You've figured out the exercises you should be doing, but what about the number of sets and repetitions? Your decision should be based on your goals. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends 8-12 reps for muscular strength and 10-15 reps for muscular endurance. They also recommend at least 1 set of each exercise to fatigue although you'll find that most people perform about 2-3 sets of each exercise. In general:
For beginners, your own body weight might be enough to get you started. However, it can be hard to challenge your body without any additional resistance, so to progress, you'll need some equipment. If you decide to strength train at home, you'll want to invest in some basics, such as resistance bands, weights, and an exercise ball. Try to have a range of weights: a light set (3 to 5 pounds for women, 5 to 8 pounds for men), a medium set (5 to 10 pounds for women, 10 to 15 pounds for men), and a heavy set (10 to 20 pounds for women, 15 to 30 pounds for men).
Competitive and professional bodybuilders, however, can often build up to two to three pounds of muscle per month during dedicated bulking periods. "But they are living and breathing muscle growth. They aren't just in and out of the gym like most people," Simpson says, noting that under extreme conditions, hyperplasia, or the growth in the number of muscle cells in a given muscle tissue, may actually occur, further adding to muscle growth results.
There is a nuclear receptor known as TIS1 (orphan receptor, since there are no known endogeouns targets at this time) which positively influences transcription of new creatine transporters and, in C2C12 myotubes, seems to be responsive to cAMP or adenyl cyclase stimulation from forskolin (from Coleus Forskohlii) with peak activation at 20µM.
The concentration in healthy controls (57+/-8 years) without supplementation of creatine appears to be around 1.24+/-0.26µM per gram of hemoglobin and appears to decrease in concentration during the aging process of the erythrocyte. Otherwise healthy subjects who take a loading phase of creatine (5g four times daily for five days) can experience a 129.6% increase in erythrocytic creatine concentrations from an average value of 418µM (per liter) up to 961µM with a large range (increases in the range of 144.4-1004.8µM), and this effect appears to correlate somewhat with muscular creatine stores.
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, yet a later trial trying to replicate the obsevations using 150mg/kg daily for five weeks noted the opposite, that creatine supplementation exacerbated symptoms.
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Dumbbells: These are more expensive, though there are plenty of affordable options. You'll eventually want to get a variety of weights, but you can easily start with three sets of dumbbells: A light set (3 to 5 pounds for women, 5 to 8 pounds for men), a medium set (5 to 10 pounds for women, 10 to 15 pounds for men), and a heavy set (10 to 20 pounds for women, 15 to 30 pounds for men).
Getting comfortable with a steady running routine is definitely something to be proud of, but when you're on that cardio grind day-in and day-out, you might be ready to change things up and take on a new challenge. Time to throw some strength training into the mix. It can be a little intimidating at first if you don't know where the hell to start, but understanding the basics can help you feel confident in your refreshed fitness routine.
Creatine monohydrate is the most common form of creatine, and if not otherwise mentioned is the default form of creatine used in most studies on creatine. It has fairly decent intestinal absorption (covered more in depth in the pharmacology section) and is the standard form or “reference” form of creatine, which all other variants are pitted against.
It’s not just about lifting—it’s about lifting safely and correctly. And if you’re not performing exercises properly, it’s impossible to make any progress. “When someone is just starting to work out, it can help to work closely with a knowledgeable personal trainer in order to learn proper form,” says Ingram. But that goes for experienced lifters, too. If you aren’t sure about a movement, it’s better to ask. “If you’re not working the correct muscles, you can’t expect them to grow,” explains Ingram.
Other supplements could easily have been included here, but these are considered the most useful and effective for the majority of bodybuilders and athletes. Although food should always come first, supplements offer an effective alternative for getting nutrients that either aren't available in sufficient quantity in food or are in foods that you may not be eating.
While muscle growth is critical for bodybuilding, getting rid of extra fat is a necessity to improve your total physique. These supplements can help to increase your metabolism, forcing your body to burn away more of its fat stores. They can also slow down the digestion process to prevent excess fat and carbohydrates from entering the body and being stored.
Each serving of Optimum Nutrition Creatine supplies a full 5 grams (5000 mg) of 99.9% pure Creapure brand Creatine Monohydrate. The patented production method used to produce this Creatine yields a tasteless, odorless powder that mixes easily into water or juice and does not readily settle to the bottom. As a result, the gritty taste or texture you may have experienced with other Creatine powders is not associated with this product. Keep Reading »
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.
