In the last week leading up to a contest, bodybuilders usually decrease their consumption of water, sodium, and carbohydrates, the former two to alter how water is retained by the body and the latter to reduce glycogen in the muscle. The day before the show, water is removed from the diet, and diuretics may be introduced, while carbohydrate loading is undertaken to increase the size of the muscles through replenishment of their glycogen. The goal is to maximize leanness and increase the visibility of veins, or "vascularity". The muscular definition and vascularity are further enhanced immediately before appearing on stage by darkening the skin through tanning products and applying oils to the skin to increase shine. Some competitors will eat sugar-rich foods to increase the visibility of their veins. A final step, called "pumping", consists in performing exercises with light weights or other kinds of low resistance (for instance two athletes can "pump" each other by holding a towel and pulling in turn), just before the contest, to fill the muscles with blood and further increase their size and density.
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.
When it comes to finding the right meal plan, you have to start somewhere. Start with writing down what you eat in a food diary, calculate the calories you’re consuming daily (ex: 3,000 without protein shakes), and break those up into six meals (ex: 500 calories each), says Heath. Then, choose a macronutrient ratio. For example, the 40% protein, 40% carbs, 20% fat ratio is what Heath used to get bigger when he first started bodybuilding. “Buy a food scale, learn how to use it, and you may even have to learn to use the metric system, like grams instead of ounces,” Heath says. “You need to train your body to process food quickly, so eat every three hours.”
Kerksick, C. M., Wilborn, C. D., Campbell, W. I., Harvey, T. M., Marcello, B. M., Roberts, M. D., Parker, A. G., Byars, A. G., Greenwood, L. D., Almada, A. L., Kreider, R. B., and Greenwood, M. The effects of creatine monohydrate supplementation with and without D-pinitol on resistance training adaptations. J.Strength.Cond.Res. 2009;23(9):2673-2682. View abstract.
“Imagine you've fasted for over eight hours,” he says. “At breakfast, you're firing your metabolism off really high. If you don't eat for another five hours, your metabolism starts to slow right down and you have to try and kickstart it again with your next meal. If you eat every two and a half to three hours, it's like chucking a log on a burning fire.” 

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,[597] it is thought that TMG can aid in creatine synthesis, which has been noted in the rat liver in the absence of creatine supplementation.[598]


Testosterone is significantly correlated with aggression and competitive behaviour and is directly facilitated by the latter. There are two theories on the role of testosterone in aggression and competition.[81] The first one is the challenge hypothesis which states that testosterone would increase during puberty thus facilitating reproductive and competitive behaviour which would include aggression.[81] Thus it is the challenge of competition among males of the species that facilitates aggression and violence.[81] Studies conducted have found direct correlation between testosterone and dominance especially among the most violent criminals in prison who had the highest testosterone levels.[81] The same research also found fathers (those outside competitive environments) had the lowest testosterone levels compared to other males.[81]
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Dumbbells: These are more expensive, though there are plenty of affordable options. You'll eventually want to get a variety of weights, but you can easily start with three sets of dumbbells: 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).
Do standard squats with a weighted bar. Place enough weight on a bar and rack so that it's a little lower than shoulder height. It should be heavy enough that doing a squat is difficult, but not impossible. If you're a beginner, this may mean using a bar without any weight to start with. Duck under the bar and stand up so that the bar rests comfortably on your trapezius muscles, just below the neck. Keep your knees slightly bent and your legs slightly wider than shoulder width. Lift the bar up off the rack and move backwards one step.
The high levels of muscle growth and repair achieved by bodybuilders require a specialized diet. Generally speaking, bodybuilders require more calories than the average person of the same weight to provide the protein and energy requirements needed to support their training and increase muscle mass. In preparation of a contest, a sub-maintenance level of food energy is combined with cardiovascular exercise to lose body fat. Proteins, carbohydrates and fats are the three major macronutrients that the human body needs in order to build muscle.[24] The ratios of calories from carbohydrates, proteins, and fats vary depending on the goals of the bodybuilder.[25]

An odd exercise that will integrate both sides of the back of your body in it’s natural “cross-pattern” activation. Basically, when one glute fires, the opposing low back muscle fires as well. This naturally happens when walking, running, or walking up stairs. It’s a great exercise for this muscle firing pattern and to get your glutes working hard. Plus, it looks cool.

