Another category of muscle-building supplements that lifters and bodybuilders use to improve their results are branched-chained amino acids (BCAAs), or BCAAs. Of the 20 amino acids that make up protein, just three are referred to as BCAAs: leucine, isoleucine, and valine. These are the specific amino acids that have been shown to stimulate protein synthesis and help regulate protein metabolism.
The first U.S. Women's National Physique Championship, promoted by Henry McGhee and held in Canton, Ohio in 1978, is generally regarded as the first true female bodybuilding contest—that is, the first contest where the entrants were judged solely on muscularity. In 1980, the first Ms. Olympia (initially known as the "Miss" Olympia), the most prestigious contest for professionals, was held. The first winner was Rachel McLish, who had also won the NPC's USA Championship earlier in the year. The contest was a major turning point for female bodybuilding. McLish inspired many future competitors to start training and competing. In 1985, a movie called Pumping Iron II: The Women was released. It documented the preparation of several women for the 1983 Caesars Palace World Cup Championship. Competitors prominently featured in the film were Kris Alexander, Lori Bowen, Lydia Cheng, Carla Dunlap, Bev Francis, and McLish. At the time, Francis was actually a powerlifter, though she soon made a successful transition to bodybuilding, becoming one of the leading competitors of the late 1980s and early 1990s.
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.
There have been a few reported renal health disorders associated with creatine supplementation [73,74]. These are isolated reports in which recommended dosages are not followed or there is a history of previous health complaints, such as renal disease or those taking nephrotoxic medication aggravated by creatine supplementation . Specific studies into creatine supplementation, renal function and/or safety conclude that although creatine does slightly raise creatinine levels there is no progressive effect to cause negative consequences to renal function and health in already healthy individuals when proper dosage recommendations are followed [73-77]. Urinary methylamine and formaldehyde have been shown to increase due to creatine supplementation of 20 g/d; this however did not bring the production outside of normal healthy range and did not impact on kidney function [56,78]. It has been advised that further research be carried out into the effects of creatine supplementation and health in the elderly and adolescent [73,75]. More recently, a randomized, double blind, 6 month resistance exercise and supplementation intervention  was performed on elderly men and women (age >65 years) in which subjects were assigned to either a supplement or placebo group. The supplement group was given 5 g CM, 2 g dextrose and 6 g conjugated linoleic acid/d, whilst the placebo group consumed 7 g dextrose and 6 g safflower oil/d. CM administration showed significantly greater effects to improve muscular endurance, isokinetic knee extension strength, fat free mass and to reduce fat mass compared to placebo. Furthermore the supplement group had an increase in serum creatinine but not creatinine clearance suggesting no negative effect on renal function.
A testosterone test is done if your doctor suspects that your depressive symptoms may be a result of testosterone deficiency. This test is usually done at a particular time of the day –usually in the morning between 7:00 a.m. and 10:00 a.m. This is because testosterone levels in the body vary with the time of the day, being highest in the morning. Before this test is scheduled, however, your doctor will ask you to discontinue certain medications which may affect the accuracy of the test.
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.
Bodybuilding supplements are dietary supplements commonly used by those involved in bodybuilding, weightlifting, mixed martial arts, and athletics for the purpose of facilitating an increase in lean body mass. The intent is to increase muscle, increase body weight, improve athletic performance, and for some sports, to simultaneously decrease percent body fat so as to create better muscle definition. Among the most widely used are high protein drinks, branched-chain amino acids (BCAA), glutamine, arginine, essential fatty acids, creatine, HMB, and weight loss products. Supplements are sold either as single ingredient preparations or in the form of "stacks" – proprietary blends of various supplements marketed as offering synergistic advantages. While many bodybuilding supplements are also consumed by the general public the frequency of use will differ when used specifically by bodybuilders. One meta-analysis concluded that for athletes participating in resistance exercise training and consuming protein supplements for an average of 13 weeks, total protein intake up to 1.6 g/kg of body weight per day would result in an increase in strength and fat-free mass, i.e. muscle, but that higher intakes would not further contribute. The muscle mass increase was statistically significant but modest - averaging 0.3 kg for all trials and 1.0–2.0 kg, for protein intake ≥1.6 g/kg/day.
