Osteoblast cells are known to express creatine kinase.[39][417] Bone growth factors such as IGF-1,[418] PTH,[419] and even Vitamin D[420][421] seem to induce bone growth alongside increases in creatine kinase activity. Vitamin D has been noted to work indirectly by increasing the cellular energy state (these hormones increase creatine kinase in order to do so) in order to make bone cells more responsive to estrogen.[420] This evidence, paired with enhanced growth rates of osteoblasts in the presence of higher than normal (10-20mM) concentrations of creatine[422] suggest a role of creatine in promoting osteoblastic and bone growth, secondary to increasing energy availability.


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.
If you're 12 weeks out from a competition, you want to maintain as much muscle as possible while torching fat from every angle. This means low-intensity cardio – high intensity cardio speeds up your metabolism and burns fat very quickly, so you run the risk of burning muscle too, Terry says – either first thing in the morning on an empty stomach, or immediately after your weights session, once you’ve depleted those glycogen levels.
Collectively the above investigations indicate that creatine supplementation can be an effective strategy to maintain total creatine pool during a rehabilitation period after injury as well as to attenuate muscle damage induced by a prolonged endurance training session. In addition, it seems that creatine can act as an effective antioxidant agent after more intense resistance training sessions.
When assessing the antioxidant effects of creatine, it does not appear to sequester superoxide and may not be a direct antioxidant.[241] Additionally, creatine failed to protect neurons from H2O2 incubation to induce cell death via pro-oxidative means.[241] These results are in contrast to previously recorded results suggesting creatine acts as a direct anti-oxidant.[242]
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]

Objective: Are you getting stronger? Increasing either weight or reps? If you're measuring individual markers on a daily basis like vertical jump, grip strength, or resting heart rate then what sort of trends are you noticing in these variables? If they're staying the same while your strength is increasing, then you're recovering well. If they're decreasing and you find yourself weaker over time then you're not recovering well.
Liquid creatine has been shown to be less effective than creatine monohydrate.[69] This reduced effect is due to the passive breakdown of creatine over a period of days into creatinine, which occurs when it is suspended in solution.[70] This breakdown is not an issue for at-home use when creatine is added to shakes, but it is a concern from a manufacturing perspective in regard to shelf-life before use.
The general strategy adopted by most present-day competitive bodybuilders is to make muscle gains for most of the year (known as the "off-season") and, approximately 12–14 weeks from competition, lose a maximum of body fat (referred to as "cutting") while preserving as much muscular mass as possible. The bulking phase entails remaining in a net positive energy balance (calorie surplus). The amount of a surplus in which a person remains is based on the person's goals, as a bigger surplus and longer bulking phase will create more fat tissue. The surplus of calories relative to one's energy balance will ensure that muscles remain in a state of anabolism.
Hartman, J. W., Tang, J. E., Wilkinson, S. B., Tarnopolsky, M. A., Lawrence, R. L., Fullerton, A. V., & Phillips, S. M. (2007). Consumption of fat-free fluid milk after resistance exercise promotes greater lean mass accretion than does consumption of soy or carbohydrate in young, novice, male weightlifters. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 86(2), 373-381.
Creatine (/ˈkriːətiːn/ or /ˈkriːətɪn/[1] is an organic compound with the nominal formula (H2N)(HN)CN(CH3)CH2CO2H. This species exists in various modifications (tautomers) in solution. Creatine is found in vertebrates where it facilitates recycling of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the energy currency of the cell, primarily in muscle and brain tissue. Recycling is achieved by converting adenosine diphosphate (ADP) back to ATP via donation of phosphate groups. Creatine also acts as a buffer.[2]
If you have hit a plateau, a good supplement could be all you need to pull yourself out of a slump and make the progress you want to be making. Creatine is widely known as the most effective sports supplement. Scientific studies have proven that creatine maximizes ATP production which is responsible for energy in your body. Essentially, creatine will give you more energy to allow you to do the things that will make you stronger.
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Creatine, through its ability to act as an energy reserve, attenuates neuron death induced by the MPTP toxin that can produce Parkinson’s disease-like effects in research animals,[235] reduces glutamate-induced excitotoxicity,[236] attenuates rotenone-induced toxicity,[120] L-DOPA induced dyskinesia,[237] 3-nitropropinoic acid,[238] and preserves growth rate of neurons during exposure to corticosteroids (like cortisol), which can reduce neuron growth rates.[239] Interestingly, the energetic effect also applies to Alzheimer’s disease, during which creatine phosphate per se attenuates pathogenesis in vitro, yet creatine per se did not.[240]
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.
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.[360][361] In these particular instances (assessed by rats fed homocysteine to increase serum levels to such a high level[362][363]) 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.[363]

