The creatine transporter is a sodium[139][140] and chloride[141][142] dependent membrane-associated transporter that belongs to the Na+/Cl-dependent family of neurotransmitter transporters.[143] In muscle cells and most other cell types,[131][141] the isomer of the creatine transporter is known as SLC6A8 (solute carrier family 6, member 8). SLC6A8 is encoded by the gene present on the Xq28 region of the human X-chromosome and is expressed in most tissues.[144] A related gene encoding a creatine transporter variant has also been identified at 16p11.1 that is expressed exclusively in the testes.[145] These two transporters share 98% homology.[144][145]
For the best results, do the glute exercises and stretches listed below about three to four times per week. You can either aim for a specific number of reps (such as 10–20 reps per set, depending on your fitness level) or do the exercises in a circuit, performing each exercise for 45–60 seconds with a 15-second break between. For beginners, perform two sets or two rounds in total. And for advanced exercisers aim, for three to four sets/rounds in total.

A typical creatine supplementation protocol consists of a loading phase of 20 g CM/d or 0.3 g CM/kg/d split into 4 daily intakes of 5 g each, followed by a maintenance phase of 3-5 g CM/d or 0.03 g CM/kg/d for the duration of the supplementation period [5]. Other supplementation protocols are also used such as a daily single dose of around 3 – 6 g or between 0.03 to 0.1 g/kg/d [15,55] however this method takes longer (between 21 to 28 days) to produce ergogenic effects [5]. Sale et al [56] found that a moderate protocol consisting of 20 g CM taken in 1g doses (evenly ingested at 30-min intervals) for 5 days resulted in reduced urinary creatine and methylamine excretion, leading to an estimated increase in whole body retention of creatine (+13%) when compared with a typical loading supplementation protocol of 4 x 5 g/d during 5 days (evenly ingested at 3 hour intervals). This enhancement in creatine retention would lead to a significantly higher weight gain when people follow a moderate protocol ingestion of several doses of small amounts of CM evenly spread along the day.

How to do it: Sit comfortably into the leg press machine, pressing your back against the seat and your feet firmly planted to the platform. Lift off and press, straightening your legs so your knees assume a neutral position (not straight or severely bent). Continue lowering the platform until your knees create 90° angles, then return to the neutral starting position and repeat. 
Back in the 1970s, scientists discovered that taking creatine in supplement form might enhance physical performance. In the 1990s, athletes started to catch on, and creatine became a popular sports supplement. The supplement is particularly popular among high school, college, and professional athletes, especially football and hockey players, wrestlers, and gymnasts. 

Put simply, "strength training means using resistance to create work for your muscles," says Hannah Davis, C.S.C.S. and author of Operation Bikini Body. So even if your mind jumps straight to those hardcore machines and massive weights, there are a lot of ways to create this resistance that require minimal equipment (or none at all). Bodyweight workouts can be an incredibly effective way to strength train. Squats and push-ups FTW. You can also use tools like dumbbells, medicine balls, TRX bands, resistance bands, kettlebells, and slider disks, to help get the job done, explains Davis. But if that sounds like gibberish don't worry about it. Keep it simple and focus on equipment-free routines first. No matter what you do, the most important thing is to find something that challenges you, says Davis.
In natural contests, the testing protocol ranges among organizations from lie detectors to urinalysis. Penalties also range from organization to organization from suspensions to strict bans from competition. It is also important to note that natural organizations also have their own list of banned substances and it is important to refer to each organization's website for more information about which substances are banned from competition. There are many natural bodybuilding organizations; some of the larger ones include: MuscleMania, Ultimate Fitness Events (UFE), INBF/WNBF, and INBA/PNBA. These organizations either have an American or worldwide presence and are not limited to the country in which they are headquartered.
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]

