After your standard whey protein powder, creatine may be the most popular sports supplement on Earth, and with good reason. A lot of supplements out there have a few promising studies suggesting they may improve some aspect of performance. Creatine has hundreds of them, and study after study has shown that among most people (a small percentage of are non-responders) it can have a significant effect on several areas of performance.

These complete proteins include all of the essential amino acids that the body cannot produce itself. Different proteins, such as whey and casein, egg and soy have different absorption rates. Whether you should favor one over another for muscle building is still a subject of popular and scientific debate, although whey protein isolate, a more rapidly absorbed protein, has some support from various scientific studies. For protein powders, assess the value by checking out the protein listed on the label. Combined with resistance training, sufficient protein consumption along with an appropriate diet can lead to increased muscle and reduced body fat. You should read more about The Bodybuilding Diet for supplement timing issues before and after training. 


Sandow organized the first bodybuilding contest on September 14, 1901, called the "Great Competition". It was held at the Royal Albert Hall in London. Judged by Sandow, Sir Charles Lawes, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the contest was a great success and many bodybuilding enthusiasts were turned away due to the overwhelming amount of audience members.[4] The trophy presented to the winner was a gold statue of Sandow sculpted by Frederick Pomeroy. The winner was William L. Murray of Nottingham. The silver Sandow trophy was presented to second-place winner D. Cooper. The bronze Sandow trophy — now the most famous of all — was presented to third-place winner A.C. Smythe. In 1950, this same bronze trophy was presented to Steve Reeves for winning the inaugural NABBA Mr. Universe contest. It would not resurface again until 1977 when the winner of the IFBB Mr. Olympia contest, Frank Zane, was presented with a replica of the bronze trophy. Since then, Mr. Olympia winners have been consistently awarded a replica of the bronze Sandow.
“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.
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One pilot study using 150mg/kg creatine monohydrate for a five day loading phase followed by maintenance (60mg/kg) for the remainder of the five weeks noted that supplementation was associated with fewer muscle symptoms and complaints alongside improved muscular function,[572] yet a later trial trying to replicate the obsevations using 150mg/kg daily for five weeks noted the opposite, that creatine supplementation exacerbated symptoms.[573] 
Endurance exercise is also known to produce heat from skeletal muscle tissue, and an increase in internal temperature occurs when the production of heat (from metabolism) exceeds release. This increase in heat is accelerated when training in hot environments[390] and it is thought to be beneficial to retain water (hydration) during exercise, since more water allows a preservation of plasma volume (PV) and the sweat response reduces internal temperature.[391][392] This particular phenomena may only apply to endurance exercise, since creatine is able to increase sprint performance in heat, independent of altering the decline in PV and sweat rates.[393]
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.[442] Neutrophils and macrophages were unaffected,[442] reflecting the past study of no influence on macrophages,[440] 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.[442]

Despite a possible decreasing creatine content in the muscles when maintenance is deemed suboptimal, the overall retention of weight and lean mass is merely additive over time. This is thought to be due to increases in skeletal muscle production (increase in body weight) compensating for the progressive declines in water and glycogen content (decreases in body weight).