That means it's an important part of your overall fitness and it benefits people of all ages, plus it may be particularly important for people with health issues such as obesity, arthritis, or a heart condition. The Centers for Disease Control Prevention physical activity guidelines recommend that adults do muscle-strengthening activities on at least two or more days each week (targeting the legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms). (2)
A: Start with the calculations above but don’t be afraid to adjust up or down. Your metabolism and physiology will adapt to more food by trying to maintain homeostasis and regulate your bodyweight. Some may have to increase more than others but the number on the scale doesn’t lie. If it’s not going up, then you probably need to increase your calories.

In young rats given creatine in the diet at 2% of the diet for eight weeks, supplementation appears to increase bone mineral density (BMD) in the lumbar spine with a nonsignificant trend to increase BMD in the femur.[426] Despite the trend, the femur appeared to be 12.3% more resistant to snapping from mechanical stress associated with increased thickness.[426] Menopausal rats (ovarectomized) experience similar benefits, as supplementation of creatine (300mg/kg) for eight weeks during ovarectomy is able to increase phosphorus content of the bone and other biomarkers of bone health, although bone stress resistance was not tested.[427]


Several studies have used either beet root juice or pomegranate extract in multi-ingredient performance supplements and have observed improvements in strength, hypertrophy, and performance in resistance-trained men. At this point, however, it's difficult to determine if these benefits are from beet root juice and pomegranate extract working alone or synergistically with other ingredients.[11,12]
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.
There's good news, though: These temporary muscle pumps are critical to improving muscle hypertrophy, or muscle growth, according to 2014 research in the Strength and Conditioning Journal. So you can think of your weight-room pump as a preview of the muscle results that are to come. Speaking of which, here's an expert-endorsed timeline to reach your muscle-building goals.
Creatine is not an essential nutrient[19] as it is naturally produced in the human body from the amino acids glycine and arginine, with an additional requirement for methionine to catalyze the transformation of guanidinoacetate to creatine. In the first step of the biosynthesis these two amino acids are combined by the enzyme arginine:glycine amidinotransferase (AGAT, EC:2.1.4.1) to form guanidinoacetate, which is then methylated by guanidinoacetate N-methyltransferase (GAMT, EC:2.1.1.2), using S-adenosyl methionine as the methyl donor. Creatine itself can be phosphorylated by creatine kinase to form phosphocreatine, which is used as an energy buffer in skeletal muscles and the brain.
Eat 0.4–0.5 grams of fat per pound of your body weight. Fat is essential for hormone optimization, brain function, and joint health. Now, if you’re following a ketogenic diet (or modified keto diet), or you just feel better with more fat in your diet, you can certainly add more fat and lower your protein and carb intake to accommodate it. The 0.4–0.5 grams per pound recommendation just represents a starting point and a minimum so that you don’t eat too little fat, either out of fear that it will make you fat or damage your heart (both untrue). For more about ketogenic diets, see Onnit’s guide HERE.