A retrospective study , that examined the effects of long lasting (0.8 to 4 years) CM supplementation on health markers and prescribed training benefits, suggested that there is no negative health effects (including muscle cramp or injuries) caused by long term CM consumption. In addition, despite many anecdotal claims, it appears that creatine supplementation would have positive influences on muscle cramps and dehydration . Creatine was found to increase total body water possibly by decreasing the risk of dehydration, reducing sweat rate, lowering core body temperature and exercising heart rate. Furthermore, creatine supplementation does not increase symptoms nor negatively affect hydration or thermoregulation status of athletes exercising in the heat [83,84]. Additionally, CM ingestion has been shown to reduce the rate of perceived exertion when training in the heat .
In nonelite swimmers conducting an intermittent sprint protocol (Six 50m sprints every two minutes), supplementation of a creatine loading period was able to reduce the decrement in speed during the third sprint (2% decrement rather than a 5% decrement) but not the sixth sprint. There were no changes in plasma lactate or other biomarkers of fatigue. When examining a single 50m sprint in amateur swimmers, a creatine loading period is able to reduce the time to complete the sprint by 4.6%, while it had no benefit for the 100m sprint. When the loading phase was followed by three weeks maintenance in youth, there was no apparent benefit to sprint performance (50m sprint with five minutes rest followed by a 100m freestyle) despite benefits to a swim bench test (30s sprints with a five minute break in between).
Walking, running, and swimming are examples of activity. Aerobic activity strengthens your heart and lungs. Stretching improves your flexibility. Strength training uses resistance, like free weights, weight machines, resistance bands, or a person's own weight, to build muscles and strength. Teens may want to strength train to improve sports performance, treat or prevent injuries, or improve appearance.
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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.
If you have been diagnosed with a certain testosterone deficiency, ask your doctor and/or pharmacist to see if TestoFuel could be beneficial for you. Aside from balancing your testosterone, you may experience increased muscle strength while using this supplement during your intense exercise routine. Here are certain instances where TestoFuel could help correct your testosterone problems:
It has also been noted that supplementing creatine (which reduces internal synthesis of creatine and methylation requirements) preserved folate and tetrahydrofolate status (42% and 23%), which acted to preserve methyl groups for other processes. Despite this effect, global DNA methylation decreases by 22% (assessed by the 5-methylcytosine/cytosine ratio) following creatine supplementation, which is usually seen as an anti-cancer effect in developed mammals. This study was unable to demonstrate why this reduction occured and opposing effects have been noted in females with Rett syndrome supplementing 200mg/kg creatine for 1 year, during which global methylation increased, secondary to preserving other methyl donors.
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.
The important role of nutrition in building muscle and losing fat means bodybuilders may consume a wide variety of dietary supplements. Various products are used in an attempt to augment muscle size, increase the rate of fat loss, improve joint health, increase natural testosterone production, enhance training performance and prevent potential nutrient deficiencies.
Heath suggests incorporating dropsets into your training routine by immediately decreasing the weight and repping out again to failure. “Dropsets overload the muscle with shorter rest periods and increasing volume which you need to grow,” says Heath. “That overload improves your body’s abilities to utilize more nutrients, natural growth hormone, and natural testosterone into those areas and makes the supplements you take more effective.” Heath’s favorite way to do dropsets is on a pin-loaded machine since it’s faster to switch weights.
In general, muscle content of creatine tends to be elevated to 15-20% above baseline (more than 20mM increase) in response to oral supplementation. People who get a sufficiently high influx of creatine are known as responders. A phenomena known as “creatine nonresponse” occurs when people have less than a 10mM influx of creatine into muscle after prolonged supplementation. Quasi-responders (10-20mM increase) also exist. Nonresponse is thought to explain instances where people do not benefit from creatine supplementation in trials, since some trials that find no significant effect do find one when only investigating people with high creatine responsiveness. There are clear differences between those who respond and those who do not, in regard to physical performance. People who are creatine responsive tend to be younger, have higher muscle mass and type II muscle fiber content, but this has no correlation with dietary protein intake.
I’m 6 foot and 154 pounds and I’m thinking of using this diet to bulk up before I do a cut to shed body fat for a more lean look. How good would this diet be to maintain body fat while building muscle and how much muscle could you expect to put on. Thanks. I do not want to gain that much body fat while bulking and if possible I would just like to maintain my current body fat while bulking.