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].
Creatine non-response is when muscular loading of creatine is under a certain threshold (10mmol/L), while “response” to creatine means having more muscular creatine loading (20mol/L or more). There also exists a “grey area” inbetween, where some benefits are achieved but not as many as pure responders will experience. Response appears to be positively correlated with muscle mass and type II muscle fibers.
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.
Previous investigations have shown that a single dose of CM (8 grams) increased the number of repetitions performed during an upper-body resistance training protocol and reduced soreness at 24 and 48 hours post-exercise (compared to a placebo).7 Recently, researchers from Mississippi State University found that a single dose of CM (8 grams) significantly increased the number of lower-body repetitions compared to a placebo group.[8]
^ Jump up to: a b c d e f g h Momaya A, Fawal M, Estes R (April 2015). "Performance-enhancing substances in sports: a review of the literature". Sports Med. 45 (4): 517–531. doi:10.1007/s40279-015-0308-9. PMID 25663250. Wilson et al. [91] demonstrated that when non-resistance trained males received HMB pre-exercise, the rise of lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) levels reduced, and HMB tended to decrease soreness. Knitter et al. [92] showed a decrease in LDH and creatine phosphokinase (CPK), a byproduct of muscle breakdown, by HMB after a prolonged run. ... The utility of HMB does seem to be affected by timing of intake prior to workouts and dosage [97].
Skin degradation is caused by a loss of collagen and degradation of the extracellular matrix,[536] which is enhanced by UV radiation (produces reactive oxygen species which stimulate MMPs[537]) and contributes to skin integrity loss and wrinkling. Due to the stimulation of collagen being associated with a cellular surplus of energy[538] and intracellular stores of energy declining with age,[539][540] creatine has been investigated as a topical anti-aging agent. In vitro, creatine appears to be rapidly absorbed through the skin (52% within an hour, remaining similar at 3 hours) with most creatine found in the stratum corneum (79.6-86.5%) follwed by the epidermis (9-13.2%) and dermis (4.5-7.1%).[541] It is successful in stimulating collagen expression and procollagen secretion in fibroblasts, with the latter increasing to 449+/-204% of control.[541]
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.
Elsewhere, it has been noted that in chronic progressive external ophthalmoplegia (CPEO, a progressive weakening of the muscles around the eye and a mitochondrial disorder), there was a failure of creatine supplementation to benefit symptoms when subjects were provided 20g daily for four weeks.[483] Creatine supplementation failed again at 150mg/kg for six weeks in people with either CPEO or another disorder associated with single gene deletions affecting the eyes (Kearns–Sayre syndrome, KSS) in improving muscular function.[484]
The muscle strength objective is pursued when you want your muscles to be effective when a high number of repetitions will be involved, or in other words when you want your muscles to be strong for a continued period of time. You'll want to use approximately 4 sets from which 10-12 reps are performed. The muscle strength objective is often used for muscles located in your back and your abdominals.
There you have it — our five favorite creatine products on the market. But when you’ve tried as many creatines as we have, there were a lot of others that we loved but didn’t make the very top of our list for the previous categories. That’s why we’ve also come up with a list of the best creatines for men, best creatines for women, best creatines for muscle growth, for bulking, for the brain, and the best micronized creatine. Keep reading for our favorite picks!