Arginine mainly benefits the body in two ways. The first of these is by producing nitric oxide. When arginine enters the body, some of it gets converted into nitric oxide. Nitric oxide is important for regulating blood pressure, as it can enlarge the blood vessels. Larger blood vessels allow the body to increase blood flow throughout the body, bringing extra nutrients and oxygen to the muscles during exercise.
Studies that use a dosage range typical of creatine supplementation (in the range of 5g a day following an acute loading period) note increases to total body water of 6.2% (3.74lbs) over 9 weeks and[608] 1.1kg over 42 days.[609] Interestingly, some studies comparing creatine paired with training against training itself fail to find a significant difference in percentage of water gained (which is inherently to activity) with standard oral doses of creatine[609][607][610] (although low dose creatine supplementation of 0.03g/kg or 2.3g daily doesn’t appear to increase water retention[611]) despite more overall water weight being gained, due to an equal gain of dry mass in muscles. One study has quantified the percentage increase in mass of muscle cells to be 55% water, suggesting the two groups are fairly equal.[609]
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.
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.[299] Glutathione (normally decreases with exercise) and catalase (increases) were both unaffected,[299] 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[300]) when RBC creatine was increased by 12.3% to reach 554µM.[301] 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%.[301]
Daily, Heath usually eats five to six pounds of protein-rich meats — filet mignon, chicken, turkey, salmon and tilapia, mostly. He consumes up to 75 grams of carbohydrates in the form of grits or oatmeal, white or brown rice, and various types of potatoes, including sweet potatoes. Mornings might bring 16 ounces of scrambled egg whites. He tries to drink two gallons of water a day. His off-season weight usually reaches 275 pounds or more, still chiseled.
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.
Bodybuilders have THE BEST mind to muscle connection of any resistance-training athletes. Ask a seasoned bodybuilder to flex their lats or their rhomboids or their hamstrings and they will do it with ease. Ask other strength athletes and you will see them struggle and although they may tense up the target muscle they will also tense up about 15 other surrounding muscles. This is because strength athletes train MOVEMENTS. They don’t care about targeting their lats. They just want to do the most pull ups. They don’t worry about feeling their quads. They just want to squat maximum weight. Although this is an expected and positive thing for the most part, there are real benefits to being able to isolate and target muscles.
In regard to liver fat buildup (steatosis), which is normally associated with reduced availability of S-adenosyl methionine[495][496] and a suppression in expression of genes involved in fatty acid oxidation (PPARα and CPT1), creatine supplementation at 1% of the rat diet alongside a diet that induces fatty liver is able to fully prevent (and nonsignificantly reduce relative to the control given standard diets) the aforementioned changes and the state of steatosis, as well as changes in serum biomarkers (glucose and insulin) that accompany steatosis.[125] 
Some people do have allergies to soy, or they have an intolerance to soy. If you notice certain symptoms (like a headache) after soy consumption, you may have an intolerance. Discovering your food intolerances/allergies would also be handled by a Dietitian. For the general population who are not allergic/intolerant to soy, however, soy-based products can be a part of a healthy diet. New research has shown that soy is not harmful as people fear. If soy gives you issues, you could always opt for whey protein, pea protein or other forms of vegetable protein. Have you seen our article on protein powders? Click here.
The type of exercise performed also depends on the individual's goals. Those who seek to increase their performance in sports would focus mostly on compound exercises, with isolation exercises being used to strengthen just those muscles that are holding the athlete back. Similarly, a powerlifter would focus on the specific compound exercises that are performed at powerlifting competitions. However, those who seek to improve the look of their body without necessarily maximizing their strength gains (including bodybuilders) would put more of an emphasis on isolation exercises. Both types of athletes, however, generally make use of both compound and isolation exercises.
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.
Creatine levels in the blood tend to return to baseline (after a loading with or without the maintenance phase) after 28 days without creatine supplementation.[152][200][201] This number may vary slightly from one individual to another, and for some may exceed 30 days.[202] Assuming an elimination rate of creatinine (creatine’s metabolite) at 14.6mmol per day,[35][201] six weeks of cessation is approaching the upper limit for serum creatine to completely return to baseline.
Another study demonstrated that females receiving 4 days of high-dose creatine intake (20 g/day) followed by low-dose creatine intake (5 g/day) during 10 weeks of resistance training (3hours/week) increased muscle PCr concentrations by 6%. Also, maximal strength of the muscle groups trained increased by 20-25%, maximal intermittent exercise capacity of the arm flexors increased by 10-25% and fat-free mass increased by 60% [11].
In competitive bodybuilding, bodybuilders aspire to develop and maintain an aesthetically pleasing body and balanced physique.[16][17] In prejudging, competitors do a series of mandatory poses: the front lat spread, rear lat spread, front double biceps, back double biceps, side chest, side triceps, Most Muscular (men only), abdominals and thighs. Each competitor also performs a personal choregraphed routine to display their physique. A posedown is usually held at the end of a posing round, while judges are finishing their scoring. Bodybuilders usually spend a lot of time practising their posing in front of mirrors or under the guidance of their coach.
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Safety. Excess quantities of antioxidants may produce a ‘pro-oxidant’ effect, which is the opposite of what you would take these supplements for. The Australian Institute of Sport recommends that antioxidant vitamin supplements only be taken for a period of a few weeks while the body adjusts to stressful circumstances. Excess vitamin C may promote excess iron absorption, which may not be healthy for everyone.
A: At the end of the day, the most important variable regarding weight gain or loss is calorie consumption. However, meal frequency and timing around activity can both influence workout intensity and duration thus potentially allowing for further improvements in body composition. Remember, muscle growth isn’t a pulsatile process, it doesn’t just acutely spike and then return to baseline so if there aren’t circulating amino acids within the blood stream then they’ll have to be broken down from muscle as this is the highest form of concentrated amino acids within the body. That being said, it would probably be a good idea to consume anywhere from 3-6 meals spread throughout the day depending upon your schedule and preference. Ideally, we want to stimulate anabolism through food every 3-5 hours.
Daily, Heath usually eats five to six pounds of protein-rich meats — filet mignon, chicken, turkey, salmon and tilapia, mostly. He consumes up to 75 grams of carbohydrates in the form of grits or oatmeal, white or brown rice, and various types of potatoes, including sweet potatoes. Mornings might bring 16 ounces of scrambled egg whites. He tries to drink two gallons of water a day. His off-season weight usually reaches 275 pounds or more, still chiseled.

