Heath bent his legs — each thigh about 32 inches around, bigger than his waist — and lifted the black case. Inside was his latest Mr. Olympia trophy. In bodybuilding, it is called the Sandow, and Heath has won the last six, most recently in Las Vegas in September. Arnold Schwarzenegger, still the world’s most famous bodybuilder, won six in a row, too, and then a seventh a few years later. Two men, Lee Haney and Ronnie Coleman, have won eight.
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.
In addition to the proper amount of sleep, do not overdo your training regimen. While you might be tempted to think that "more is better," in fact the opposite is true. You can reach a point known as "over-training", in which you'll lose the ability to "pump" (engorge the muscles with oxygen-rich blood) your muscles, and this can even lead to muscle wasting—exactly the opposite of what you are trying to achieve. Here are some symptoms to be aware of if you think you may be falling into the over-training zone:
In the last week leading up to a contest, bodybuilders usually decrease their consumption of water, sodium, and carbohydrates, the former two to alter how water is retained by the body and the latter to reduce glycogen in the muscle. The day before the show, water is removed from the diet, and diuretics may be introduced, while carbohydrate loading is undertaken to increase the size of the muscles through replenishment of their glycogen. The goal is to maximize leanness and increase the visibility of veins, or "vascularity". The muscular definition and vascularity are further enhanced immediately before appearing on stage by darkening the skin through tanning products and applying oils to the skin to increase shine. Some competitors will eat sugar-rich foods to increase the visibility of their veins. A final step, called "pumping", consists in performing exercises with light weights or other kinds of low resistance (for instance two athletes can "pump" each other by holding a towel and pulling in turn), just before the contest, to fill the muscles with blood and further increase their size and density.
A meta-analysis found that creatine treatment increased muscle strength in muscular dystrophies, and potentially improved functional performance. Creatine treatment does not appear to improve muscle strength in people who have metabolic myopathies. High doses of creatine lead to increased muscle pain and an impairment in activities of daily living when taken by people who have McArdle disease.
It raised the question about performance-enhancing drugs. Their murky role in bodybuilding has long shrouded the sport. A 2013 documentary on Heath and Mr. Olympia called “Generation Iron” (a sort of bookend piece to 1977’s “Pumping Iron,” which launched Schwarzenegger and others to fame) called the topic “taboo.” It then insinuated that, of course, bodybuilders competing in top-level contests like Mr. Olympia use steroids.
Supplementation of a loading phase of creatine has been noted to augment the increase in RBC levels of superoxide dismutase (SOD) from exercise, when measured immediately after, by 8.1%, but control groups increased to match within an hour. Glutathione (normally decreases with exercise) and catalase (increases) were both unaffected, and elsewhere in vitro red blood cells incubated with 3mM of creatine (within the supplemental range) is able to improve filterability (a measure of cell rheology, or fluid structure of the cell) when RBC creatine was increased by 12.3% to reach 554µM. This was thought to be due to reduced oxidative stress (assessed via MDA) in the red blood cells, which in the presence of 1-5mM creatine was progressively reduced by 20-41%.
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 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.
Overload: The first thing you need to do to build lean muscle tissue is use more resistance than your muscles are used to. This is important because the more you do, the more your body is capable of doing, so you should increase your workload to avoid plateaus. In plain language, this means you should be lifting enough weight that you can only complete the desired number of reps. You should be able to finish your last rep with difficulty, but also with good form.
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  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.
Another part of training isn't just doing the exercises, it's resting between the exercises. This comes with experience, but the general rule is, the higher the reps, the shorter the rest. So, if you're doing 15 reps, you might rest about 30 to 60 seconds between exercises. If you're lifting very heavy, say 4 to 6 reps, you may need up to two or more minutes.
Deldicque et al  found a 250%, 45% and 70% increase for collagen mRNA, glucose transporter 4 (GLUT4) and Myosin heavy chain IIA, respectively after 5 days creatine loading protocol (21 g/d). The authors speculated that creatine in addition to a single bout of resistance training can favor an anabolic environment by inducing changes in gene expression after only 5 days of supplementation.
BulkSupplements.com Creatine is a solid bet for the best micronized creatine. It’s certified Good Manufacturing Practices and it’s produced in an allergen-free facility, something many brands can’t offer. The downside is that if you order smaller quantities, it’s a little more expensive, but once you order one kilogram or higher, it becomes just about cheapest creatine you’re likely to find.
Creatine has been shown to influence androgen levels. Three weeks of creatine supplementation has been shown to increase dihydrotestosterone (DHT) levels, as well as the DHT:testosterone ratio with no effects on testosterone levels. In contrast, creatine supplementation has been shown to increase testosterone levels when taken alongside a 10-week resistance training program. A study in male amateur swimmers also noted that a creatine loading phase (20g daily for six days) was able to increase testosterone levels by around 15% relative to baseline.
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. In these particular instances (assessed by rats fed homocysteine to increase serum levels to such a high level) 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.
I always recommend starting on the low end of the scale. Only increase volume when you absolutely need to. So, if you’re training chest, you could do 6 work sets of dumbbell bench presses to start out, breaking down to two sets per workout for three sessions per week. You can gradually add sets from there, experimenting with different training splits that will allow you to get in more volume without overtraining (we’ll discuss training splits next).
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, this study failed to find an influence on activities of daily living or lung function. Elsewhere in children not on corticosteroids with DMD, supplementation of 5g creatine for eight weeks was confirmed to increase muscular phosphocreatine content 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%).
How to maximize its effects: Take 20 grams of whey protein powder in the 30 minutes before working out, and take 40 grams within 60 minutes after training. Also consider taking 20-40 grams of whey immediately upon waking every morning to kick-start muscle growth. Your best bet is to choose a whey powder that contains whey protein hydrolysates (whey protein broken down into smaller fragments for faster digestion) or whey protein isolate.
While most of these muscle building supplements can be taken at any time of the day, some are best to include in your pre-workout routine. Citrulline malate, in particular, is one that should be taken about an hour ahead of your workout. Because this supplement boosts performance, taking it ahead of your workout will maximize its effect, making sure you get the most out of the supplement.
Nephrotoxic drugs. Because taking high doses of creatine might harm your kidneys, there is concern about combining creatine with drugs that might damage the kidneys (nephrotoxic drugs). Potentially nephrotoxic drugs include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) and naproxen sodium (Aleve, others), cyclosporine (Neoral, Sandimmune) and others.
In isolated striatal cells (expressing creatine kinase), seven day incubation of 5mM creatine (maximal effective dose) appears to increase the density of GABAergic neurons and DARPP-32 (biomarker for spiny neurons) with only a minor overall trend for all cells and showed increased GABA uptake into these cells, as well as providing protection against oxygen and glucose deprivation.
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.
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.
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.
Related to exercise and fitness, BCAAs are taken to help reduce muscle breakdown, which is why they may be known as muscle building supplements. Leucine, in particular, is known for playing an important role in muscle protein synthesis, which can help with muscle gain and maintenance. Some also claim that BCAAs can enhance performance, although many studies also refute this claim.
In addition to the BBB, SLC6A8 is also expressed on neurons and oligodendrocytes, but is relatively absent from astrocytes, including the astrocytic feet which line 98% of the BBB. Creatine can still be transported into astrocytes (as well as cerebellar granule cells) via SLC6A8, as incubation with an SLC6A8 inhibitor prevents accumulation in vitro. It seems to be less active in a whole brain model, relative to other brain cells.
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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.