We can all pile on the pounds, just stay in the fast food lane, but it’s a nutrient-dense healthy diet, that will promote lean muscle development and size. In truth, muscular growth and building that brick house frame, can be harder to achieve than losing weight, and very frustrating. But we are here to help - follow our top 8 tips and you'll pack on lean muscle and size far more easily and be well on your way to achieving that physique you want.
Back in the 1970s, scientists discovered that taking creatine in supplement form might enhance physical performance. In the 1990s, athletes started to catch on, and creatine became a popular sports supplement. The supplement is particularly popular among high school, college, and professional athletes, especially football and hockey players, wrestlers, and gymnasts.
This period also saw the rise of anabolic steroids in bodybuilding and many other sports. In bodybuilding lore, this is partly attributed to the rise of "mass monsters", beginning with Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sergio Oliva, and Lou Ferrigno in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and continuing through the 1980s with Lee Haney, the 1990s with Dorian Yates, Ronnie Coleman, and Markus Rühl, and up to the present day. Bodybuilders such as Greg Kovacs attained mass and size never seen previously but were not successful at the pro level. Others were renowned for their spectacular development of a particular body part, like Tom Platz or Paul Demayo for the leg muscles. At the time of shooting Pumping Iron, Schwarzenegger (while never admitting to steroid use until long after his retirement) said that "you have to do anything you can to get the advantage in competition". He would later say that he does not regret using anything.
Creatine is classified as a "dietary supplement" under the 1994 Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act and is available without a prescription. Creatine is not subjected to FDA testing, and the purity and hygienic condition of commercial creatine products may be questionable . A 1998 FDA report lists 32 adverse creatine-associated events that had been reported to FDA. These include seizure, vomiting, diarrhea, anxiety, myopathy, cardiac arrhythmia, deep vein thromboses and death. However, there is no certainty that a reported adverse event can be attributed to a particular product . A recent survey of 28 male baseball players and 24 male football players, ages 18 to 23, found that 16 (31%) experienced diarrhea, 13 (25%) experienced muscle cramps, 7 (13%) reported unwanted weight gain, 7 (13%) reported dehydration, and 12 reported various other adverse effects .
Cornelissen et al  analyzed the effects of 1 week loading protocol (3 X 5 g/d CM) followed by a 3 month maintenance period (5 g/d) on cardiac patients involved in an endurance and resistance training program. Although CM supplementation did not significantly enhance performance, markers of renal and liver function were within normal ranges indicating the safety of the applied creatine supplementation protocol.
Lie on your back on the floor and bend one knee so that your foot is flat on the floor. Keeping your opposite leg straight, push your foot into the floor, raising your hips until both thighs are in line with each other. Reverse the motion to return to the starting position. That’s one rep. Complete all your reps on one leg, and then switch legs and repeat.
Creatine is one of the most popular and widely researched natural supplements. The majority of studies have focused on the effects of creatine monohydrate on performance and health; however, many other forms of creatine exist and are commercially available in the sports nutrition/supplement market. Regardless of the form, supplementation with creatine has regularly shown to increase strength, fat free mass, and muscle morphology with concurrent heavy resistance training more than resistance training alone. Creatine may be of benefit in other modes of exercise such as high-intensity sprints or endurance training. However, it appears that the effects of creatine diminish as the length of time spent exercising increases. Even though not all individuals respond similarly to creatine supplementation, it is generally accepted that its supplementation increases creatine storage and promotes a faster regeneration of adenosine triphosphate between high intensity exercises. These improved outcomes will increase performance and promote greater training adaptations. More recent research suggests that creatine supplementation in amounts of 0.1 g/kg of body weight combined with resistance training improves training adaptations at a cellular and sub-cellular level. Finally, although presently ingesting creatine as an oral supplement is considered safe and ethical, the perception of safety cannot be guaranteed, especially when administered for long period of time to different populations (athletes, sedentary, patient, active, young or elderly).
If your fitness goals are to get strong and build hard, visible muscle, then you’re going to want to train in three phases according to Heath. Strength, conditioning, and a blend of the two that works for you. “If you can get to the gym 4-5 days a week, that would be perfect,” he says. “You can still do chest/tri’s, back/bi’s, legs, shoulders, and make the fifth day a cleanup day, meaning focus on body parts you may be weaker in.” Check out Heath’s guide to finding your best muscle-building routine.
