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.
Although creatine supplementation has been shown to be more effective on predominantly anaerobic intermittent exercise, there is some evidence of its positive effects on endurance activities. Branch [28] highlights that endurance activities lasting more than 150s rely on oxidative phosphorylation as primary energy system supplier. From this meta analysis [28], it would appear that the ergogenic potential for creatine supplementation on predominantly aerobic endurance exercise diminishes as the duration of the activity increases over 150s. However it is suggested that creatine supplementation may cause a change in substrate utilization during aerobic activity possibly leading to an increase in steady state endurance performance.
Creatine supplementation may also be of benefit to injured athletes. Op’t Eijnde et al [39] noted that the expected decline in GLUT4 content after being observed during a immobilization period can be offset by a common loading creatine (20g/d) supplementation protocol. In addition, combining CM 15g/d for 3 weeks following 5 g/d for the following 7 weeks positively enhances GLUT4 content, glycogen, and total muscle creatine storage [39].
Beach muscles and Olympic lifts draw more attention. But the many little stabilizer muscles around your shoulders, hips, and midsection — collectively the core — provide a strong foundation. Challenging the stability and mobility of these key muscles with medicine balls, physioballs, mini-bands, and rotational movements (lifting, chopping) pays huge dividends.
When lifting any weight, you’ve got a concentric (hard) and eccentric (easy) phase. For instance, as you lower into a squat, you’re performing an eccentric action. When you return to standing, that’s concentric. And, according to research published in the European Journal of Applied Physiology, eccentric work is far better at triggering hypertrophy.
Fast twitch (or Type II fibers) fire very quickly, but also fatigue quickly, so they don’t last long.  It gets a bit more complicated, because there are actually two types of fast twitch fibers. Type IIA fibers have some endurance qualities (used for things such as longer sprints). While Type IIX fibers are our “super fast” fibers, used only when a super short burst is needed (like a 100 m sprint or a really heavy lift).
In a sample of people with colorectal cancer given creatine supplementation for 8 weeks to assess its interactions with chemotherapy, creatine failed to benefit muscle function or quality of life. Benefits were observed in body cell mass and phase angle (indicative of cellular viability), but only in the subsample with less aggressive chemotherapy.[111]
Moreover, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has identified numerous products marketed as bodybuilding or muscle-building dietary supplements that contain hidden active ingredients, including prescription drugs and steroid and steroid-like ingredients. Not only do these ingredients pose serious health risks, they might cause you to pop positive on a drug test. The only way to be sure a product contains only what’s on the label is to look for one that has been evaluated by an independent, third-party organization. For more information, visit FDA’s Consumer Update about bodybuilding products.

Of course, cardio is an important part of fitness too, but the benefits of strength training are major. Strength training helps build muscle, and lean muscle is better at burning calories when the body is at rest, which is important whether you're trying to lose weight or maintain it. It also helps strengthens joints and bones, avoid injury, improve your muscular endurance, and will help you give it your all during your other workouts, whether that means setting a new PR if you're a runner or pushing (and pulling) a little harder with your legs during your favorite indoor cycling class.

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.

