternate between push motions and pull motions.[28] A push–pull superset is two complementary segments (one pull/one push) done back-to-back. An example is bench press (push) / bent-over row (pull). Another push–pull technique is to arrange workout routines so that one day involves only push (usually chest, shoulders and triceps) exercises, and an alternate day only pull (usually back and biceps) exercises so the body can get adequate rest.[29]
As mentioned earlier, supplementation of creatine in youth has been noted to improve the swim bench test (a thirty second sprint followed by another after a five minute break).[398] One study noted improvement when examining a 400 meter test after 10g of creatine was taken over seven days with some orange juice. The improvement was mostly attributable to increased performance on the last 50m stretch.[405]
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]
In regard to the loading period, two reviews suggest that the range of weight gain associated with creatine supplementation at 20g for 7 days is in the range of 0.9-1.8kg (1.98-3.96lbs).[612][613] The highest reported increase in water weight associated with creatine loading, although measured a month after loading started (after a maintenance phase) was 3.8kg (8.36lbs).[614]
When it comes to finding the right meal plan, you have to start somewhere. Start with writing down what you eat in a food diary, calculate the calories you’re consuming daily (ex: 3,000 without protein shakes), and break those up into six meals (ex: 500 calories each), says Heath. Then, choose a macronutrient ratio. For example, the 40% protein, 40% carbs, 20% fat ratio is what Heath used to get bigger when he first started bodybuilding. “Buy a food scale, learn how to use it, and you may even have to learn to use the metric system, like grams instead of ounces,” Heath says. “You need to train your body to process food quickly, so eat every three hours.”

Peirano, R. I., Achterberg, V., Dusing, H. J., Akhiani, M., Koop, U., Jaspers, S., Kruger, A., Schwengler, H., Hamann, T., Wenck, H., Stab, F., Gallinat, S., and Blatt, T. Dermal penetration of creatine from a face-care formulation containing creatine, guarana and glycerol is linked to effective antiwrinkle and antisagging efficacy in male subjects. J.Cosmet.Dermatol. 2011;10(4):273-281. View abstract.


What you eat plays a big role in how much muscle your body can build. Proteins are especially important for building muscle. When you eat protein, your body breaks it down into amino acids which are the building blocks of muscle. How much protein you should include in your diet depends on a number of factors including your age and muscle building goals. Older adults who engage in resistance training and those hoping for maximum muscle growth should eat 1 to 1.3 grams of protein per kg of body weight (2, 3). If you weigh 150 lbs, that means you should take between 68 and 88 g of protein daily. Other recommendations are more modest, suggesting that .36 grams of protein per pound of body weight is enough.
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.
Cribb et al (2007) [29] observed greater improvements on 1RM, lean body mass, fiber cross sectional area and contractile protein in trained young males when resistance training was combined with a multi-nutrient supplement containing 0.1 g/kg/d of creatine, 1.5 g/kg/d of protein and carbohydrate compared with protein alone or a protein carbohydrate supplement without the creatine. These findings were novel because at the time no other research had noted such improvements in body composition at the cellular and sub cellular level in resistance trained participants supplementing with creatine. The amount of creatine consumed in the study by Cribb et al was greater than the amount typically reported in previous studies (a loading dose of around 20 g/d followed by a maintenance dose of 3-5 g/d is generally equivalent to approximately 0.3 g/kg/d and 0.03 g/kg/d respectively) and the length of the supplementation period or absence of resistance exercise may explain the observed transcriptional level changes that were absent in previous studies [30,31].
In the 1970s, bodybuilding had major publicity thanks to the appearance of Arnold Schwarzenegger, Franco Columbu, Lou Ferrigno, and others in the 1977 docudrama Pumping Iron. By this time, the IFBB dominated the competitive bodybuilding landscape and the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) took a back seat. The National Physique Committee (NPC) was formed in 1981 by Jim Manion,[7] who had just stepped down as chairman of the AAU Physique Committee. The NPC has gone on to become the most successful bodybuilding organization in America and is the amateur division of the IFBB. The late 1980s and early 1990s saw the decline of AAU-sponsored bodybuilding contests. In 1999, the AAU voted to discontinue its bodybuilding events.
An exercise should be halted if marked or sudden pain is felt, to prevent further injury. However, not all discomfort indicates injury. Weight training exercises are brief but very intense, and many people are unaccustomed to this level of effort. The expression "no pain, no gain" refers to working through the discomfort expected from such vigorous effort, rather than to willfully ignore extreme pain, which may indicate serious soft tissue injuries. The focus must be proper form, not the amount of weight lifted.[23]
The 1960s saw the gradual introduction of exercise machines into the still-rare strength training gyms of the time. Weight training became increasingly popular in the 1970s, following the release of the bodybuilding movie Pumping Iron, and the subsequent popularity of Arnold Schwarzenegger. Since the late 1990s increasing numbers of women have taken up weight training, influenced by programs like Body for Life; currently nearly one in five U.S. women engage in weight training on a regular basis.[4]
As mentioned, protein is essential for building muscle. If you are unable to consume the recommended amount of protein through diet alone, add protein powder for building muscle as a supplement. This applies to nearly anyone hoping to gain muscle mass since it’s not easy to pack in nearly 100 grams of protein a day through chicken, eggs and legumes alone.
If you touch your phone between exercise sets, it better be to set its timer to 30 to 90 seconds. When lifting for hypertrophy, rest periods of 30 to 90 seconds encourage a quick release in muscle-building hormones (including testosterone and human growth hormone) while also making sure that you really, truly fatigue your muscles, according to Fitzgerald.
Creatine monohydrate is highly regarded as one of the most powerful and all-around best bodybuilding supplements for athletes hoping to make big gains fast. Creatine is one of the go-to supplements for building mass because it maximizes power output, strength, endurance, and overall performance, helping you to crush your fitness goals time and time again.
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.
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]
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