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.
The major controversies regarding creatine are its side effects and the best form to use. Nearly all side effects attributed to creatine, such as muscle cramps, kidney disease and gastrointestinal disturbances, haven't proved significant under controlled scientific scrutiny. Although various claims are made for a variety of creatine supplements, creatine monohydrate, which is 99 percent absorbed, is the best form to use.
Moving through repetitions too quickly, going too fast; there is nothing gained by lifting weights fast. Some of the perks of lifting weight in a slow and controlled manner, include more total muscle tension and force produced, more muscle-fiber activation both slow and fast twitch fibers, and less tissue trauma. Remember, a joint is only as strong as the muscles that cross it; if you haven't lifted in a long time, or ever, be careful what you ask of your joints.
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
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.
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.
Branched-chain amino acids (leucine, isoleucine, valine) play important roles in muscle building. Some researchers have found that following exercise, the branched-chain amino acids, especially leucine, increase the rate of protein synthesis and decrease the rate of protein catabolism (Blomstrand, 2006). The billion dollar supplement industry has been quick to respond; leucine supplements are widely available in health food stores, with a cost upwards of $50 per container. However, because the research findings are inconsistent and little is known about the safety of these products, the American Dietetic Association (soon to be renamed the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics) advises against individual amino acid supplementation and protein supplementation overall (Rodriquez, 2009). It may be that food sources of these proteins and amino acids provide the same effect for a small fraction of the cost.
1. Train each muscle group twice per week. To maximize muscle growth, plan to train every major muscle group at least twice per week. According to a 2016 Sports Medicine review, even if you don't work that muscle any harder or longer, by simply dividing your chest, leg or back workout into two days, you'll spur more muscle growth. While the jury is still out on whether training each muscle group three days per week is better than two at spurring hypertrophy, it is likely better suited toward experienced lifters than beginners, Matheny says.
Creatine is known to be present in the retina due to the expression of creatine kinase (CK) and the GAMT enzyme of creatine synthesis, which is also present in the mammalian retina. Creatine in the blood can be transported into the retina via the creatine transporter (confirmed in humans), and inhibiting transporter activity (by depleting the medium of chloride and sodium) reduces uptake by 80%. The fact that not all uptake was inhibited suggests that another transporter, such as the monocarboxylate transporter MCT12 (or SLC16A12), plays a role, perhaps moreso in the lens, where its levels were comparable to that of the major creatine transporter SLC6A8.
Nitrate-rich foods like beets, radishes, and pomegranates are a great way to boost the production of nitric oxide (NO). Although there's very limited research examining the effects of beet root juice and pomegranate extract on resistance training, these ingredients have previously been shown to increase skeletal muscle blood flow and lead to reduced soreness, which may ultimately lead to improvements in strength and performance.[9,10]
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.
Women who train hard and reach low body fat levels, say under 10 percent, may be at risk of losing their periods as a result of hormonal disruption to estrogen production. Exercise-induced estrogen declines can result in bone loss in a way similar to that which occurs at the menopause. Loss of periods from athletic training is not uncommon but does require that you see a doctor, or better still, a sports physician and sports nutritionist to assess what is required to address the problem. Calcium supplements may be a part of the solution if bone health is likely to be affected.
Foundational supplements are often overlooked for building muscle, because they work behind the scenes. In actuality, foundational supplements are important to take for building muscle, because they assist with overall health and wellness and contribute to the effectiveness of other muscle building supplements.* Some of the top foundational supplements are:
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.
There appears to be some potential for creatine supplementation. However, many questions remain. Are there any long-term harmful effects from supplementation? Is there a point where enhanced performance levels off from long-term supplement usage? What effect does "stacking" or taking two ergogenic aids simultaneously have on the body? What happens if you immediately stop taking the creatine supplement? Is the enhanced performance great enough to warrant the expense of the supplement? Until further research answers these questions, creatine is not recommended for the average athlete.
That being said, men aren’t the only ones who suffer from low testosterone levels. Women can also suffer from testosterone deficiency which can affect their overall well-being in addition to their sex drive. If you’re a woman or man concerned about your testosterone levels, in addition to using supplements like the ones below, you should contact your doctor who will be able to diagnose any deficiencies and recommend additional treatments.
