Creatine is marketed as "nature's muscle builder" and "the most legitimate sports supplement around." Professional and amateur athletes alike are gobbling up this alleged ergogenic aid, hoping to increase their strength and performance. Creatine supplementation is claimed to increase muscle power by playing a role in the transfer of energy to help the muscle contract. Supplement labels state that "creatine is converted to phosphocreatine, which is important for short energy bursts such as sprinting and weight lifting" and that "depletion of phosphocreatine can result in muscle fatigue and fading muscle power." Claims are also made that supplementation increases muscle body mass.
“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.
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).
So, one way to make the soreness go away, at least temporarily, is to continue exercising. This increases blood flow to the muscles and helps them heal. However, remember that we still need them to heal. So if you’re sore from heavy squats, don’t turn around and do heavy squats again. Try doing squats with no weight or yoga/stretching to help bring the soreness down.
Although weight training is similar to bodybuilding, they have different objectives. Bodybuilders use weight training to develop their muscles for size, shape, and symmetry regardless of any increase in strength for competition in bodybuilding contests; they train to maximize their muscular size and develop extremely low levels of body fat. In contrast, many weight trainers train to improve their strength and anaerobic endurance while not giving special attention to reducing body fat far below normal.
The largest determiner of your metabolic rate is actually your total body mass. “The more cells, even fat cells, in your body, the more furnaces you have burning at any given time,” Dr. Church says. Think of it this way: It takes more juice to charge your tablet than it does to charge your phone. People who are taller and have a larger bone structure, therefore, will have a higher BMR than people who are shorter and have a slimmer build. While you can control your body mass to some extent by gaining or losing weight, you can’t change your height or your bone structure. All in all, most of a person’s BMR is determined by genetic factors, Dr. Church says.
More specifically, you can expect to end up in the upper half of these ranges ONLY if you are a beginner, younger, and/or have amazing genetics. You can expect to end up in the lower half of these ranges if you are an intermediate or advanced trainee, older, and/or have poor genetics. The average person can expect to end up somewhere in the middle. Additional details here: How Much Muscle Can You Gain?
Chin-Ups. The chin-up is the easiest way to determine someone’s relative strength. If you can knock out sets of bench with your bodyweight but can’t perform at least 5 bodyweight chin-ups then it’s time to re-evaluate your priorities. Chin-ups are an excellent mass builder for the lats, biceps, and upper back so they should take the place of machine variations like lat pulldowns whenever possible.
Stand with your feet at shoulder width and position a heavy kettlebell between your feet. Hinge at your hips and bend your knees while lowering your hands to the kettlebell handle. Your shins should stay vertical. Gripping the handle, exhale as you drive through our heels to extend your hips and rise to standing. Inhale as you slowly lower the kettlebell back toward the ground by hinging at the hips and allowing your knees to bend as needed. Do 10 reps.
The best way to know the real progress you’re making is by recording it on video or taking photos. “Photos mean everything because if you can take them in the same areas and in the same poses, you’ll see your strengths and weaknesses clearly,” says Heath. “Revise your training and diet programs to eliminate weaknesses.” Keep a file of your progress to see just how far you can take your fitness.
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. Combination therapy has also been used with creatine and folic acid (both in vitro and in vivo), resulting in increased skin firmness and reduced coarse and fine wrinkles.
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).
Low testosterone levels can cause mood disturbances, increased body fat, loss of muscle tone, inadequate erections and poor sexual performance, osteoporosis, difficulty with concentration, memory loss and sleep difficulties. Current research suggests that this effect occurs in only a minority (about 2%) of ageing men. However, there is a lot of research currently in progress to find out more about the effects of testosterone in older men and also whether the use of testosterone replacement therapy would have any benefits.
