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.
Exercise is highly effective in increasing your lean body mass, which is essentially muscle. In a study published in 2012, progressive resistance training helped men ages 50 to 83 gain an average of 2.4 pounds of lean body mass over an average of 20.5 weeks. Progressive resistance training involves performing weight bearing exercises. In addition, you must slowly increase the challenge of the exercise over time by increasing the weight, reps and/or sets. Studies show that either increasing reps or weight amount will work. So, if you don’t want to lift more weight, you can just do more reps and still build muscle.

Research shows that strength training is especially effective at raising EPOC. That’s because, generally speaking, strength-training sessions cause more physiological stress to the body compared to cardiovascular exercise, even higher-intensity cardio intervals. However, it’s worth noting that overall exercise intensity is what makes the biggest impact on EPOC. So squats, deadlifts, and bench presses with heavy weights are going to be much more effective at raising EPOC compared to bicep curls and triceps extensions with light weights.


Due to this relative deficiency-state in vegetarians and vegans, some aspects of creatine supplementation are seen as more akin to normalizing a deficiency, rather than providing the benefits of supplementation. In young vegetarians, but not omnivores, creatine supplementation can enhance cognition.[60][61] The increased gain in lean mass may be more significant in vegetarians, relative to omnivores.[59] Supplementation of creatine in vegetarians appears to normalize the gap in storage between vegetarians and omnivores.[62] This is possibly related to a correlation seen in survey research, where vegetarianism and veganism appear to be more commonly affected by some mental disorders like anxiety and depression.[63]

Site enhancement oil, often called "santol" or "synthol" (no relation to the Synthol mouthwash brand), refers to oils injected into muscles to increase the size or change the shape. Some bodybuilders, particularly at the professional level, inject their muscles with such mixtures to mimic the appearance of developed muscle where it may otherwise be disproportionate or lagging.[54] This is known as "fluffing".[55][56] Synthol is 85% oil, 7.5% lidocaine, and 7.5% alcohol.[55] It is not restricted, and many brands are available on the Internet.[57] The use of injected oil to enhance muscle appearance is common among bodybuilders,[58][59] despite the fact that synthol can cause pulmonary embolisms, nerve damage, infections, sclerosing lipogranuloma,[60] stroke,[55] and the formation of oil-filled granulomas, cysts or ulcers in the muscle.[59][61][62] Rare cases might require surgical intervention to avoid further damage to the muscle and/or to prevent loss of life.[63]

However, the basis of “take creatine after your workout” comes from a 2013 study published in the JISSN, which can be found here (open access too!). In this study, recreational male bodybuilders (19 men overall) were given five grams of creatine either before or after their workouts. They trained five days per week but were also directed to consume 5g on their rest days at any time they wanted. The workouts were fairly similar to most gym workouts, and the methodology (what they did and how they did it) suggests that the findings would apply to most weightlifters.


The specific mechanism of intestinal uptake for creatine is not clear, although transporters have been identified in rat jujenum, and confirmed at the mRNA level in humans.[129][130] The observation that creatine can be absorbed against a concentration gradient to a max ratio of 8:1 (8 times more creatine in the intestinal cell post absorption, relative to the lumen) supports transporter-mediated uptake, and the dependence on sodium and chloride implicate SLC6A8 (Creatine Transporter 1) as the operative transporter.[102]
Vegetarians and other people who have lower total creatine levels when they start taking creatine supplements seem to get more benefit than people who start with a higher level of creatine. Skeletal muscle will only hold a certain amount of creatine; adding more won't raise levels any more. This "saturation point" is usually reached within the first few days of taking a "loading dose."
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%),[312] 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.[461] This study was unable to demonstrate why this reduction occured[461] 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.[462]
Spillane M, Schoch R, Cooke M, Harvey T, Greenwood M, Kreider R, Willoughby DS. The effects of creatine ethyl ester supplementation combined with heavy resistance training on body composition, muscle performance, and serum and muscle creatine levels. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2009;6:6. doi: 10.1186/1550-2783-6-6. [PMC free article] [PubMed] [CrossRef]