“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.
In another case, supplements touted as "myostatin blockers" were formulated from a type of sea algae. In a test tube, they effectively blocked the activity of the protein myostatin, which inhibits muscular growth in the body. The supplement ads implied that they'd enable you to develop unprecedented levels of muscular growth, but as it turned out, they didn't actually work in the human body.
However, not all proteins are created equal in the muscle building stakes. Always remember the better the quality (biological value) of protein consumed, the more of it will be used for muscle building. To maximise muscle growth, stick to high-quality proteins, such as whey, milk, eggs, fish or lean meats. However, combining lower quality or incomplete protein from plant-based sources, such as nuts and beans, can still be a valuable protein source for muscle building.
It has been argued that purposely overtraining for a brief period can be beneficial. One article published by Muscle & Fitness magazine stated that you can "Overtrain for Big Gains". It suggested that if one is planning a restful holiday and does not wish to inhibit their bodybuilding lifestyle too much, they should overtrain before taking the holiday, so the body can recuperate and grow during the prolonged rest period. Overtraining can be used advantageously, as when a bodybuilder is purposely overtrained for a brief period of time to super compensate during a regeneration phase. These are known as "shock micro-cycles" and were a key training technique used by Soviet athletes.[53]
When it comes to building muscle, your body only knows or cares about the tension, fatigue and damage an exercise is generating… not the type of equipment you were using when performing that exercise. It really couldn’t give the slightest crap about that. For this reason, ALL types of exercises and ALL types of equipment are capable of stimulating muscle growth.
Duchenne’s Muscular Dystrophy (DMD) is associated with a reduction in intracellular creatine stores[554] known to only affects males. It is an X-linked progressive myopathy associated with abnormalities in the dystrophin gene.[555] The standard therapy at this moment involves corticosteroids such as prednisone.[556][557] Creatine is thought to be therapeutic since the known targetable abnormalities in DMD (impairment in protein synthesis associated with oxidative stress and increased protein breakdown) is a property of creatine and supplementation showed promise in the first case study[558] and benefit in a group of mixed dystrophinopathies.[559]
Heath is an unlikely Mr. Olympia. He grew up on playgrounds in Seattle playing basketball. His backcourt mate on the 1998 state championship team at Rainier Beach High School was Jamal Crawford, still in the N.B.A. Heath, just 5 feet 9 inches and a naturally chiseled 175 pounds, got a Division I basketball scholarship at the University of Denver. He majored in business and averaged 1.3 points over four seasons.
A: Let your symptoms be your guide. A slight sore throat or runny nose may require you to back off for a day or two but don’t confine yourself to your bed and assume the worst. However, you must also remember that prolonged, intense exercise can decrease immune function and make you more susceptible to bacterial and viral based sickness so it's equally as important to listen to your body and respond accordingly.
Don’t take sets to the point of failure—where you absolutely can’t perform another rep. You should never get to where you’re turning purple and screaming like you’re getting interviewed by “Mean” Gene Okerlund before WrestleMania. Most of the time, you want to end your sets two reps before total failure. Not sure when that is? The moment your form breaks down, or you’re pretty sure it’s going to break down, end the set.
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.

Eat 1.5–3 grams of carbs per pound of your body weight. As with fat, this amount can vary greatly, depending on your personal needs and preferences, so consider these numbers only a starting point. If you’re very skinny and feel that you handle carbs well (i.e. you can eat a lot of them without getting fat), go ahead and eat according to the higher end of the spectrum. The same applies if you’re desperate to gain weight—you should increase your carb intake. If you’re prone to weight gain or feel lethargic on higher carbs, you should eat fewer of them. Again, see our keto guide for more details and options.


Bird, L. M., Tan, W. H., Bacino, C. A., Peters, S. U., Skinner, S. A., Anselm, I., Barbieri-Welge, R., Bauer-Carlin, A., Gentile, J. K., Glaze, D. G., Horowitz, L. T., Mohan, K. N., Nespeca, M. P., Sahoo, T., Sarco, D., Waisbren, S. E., and Beaudet, A. L. A therapeutic trial of pro-methylation dietary supplements in Angelman syndrome. Am J Med Genet.A 2011;155A:2956-2963. View abstract.