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
Mercimek-Mahmutoglu, S., Stoeckler-Ipsiroglu, S., Adami, A., Appleton, R., Araujo, H. C., Duran, M., Ensenauer, R., Fernandez-Alvarez, E., Garcia, P., Grolik, C., Item, C. B., Leuzzi, V., Marquardt, I., Muhl, A., Saelke-Kellermann, R. A., Salomons, G. S., Schulze, A., Surtees, R., van der Knaap, M. S., Vasconcelos, R., Verhoeven, N. M., Vilarinho, L., Wilichowski, E., and Jakobs, C. GAMT deficiency: features, treatment, and outcome in an inborn error of creatine synthesis. Neurology 8-8-2006;67:480-484. View abstract.
Another study found that one week of creatine supplementation at 25 g/day enhanced muscular performance during repeated sets of bench press and jump squat exercise. Creatine supplementation appeared to allow the subjects to complete their workouts at a higher intensity. The researchers concluded that, over time, working at higher intensities may provide a more intense training stimulus and improved muscular adaptations .
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.
How long and how often? Two or three weekly 20- to 30-minute, weight-training sessions are sufficient to start reaping noticeable benefits within four to 12 weeks, such as improved energy and muscle tone. Within six months, most people increase their strength 40 percent or more. Give your body at least one recovery day between sessions (although some people may need more, especially in the beginning).
In the stomach, creatine can degrade by about 13% due to the digestive hormone pepsin, as assessed by simulated digestion. Although creatinine is a known byproduct of creatine degradation, simulated gastric digestion did not increase creatinine levels, indicating that other breakdown products were formed. However, creatinine was noted to increase in the presence of pancreatin, a mixture of pancreatic enzymes.
In addition to improving athletic performance and muscle strength, creatine is taken by mouth for creatine deficiency syndromes that affect the brain, aging, bone density, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), congestive heart failure (CHF), depression, diabetes, exercise tolerance, fibromyalgia, Huntington's disease, disease that cause inflammation in the muscles (idiopathic inflammatory myopathies), Parkinson's disease, diseases of the muscles and nerves, multiple sclerosis, muscle atrophy, muscle cramps, breathing problems in infants while sleeping, head trauma, Rett syndrome, an eye disease called gyrate atrophy, inherited disorders that affect the senses and movement, schizophrenia, muscle breakdown in the spine, and recovery from surgery. It is also taken by mouth to slow the worsening of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, Lou Gehrig's disease), osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, McArdle's disease, and for various muscular dystrophies.
It was later noted that creatine was able to nonsignificantly augment various proinflammatory cytokines (CCL2, iNOS, ICAM-1, TGF-β, TIMP-1) and the presence of eosinophils in lung tissue, as well as to per se cause lung infiltration of these immune cells without requiring the presence of the allergen. Neutrophils and macrophages were unaffected, reflecting the past study of no influence on macrophages, but the only instance where creatine appeared to either significantly add to ovalbumin or to per se induce statistically significant increases were in IL-5 secretion and goblet cell infiltration, although VCAM-1 expression was close. While creatine per se increased nF-κB activity, it suppressed the ovalbumin-induced increase.
Note that this recommendation is for total weekly volume, which means it would need to be divided up based on how many times you’re training each muscle group per week. So, for example, someone training everything twice per week would do 30-70 reps for each bigger muscle group in each of those workouts, and 15-35 reps for each smaller muscle group in each of those workouts.
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.
When splitting a sample into exercisers and non-exercisers, it appears that exercise as a pre-requisite precedes a higher range of activity. Inactive people tend to be on the lower end of creatine kinase activity and relatively clustered in magnitude, while exercise generally increases activity, but also introduces a larger range of possible activity.
Although research is underway, doctors do not know the long-term health effects of taking creatine supplements, especially in children who are still growing. Because of these unknown risks, children and adolescents younger than 18 years and pregnant or nursing women should never take creatine supplements. People with kidney problems also should never take creatine supplements.
Creatine kinase is expressed in eyes. The eyes can take creatine up from the blood via two different transporters, the classic SCL6A8 (creatine transporter) and MCT12. It seems that expression of the receptors and accumulation of creatine occur in a relatively higher level in photoreceptors, which perceive color. Similarly to many other tissues, they appear to protect the cells during periods of low oxygen availability.