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.
A previous meta-analysis [28] reported an overall creatine supplementation effect size (ES) of 0.24 ± 0.02 for activities lasting ≤30 s. (primarily using the ATP- phosphocreatine energy system). For this short high-intensity exercise, creatine supplementation resulted in a 7.5 ± 0.7% increase from base line which was greater than the 4.3 ± 0.6% improvement observed for placebo groups. When looking at the individual selected measures for anaerobic performance the greatest effect of creatine supplementation was observed on the number of repetitions which showed an ES of 0.64 ± 0.18. Furthermore, an increase from base line of 45.4 ± 7.2% compared to 22.9 ± 7.3% for the placebo group was observed. The second greatest ES was on the weight lifted at 0.51 ± 0.16 with an increase from base line of 13.4 ± 2.7% for the placebo group and 24.7 ± 3.9% for the creatine group. Other measures improved by creatine with a mean ES greater than 0 were for the amount of work accomplished, weight lifted, time, force production, cycle ergometer revolutions/min and power. The possible effect of creatine supplementation on multiple high intensity short duration bouts (<30 s) have shown an ES not statistically significant from 0. This would indicate that creatine supplementation might be useful to attenuate fatigue symptoms over multiple bouts of high-intensity, short duration exercise. The ES of creatine on anaerobic endurance exercise (>30 – 150s), primarily using the anaerobic glycolysis energy system, was 0.19 ± 0.05 with an improvement from baseline of 4.9 ± 1.5 % for creatine and -2.0 ± 0.6% for the placebo. The specific aspects of anaerobic endurance performance improved by creatine supplementation were work and power, both of which had a mean ES greater than 0. From the findings of this previous meta-analysis [28] it would appear that creatine supplementation has the most pronounced effect on short duration (<30s) high intensity intermittent exercises.

There are a number of weight machines that are commonly found in neighborhood gyms. The Smith machine is a barbell that is constrained to vertical movement. The cable machine consists of two weight stacks separated by 2.5 metres, with cables running through adjustable pulleys (that can be fixed at any height so as to select different amounts of weight) to various types of handles. There are also exercise-specific weight machines such as the leg press. A multigym includes a variety of exercise-specific mechanisms in one apparatus.
Young adult athletes who reported creatine usage for over two years prior to the study (retrospective design) were not significantly different than controls.[501] 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.[502]
Jason Ferruggia is a highly sought after, world renowned strength & conditioning specialist and muscle building expert. Over the last 17 years he has personally trained more than 700 athletes from over 90 different NCAA, NFL, NHL and MLB organizations. He has also worked extensively with firefighters, police officers, military personnel, Hollywood stars and entertainers. Most importantly, Jason has helped over 53,000 skinny guys and hard gainers in 126 different countries build muscle and gain weight faster than they every thought possible.
Related to exercise and fitness, BCAAs are taken to help reduce muscle breakdown, which is why they may be known as muscle building supplements. Leucine, in particular, is known for playing an important role in muscle protein synthesis, which can help with muscle gain and maintenance. Some also claim that BCAAs can enhance performance, although many studies also refute this claim.
According to BodyBuilding.com, adenosine triphosphate (ATP) is made up of a nucleotide bonded to three phosphate groups. When one of those phosphate groups is cleaved from the ATP molecule, a lot of energy is made available. That energy is used to fuel chemical reactions in cells, and ATP becomes adenosine diphosphate (ADP). Creatine enables the release of energy from stored ATP and is converted to creatinine.
Creatine is a naturally occurring compound found in muscle in large amounts. Creatine monohydrate is the supplement form and combines is a combination of the amino acids arginine, glycine, and methionine. Creatine drives the important creatine phosphate energy pathway, which is important in high-intensity activity such as weightlifting. Creatine can improve body bulk and training performance in high-intensity activities. Be aware that not everyone responds to creatine supplementation and 30 percent of users may not see any improvement. Women may not benefit as much as men. In weight training, increased strength, bulk, and fat loss are reasonably consistent results.

Our Keep-It™ guarantee is valid for the first-time purchase of a formula, and redeemable up to three months (90 days) after the purchase date. Multiple bottles, foods, apparel and gear do not fall under this guarantee, however, they may be applicable for return. Fitness equipment, personal care products, knowledge purchases, and DVDs are not eligible for return or refund. For more information and a full list of products that qualify, visit our Keep-It™ page. Further details can be found on our Refund Policy support page.