“There is a lot of mixed research on creatine’s ability to improve muscle strength,” the government website says. “However, analyses of this research show that creatine seems to modestly improve upper body strength and lower body strength in both younger and older adults.” Creatine has also been shown to improve athletes’ performance in rowing, soccer, and jumping height.
Natalie Digate Muth, MD, MPH, RD, is the ACE senior consultant for healthcare solutions, a practicing pediatrician and registered dietitian. Recognized as a Certified Obesity Specialist, Natalie has written for more than 50 publications and, in 2012, published her first book, 'Eat Your Vegetables' and Other Mistakes Parents Make: Redefining How to Raise Healthy Eaters.
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.
Creatine supplementation at 300mg/kg for one week (loading with no maintenance) in youth subject to six repeated 35m sprints (10s rest, known as the Running-based Anaerobic Sprint Test or RAST) noted that the increased average and peak power output seen in creatine was not met with a reduction in fatigue, although there was an attenuation in inflammation from exercise (TNFα and CRP).[299]
There have been a few reported renal health disorders associated with creatine supplementation [73,74]. These are isolated reports in which recommended dosages are not followed or there is a history of previous health complaints, such as renal disease or those taking nephrotoxic medication aggravated by creatine supplementation [73]. Specific studies into creatine supplementation, renal function and/or safety conclude that although creatine does slightly raise creatinine levels there is no progressive effect to cause negative consequences to renal function and health in already healthy individuals when proper dosage recommendations are followed [73-77]. Urinary methylamine and formaldehyde have been shown to increase due to creatine supplementation of 20 g/d; this however did not bring the production outside of normal healthy range and did not impact on kidney function [56,78]. It has been advised that further research be carried out into the effects of creatine supplementation and health in the elderly and adolescent [73,75]. More recently, a randomized, double blind, 6 month resistance exercise and supplementation intervention [79] was performed on elderly men and women (age >65 years) in which subjects were assigned to either a supplement or placebo group. The supplement group was given 5 g CM, 2 g dextrose and 6 g conjugated linoleic acid/d, whilst the placebo group consumed 7 g dextrose and 6 g safflower oil/d. CM administration showed significantly greater effects to improve muscular endurance, isokinetic knee extension strength, fat free mass and to reduce fat mass compared to placebo. Furthermore the supplement group had an increase in serum creatinine but not creatinine clearance suggesting no negative effect on renal function.
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]
You don't need to design a fresh plan every three weeks. Scaling up weight and modifying reps are obviously both important for progression, but playing with different set styles will shock your body and keep things interesting. Remember, bodybuilding isn't meant to feel like a chore. Below, we explain eight different types of sets to help you build muscle more efficiently during bodybuilding training.
Why less volume for the smaller muscle groups, you ask? Partially because they are smaller, but mostly because they get a ton of indirect volume while training the bigger muscle groups (e.g. your biceps get hit pretty hard while training back, triceps get hit pretty hard while training chest and shoulders, shoulders get hit pretty hard while training chest, etc.).
It is prudent to note that creatine supplementation has been shown to reduce the body’s endogenous production of creatine, however levels return to normal after a brief period of time when supplementation ceases [1,6]. Despite this creatine supplementation has not been studied/supplemented with for a relatively long period. Due to this, long term effects are unknown, therefore safety cannot be guaranteed. Whilst the long term effects of creatine supplementation remain unclear, no definitive certainty of either a negative or a positive effect upon the body has been determined for many health professionals and national agencies [19,78]. For example the French Sanitary Agency has banned the buying of creatine due to the unproven allegation that a potential effect of creatine supplementation could be that of mutagenicity and carcinogenicity from the production of heterocyclic amines [78]. Long term and epidemiological data should continue to be produced and collected to determine the safety of creatine in all healthy individuals under all conditions [78].
Do a single set of repetitions. Theories on the best way to approach weight training abound, including countless repetitions and hours at the gym. But research shows that a single set of exercise with a weight that fatigues your muscle after about 12 to 15 repetitions can build muscle efficiently in most people and can be as effective as three sets of the same exercise.
No need to worry! This myth that caffeine counteracts creatine came from the simple, but wrong logic that because caffeine accelerates the nervous system and uses more water, it would counteract creatine because creatine helps your body retain water. While both of these statements are true, it does not mean they “cancel” eachother out, all that it means is that your body will be able to stay hydrated longer if you are taking creatine and caffeine opposed to just taking caffeine.
For the bench press, start with a weight that you can lift comfortably. If you are a beginner, try lifting the bar along with 5lbs or 10lbs on each side. With arms at shoulder-width apart, grab onto the bar and slowly lower the bar until it's at nipple level; push up until your arms are fully extended upwards. Do 8–10 repetitions (reps) like this for three sets (3 x 8), adding additional weight each set. Once you have a few months of practice, slowly increase weight and go down to 6–8 reps per set, aiming to reach muscle failure at the end of the third set.

