Build an effective exercise routine. A good diet is required for your body to be able to maximize your potential, but there's no potential at all until you start the process of tearing down your old muscles and rebuilding them bigger, bulkier, and stronger. The best way to do that is to start at the beginning. If you're not sure where to begin, find a solid workout program online and try it out for a while. Don't immediately jump from one program to the next - you'll end up keeping yourself from making steady progress.
Health-food stores sell creatine supplements in capsule, chewable, and powdered form, the most popular being the powder. One teaspoon of powder contains 5 grams (g) of creatine monohydrate. The recommended daily dose is 1-2 teaspoons dissolved in 8 ounces of water or sweetened beverage. Manufacturers and distributors suggest a five- to seven-day loading phase with intake of 10-20 g (2-4 scoops) daily to fill up the muscle. The maintenance phase of 5-10 g/day is recommended before and/or immediately following a workout. This protocol is claimed to increase creatine muscle stores by 20-50%.
Over time, we naturally lose muscle mass in a process called sarcopenia. On average, men lose about 30% of their muscle mass during their lives. Usually, this begins in your 30s and progresses slowly as you age. But, don’t despair. You can rebuild and maintain muscle mass even as you age. Often, diet and exercise are enough. But, sometimes, if the above hormones play a role, your doctor may recommend medications and additional treatments (4).
^ Spillane M, Schoch R, Cooke M, Harvey T, Greenwood M, Kreider R, Willoughby DS (February 2009). "The effects of creatine ethyl ester supplementation combined with heavy resistance training on body composition, muscle performance, and serum and muscle creatine levels". Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. 6 (1): 6. doi:10.1186/1550-2783-6-6. PMC 2649889. PMID 19228401.
Co-ingesting creatine with caffeine partially negated the benefits of creatine supplementation (at 5mg/kg bodyweight) during the loading phase in one study. The exact mechanism responsible for this effect is not known, but might be related to opposing actions on muscle contraction time. However, another study in trained men found that co-ingestion of 300mg caffeine per day during creatine loading at 20g per day (split into 4 doses) had no effect on bench press 1RM, time to fatigue, or sprinting ability. However, this study also found that creatine alone or when combined with caffeine had no effect on any of these parameters over placebo, either. Thus, the study may have been underpowered or done in too short a time frame (the test was done after only 5 days of loading) to observe any possible effects.
The two workouts listed above are completely free and highly recommended. If, however, you’re looking for additional workouts, my book – Superior Muscle Growth – contains ALL of the muscle building routines that I’ve personally used and designed for others (11 different workouts, 40+ different versions). Feel free to check it out to learn more about what’s included.
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. An increase in cellular viability assessed via phase angle (measuring body cell mass) has been noted in humans during supplementation of creatine.
To do dips, place your hands at shoulder-width apart on a bench, with your body and feet stretched out in front of the bench. Slowly bend your elbows and lower your body down so that your butt nearly touches the floor. Lift back up with your arms to starting position; repeat, doing 3 x 8. If this isn't a high-intensity set for you, increase the resistance by lifting one foot off the floor.
This claim has not been demonstrated at this time, and a recent comparative study of buffered creatine against basic creatine monohydrate found no significant differences between the two in 36 resistance trained individuals, in regard to the effects or the accumulation of creatine in muscle tissue. There also were no significant differences in the amount of adverse side-effects reported.
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 . 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 . Sale et al  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.
Our bodies store creatine in our muscles so that we have quick access to it for fast, high-intensity movements, like sprinting or powerlifting, explains Autumn Bates, a certified clinical nutritionist and sports nutritionist in private practice in Manhattan Beach, California. “It's a nonessential amino acid, meaning your body creates it and you don't need to primarily get it from food.”
Creatine is mostly synthesized in the liver via AGAT and GAMT (the other locations are neurons, the pancreas, and kidneys) despite it not being stored in high levels in the liver like glycogen or adipose would be. Supplemental creatine is known to suppress AGAT by downregulating transcription, which probably occurs in humans (since the products of AGAT are reduced with creatine supplementation).