Testosterone is also important for maintaining bone strength and lean muscle mass in women, as well as contributing to overall well-being and energy levels. This hormone plays a key role in a woman’s sex drive and is responsible for enhancing sexual pleasure during intercourse. However, the levels of testosterone produced by females is still between ten and times less than the amount produced by men.
Now, if you are somebody that is more of the “do-it-yourself” type, check out our self-paced online course, the Nerd Fitness Academy. The Academy has 20+ workouts for both bodyweight or weight training, a benchmark test to determine your starting workout, HD demonstrations of every movement, boss battles so you know when you to level up your routine, meal plans, a questing system, and supportive community.

“Reg Park’s theory was that first you have to build the mass and then chisel it down to get the quality; you work on your body the way a sculptor would work on a piece of clay or wood or steel. You rough it out””the more carefully, the more thoroughly, the better”” then you start to cut and define. You work it down gradually until it’s ready to be rubbed and polished. And that’s when you really know about the foundation. Then all the faults of poor early training stand out as hopeless, almost irreparable flaws. [..]
You may be wondering what conditions and medications contraindicate the use of creatine supplements. Creatine is contraindicated in people with kidney insufficiency or kidney disease. If you take diabetes medication, diuretics or acetaminophen, do not take a creatine supplement. Use caution if you regularly consume caffeine while taking a creatine supplement. Overall, if you are healthy and have gotten clearance from your doctor, consider this non-GMO creatine supplement.
“This study establishes testosterone levels at which various physiological functions start to become impaired, which may help provide a rationale for determining which men should be treated with testosterone supplements,” Finkelstein says. “But the biggest surprise was that some of the symptoms routinely attributed to testosterone deficiency are actually partially or almost exclusively caused by the decline in estrogens that is an inseparable result of lower testosterone levels.”
If you're a beginner, just about any workout will be intense enough to increase protein synthesis. But if you've been lifting for a while, you'll build the most muscle quickest if you focus on the large muscle groups, like the chest, back, and legs. Add compound lifts like squats, deadlifts, pullups, bent-over rows, bench presses, dips, and military presses to your workout to work them the most efficiently.
Although research is underway, doctors do not know the long-term health effects of taking creatine supplements, especially in children who are still growing. Because of these unknown risks, children and adolescents younger than 18 years and pregnant or nursing women should never take creatine supplements. People with kidney problems also should never take creatine supplements.
What happened was that, statistically speaking (less than 5% chance what was observed was due to chance means ‘significant’ for this study) there was no significant difference between pre- and post- workout, meaning that both were equally effective. This protocol did note that both groups found benefits with creatine supplementation, but they both found the same amount of benefit.
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.
Studies measuring extracellular water versus intracellular water note similar increases in both, associated with creatine. Creatine does not tend to disturb the ratios of water to dry mass in various tissues measured.[609] At least one study in older men (48-72 years) has failed to find a significant difference in both intracellular and extracellular water concentration after 14 weeks of 5g creatine daily (with gatorade) relative to gatorade in isolation, with the ratio being maintained.[615]
Studies with animal and cellular models demonstrated positive effect of creatine ingestion on neurodegenerative diseases. These effects have been attributed to improved overall cellular bioenergetics due to an expansion of the phosphocreatine pool [50]. Creatine deficiency syndromes, due to deficiency of glycine amidinotransferase and guanidinoacetate methyltransferase, can cause decreases or complete absence of creatine in the central nervous system. Syndromes of this nature have the possibility to be improved by supplementing orally with creatine. Brain creatine deficiency resulting from ineffective crea T1 has been shown not to be effectively treated with oral creatine supplementation [51]. Additionally, oral creatine administration in patients with myopathies has shown conflicting results depending on the type of myopathy and creatine transport systems disorders [4].
Antioxidants in the diet protect against natural and synthetic chemical fragments called free radicals that are a part of daily living. Lifestyle challenges may increase your requirements for antioxidants. Vitamin C and E are the main antioxidants in the normal diet although many other plant nutrients contribute to this effect. Pollution, stress, smoking, strenuous exercise, and illness may increase your requirements for antioxidant protection.
In my late 20’s, I visited an anti-aging doctor who was one of the pioneers of what we now call functional medicine. I got a full hormone test. Shockingly, my testosterone was lower than my mother’s. No wonder I felt crappy and was overweight. My other sex hormones were out of whack too, especially my estrogen levels. They were high because the little testosterone I did make my body converted into estrogen. I went on a mix of topical replacement testosterone cream, plus small doses of pharmaceuticals like clomid and arimidex in order to keep my other sex hormones functioning properly.
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]