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]
Creatine has been investigated for its effects on depression, due to the significant changes occurring in brain morphology and neuronal structure associated with depression[246] and low brain bioenergetic turnover in depression[247], perhaps related to abnormal mitochondrial functioning, which reduces available energy for the brain.[248][249] The general association of low or otherwise impaired phosphate energy systems (of which creatine forms the energetic basis of) with depression, has been noted previously.[250][247][251] Due to associations with cellular death and impaired bioenergetics with depression, creatine was subsequently investigated.

In females, the combination of SSRIs (to increase serotonin levels in the synapse between neurons) and creatine shows promise in augmenting the anti-depressive effects of SSRI therapy[230]. Another pilot study conducted on depression and females showed efficacy of creatine supplementation.[231] The one study measuring male subjects noted an increase in mood and minimal anti-depressive effects, but it is not know whether this is due to gender differences or the model studies (post-traumatic stress disorder).[232]
Weight training also provides functional benefits. Stronger muscles improve posture, provide better support for joints, and reduce the risk of injury from everyday activities. Older people who take up weight training can prevent some of the loss of muscle tissue that normally accompanies aging—and even regain some functional strength—and by doing so, become less frail.[33] They may be able to avoid some types of physical disability. Weight-bearing exercise also helps to prevent osteoporosis.[34] The benefits of weight training for older people have been confirmed by studies of people who began engaging in it even in their eighties and nineties.
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 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].
Now, while all three are definitely beneficial to the process, I’d consider metabolic stress and muscular damage to be of secondary and tertiary importance, respectively. In addition, they are also things that will pretty much take care of themselves when implementing the workout guidelines and recommendations we’ve already covered (namely for volume, rep ranges, rest periods and exercise selection).
Although it does not appear to influence baseline antioxidant enzymes (measured in red blood cells), one week of creatine loading in otherwise healthy young adults has increased red blood cell (RBC) content of the superoxide dismutase (SOD) enzyme in response to a sprint test by 8.1% immediately after exercise. This was no longer detectable after an hour since placebo increased to match.[299] Glutathione and catalase are unaffected.[299]
However, in the beginning weeks of starting a new workout routine, the majority of strength gains aren't actually a result of this muscle protein synthesis and hypertrophy. Rather, they are a result of the body's neurological system learning when and how to fire the needed muscle cells, explains Abbie E. Smith-Ryan, associate professor of exercise physiology at the department of exercise and sport science at the University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill. Think of it this way: The first time you perform a new exercise, say a bench press, you likely feel pretty shaky. Your arms aren't totally in sync and the weights may sway a bit from side to side. But by the time you perform your second or third set of that same exercise, the practice gets a little smoother. That's your neurological system at work.
Creatine monohydrate is highly regarded as one of the most powerful and all-around best bodybuilding supplements for athletes hoping to make big gains fast. Creatine is one of the go-to supplements for building mass because it maximizes power output, strength, endurance, and overall performance, helping you to crush your fitness goals time and time again.
Longer rest periods are more ideal for making progressive tension overload happen, and shorter rest periods are more ideal for generating metabolic fatigue. So, if you’re doing an exercise that is better suited for progressive overload (i.e. primary compound exercises), you’re going to want to rest longer between sets to maximize strength output. And if you’re doing an exercise that is better suited for metabolic fatigue (i.e. isolation exercises), you’re going to want to rest less between sets to make that happen. And if you’re doing an exercise that is suited equally for a combination of the two (i.e. secondary compound exercises), you’re usually going to want a moderate rest period somewhere in between. 