Young adult athletes who reported creatine usage for over two years prior to the study (retrospective design) were not significantly different than controls. Elsewhere, in a similar cohort of athletes reporting creatine usage for up to four years, failed to note significant differences in liver enzymes, although a nonsignificant reduction in LDH was noted.
Whey, the liquid remaining after milk has been curdled and strained, is rapidly digested and absorbed and has a remarkable ability to stimulate muscle protein synthesis (Hayes & Cribb, 2008). Whey is available in three varieties — whey protein powder, whey protein concentrate, whey protein isolate — and all provide high levels of the essential and branched chain amino acids, vitamins and minerals.
Polyethylene glycol is a non-toxic, water-soluble polymer that is capable of enhancing the absorption of creatine and various other substances . Polyethylene glycol can be bound with CM to form polyethylene glycosylated creatine. One study  found that 5 g/d for 28 days of polyethylene glycosylated creatine was capable of increasing 1RM bench press in 22 untrained young men but not for lower body strength or muscular power. Body weight also did not significantly change in the creatine group which may be of particular interest to athletes in weight categories that require upper body strength. Herda et al  analyzed the effects of 5 g of CM and two smaller doses of polyethylene glycosylated creatine (containing 1.25 g and 2.5 g of creatine) administered over 30 days on muscular strength, endurance, and power output in fifty-eight healthy men. CM produced a significantly greater improvement in mean power and body weight meanwhile both CM and polyethylene glycosylated form showed a significantly (p < 0.05) greater improvement for strength when compared with control group. These strength increases were similar even though the dose of creatine in the polyethylene glycosylated creatine groups was up to 75% less than that of CM. These results seem to indicate that the addition of polyethylene glycol could increase the absorption efficiency of creatine but further research is needed before a definitive recommendation can be reached.
One of the biggest goals of bodybuilders is to increase their muscle size and strength. Bodybuilding supplements often contain many ingredients that help to encourage this. Branched-chain amino acids are a common ingredient that can significantly increase muscle growth. Other ingredients help to increase the levels of hormones, such as growth hormone and testosterone, that can also stimulate muscle growth.
One supplement, which a large body of research has proven effective in building muscle mass when combined with intensive strength training, is creatine (sold as creatine monohydrate). Creatine, a source of rapid energy, is stored in the muscles in small amounts. With creatine loading or supplementation, bodybuilders increase muscle stores of the energy-containing compound which then can be used to provide an extra boost for an intense-high-weight lifting session. Studies support that ingestion of a relatively high dose of creatine (20 to 30 grams per day for up to two weeks) increases muscle creatine stores by 10 to 30 percent and can boost muscle strength by about 10 percent when compared with resistance training alone (Rawson & Volek, 2003). Some athletes report (though research does not necessarily support) muscle cramping in response after using creatine supplements.
When looking specifically at human studies, there has been a failure of creatine supplementation to induce or exacerbate kidney damage in people with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Subjects do not experience kidney damage for up to or over a year’s worth of supplementation in the 5-10g range. Postmenopausal women, people with type II diabetes, people on hemodialysis, otherwise healthy elderly, young people, and athletes do not experience kidney damage either. Moreover, numerous scientific reviews on both the long- and short-term safety of supplemental creatine have consistently found no adverse effects on kidney function in a wide range of doses. However, while doses >10 g/day have been found not to impair kidney function, there are fewer long-term trials using such high chronic daily intakes.
Key point: Past a certain number of sets, the marginal increases in protein synthesis NO LONGER outweigh the cost of doing more sets. If 8 sets of chest exercises produce 95% of possible muscle protein synthesis… then it makes very little sense to do ANOTHER 10 sets (like most chest workouts) to try and inch out the final 5% of stimulation. Those extra 10 sets are simply damaging your muscle unnecessarily and impairing your ability to recover.
Recently, studies are coming out that show a general decline in testosterone levels of men in the United States and around the world. The trend is across the board and doesn’t appear to be caused simply by a decline in health, aging or an increase in obesity rates. It could be caused because of chemicals or environmental factors. In any case, low levels of testosterone can affect many areas of your health, including your ability to build muscle. If you suspect that you have low testosterone levels, you can ask your doctor to test you for it. In addition to traditional hormone therapies, there are also many natural ways to boost your levels including through supplements, some of which will be discussed later in this article.