The bulking and cutting strategy is effective because there is a well-established link between muscle hypertrophy and being in a state of positive energy balance.[19] A sustained period of caloric surplus will allow the athlete to gain more fat-free mass than they could otherwise gain under eucaloric conditions. Some gain in fat mass is expected, which athletes seek to oxidize in a cutting period while maintaining as much lean mass as possible.
Pick a few key exercises that together train the whole body. Presses, chinups, rows, and squat and deadlift variations are the best choices (more on these in Rules #2 and #3). Write down how much weight you can currently do for 5–10 reps on each of them, and, over the next few months, work your way up to where you can either add 10–20 pounds to each of those lifts or do 3–5 more reps with the same weight. That’s how you force your body to grow.
The second theory is similar and is known as "evolutionary neuroandrogenic (ENA) theory of male aggression".[82][83] Testosterone and other androgens have evolved to masculinize a brain in order to be competitive even to the point of risking harm to the person and others. By doing so, individuals with masculinized brains as a result of pre-natal and adult life testosterone and androgens enhance their resource acquiring abilities in order to survive, attract and copulate with mates as much as possible.[82] The masculinization of the brain is not just mediated by testosterone levels at the adult stage, but also testosterone exposure in the womb as a fetus. Higher pre-natal testosterone indicated by a low digit ratio as well as adult testosterone levels increased risk of fouls or aggression among male players in a soccer game.[84] Studies have also found higher pre-natal testosterone or lower digit ratio to be correlated with higher aggression in males.[85][86][87][88][89]
In summary, creatine salts have been show to be less stable than CM. However the addition of carbohydrates could increase their stability [62]. The potential advantages of creatine salts over CM include enhanced aqueous solubility and bioavailability which would reduce their possible gastrointestinal adverse effects [63]. The possibility for new additional formulation such as tablets or capsules is interesting for its therapeutic application due to its attributed better dissolution kinetics and oral absorption compared to CM [63]. However more complete in vivo pharmaceutical analysis of creatine salts are required to fully elucidate their potential advantages/disadvantages over the currently available supplement formulations.

What you eat, how you exercise, the amount of sleep you get, and what you supplement all play a role in building muscle. Just keep in mind, supplements are nowhere near as important as diet, exercise, and sleep. Those three are your foundation. Without supplements, you’ll still build plenty of muscle, assuming your exercise routine is consistent, your diet is healthy and contains enough protein, and you get enough quality sleep. Supplements are just the icing on the cake. They’ll help you push yourself a little harder.
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]
When you’re planning your high-protein meals, 20 grams of protein is the optimal amount generally accepted for muscle growth. Research has found that the body doesn’t use much more than 20 grams for muscle-building at any one sitting. Around 80 grams of protein per day (or, four meals containing 20-grams of protein each) is about right for most people.