Liquid creatine has been shown to be less effective than creatine monohydrate.[69] This reduced effect is due to the passive breakdown of creatine over a period of days into creatinine, which occurs when it is suspended in solution.[70] This breakdown is not an issue for at-home use when creatine is added to shakes, but it is a concern from a manufacturing perspective in regard to shelf-life before use.


Electrolytes derive mainly from minerals in the diet and they maintain fluid balance and assist the nervous system to perform muscle contractions. Electrolytes are sodium, potassium, magnesium, calcium and chloride, bicarbonate, phosphate, sulfate. Exercisers are particularly dependent on sodium and potassium balance. Carbohydrates are important for fueling exercise, including vigorous weight training, and in post-exercise energy replacement nutrition. Carbohydrates, mostly sugars, are formulated in sports drinks with electrolytes such as sodium chloride and potassium and sometimes magnesium.
This is why I never understand why girls who don’t want to “get bulky” are told by trainers to do 3 sets of 10-12 (or 5 sets of 1,000 reps of bicep curls with a 1 lb pink dumbbell). While it’s difficult for women to gain any sort of size lifting in ANY rep range, if we were trying to gain muscle size, that’s EXACTLY what we would want to do (as it would be causing sarcoplasmic hypertrophy).
What kind of exercises? Work all major muscle groups, starting with the larger muscles. Always include exercises for opposing muscles: for example, work the biceps and triceps of your arms, and the quadriceps and hamstrings of your thighs. Avoid above-the-shoulder exercises if you have arthritis in your upper body, and talk to your doctor before using leg press machines if you have arthritis in your knees or hips.
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The exercises that allow you to use the greatest amount of weight are the ones that help you build muscle the fastest. These also happen to be the lifts that allow for the greatest percentage of increases in loading. We’re talking compound (multi-joint) exercises here, done with free weights. You’re not going to grow at nearly the same rate with a workout comprising machine exercises and isolation movements.
Energy: Energy is found in amino acids, also known as creatine, produced naturally in the body and also found in meat such as beef, chicken and pork. The problem with naturally found creatine is that the amount of protein in it is not high, which therefore, draws bodybuilders to supplement it with a powdered version. Bodybuilders use creatine to increase anaerobic energy; this allows them to lift weights for longer periods of time. Creatine also helps to give volume to the muscle cells by adding more water in them, thus making them look fuller. 