Attention, memory, and spatial ability are key cognitive functions affected by testosterone in humans. Preliminary evidence suggests that low testosterone levels may be a risk factor for cognitive decline and possibly for dementia of the Alzheimer's type, a key argument in life extension medicine for the use of testosterone in anti-aging therapies. Much of the literature, however, suggests a curvilinear or even quadratic relationship between spatial performance and circulating testosterone, where both hypo- and hypersecretion (deficient- and excessive-secretion) of circulating androgens have negative effects on cognition.
Need the motivation to push past your comfort zone and squeeze out one more push-up or bicep curl? Sure, it helps to remember that you’ll get stronger, rock more toned muscles and rev your metabolism, thanks to all that added muscle mass. But if that wasn’t enough, now comes news that all that pump-itude (yes, that’s an SNL reference) has psychological benefits, too.
I can’t predict what sort of results you’ll see in that first year, but it can be pretty epic if you attack it right! Muscle growth might happen slower than you want, but I expect something different will happen along the way – you’ll fall in love with this idea of building STRENGTH! In fact, getting hooked on progress, and strength training is one of the best things you can do for yourself.
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(1):151-155. View abstract.
2-4 Minutes Rest: Ideal for “tension exercises,” which includes most primary compound exercises. I personally take 3 minutes for the big stuff, sometimes going into the 3-4 minute range depending on exactly what I’m doing and what I feel like I need at the time. Since making strength gains is the main focus of these exercises, longer rest periods like this will be optimal for making it happen.
Cooke et al  observed positive effects of a prior (0.3 g/d kg BW) loading and a post maintenance protocol (0.1 g/d kg BW) to attenuate the loss of strength and muscle damage after an acute supramaximal (3 set x 10 rep with 120% 1RM) eccentric resistance training session in young males. The authors speculate that creatine ingestion prior to exercise may enhance calcium buffering capacity of the muscle and reduce calcium-activated proteases which in turn minimize sarcolemma and further influxes of calcium into the muscle. In addition creatine ingestion post exercise would enhance regenerative responses, favoring a more anabolic environment to avoid severe muscle damage and improve the recovery process. In addition, in vitro studies have demonstrated the antioxidant effects of creatine to remove superoxide anion radicals and peroxinitrite radicals . This antioxidant effect of creatine has been associated with the presence of Arginine in its molecule. Arginine is also a substrate for nitric oxide synthesis and can increase the production of nitric oxide which has higher vasodilatation properties, and acts as a free radical that modulates metabolism, contractibility and glucose uptake in skeletal muscle. Other amino acids contained in the creatine molecule such as glycine and methinine may be especially susceptible to free radical oxidation because of sulfhydryl groups . A more recent in vitro study showed that creatine exerts direct antioxidant activity via a scavenging mechanism in oxidatively injured cultured mammalian cells . In a recent in vivo study Rhaini et al  showed a positive effect of 7 days of creatine supplementation (4 x 5 g CM 20 g total) on 27 recreational resistance trained males to attenuate the oxidation of DNA and lipid peroxidation after a strenuous resistance training protocol.
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.
The shortest and most preliminary study noted that, over the short term, creatine delivers on its expected improvement in physical strength. However, longer studies that measure the rate of loss for muscle function (deterioration of muscular capacity that is known to occur with ALS) have repeatedly failed to find a benefit with creatine supplementation.
Diet – Increase your intake of foods that help to fight depression. These foods include fatty fish such as mackerel, tuna, and bluefish, foods rich in antioxidants such as Beta-carotene containing foods – broccoli, carrots, spinach, and apricots, and vitamin E containing foods – nuts and seeds, wheat germ, and margarine, and protein-rich foods including tuna, chicken, and turkey, and selenium-rich foods including beans, legumes, low-fat dairy products, and whole grains.
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).
Hypogonadism is a disease in which the body is unable to produce normal amounts of testosterone due to a problem with the testicles or with the pituitary gland that controls the testicles. Testosterone replacement therapy can improve the signs and symptoms of low testosterone in these men. Doctors may prescribe testosterone as injections, pellets, patches or gels.