Creatine is vital for brain function, which has mechanisms to take up creatine, as well as regulate its intake. Although the diet appears to be the major source of creatine (and thus lack of dietary intake could cause a non-clinical deficiency) excess levels of creatine do not appear to “super-load” the brain similar to muscle tissue. Due to kinetics, creatine appears to be more “preventative” or acts to restore a deficiency in the brain. This is in contrast to creatine effects in muscle cells, where it can affect performance substantially on an acute timescale.
Creatine supplementation appears to attenuate decreases in GLUT4 expression seen with immobility and may increase GLUT4 expression during exercise. While it seems capable of increasing GLUT4 during resting conditions, it has failed to reach significance, suggesting that creatine supplementation works best with some stimuli associated with exercise.
I know this goes against the recommendations you often see in stereotypical bodybuilding routines (i.e. the ones that involve having a single “chest day” or “arm day” or “shoulder day” once a week), but that’s just one of the many reasons why those types of routines suck for us natural, genetically-average people, and work best for steroid users with great genetics.
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.
Kerksick, C. M., Wilborn, C. D., Campbell, W. I., Harvey, T. M., Marcello, B. M., Roberts, M. D., Parker, A. G., Byars, A. G., Greenwood, L. D., Almada, A. L., Kreider, R. B., and Greenwood, M. The effects of creatine monohydrate supplementation with and without D-pinitol on resistance training adaptations. J.Strength.Cond.Res. 2009;23:2673-2682. View abstract.
The reasons for differences in the effect of creatine on testosterone vs. DHT across studies are not clear, but also not mutually exclusive. A measured increase in DHT could indicate that testosterone levels were increased by creatine, but rapidly converted to DHT through a homeostatic mechanism. Differences in study subject populations, methodology, or the presence and type of concurrent exercise could also be contributing factors. At any rate, the literature collectively suggests that creatine has the general ability to cause a modest increase in androgen levels in men.
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.
If you are referring to how many pushups to do in one session, the short answer is as many as you can. Aim for a number that challenges you but is still realistic. Build up from day to day to increase muscle strength. If you are referring to how long you should do pushups as a form of exercise, that is up to you. Pushups are a good part of a long-term or permanent exercise regimen. Remember that if you stop doing them, your muscles will weaken.
In otherwise healthy adults subject to leg immobilization for two weeks while taking 20g creatine daily during immobilization and then 5g daily during eight weeks of rehabilitation, it was noted that the creatine group failed to reduce atrophy during the immobilization (10% reduction in cross sectional area and 22-25% reduction in force output) despite preventing a decrease in phosphocreatine, yet experienced a significantly enhanced rate of regrowth and power recovery. A similarly structured and dosed study has also noted greater expression of skeletal muscle, GLUT4 expression, and a 12% increase in muscle phosphocreatine content.
Do standard/oblique crunches. Lie down on a mat and position both arms behind your head without locking the hands. Bend your knees so that your feet are flat on the ground. Pushing the small of your back into the ground, slowly roll your shoulders off the ground only a couple of inches (not to a full sitting position). Don't use your momentum to help you up; use slow, regulated movements. Repeat 3 x 20.
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). 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).
Start with the barbell on the supports of a power rack at about shoulder height. Grab the bar overhand and raise your elbows until your upper arms are parallel to the floor. Now lift the bar off the rack, letting it roll toward your fingers-this is where it should rest throughout the exercise (as long as you keep your elbows raised, you won’t have trouble balancing the bar) . Squat as low as you can , and then drive with your legs to return to the starting position. That’s one rep.
Men appear to have higher active creatine-kinase systems, and racial differences favor black people over hispanic people over white people in terms of the activity of the creatine-kinase system. This system is more variable in men, independent of supplementation. Exercise may increase the activity of the creatine-kinase system independent of supplementation.
Whenever you hear the word, “bodybuilding”, your mind usually flashes you images of bulging muscles, steel, sweat, the shouts of weightlifters, and ripped, muscular bodies of men and women in skimpy spandex. Your mind instantly takes you to the gym followed by wishful thinking that you can have a sexy body and bigger muscles. However, it takes more than just
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.