How to do it: Lie on your back with both feet planted firmly against the flat base of a Bosu ball, knees bent. Stabilize your body. If you’re feeling a bit wobbly, your arms can hover on either side of you in case you fall in one direction. If you feel balanced, raise your arms straight up above your chest, hands clasped to challenge and work your stability. Drive your hips toward the ceiling, then lower and repeat.  


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).
Studies measuring extracellular water versus intracellular water note similar increases in both, associated with creatine. Creatine does not tend to disturb the ratios of water to dry mass in various tissues measured.[609] At least one study in older men (48-72 years) has failed to find a significant difference in both intracellular and extracellular water concentration after 14 weeks of 5g creatine daily (with gatorade) relative to gatorade in isolation, with the ratio being maintained.[615]
This move can help lean abs really pop, especially once you've lost any extra belly fat. Sit on the floor, knees bent and heels down. Lean back, keep your back straight, and tense your abs. Place the kettlebell on the floor, switching from one side to the other. For faster results, hold your feet off the floor, but only if you can still use good form.
Perform bent over rows to work your back. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, about 6 to 10 inches (15–25 cm) behind the barbell or two dumbbells. Bend slightly at the knees but keep your shins vertical. Bend forward at the waist with your spine and head straight. Lift the weight with an overhand grip up to your lower chest or upper abdomen. Lower slowly until your arms are nearly extended, without touching the ground. 3 x 8.[5]
In 1927, the University of Chicago's Professor of Physiologic Chemistry, Fred C. Koch, established easy access to a large source of bovine testicles — the Chicago stockyards — and recruited students willing to endure the tedious work of extracting their isolates. In that year, Koch and his student, Lemuel McGee, derived 20 mg of a substance from a supply of 40 pounds of bovine testicles that, when administered to castrated roosters, pigs and rats, remasculinized them.[184] The group of Ernst Laqueur at the University of Amsterdam purified testosterone from bovine testicles in a similar manner in 1934, but isolation of the hormone from animal tissues in amounts permitting serious study in humans was not feasible until three European pharmaceutical giants—Schering (Berlin, Germany), Organon (Oss, Netherlands) and Ciba (Basel, Switzerland)—began full-scale steroid research and development programs in the 1930s.
Early infancy androgen effects are the least understood. In the first weeks of life for male infants, testosterone levels rise. The levels remain in a pubertal range for a few months, but usually reach the barely detectable levels of childhood by 4–7 months of age.[15][16] The function of this rise in humans is unknown. It has been theorized that brain masculinization is occurring since no significant changes have been identified in other parts of the body.[17] The male brain is masculinized by the aromatization of testosterone into estrogen, which crosses the blood–brain barrier and enters the male brain, whereas female fetuses have α-fetoprotein, which binds the estrogen so that female brains are not affected.[18]
Don’t get us wrong—cardio is important for keeping your body fat down and keeping your heart health in check. (Bonus points if you run or bike, since outdoor exercise is linked to better energy and improved mental health.) But when it comes to building muscle, hitting the treadmill won't help you much. “Every component of exercise, minus cardio, can help with muscle hypertrophy,” which is the scientific term for muscle building, says Michelle Lovitt, an exercise physiologist and trainer in Los Angeles. “Cardio tends to burn calories and puts your body in a deficit, which is great for leaning out, but not building mass.”
Testosterone belongs to a class of male hormones called androgens, which are sometimes called steroids or anabolic steroids. In men, testosterone is produced mainly in the testes, with a small amount made in the adrenal glands. The brain's hypothalamus and pituitary gland control testosterone production. The hypothalamus instructs the pituitary gland on how much testosterone to produce, and the pituitary gland passes the message on to the testes. These communications happen through chemicals and hormones in the bloodstream.
Bodybuilders often split their food intake for the day into 5 to 7 meals of roughly equal nutritional content and attempt to eat at regular intervals (e.g. every 2 to 3 hours). This method can serve two purposes: to limit overindulging in the cutting phase, and to physically allow for the consumption of large volumes of food during the bulking phase. Contrary to popular belief, eating more frequently does not increase basal metabolic rate when compared to the traditional 3 meals a day. While food does have a metabolic cost to digest, absorb, and store, called the thermic effect of food, it depends on the quantity and type of food, not how the food is spread across the meals of the day. Well-controlled studies using whole-body calorimetry and doubly labeled water have demonstrated that there is no metabolic advantage to eating more frequently.[38][39][40]