Athletic performance. Creatine seems to help improve rowing performance, jumping height, and soccer performance in athletes. But the effect of creatine on sprinting, cycling, or swimming performance varies. The mixed results may relate to the small sizes of the studies, the differences in creatine doses, and differences in test used to measure performance. Creatine does not seem to improve serving ability in tennis players.
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
Neurological and cognitive function has also been shown to be improved by creatine supplementation [47,48]. Rawson and Venezia [49] review the effects of creatine supplementation on cognitive function highlighting that higher brain creatine has been associated with improved neuropsychological performance. Creatine supplementation protocols have been shown to increase brain creatine and phosphocreatine contents. Cognitive processing hindered due to sleep deprivation and natural impairment due to aging can be improved by creatine supplementation. This review also highlights other possible benefits of creatine ingestion to older adults, such as improvements in: fatigue resistance, strength, muscle mass, bone mineral density, and performance of activities of daily living. Some of these benefits occur without concurrent exercise. The authors inform that discrepancies between studies do exist and are hard to explain but may be possibly due to differences in diet, race and/or supplementation protocols. However, the ideal dose of creatine to maximize brain uptake is not known. Patients have been supplemented with 40 g while in healthy adults positive results have been reported with around 20 g per day [49].
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.[430] In contrast, creatine supplementation has been shown to increase testosterone levels when taken alongside a 10-week resistance training program.[431] 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.[397] 
Bodybuilders do cardio training such as running and using a StairMaster StepMill to burn fat and make their muscles more visible. “Do cardio throughout the year at least three days a week for at least 30-40 minutes, whether it be first thing in the morning on an empty stomach or after a post-workout protein shake,” says Heath. “Cardio won’t kill your gains as much as you think, you’ll see how much muscle you really have.” Break a sweat to stay lean ’round the clock. 

Carducci, C., Birarelli, M., Leuzzi, V., Carducci, C., Battini, R., Cioni, G., and Antonozzi, I. Guanidinoacetate and creatine plus creatinine assessment in physiologic fluids: an effective diagnostic tool for the biochemical diagnosis of arginine:glycine amidinotransferase and guanidinoacetate methyltransferase deficiencies. Clin Chem 2002;48(10):1772-1778. View abstract.
However, protein isn’t everything. Contrary to popular belief, carbohydrates and calories from fats are also important. To gain muscle, people who are slender or scrawny need to create a calorie surplus in order to bulk up. That means you need proteins and plenty of healthy carbs, vegetables and even some fats (think healthy fats like nuts, avocado, olive oil, etc.). Carbohydrates play a key role in building muscle. This macronutrient has gotten a bad rap for making people fat. However, if you work out properly, eating plenty of carbs is in your best interest. After training, it’s ideal to ingest some carbs in combination with protein to help replenish your muscles’ glycogen stores.

Creatine is old school and definitely hit a pop culture zenith, but that doesn’t make it out-dated or irrelevant today. Creatine supplementation gets results. For starters, one study from Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise confirms that creatine supplementation can enhance physical performance, claiming that it “exhibits small but significant physiological and performance changes.”


While I’m not well-versed in DNP, it is important to note that most supplements are not regulated by the FDA. The FDA has minimal standards for governing supplements before they make it to the shelves. All supplementation should be a case-by-case basis and under the discretion of a doctor and/or registered dietitian who knows your personal needs. Also, if you are consuming a well-rounded, healthy diet, supplementation may not be needed, even for making gains at the gym.

In addition to the BBB, SLC6A8 is also expressed on neurons and oligodendrocytes,[192] but is relatively absent from astrocytes, including the astrocytic feet[193][194] which line 98% of the BBB.[195] 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.[196]
Cranking up the levels of testosterone within the body, XPI's Testosyn is formulated with 100% natural and powerful ingredients to build lean muscle, boost sex drive, and increase energy levels. Using a high-performance testosterone complex that contains D-Aspartic Acid, Fenusterols, and Tribulus Terrestris, this potent supplement will aid in the enhancement of each workout and promote free testosterone. Testosyn's ingredients have the ability to increase testosterone levels nearly twice as much as other products for more strength, mass, and sexual vigor. Keep Reading »
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]
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 [21]. 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 [22]. 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 [23].
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]
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]
Brain injury. Early research shows that taking creatine by mouth daily for 7 days increases the ability to exercise by increasing lung function in people with a spinal cord injury. However, other research shows that creatine does not improve wrist muscle or hand function. Early research also shows that taking creatine by mouth daily for 6 months reduces amnesia following a traumatic brain injury in children.