It is regularly reported that creatine supplementation, when combined with heavy resistance training leads to enhanced physical performance, fat free mass, and muscle morphology [18-22]. A 2003 meta analysis [8] showed individuals ingesting creatine, combined with resistance training, obtain on average +8% and +14% more performance on maximum (1RM) or endurance strength (maximal repetitions at a given percent of 1RM) respectively than the placebo groups. However, contradicting studies have reported no effects of creatine supplementation on strength performance. Jakobi et al [23] found no effects of a short term creatine loading protocol upon isometric elbow flexion force, muscle activation, and recovery process. However, this study did not clearly state if creatine supplementation was administered concurrent with resistance training. Bemben et al [24] have shown no additional benefits of creatine alone or combined with whey protein for improving strength and muscle mass after a progressive 14 weeks (3 days per week) resistance training program in older men. These conflicting results can be explained by the possibility that the supplemented groups were formed by a greater amount of non-responders or even because creatine supplementation was administered on the training days only (3 times a week). This strategy has not been adequately tested as effective in middle aged and older men for maintaining post loading elevated creatine stores [5].
The general sentiment among nutrition experts is that creatine monohydrate is, for most people, the best bet. It’s the cheapest form and more importantly, it’s the most well-researched. Hundreds of studies have been performed on creatine monohydrate and there’s no evidence of ill effects, whereas many of the more novel forms of creatine have one or sometimes no studies supporting them.
Creatine pyruvate (also known as creatine 2-oxopropanoate) in an isomolar dose relative to creatine monohydrate has been shown to produce higher plasma levels of creatine (peak and AUC) with no discernible differences in absorption or excretion values.[83] The same study noted increased performance from creatine pyruvate at low (4.4g creatine equivalence) doses relative to citrate and monohydrate, possibly due to the pyruvate group.
That said, many people experience stomach cramps when they consume creatine monohydrate and it’s possible that taking a creatine with a different pH — usually creatine hydrochloride — can have a different effect on stomach acid and make for a creatine that digests more easily. As far as we know, the easier digestion doesn’t necessarily mean it’s more effective or that you need less of it to achieve the desired result.
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.[citation needed]
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.
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.
Whether you’re taking a supplement or not, creatine is already functioning inside you, doing its very important job. It’s an amino acid found naturally in the meat and fish you consume and, according to the Mayo Clinic, your liver and kidneys crank it out as well. The creatine is mainly stored as creatine phosphate in your muscles, ready for use in energy production.
Cyclocreatine (1-carboxymethyl-2-iminoimidazolidine) is a synthetic analogue of creatine in a cyclic form. It serves as a substrate for the creatine kinase enzyme system, acting as a creatine mimetic. Cyclocreatine may compete with creatine in the CK enzyme system to transfer phosphate groups to ADP, as coincubation of both can reduce cyclocreatine’s anti-motility effects on some cancer cells.[96]

Carbohydrates play an important role for bodybuilders. They give the body energy to deal with the rigors of training and recovery. Carbohydrates also promote secretion of insulin, a hormone enabling cells to get the glucose they need. Insulin also carries amino acids into cells and promotes protein synthesis.[26] Insulin has steroid-like effects in terms of muscle gains.[27] It is impossible to promote protein synthesis without the existence of insulin, which means that without ingesting carbohydrates or protein—which also induces the release of insulin—it is impossible to add muscle mass.[28] Bodybuilders seek out low-glycemic polysaccharides and other slowly digesting carbohydrates, which release energy in a more stable fashion than high-glycemic sugars and starches. This is important as high-glycemic carbohydrates cause a sharp insulin response, which places the body in a state where it is likely to store additional food energy as fat. However, bodybuilders frequently do ingest some quickly digesting sugars (often in form of pure dextrose or maltodextrin) just before, during, and/or just after a workout. This may help to replenish glycogen stored within the muscle, and to stimulate muscle protein synthesis.[29]
ZMA: This supplement is a combination of zinc, magnesium and vitamin B-6. Some research shows that this combination can help raise testosterone levels. In the trial, subjects took a daily dose of ZMA (which included 30 mg zinc monomethionine, 450 mg magnesium aspartate and 10.5 mg vitamin B-6) at night during 7 weeks. Other hormones like IGF also increased, while the stress hormone, cortisol was reduced, creating an overall more favorable hormone profile. Not surprisingly, muscle performance also improved. (n) This paper is surrounding in controversy, however, because one of the scientists involved also holds the trademark for ZMA, and the research is company-funded.
A commercially available pre-workout formula comprised of 2.05 g of caffeine, taurine and glucuronolactone, 7.9 g of L-leucine, L-valine, L-arginine and L-glutamine, 5 g of di-creatine citrate and 2.5 g of β-alanine mixed with 500 ml of water taken 10 minutes prior to exercise has been shown to enhance time to exhaustion during moderate intensity endurance exercise and to increase feelings of focus, energy and reduce subjective feelings of fatigue before and during endurance exercise due to a synergistic effect of the before mentioned ingredients [72]. The role of creatine in this formulation is to provide a neuroprotective function by enhancing the energy metabolism in the brain tissue, promoting antioxidant activities, improving cerebral vasculation and protecting the brain from hyperosmotic shock by acting as a brain cell osmolyte. Creatine can provide other neuroprotective benefits through stabilisation of mitochondrial membranes, stimulation of glutamate uptake into synaptic vesicles and balance of intracellular calcium homeostasis [72].
Hartman, J. W., Tang, J. E., Wilkinson, S. B., Tarnopolsky, M. A., Lawrence, R. L., Fullerton, A. V., & Phillips, S. M. (2007). Consumption of fat-free fluid milk after resistance exercise promotes greater lean mass accretion than does consumption of soy or carbohydrate in young, novice, male weightlifters. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 86(2), 373-381.
Although some have voiced concerns about kidney damage with creatine supplementation, it’s generally regarded as a safe supplement when taken responsibly. The Mayo Clinic advises against taking it if you have an allergy. When used properly, the incidence of potential side effects such as low blood sugar and dehydration, are minor in healthy people taking a safe dosage.
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.
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]