Although creatine can be bought commercially as a standalone product it is often found in combination with other nutrients. A prime example is the combination of creatine with carbohydrate or protein and carbohydrate for augmenting creatine muscle retention  mediated through an insulin response from the pancreas . Steenge et al  found that body creatine retention of 5 g CM was increased by 25% with the addition of 50 g of protein and 47 g of carbohydrate or 96 g carbohydrate when compared to a placebo treatment of 5 g carbohydrate. The addition of 10g of creatine to 75 g of dextrose, 2 g of taurine, vitamins and minerals, induced a change in cellular osmolarity which in addition to the expected increase in body mass, seems to produce an up regulation of large scale gene expression (mRNA content of genes and protein content of kinases involved in osmosensing and signal transduction, cytoskeleton remodelling, protein and glycogen synthesis regulation, satellite cell proliferation and differentiation, DNA replication and repair, RNA transcription control, and cell survival) . Similar findings have also been reported for creatine monohydrate supplementation alone when combined with resistance training .
It arises from the posterior gluteal line of the inner upper ilium, a pelvic bone, and roughly the portion of the bone including the crest of the ilium (the hip bone), immediately above and behind it; and from the posterior surface of the lower part of the sacrum, the base of the spine, and the side of the coccyx, the tailbone; from the aponeurosis of the erector spinae (lumbodorsal fascia), the sacrotuberous ligament, and the fascia covering the gluteus medius (gluteal aponeurosis). The fibers are directed obliquely downward and lateralward; The gluteus maximus has two insertions:
If you touch your phone between exercise sets, it better be to set its timer to 30 to 90 seconds. When lifting for hypertrophy, rest periods of 30 to 90 seconds encourage a quick release in muscle-building hormones (including testosterone and human growth hormone) while also making sure that you really, truly fatigue your muscles, according to Fitzgerald.
Genetic deficiencies in the creatine biosynthetic pathway lead to various severe neurological defects. Clinically, there are three distinct disorders of creatine metabolism. Deficiencies in the two synthesis enzymes can cause L-arginine:glycine amidinotransferase deficiency caused by variants in GATM and guanidinoacetate methyltransferase deficiency, caused by variants in GAMT. Both biosynthetic defects are inherited in an autosomal recessive manner. A third defect, creatine transporter defect, is caused by mutations in SLC6A8 and inherited in a X-linked manner. This condition is related to the transport of creatine into the brain.
Studies of so-called "smart drugs" have also been taken out of context. Some "smart" nutrients, available over the counter, are marketed as a way to "increase mental focus and concentration during training." The problem is that the studies they're based upon involved either animals or people with brain pathology. In normal people the effects of smart drugs remain unproven, except anecdotally.
Increasing creatine levels in skeletal muscle to 687% of baseline (0.5mM creatine, thought to be equivalent to 5g creatine) doesn’t seem to per se increase glucose uptake, but increases glucose oxidation (140% of baseline) which is due to a two-fold increase in the activity of α1 and α2 subunits of AMPK, a potency comparable to 1mM of the reference drug AICAR. Glucose uptake associated with AMPK has indeed been noted in diabetic people who are undergoing physical exercise and in contracting skeletal muscle cells, but according to rat and in vitro studies of cells not being contracted, this is not a per se effect of non-exercising tissue but an augmentation of exercise-induced glucose uptake.
This content is strictly the opinion of Dr. Josh Axe and is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide medical advice or to take the place of medical advice or treatment from a personal physician. All readers/viewers of this content are advised to consult their doctors or qualified health professionals regarding specific health questions. Neither Dr. Axe nor the publisher of this content takes responsibility for possible health consequences of any person or persons reading or following the information in this educational content. All viewers of this content, especially those taking prescription or over-the-counter medications, should consult their physicians before beginning any nutrition, supplement or lifestyle program.