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.
In well-trained endurance runners, creatine (with glycerol for hyperhydration) caused a relatively large increase in body weight gain (0.90+/-0.40kg) and water weight (0.71+/-0.42L) but failed to negatively influence performance over 30 minutes in the heat. This failure to improve physical performance in the heat with creatine loading (despite water retention) has been noted elsewhere.
Cornelissen, V. A., Defoor, J. G., Stevens, A., Schepers, D., Hespel, P., Decramer, M., Mortelmans, L., Dobbels, F., Vanhaecke, J., Fagard, R. H., and Vanhees, L. Effect of creatine supplementation as a potential adjuvant therapy to exercise training in cardiac patients: a randomized controlled trial. Clin.Rehabil. 2010;24(11):988-999. View abstract.
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By that logic, a 160-pound man should consume around 160 grams of protein a day—the amount he'd get from an 8-ounce chicken breast, 1 cup of cottage cheese, a roast-beef sandwich, two eggs, a glass of milk, and 2 ounces of peanuts.) If you don't eat meat for ethical or religious reasons, don't worry — you can count on other sources, too. Soy, almonds, lentils, spinach, peas, and beans are packed with protein.
Safety. Iron overload may cause a disease called hemochromatosis in some susceptible people. Iron supplements should only be prescribed by a doctor, and for athletes or those who train heavily, a sports physician combined with a sports dietitian may be preferable. Be sure to take care with this because iron supplements should not be taken casually. Iron supplements may cause constipation and gastric upset in some people.
Although it does not appear to influence baseline antioxidant enzymes (measured in red blood cells), one week of creatine loading in otherwise healthy young adults has increased red blood cell (RBC) content of the superoxide dismutase (SOD) enzyme in response to a sprint test by 8.1% immediately after exercise. This was no longer detectable after an hour since placebo increased to match. Glutathione and catalase are unaffected.
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.
When assessing the antioxidant effects of creatine, it does not appear to sequester superoxide and may not be a direct antioxidant. Additionally, creatine failed to protect neurons from H2O2 incubation to induce cell death via pro-oxidative means. These results are in contrast to previously recorded results suggesting creatine acts as a direct anti-oxidant.
Rice Protein: An alternative protein powder for muscle gain, rice protein is ideal for people who are lactose intolerant or have a milk allergy. As far as muscle gain and body composition when taken post-workout, this study showed that there was zero difference in outcomes when comparing taking whey protein and rice protein. So, if you prefer using rice protein, you can take it with confidence knowing that you’ll be able to achieve the same results you’d achieve if you were taking whey protein.
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. 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. Researchers examining another case of MELAS found both cognitive and physical benefits with 5g creatine supplementation, 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.
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.
JAK2 (Janus-Activating Kinase 2) is a novel protein that has been shown to suppress the activity of the creatine transporter CrT in vitro. The effects of JAK2 on CrT are not well-understood in vivo, however. Given that growth hormone activates both c-src (increases CrT activity) and JAK2- which has been found to decrease CrT activity, it is plausible that JAK2 may function as a negative-feedback regulator of creatine uptake. Future research is needed to better understand the role of JAK2 on CrT activity in vivo.
Don’t get us wrong—cardio is important for keeping your body fat down and keeping your heart health in check. (Bonus points if you run or bike, since outdoor exercise is linked to better energy and improved mental health.) But when it comes to building muscle, hitting the treadmill won't help you much. “Every component of exercise, minus cardio, can help with muscle hypertrophy,” which is the scientific term for muscle building, says Michelle Lovitt, an exercise physiologist and trainer in Los Angeles. “Cardio tends to burn calories and puts your body in a deficit, which is great for leaning out, but not building mass.”
Creatine (/ˈkriːətiːn/ or /ˈkriːətɪn/ is an organic compound with the nominal formula (H2N)(HN)CN(CH3)CH2CO2H. This species exists in various modifications (tautomers) in solution. Creatine is found in vertebrates where it facilitates recycling of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the energy currency of the cell, primarily in muscle and brain tissue. Recycling is achieved by converting adenosine diphosphate (ADP) back to ATP via donation of phosphate groups. Creatine also acts as a buffer.