How much weight? Start with a pair of light dumbbell hand weights (2 to 3 pounds for women and 5 to 8 pounds for men). If you can’t do 12 repetitions (or reps are the number of times you do the exercise) the weight is too heavy. If your muscles don’t feel tired after 12 reps, it’s too light. Adjustable weights that can be strapped to wrists or ankles may be convenient if you have arthritis in your hands. You can also use home or gym weight machines, or resistance bands.
Bird, L. M., Tan, W. H., Bacino, C. A., Peters, S. U., Skinner, S. A., Anselm, I., Barbieri-Welge, R., Bauer-Carlin, A., Gentile, J. K., Glaze, D. G., Horowitz, L. T., Mohan, K. N., Nespeca, M. P., Sahoo, T., Sarco, D., Waisbren, S. E., and Beaudet, A. L. A therapeutic trial of pro-methylation dietary supplements in Angelman syndrome. Am J Med Genet.A 2011;155A(12):2956-2963. View abstract.
Furthermore, because creatine can help restore ATP levels, increasing energy, it can lead to reduced amounts of heart muscle stress. More energy in your life will result in less pain, stress, and boost morale in everyday life which has a significant role in improving heart health. The increased capacity to exercise is also crucial in maintaining and improving heart health.
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 following article I will outline the supplements that have helped me to add a massive 10 kilograms (22lbs) of solid muscle to my physique over the past year—taking my body weight from 80 kilograms (176lbs) to 90 kilograms (198lbs)—and explain how these have helped me to improve my performance and enhance my size as a natural bodybuilder, aged 35.

Our bodies store creatine in our muscles so that we have quick access to it for fast, high-intensity movements, like sprinting or powerlifting, explains Autumn Bates, a certified clinical nutritionist and sports nutritionist in private practice in Manhattan Beach, California. “It's a nonessential amino acid, meaning your body creates it and you don't need to primarily get it from food.”


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.

Under most circumstances, sports drinks do not offer a physiological benefit over water during weight training.[18] However, high-intensity exercise for a continuous duration of at least one hour may require the replenishment of electrolytes which a sports drink may provide.[19] Some may maintain that energy drinks, such as Red Bull that contain caffeine, improve performance in weight training and other physical exercise, but in fact, these energy drinks can cause dehydration, tremors, heat stroke, and heart attack when consumed in excess.[20] 'Sports drinks' that contain simple carbohydrates & water do not cause ill effects, but are most likely unnecessary for the average trainee. More recently, people have been taking pre-workout before working out to increase performance. The main ingredients in these pre-workouts are: beta-alanine, creatine, BCAAs (branched chain amino acids) and caffeine.[21]
Having a spotter nearby is particularly important when using free weights. Even someone in great shape sometimes just can't make that last rep. It's no big deal if you're doing biceps curls; all you'll have to do is drop the weight onto the floor. But if you're in the middle of a bench press — a chest exercise where you're lying on a bench and pushing a loaded barbell away from your chest — it's easy to get hurt if you drop the weight. A spotter can keep you from dropping the barbell onto your chest.
While training intensity can be accomplished trough a targeted training program and an ability to adequately stimulate our muscles is something the motivated and determined bodybuilder often has no problem doing, muscle recovery is another issue. It is especially important at a time of the year when social demands and incorrect eating combine to stifle our progress.
Creatine has been investigated for its effects on depression, due to the significant changes occurring in brain morphology and neuronal structure associated with depression[246] and low brain bioenergetic turnover in depression[247], perhaps related to abnormal mitochondrial functioning, which reduces available energy for the brain.[248][249] The general association of low or otherwise impaired phosphate energy systems (of which creatine forms the energetic basis of) with depression, has been noted previously.[250][247][251] Due to associations with cellular death and impaired bioenergetics with depression, creatine was subsequently investigated.
In addition to the HIIT sessions, it’s always a good idea to go for a 30–60-minute walk as many days per week as you can. I recommend getting a minimum of 10,000 steps every day. Use a phone app to track them. If you’re into jogging, swimming, hiking, or some other form of long-duration, fairly low-intensity cardio, that is fine to do as well, and as often as you like.
In people whose kidneys don’t function optimally, supplemental creatine seems to be safe, too.[513][518][313][528] However, studies in people with suboptimal kidney function are fewer than in healthy people, and they are short-term. People with kidney dysfunction, or at risk for developing kidney dysfunction (e.g., people with diabetes, high blood pressure, or family history of kidney disease; people over sixty; and non-Hispanic blacks), might wish to forgo creatine, or otherwise take only the lowest effective dose (3 g/day)[527] after talking to their doctor.

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.
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] 
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