In fact, in one new study comparing the effects of aerobic exercise versus resistance training on the psychological health of obese adolescents, researchers found that people in the resistance group experienced significantly greater self-esteem and perceived strength over four weeks. But what’s most interesting is that the feeling of getting stronger — rather than any measurable gains — was all it took to give them a boost.
Change things up. After six or more weeks of consistent strength training, which is about the amount of time it takes to start seeing improvement in your body, you can change your routine to make it more difficult. Lifting the same weights for the same exercises every week will keep your body in the same place. You can modify weights or repetitions, choose different exercises, or change the order in which you do them. You only have to make one change at a time to make a difference, although more is often better. 
Some other cytokines and hormones may increase the receptor activity. These include growth hormone (GH) which acts upon the growth hormone receptor (GHR)[166][167] to stimulate c-Src[168][169] which directly increases the activity of the CrT via phosphorylation. This is known to occur with the 55kDa version of c-Src but not the 70kDa version and requires CD59 alongside c-Src.[170]
When creatine is absorbed it pulls water in with it, causing cells to swell. This “cell volumization” is known to promote a cellular anabolic state associated with less protein breakdown and increased DNA synthesis.[107][108][109] An increase in cellular viability assessed via phase angle (measuring body cell mass[110]) has been noted in humans during supplementation of creatine.[111]

Pick a few key exercises that together train the whole body. Presses, chinups, rows, and squat and deadlift variations are the best choices (more on these in Rules #2 and #3). Write down how much weight you can currently do for 5–10 reps on each of them, and, over the next few months, work your way up to where you can either add 10–20 pounds to each of those lifts or do 3–5 more reps with the same weight. That’s how you force your body to grow.
Stronger muscles improve performance in a variety of sports. Sport-specific training routines are used by many competitors. These often specify that the speed of muscle contraction during weight training should be the same as that of the particular sport. Sport-specific training routines also often include variations to both free weight and machine movements that may not be common for traditional weightlifting.
This amino acid is actually produced by your body and so is considered a non-essential amino acid. However, in addition to taking it in supplement form, beta-alanine is also found in protein-heavy foods like meat and fish (9). This amino acid has been linked to performance enhancement outcomes, especially for weightlifters. Studies show increased performance when taking this supplement.

Besides the high-quality protein content of casein/whey, the newer formulations have little or no lactose (i.e., milk sugar), which some people have negative reactions to. The native milk proteins also provide a host of smaller proteins called peptides, many of which, such as lactoferrin, have vital health benefits. The rich cysteine content of whey acts as a precursor of glutathione, a primary endogenous antioxidant and liver detoxifier in the body.

3) Relatively low cholesterol. This is one nutrition category that many people overlook with these supplements, but it's arguable one of the most important. Remember, if you're going to be downing 2 of these a day, you DON'T want to be maxing out your cholesterol intake. Luckily, this whey keeps it down to 30mg per scoop (which is about 10% of your daily intake). I've seen worse and ... full review

But one question has repeatedly popped up: When is the best time to take creatine? Recent research has suggested that there might be an ideal time. That’s when I decided to speak with the supplement experts at Examine.com. For those of you who don’t know, they have created the world’s largest database of facts about supplements. No marketing BS. Just a bunch of Ph.D’s, PharmD’s, and biomedical researchers who are obsessed with sharing the truth. Their Supplement Guide is the best thing written about supplements since…well…ever. If you’ve ever had a question it’s pack with research and fact-based information to help you make healthier supplement choices.
According to BodyBuilding.com, adenosine triphosphate (ATP) is made up of a nucleotide bonded to three phosphate groups. When one of those phosphate groups is cleaved from the ATP molecule, a lot of energy is made available. That energy is used to fuel chemical reactions in cells, and ATP becomes adenosine diphosphate (ADP). Creatine enables the release of energy from stored ATP and is converted to creatinine.
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.
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