“Don't get set into one form, adapt it and build your own, and let it grow. Be like water. Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless — like water. Now you put water in a cup, it becomes the cup; You put water into a bottle it becomes the bottle; You put it in a teapot it becomes the teapot. Now water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.” Bruce Lee
Some bodybuilders use drugs such as anabolic steroids and precursor substances such as prohormones to increase muscle hypertrophy. Anabolic steroids cause hypertrophy of both types (I and II) of muscle fibers, likely caused by an increased synthesis of muscle proteins. They also provoke undesired side effects including hepatotoxicity, gynecomastia, acne, the early onset of male pattern baldness and a decline in the body's own testosterone production, which can cause testicular atrophy. Other performance-enhancing substances used by competitive bodybuilders include human growth hormone (HGH), which can cause acromegaly.
How much weight? Start with a pair of light dumbbell hand weights (2 to 3 pounds for women and 5 to 8 pounds for men). If you can’t do 12 repetitions (or reps are the number of times you do the exercise) the weight is too heavy. If your muscles don’t feel tired after 12 reps, it’s too light. Adjustable weights that can be strapped to wrists or ankles may be convenient if you have arthritis in your hands. You can also use home or gym weight machines, or resistance bands.
You're aiming to kick start muscle hypertrophy, the cellular process that spurs growth. Researchers have found that the best way to initiate that process is by performing two or three sets of an exercise for six to 12 repetitions, with about 30 to 60 seconds' rest between sets. You're damaging the muscles with the work — then the protein you've been consuming will help build them back up even bigger.
An isolation exercise is one where the movement is restricted to one joint only. For example, the leg extension is an isolation exercise for the quadriceps. Specialized types of equipment are used to ensure that other muscle groups are only minimally involved—they just help the individual maintain a stable posture—and movement occurs only around the knee joint. Most isolation exercises involve machines rather than dumbbells and barbells (free weights), though free weights can be used when combined with special positions and joint bracing.
Three additional studies suggest that creatine supplementation may not be beneficial for running velocity, sprint swimming performance, or a maximal cycling effort . Short bouts of repeated anaerobic activity have shown some potential benefits with creatine supplementation use in a laboratory setting. However, creatine supplementation has not been shown to enhance single-event performance such as stationary cycling [16-19]. Taken together, these studies do not support creatine supplementation to enhance aerobic activities such as distance running.
In muscle cells, the creatine transporter is predominantly localized to the sarcolemmal membrane. Western blot analysis of creatine transporter expression revealed the presence of two distinc protein bands, migrating at 55kDa and 70kDa on reducing SDS-PAGE gels. The 73kDa band has been reported to be the predominant band in humans, with no differences based on gender. A more recent report demonstrated that the 55kDa creatine transporter variant is glycosylated, forming the 73 kDa protein. Therefore, the 55 and 75kDa protein bands are actually immature and mature/processed forms of the creatine transporter protein, respectively.
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.
I’m going to cover this in detail in a bit, but for right now, just know this: it’s VERY possible (and common) to gain weight fast in the hopes of gaining muscle fast. The problem, however, is that the majority of the “weight” a person in this scenario will end up gaining will be body fat rather than muscle mass. This is something that needs to be avoided at all costs, and I’ll show you how a little later.
Prohormones are precursors to hormones and are most typically sold to bodybuilders as a precursor to the natural hormone testosterone. This conversion requires naturally occurring enzymes in the body. Side effects are not uncommon, as prohormones can also convert further into DHT and estrogen. To deal with this, many supplements also have aromatase inhibitors and DHT blockers such as chrysin and 4-androstene-3,6,17-trione. To date most prohormone products have not been thoroughly studied, and the health effects of prolonged use are unknown. Although initially available over the counter, their purchase was made illegal without a prescription in the US in 2004, and they hold similar status in many other countries. They remain legal, however, in the United Kingdom and the wider European Union. Their use is prohibited by most sporting bodies.