^ Southren AL, Gordon GG, Tochimoto S, Pinzon G, Lane DR, Stypulkowski W (May 1967). "Mean plasma concentration, metabolic clearance and basal plasma production rates of testosterone in normal young men and women using a constant infusion procedure: effect of time of day and plasma concentration on the metabolic clearance rate of testosterone". The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. 27 (5): 686–94. doi:10.1210/jcem-27-5-686. PMID 6025472.
That pump is tangible, real-time biofeedback to let you know that blood is flowing to your muscle cells, beginning a chain of events that stimulates protein synthesis. Maybe that's why it's easy to overlook how important good nutrition is in the mass-building equation. When you choose to eat, say, chicken instead of ice cream, there's no immediate muscle gratification -- no pump to keep you motivated.
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).
A commercially available pre-workout formula comprised of 2.05 g of caffeine, taurine and glucuronolactone, 7.9 g of L-leucine, L-valine, L-arginine and L-glutamine, 5 g of di-creatine citrate and 2.5 g of β-alanine mixed with 500 ml of water taken 10 minutes prior to exercise has been shown to enhance time to exhaustion during moderate intensity endurance exercise and to increase feelings of focus, energy and reduce subjective feelings of fatigue before and during endurance exercise due to a synergistic effect of the before mentioned ingredients . The role of creatine in this formulation is to provide a neuroprotective function by enhancing the energy metabolism in the brain tissue, promoting antioxidant activities, improving cerebral vasculation and protecting the brain from hyperosmotic shock by acting as a brain cell osmolyte. Creatine can provide other neuroprotective benefits through stabilisation of mitochondrial membranes, stimulation of glutamate uptake into synaptic vesicles and balance of intracellular calcium homeostasis .
There appears to be some potential for creatine supplementation. However, many questions remain. Are there any long-term harmful effects from supplementation? Is there a point where enhanced performance levels off from long-term supplement usage? What effect does "stacking" or taking two ergogenic aids simultaneously have on the body? What happens if you immediately stop taking the creatine supplement? Is the enhanced performance great enough to warrant the expense of the supplement? Until further research answers these questions, creatine is not recommended for the average athlete.
In contrast to the above null effects, ingestion of creatine both before and after a workout (alongside protein and carbohydrate) over 10 weeks seems to promote muscle growth more than the same supplement taken in the morning, farther away from the time of the workout. The benefits of creatine around the workout, relative to other times, have been hypothesized to be related to an upregulation of creatine transport secondary to muscle contraction, a known phenomena.
Warm up sets are also important. For example, the same lifter working on his chest would also be advised to complete at least two warm up sets prior to hitting his "core tonnage." Core tonnage refers to the heavier lifts that actually strain your muscles. For example, if the lifter's main sets were at 205 lbs, 225 lbs and 235 lbs on the bench, then a warmup of 5 reps of 135 and 5 reps of 185 would be advisable. Some lifters will warm up with a 50/50 set for example 50% of the target weight for 50% of the target repetitions. When properly warmed up the lifter will then have more strength and stamina since the blood has begun to flow to the muscle groups.
How to do it: Stand tall with your feet together, and brace your core. From here—holding onto a wall, counter, or sturdy chair for balance, if necessary—lift your right foot just off of the floor so that you’re standing on your left foot. Imagine a string through the crown of your head is pulling your spine straight toward the ceiling, and engage your core to avoid leaning to one side. Hold this position for 30 seconds or as long as you can, then repeat on the opposite side.
Trimethylglycine (TMG, betaine) is a dietary supplement and component of beet root, which is a methyl donor. It contributes to metabolic processes in the body which require a methyl group either directly (the methylation of homocysteine) or indirectly via replenishing the active form of folate or via replenishing S-adenosyl methionine (SAMe). As the synthesis of creatine (via GAMT) requires a donation from SAMe, it is thought that TMG can aid in creatine synthesis, which has been noted in the rat liver in the absence of creatine supplementation.
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. In these particular instances (assessed by rats fed homocysteine to increase serum levels to such a high level) 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.
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.