Because so many product labels list scientific references to back up the manufacturers' claims of performance and efficacy, or effectiveness, it's important to understand what constitutes a solid scientific study. A single study, even an optimally designed one, isn't considered scientific proof. The results have to be replicated several times before they're officially accepted as fact.
A quantitative, comprehensive scientific summary and view of knowledge up to 2007 on the effects of creatine supplementation in athletes and active people was published in a 100 citation review position paper by the International Society of Sports Nutrition. More recent literature has provided greater insight into the anabolic/performance enhancing mechanisms of creatine supplementation [15,25] suggesting that these effects may be due to satellite cell proliferation, myogenic transcription factors and insulin-like growth factor-1 signalling . Saremi et al  reported a change in myogenic transcription factors when creatine supplementation and resistance training are combined in young healthy males. It was found that serum levels of myostatin, a muscle growth inhibitor, were decreased in the creatine group.
In regard to bioenergetics, phosphorylated cyclocreatine appears to have less affinity for the creatine kinase enzyme than phosphorylated creatine in terms of donating the high energy phosphate group (about 160-fold less affinity) despite the process of receiving phosphorylation being similar. When fed to chickens, phosphorylated cyclocreatine can accumulate up to 60mM in skeletal muscle, which suggests a sequestering of phosphate groups before equilibrium is reached. Cyclocreatine still has the capacity to donate phosphate, however, as beta-adrenergic stimulated skeletal muscle (which depletes ATP and glycogen) exhibits an attenuation of glycogen depletion (indicative of preservation of ATP) with phosphocreatine.
If you are doing this on your own, but are overwhelmed and confused about strength training, I know how that feels. It can be scary enough to keep MOST people from starting, which is actually why we created our 1-on-1 Coaching Program. Our coach gets to know you, builds a program based on your experience and goals, will check your form on each movement (via video), and keep you accountable and on track!
Focus on form. Good form means you can reap all of the benefits of your workout and avoid injuries at the same time. To maintain proper form, pay attention to your posture (stand tall with chest lifted and abs held tight), move slowly (this ensures you're relying on muscles, not momentum, to do the lifting), and remember to breathe. Many people hold their breath while exerting, but exhaling during the hardest part of the exercise helps fuel the movement.
Prevents disease and degenerative conditions: Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women; Strength training helps correct issues relating to cholesterol, high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, and inactivity – all factors for heart disease. Cardiologists are even starting to recommend strength training for people who have suffered a heart attack as little as three weeks after the attack. Who knows, maybe one day your cardiologist will tell you to do some “cardio” and he’ll be referring to strength training!
Arguably the most influential factor, exercise is what instigates muscle growth. When you exercise, especially if you engage in resistance training, it causes trauma to your muscles. This is exactly what you want because it’s this trauma that triggers a response from your body that grows your muscles. To repair the injury or damage to your muscles, special cells called satellite cells arrive. Typically, your muscle fibers thicken and lengthen in this process. (1)
In elite swimmers, the growth hormone response to sprints appears to be attenuated (39%) following creatine loading, although after a 3g maintenance phase (22-27 weeks), this attenuation was reduced to less than 5%. Elsewhere in swimmers, resting growth hormone was unaffected by the loading phase, suggesting that this is an exercise-exclusive effect.
Escolar, D. M., Buyse, G., Henricson, E., Leshner, R., Florence, J., Mayhew, J., Tesi-Rocha, C., Gorni, K., Pasquali, L., Patel, K. M., McCarter, R., Huang, J., Mayhew, T., Bertorini, T., Carlo, J., Connolly, A. M., Clemens, P. R., Goemans, N., Iannaccone, S. T., Igarashi, M., Nevo, Y., Pestronk, A., Subramony, S. H., Vedanarayanan, V. V., and Wessel, H. CINRG randomized controlled trial of creatine and glutamine in Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Ann Neurol 2005;58:151-155. View abstract.
Synthesis primarily takes place in the kidney and liver, with creatine then being transported to the muscles via the blood. The majority of the human body's total creatine and phosphocreatine stores is located in skeletal muscle, while the remainder is distributed in the blood, brain, and other tissues. Typically, creatine is produced endogenously at an estimated rate of about 8.3 mmol or 1 gram per day in young adults. Creatine is also obtained through the diet at a rate of about 1 gram per day from an omnivorous diet. Some small studies suggest that total muscle creatine is significantly lower in vegetarians than non-vegetarians, as expected since foods of animal origin are the primary source of creatine. However, subjects happened to show the same levels after using supplements.
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  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  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  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 .