Creatine is found in many protein supplements at baseline in the form of creatine monohydrate. If you take a protein supplement, you may already be getting creatine. What makes this creatine so special? Like the protein supplement above, this creatine supplement contains no artificial sweeteners or dyes. It contains 5000mg of creatine per dose and includes certain compounds to increase the bioavailability of the creatine, allowing it to be better absorbed.
However, caffeine does not negate the benefits of creatine loading when not coingested, but just taken before exercise in the same dosage.[593] This result indicates that loading creatine without caffeine on a daily basis, but saving caffeine for select workouts, may be an effective strategy, as creatine does not adversely affect caffeine’s ergogenic effects[593][594] and may enhance creatine’s effectiveness in anaerobic exertion if the two compounds are alternated.[595]
The process of phagocytosis (a macrophage consuming a pathogen) in macrophages appears to be associated with an acute reduction in creatine phosphate stores (45%)[436] and an increase in creatine kinase activity,[290] although prolonged stimulation is met with an increase in creatine phosphate (20%).[290] The creatine kinase activity does not appear to be altered based on creatine availability,[290] but since ATP seems to be preserved in these instances,[436][290] the increase in phosphocreatine may be explained by an overall creatine pool paralleling that found in medium.[290]

Some of these athletes take it to an unhealthy — and in some cases illegal — extreme with anabolic steroids, prohormones, diuretics, and potentially harmful substances. In addition to their potential performance-enhancing attributes, many of these substances also can have serious and significant side effects. A telling example of this is the story of ephedra — a once widely-used supplement for bodybuilding that has since been banned and removed from the market due to multiple reports of life-threatening side effects and death after its use.


When Katula started his research on whether weight training would improve quality of life for seniors, he realized that many had never even picked up a dumbbell. “They first had to learn how to use these big intimidating weights and machines,” he says. He recalls the story of one woman who protested that she couldn’t do the leg press machine. Finally, Katula persuaded her to sit in the machine and set the weight at 50 pounds. “I couldn’t believe how fast she whipped out 10 reps,” he says, “When she got out of that machine, she was two inches taller just from increased pride.”
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 levels in the blood tend to return to baseline (after a loading with or without the maintenance phase) after 28 days without creatine supplementation.[152][200][201] This number may vary slightly from one individual to another, and for some may exceed 30 days.[202] Assuming an elimination rate of creatinine (creatine’s metabolite) at 14.6mmol per day,[35][201] six weeks of cessation is approaching the upper limit for serum creatine to completely return to baseline.

Though weight training can stimulate the cardiovascular system, many exercise physiologists, based on their observation of maximal oxygen uptake, argue that aerobics training is a better cardiovascular stimulus. Central catheter monitoring during resistance training reveals increased cardiac output, suggesting that strength training shows potential for cardiovascular exercise. However, a 2007 meta-analysis found that, though aerobic training is an effective therapy for heart failure patients, combined aerobic and strength training is ineffective; "the favorable antiremodeling role of aerobic exercise was not confirmed when this mode of exercise was combined with strength training".[36]


The pancreas is one of the extrahepatic (beyond the liver) organs that can synthesize creatine, alongside the kidneys.[486][487] Freshly prepared pancreatic β-cells will normally secrete insulin in response to glucose stimulation, and it appears that phosphocreatine is required for this effect, since phosphocreatine is increased in response to glucose[488] alongside an increase of the ADP:ATP ratio. They appear to close ATP sensitive potassium channels (KATP channels), causing a release of insulin secondary to calcium release.[488] Both phosphocreatine[488] and ADP[489] are implicated, but it seems that despite the channel being sensitive to ATP,[490] the concentration of ATP in a pancreatic cell (3-5mM[491][492]) is already above the activation threshold (in the micromolar range[493]) and thus a further increase would not have an appreciable effect.
In muscle cells, the creatine transporter is predominantly localized to the sarcolemmal membrane. Western blot analysis of creatine transporter expression revealed the presence of two distinc protein bands, migrating at 55kDa and 70kDa on reducing SDS-PAGE gels.[147][148] The 73kDa band has been reported to be the predominant band in humans, with no differences based on gender.[148] A more recent report demonstrated that the 55kDa creatine transporter variant is glycosylated, forming the 73 kDa protein. Therefore, the 55 and 75kDa protein bands are actually immature and mature/processed forms of the creatine transporter protein, respectively.[149]
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