In a later study, it was found that biologically relevant concentrations (10-30mM) of creatine bind synthetic membranes with lipid compositions mimicking the inner mitochondrial membrane or plasma membrane in a concentration-dependent manner. This also conferred a degree of protection, increasing membrane stability in response to challenge from a number of destabilizing agents. Phosphocreatine was more effective than creatine in this context, although both were able to bind and stabilize membranes.[119]


Cross-legged gluteal stretch — Stand upright with one leg bent and your ankle placed over the opposite knee. Move your hips back as you squat and bring your arms forward to help you balance. Your standing leg should try to come parallel to the floor, and your crossed knee should be bent with your knee moving out to the side to help stretch the hips.

Recommended dose: The fastest way to increase muscle creatine stores is to follow the loading method of 20 grams per day for 5-7 days, followed by the standard maintenance dose of 5 grams per day. However, a lower dose of 5 grams for 28 days will also increase creatine stores without causing the 2-4 pound weight gain typically seen with a loading protocol.
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.
For the sake of mental focus, it’s best to keep any carbs you eat low during the day when you’re working and active and get the lion’s share of them at night with dinner. A typical breakfast could include eggs, yogurt, and fruit, or a shake, and lunch could be meat or fish and steamed veggies. For dinner, have meat or fish again, along with sweet potatoes or rice, and vegetables.
Now, creatine combines with inorganic phosphate to form phosphocreatine in a reaction accelerated by an enzyme named creatine kinase. Most of us increase our phosphocreatine stores when we consume creatine. In turn, our fortified phosphocreatine stores can donate additional high-energy phosphate groups during very energy-demanding activities, more efficiently recycling ATP from ADP. This is the main way creatine supplementation improves high-intensity exercise performance.
Build an effective exercise routine. A good diet is required for your body to be able to maximize your potential, but there's no potential at all until you start the process of tearing down your old muscles and rebuilding them bigger, bulkier, and stronger. The best way to do that is to start at the beginning. If you're not sure where to begin, find a solid workout program online and try it out for a while. Don't immediately jump from one program to the next - you'll end up keeping yourself from making steady progress.
The majority of your workouts should be comprised of compound exercises. Common examples include squats, deadlifts, lunges, bench presses, rows, pull-ups, lat pull-downs, overhead presses, and so on. Isolation exercises should definitely also be a part of your program, just a smaller part in comparison. Common examples include bicep curls, tricep extensions, chest flies, lateral raises, leg curls, leg extensions, calf raises, and so on.
When assessing type I muscle (slow twitch) against type II muscles (fast twitch) in response to creatine supplementation, it seems that glycogen accumulation may only occur in the latter as assessed in rats,[359] where the soleus muscle is a model for slow twitch muscle fibers and the gastrocnemius is a model for fast twitch. This is similar to human creatine distribution, which seems to accumulate in type II muscles rather than type I.[367]
Taking creatine supplements may increase the amount of creatine in the muscles. Muscles may be able to generate more energy or generate energy at a faster rate. Some people think that taking creatine supplements along with training will improve performance by providing quick bursts of intense energy for activities such as sprinting and weightlifting.
While the number of reps you do per set is important, of equal importance is the total number of reps you do per muscle group. The National Strength and Conditioning Association has determined that, to maximize growth, you need approximately 20–70 total reps per muscle group. Depending on which end of a rep range you’re working, this can be done in one session or over a few days (a training week, for instance), but that’s the spread you need to cover to see gains.
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