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.
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 [5] mediated through an insulin response from the pancreas [69]. Steenge et al [70] 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) [25]. Similar findings have also been reported for creatine monohydrate supplementation alone when combined with resistance training [71].
Creatine is one of the most popular and widely researched natural supplements. The majority of studies have focused on the effects of creatine monohydrate on performance and health; however, many other forms of creatine exist and are commercially available in the sports nutrition/supplement market. Regardless of the form, supplementation with creatine has regularly shown to increase strength, fat free mass, and muscle morphology with concurrent heavy resistance training more than resistance training alone. Creatine may be of benefit in other modes of exercise such as high-intensity sprints or endurance training. However, it appears that the effects of creatine diminish as the length of time spent exercising increases. Even though not all individuals respond similarly to creatine supplementation, it is generally accepted that its supplementation increases creatine storage and promotes a faster regeneration of adenosine triphosphate between high intensity exercises. These improved outcomes will increase performance and promote greater training adaptations. More recent research suggests that creatine supplementation in amounts of 0.1 g/kg of body weight combined with resistance training improves training adaptations at a cellular and sub-cellular level. Finally, although presently ingesting creatine as an oral supplement is considered safe and ethical, the perception of safety cannot be guaranteed, especially when administered for long period of time to different populations (athletes, sedentary, patient, active, young or elderly).
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.
When endothelial cells have a higher creatine concentration, they appear to be mildly less permeable when incubated with 0.5-5mM creatine, while the higher concentration (5mM) is able to fully ablate TNF-α-induced neutrophil adhesion and both E-selectin and ICAM-1 expression.[316] This effect was prevented with ZM241385, an A2A (adenosine) receptor antagonist,[316] and since adenosine released by this receptor is known to be protective of endothelial cells,[317][318] it is thought that creatine works vicariously through this receptor and adenosine release, thought to be due to releasing ATP (occurs in response to stress[319][320]) which protects the cell via the A2A signaling system.[316]
There is a great amount of research published on creatine supplementation; protocols of administration, forms of creatine, as well as potential side effects. Despite this, the mechanisms by which creatine acts in the human body to improve physical and cognitive performance are still not clear. The main objectives of this review are to analyze the more recent findings on the effects and mechanisms of creatine supplementation in sports and health. As a secondary purpose, we will analyze the most recommended protocols of ingestion and its potential side effects.
How to do it: Start by stepping forward into a lunge with your left foot. Place your right forearm to the ground and your left elbow to the inside of your left foot, and hold the stretch for two seconds. Then place your left hand outside of your foot and push your hips up, pointing your front toes up. Return to standing position and repeat by stepping out with your right foot. Continue alternating sides.
Start with hand weights in your hands just outside your thighs, or a barbell on the ground. Keep your feet hip distance apart and your tailbone/hips slightly tucked. Lower the upper body while keeping the chest upright and butt sticking back. Keep your back flat (try not to hunch or round). Drive your back upright and your hips forward so you end up standing up straight, drawing the weights in your hands until they are about the height of your mid-shin or just below the knees. Lower back down as you started and repeat.
Elsewhere, it has been noted that in chronic progressive external ophthalmoplegia (CPEO, a progressive weakening of the muscles around the eye and a mitochondrial disorder), there was a failure of creatine supplementation to benefit symptoms when subjects were provided 20g daily for four weeks.[483] Creatine supplementation failed again at 150mg/kg for six weeks in people with either CPEO or another disorder associated with single gene deletions affecting the eyes (Kearns–Sayre syndrome, KSS) in improving muscular function.[484]
In isolated striatal cells (expressing creatine kinase), seven day incubation of 5mM creatine (maximal effective dose) appears to increase the density of GABAergic neurons and DARPP-32 (biomarker for spiny neurons[225]) with only a minor overall trend for all cells[226] and showed increased GABA uptake into these cells, as well as providing protection against oxygen and glucose deprivation.[226]
On the other hand, the gluteus maximus (and other muscles of the glutes) can also become weak and unstable when someone doesn’t get enough physical activity, for example if they sit for many hours per day at a desk and live a mostly sedentary lifestyle. Some experts call this phenomenon “gluteal amnesia,” which occurs when the muscles near the buttocks become overstretched and underused, resulting in weakness and stiffness. Some common aches, pains and injuries tied to weak gluteus maximus muscles can include:
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.
Most causes of brain injury (calcium influx, excitotoxicity, lipid peroxidation, reactive oxygen intermediates or ROIs) all tend to ultimately work secondary to damaging the mitochondrial membrane and reducing its potential, which ultimately causes cellular apoptosis.[258][259][260][261] Traumatic brain injuries are thought to work vicariously through ROIs by depleting ATP concentrations.[262][263] Creatine appears to preserve mitochondrial membrane permeability in response to traumatic brain injury (1% of the rat’s diet for four weeks),[264] which is a mechanism commonly attributed to its ATP-buffering ability.
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.

