Before getting into the nitty-gritty details about supplements, it’s important to have a good understanding of how muscle growth works. When you take a muscle growth supplement, the role it plays in helping you reach your goals should be very clear. With the supplements available on the market, you can be sure that while some serve an important purpose, others are gimmicks. It’s easier to identify the money wasters if you know how muscle building works.
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.
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.
Finally, starvation (nutrient deprivation for four days) appears to increase activity of the creatine transporter secondary to decreasing serine phosphorylation (SGK target) with no influence on tyrosine phosphorylation (c-Src target). Starvation-induced increases in creatine influx do not necessarily mean more phosphocreatine, however, due to a depleted cellular energy state.
Creatine supplementation often causes weight gain that can be mistaken for increase in muscle mass. Increasing intracellular creatine may cause an osmotic influx of water into the cell because creatine is an osmotically active substance . It is possible that the weight gained is water retention and not increased muscle. The retention of water may be connected to reports of muscle cramps, dehydration, and heat intolerance when taking creatine supplements. It would be prudent to encourage proper hydration for creatine users. Further research is needed to investigate these and other possible side effects.
Fish oils are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, which provide myriad benefits for the body. For strength athletes and bodybuilders, we're most concerned with their anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Intense resistance training can cause microscopic tears in your muscle fibers, leading to muscle damage and inflammation. While some inflammation is desirable, too much can delay the post-exercise recovery process.
Cornelissen VA, Defoor JG, Stevens A, Schepers D, Hespel P, Decramer M, Mortelmans L, Dobbels F, Vanhaecke J, Fagard RH, Vanhees L. Effect of creatine supplementation as a potential adjuvant therapy to exercise training in cardiac patients: a randomized controlled trial. Clin Rehabil. 2010;24:988–999. doi: 10.1177/0269215510367995. [PubMed] [CrossRef]
If you're using a resistance band, keep in mind that one band might not cut it for your entire body. Different muscles have different strengths, so you may want to buy two different resistance bands in different thickness, which determines how difficult they'll be to use. In general, if you're able to complete 8 reps of an exercise using a band, you'll want to select another that provides a greater amount of resistance.
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 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.
Small but significant is good. It’s especially helpful during short periods of extremely powerful physical activity, particularly if those short bursts of activity are repeated, as in weightlifting, sprinting or football, for example. The study also says that creatine supplementation is associated with enhanced strength gains in strength training programs, which could be related to the greater volume and intensity of training that you can achieve when you’re taking creatine supplements. Plus, according to the study, there’s no evidence of gastrointestinal, renal or muscle cramping complications – more good news.
Creatine, the amino acid, naturally helps your body produce more adenosine triphosphate, or ATP, a small molecule that’s actually your body's primary energy source. But research shows that your body is only capable of storing enough ATP for 8 to 10 seconds of high-intensity exercise — and after that, it needs to produce new ATP for you to continue. (9)
Endogenous serum or plasma creatine concentrations in healthy adults are normally in a range of 2–12 mg/L. A single 5 g (5000 mg) oral dose in healthy adults results in a peak plasma creatine level of approximately 120 mg/L at 1–2 hours post-ingestion. Creatine has a fairly short elimination half-life, averaging just less than 3 hours, so to maintain an elevated plasma level it would be necessary to take small oral doses every 3–6 hours throughout the day. After the "loading dose" period (1–2 weeks, 12–24 g a day), it is no longer necessary to maintain a consistently high serum level of creatine. As with most supplements, each person has their own genetic "preset" amount of creatine they can hold. The rest is eliminated as waste. A typical post-loading dose is 2–5 g daily.
Another supplement that’s ideal to take pre-workout is protein. Depending on your goals and your workout time, taking protein before your workout can help you keep your energy levels elevated while working out. Make sure you give yourself at least an hour between the time you take your protein and your workout time so that your body has time to digest.
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.