The main storage area of creatine in the human body is the skeletal (contractile) muscle, which holds true for other animals. Therefore, consumption of skeletal muscle (meat products) is the main human dietary source of creatine. Since vegetarians and vegans lack the main source of dietary creatine intake, which has been estimated to supply half of the daily requirements of creatine in normal people, both vegetarians and vegans have been reported to have lower levels of creatine.[58][59] This also applies to other meat-exclusive nutrients, such as L-Carnitine.[58]
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.[56]
A study using creatine at 0.02% of a face cream (confounded with 8% glycerol and 0.4% Guarana) was able to exert a skin-tightening effect over 6 weeks, reducing wrinkles and jowl volume.[541] Combination therapy has also been used with creatine and folic acid (both in vitro[543] and in vivo), resulting in increased skin firmness and reduced coarse and fine wrinkles.[544]
Creatine has been found to increase skeletal muscle glycogen when given to sedentary adults for a loading and maintenance phase for 37 days at 2g (13.5% after five days of loading, but returning to baseline at the end of the trial). Exercise was not enforced in this study.[207] This study also noted that, despite a normalization of glycogen after the trial, total creatine and ATP was still higher than placebo,[207] and a loading protocol appears to have failed elsewhere in increasing glycogen stores in sedentary people subject to an aerobic exercise test before and after the loading phase.[349]
Creatine is an energy substrate: a small peptide serving as a reservoir for high-energy phosphate groups that can regenerate ATP, the main currency of cellular energy. An increase in creatine intake (through food or supplementation) increases cellular energy stores, promoting the regeneration of ATP in the short term. Stores are limited, however, and glucose or fatty acids are responsible for ATP replenishment over longer durations.
The first thing you need is a weight training program that signals the muscle building process to begin. Research has shown that a well designed program will generate this “signal” via a combination of progressive tension overload (as in, getting stronger over time), metabolic stress (as in, fatiguing the muscle and getting “the pump”), and muscular damage (as in, actual damage to the muscle tissue itself).

This is another thing I am very tired of hearing. 'No matter what I do or what I eat, I can't gain weight'. I have heard this countless times and I am here to tell you that you are dead wrong. That's OK, because I actually said the same thing until I realized the truth. Most people think they are eating a lot and you just may be. But no matter what you are eating, if you are not gaining, you are not eating enough. Most times, you should re-evaluate your diet as well and focus on more calorie dense foods. But you need to eat more if you are not gaining.


In regard to practical interventions, concurrent glycogen loading has been noted to increase creatine stores by 37-46% regardless of whether the tissue was exercised prior to loading phase.[176] It is important to note, however, that creatine levels in response to the creatine loading protocol were compared in one glycogen-depleted leg to the contralateral control leg, which was not exercised.[176] This does not rule out a possible systemic exercise-driven increase in creatine uptake, and the increase in creatine noted above[176] was larger than typically seen with a loading protocol (usually in the 20-25% range). Consistent with an exercise-effect, others have reported that exercise itself increases creatine uptake into muscle, reporting 68% greater creatine uptake in an exercised limb, relative to 14% without exercise.[153]
Several review studies assessing the safety of creatine supplementation tend to make note of increases in formaldehyde and possible carcinogenic results.[451][452] Specifically, creatine is metabolized into an intermediate called methylamine, which can be converted to formaldehyde by the SSAO enzyme.[453] An increase in urinary formaldehyde has been noted in youth given 21g of creatine for one week, during which both methylamine (820% increase) and formaldehyde (350%) were increased, relative to control.[454] However, a more prolonged study using 300mg/kg (loading dose of around 20g) in adults for ten weeks failed to replicate these effects.[455]
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.
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