Expert tip: “Optimum form and range of motion for the squat is very dependent on your physicality, structure, joint integrity, limb length, strength, flexibility, and current condition,” Reames says. Your range of motion is 90° max at the knee. Some guys will be able to go lower than this, but not everyone will squat to parallel, he says. And that’s totally okay. “Stick to form and the appropriate resistance levels for you; the squat is still one of the best and simplest moves for overall strength, building lower-body muscle, core strength, and athletic performance. 
Post workout, it’s important to restore your body’s energy by consuming protein and carbs. When you’re trying to build muscle, this is an especially important step. Protein powder is a great muscle builder for your post-workout routine, as long as you include a carbohydrate as well. You can get this by eating a banana or adding oats or banana to your protein shake. Or simply cook up a batch of healthy oatmeal muffins and include protein powder in your recipe. Then, enjoy your post-workout supplement as a delicious snack!
This increased permeability is noted in glioma cells, where it exerts anti-cancer effects related to cell swelling,[99][100] and in other membranes, such as breast cancer cells[101] and skeletal (contractile) muscle cells.[102] The kinetics of cyclocreatine appear to be first-order,[101] with a relative Vmax of 90, Km of 25mM and a KD of 1.2mM.[103]
Low testosterone or Low T can cause a number of symptoms in men (as well as women), and it may result from primary problems of the testicles or diseases affecting the parts of the brain that regulate the production of testosterone in the testicles. The normal range of testosterone in an adult male is between 300 and 1,100 nanograms per deciliter (ng/dL), with women having a much lower concentration. Levels of testosterone below 300 ng/dL are considered low in men. Testosterone in men usually peaks at the age of 30 after which it begins to fall gradually by 1% every year.
People sometimes walk up and touch him, as if unsure if he is a man or a machine. What they do not realize is that beneath the stony exterior and self-assuredness is a squishy sense of anxiety and vulnerability. Heath gets nervous every time he strips to his posing trunks. He is rarely satisfied with what he sees in the mirror. He is persistently worried about imperfections others might find, too.
Specifically targeted to be used by natural bodybuilders and powerlifters, Universal Nutrition Animal M-Stak is the ideal supplement for hard-gainers. Containing ingredients that help promote protein synthesis while preventing muscle breakdown, Animal M-Stak is designed to naturally maximize the muscle mass building process. Optimize your performance and strength, and overcome your plateaus with Animal M-Stak. Keep Reading »
However, don’t despair over the poor reviews. There are other ways to achieve a testosterone booster for muscle gain. One of them is simply Vitamin D. A deficiency in this vitamin can lower your levels of testosterone. Furthermore, you can get a very natural boost simply by weightlifting and engaging in HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) exercise. In addition, you should avoid some foods like soy and alcohol which can lower testosterone levels (11). Through these natural solutions and lifestyle changes, you can influence your hormone profile, creating a balance that’s more favorable for muscle growth.
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.