Spero Karas, MD, assistant professor of orthopaedics in the division of sports medicine at Emory University, says that testosterone, the male hormone responsible for muscle growth, maxes out between the ages of 16 and 18. It reaches a plateau during the 20s and then begins to decline. As a result, muscle building after the adolescent years can be challenging, he says.
He pointed to data sets in Mayo Clinic Proceedings that found resistance training reduced the risk of developing metabolic syndrome or hypercholesterolemia. “If you build muscle, even if you’re not aerobically active, you burn more energy because you have more muscle. This also helps prevent obesity and provide long-term benefits on various health outcomes.”
The majority of studies have used nothing but a loading period and the duration, overall, was about a week. This is partially because one study that noted benefit with a loading period failed to note benefit with prolonged supplementation. Lowballing supplementation at 2g a day in high active swimmers does not appear to be sufficient to alter any function in skeletal muscle.
In regard to carbohydrate oxidation during exercise, it appears that rats subject to intermittent physical exercise (which utilizes glycogen) have decreased lactate production during said exercise, suggesting a preservation of glycogen usage. This occurred alongside an increase in glycogen stores. This is thought to be due to phosphocreatine donating phosphate to replenish ATP. Without any changes in whole body metabolic rate, it indirectly causes less glucose to be required to replenish ATP, due to a quota needing to be met during exercise and creatine phosphate taking up a relatively larger percentage of said quota.
Kornblum, C., Schroder, R., Muller, K., Vorgerd, M., Eggers, J., Bogdanow, M., Papassotiropoulos, A., Fabian, K., Klockgether, T., and Zange, J. Creatine has no beneficial effect on skeletal muscle energy metabolism in patients with single mitochondrial DNA deletions: a placebo-controlled, double-blind 31P-MRS crossover study. Eur J Neurol 2005;12(4):300-309. View abstract.
Lyoo, I. K., Yoon, S., Kim, T. S., Hwang, J., Kim, J. E., Won, W., Bae, S., & Renshaw, P. F. (2012, September). A randomized, double-blind placebo-controlled trial of oral creatine monohydrate augmentation for enhanced response to a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor in women with major depressive disorder. American Journal of Psychiatry. 169(9):937-45. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22864465
Stand on one foot with the arch and heel hanging off of the edge of a step or platform. Hold onto something if you need help balancing. Drop your heel all the way down below the step, and then rise all the way up on your toes. Hold dumbbells to make it harder. If you can balance without holding on to something, you’ll work your core muscles, too. You'll also build more stable joints in the other leg.
Weight gain might be the most common side effect. “Creatine can cause your body to hold on to water by pulling fluid into your cells via osmosis,” says Bates. “It doesn't necessarily cause you to gain weight as fat, but it can increase edema, or water weight.” Also, muscle is denser than fat, so in some cases building muscle can increase body weight overall (even if you’re simultaneously burning fat).
Perform the two workouts (Day 1 and 2) once each per week, resting at least a day between each. Perform the exercises marked with letters as a group. Do one set of A, rest, then one set of B, rest (note that some groups have an exercise “C”), and repeat until all sets are complete. Then go on to the next group. Perform three sets of 8–10 reps for each exercise. After a month, you’ll see how rewarding just a months in the gym can be.
Researchers described the study as one of the first to examine how strength training can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, separate from the effects of aerobic activity like running or long walks. The point: for those who are not meeting recommended guidelines for aerobic activity—perhaps because they lack the time—bursts of weight training can be enough.
Taking high doses of creatine might harm the kidneys. Some medications can also harm the kidneys. Taking creatine with medications that can harm the kidneys might increase the chance of kidney damage.
Some of these medications that can harm the kidneys include cyclosporine (Neoral, Sandimmune); aminoglycosides including amikacin (Amikin), gentamicin (Garamycin, Gentak, others), and tobramycin (Nebcin, others); nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) including ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, Nuprin, others), indomethacin (Indocin), naproxen (Aleve, Anaprox, Naprelan, Naprosyn), piroxicam (Feldene); and numerous others.