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.
Testosterone does a lot more than you’d think, whether we’re talking about male or female biology. It’s the hormone that helps you burn fat, build muscle [1], and increase your sex drive [2], and its power doesn’t stop there. Keeping your testosterone levels in a normal range can make you happier, too [3], and testosterone can even improve your cardiovascular health and decrease your risk of mortality (from all causes!), according to a study of 83,000 older men who underwent testosterone replacement therapy [4].
While the aforementioned study insinuated that after was better, at this time the “just take it at any time” or maybe more appropriately, “take it when it works for you” is the best way to go. Many people take supplements that include creatine, so if that’s in your pre- or post- workout drink, you should receive all the benefits. Optimal dosing still appears to be between 2 to 5 grams per day. You can “load” for the first 5 to 7 days to help saturate your cells, but beyond that there’s no benefit to taking large amounts. So save your money and take the smaller dose; it’ll still offer maximum results.
How to do it: Use just your bodyweight, dumbbells, or a resistance band around the top of your knee to activate your glute medius, Reames says. Assume the same setup of a basic squat, feet shoulder-width apart and knees neutral. Squat down, knees bent at 90° angles, and step to the side. Continue repeating this side-step motion down and return to your starting position. 
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 4 to 6 reps for strength and hypertrophy, 8 to 12 reps for muscular strength and 10 to 15 reps for muscular endurance. They also recommend at least one set of each exercise to fatigue although you'll find that most people perform about 2 to 3 sets of each exercise. In general:
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.
AAKG β-hydroxy β-methylbutyrate Carnitine Chondroitin sulfate Cod liver oil Copper gluconate Creatine/Creatine supplements Dietary fiber Echinacea Elemental calcium Ephedra Fish oil Folic acid Ginseng Glucosamine Glutamine Grape seed extract Guarana Iron supplements Japanese Honeysuckle Krill oil Lingzhi Linseed oil Lipoic acid Milk thistle Melatonin Red yeast rice Royal jelly Saw palmetto Spirulina St John's wort Taurine Wheatgrass Wolfberry Yohimbine Zinc gluconate
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.
Those 5-pound dumbbells were a great place to start as a beginner, but if you've been lifting weights for a while, it's time to bump up the weight. “You can use both exercise machines and free weights,” explains Michele Olson, PhD, exercise physiologist, professor of exercise science at Auburn University Montgomery, “but, if you are not lifting heavy enough weight, it doesn’t matter if you are primarily using free weights or machines.” In order to build muscle, you must break down muscle tissue using a weight that is challenging enough to cause micro-tears, which when repaired, form denser, stronger fibers.
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).

Macrophages are known to express creatine kinase[290] and take creatine up from a medium through a sodium dependent mechanism (likely the creatine transporter) in a saturable manner,[435] with a second component that requires there to be no concentration gradient to work against (likely passive diffusion) but this effect tends to only account for up to 10% of total uptake in the physiological range (20-60µM).[435] Supraphysiological range was not tested.
Entry into neural tissues in general is mediated by the secondary creatine transporter (CrT-2) known as SLC6A10,[186] which is the same transporter that is active in a male’s testicles.[145] CrT-2 belongs to the family of SLC6 transporters that act to move solutes across the membrane by coupling transport with sodium and chloride.[187][188] Genetic deletions in the 16p11.2 region, which encodes both SLC6A8[189] and SLC6A10[186] can result in severe mental retardation in humans and is one of the causes of “Creatine Deficiency Syndrome.” Creatine Deficiency Syndrome is not only caused by lack creatine transporter expression, however, as creatine synthesis is also critical for neural function.[190].[189] Retardation caused by defective creatine synthesis[31] can be reversed with creatine supplementation and dietary changes.[191]
For the best results, do the glute exercises and stretches listed below about three to four times per week. You can either aim for a specific number of reps (such as 10–20 reps per set, depending on your fitness level) or do the exercises in a circuit, performing each exercise for 45–60 seconds with a 15-second break between. For beginners, perform two sets or two rounds in total. And for advanced exercisers aim, for three to four sets/rounds in total.