I’m telling you all of this because no matter who you are, keeping your testosterone levels balanced is more important now than ever before. Modern living has not been kind to our hormones. In American men, serum testosterone levels have declined by about 1% each year for the past 30 years , and you can make a few educated guesses about why. Hormone-disrupting chemicals are more prevalent than ever before, physical activity is less and less common, veganism is popular (I was a raw vegan for a while), and many doctors insist on pushing a low-fat, low-cholesterol diet for health (by the way, the concept of a low-fat diet began in the mid-70s, shortly before the nationwide testosterone decline. It could be a coincidence, but I doubt it).
It was traditionally thought that total brain blood flow was not changed during physical activity. Research in the last 10 years, however, changed this perspective. We now understand that the increased neuronal and metabolic activity of the brain during exercise drive increases in blood flow to it. We have also learned that exercise that is too intense will reduce blood flow and oxygen delivery causing fatigue. So, what is the ideal intensity to stimulate blood flow to the brain, and perhaps, augment your mental abilities in the moment?
Fatherhood decreases testosterone levels in men, suggesting that the emotions and behavior tied to decreased testosterone promote paternal care. In humans and other species that utilize allomaternal care, paternal investment in offspring is beneficial to said offspring's survival because it allows the parental dyad to raise multiple children simultaneously. This increases the reproductive fitness of the parents, because their offspring are more likely to survive and reproduce. Paternal care increases offspring survival due to increased access to higher quality food and reduced physical and immunological threats. This is particularly beneficial for humans since offspring are dependent on parents for extended periods of time and mothers have relatively short inter-birth intervals. While extent of paternal care varies between cultures, higher investment in direct child care has been seen to be correlated with lower average testosterone levels as well as temporary fluctuations. For instance, fluctuation in testosterone levels when a child is in distress has been found to be indicative of fathering styles. If a father's testosterone levels decrease in response to hearing their baby cry, it is an indication of empathizing with the baby. This is associated with increased nurturing behavior and better outcomes for the infant.
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.
Skin degradation is caused by a loss of collagen and degradation of the extracellular matrix, which is enhanced by UV radiation (produces reactive oxygen species which stimulate MMPs) and contributes to skin integrity loss and wrinkling. Due to the stimulation of collagen being associated with a cellular surplus of energy and intracellular stores of energy declining with age, creatine has been investigated as a topical anti-aging agent. In vitro, creatine appears to be rapidly absorbed through the skin (52% within an hour, remaining similar at 3 hours) with most creatine found in the stratum corneum (79.6-86.5%) follwed by the epidermis (9-13.2%) and dermis (4.5-7.1%). It is successful in stimulating collagen expression and procollagen secretion in fibroblasts, with the latter increasing to 449+/-204% of control.
Previous investigations have shown that a single dose of CM (8 grams) increased the number of repetitions performed during an upper-body resistance training protocol and reduced soreness at 24 and 48 hours post-exercise (compared to a placebo).7 Recently, researchers from Mississippi State University found that a single dose of CM (8 grams) significantly increased the number of lower-body repetitions compared to a placebo group.
In young rats given creatine in the diet at 2% of the diet for eight weeks, supplementation appears to increase bone mineral density (BMD) in the lumbar spine with a nonsignificant trend to increase BMD in the femur. Despite the trend, the femur appeared to be 12.3% more resistant to snapping from mechanical stress associated with increased thickness. Menopausal rats (ovarectomized) experience similar benefits, as supplementation of creatine (300mg/kg) for eight weeks during ovarectomy is able to increase phosphorus content of the bone and other biomarkers of bone health, although bone stress resistance was not tested.
Women who train hard and reach low body fat levels, say under 10 percent, may be at risk of losing their periods as a result of hormonal disruption to estrogen production. Exercise-induced estrogen declines can result in bone loss in a way similar to that which occurs at the menopause. Loss of periods from athletic training is not uncommon but does require that you see a doctor, or better still, a sports physician and sports nutritionist to assess what is required to address the problem. Calcium supplements may be a part of the solution if bone health is likely to be affected.
"A lot of the symptoms are mirrored by other medical problems," Hedges says. "And for a long time, we were not attributing them to low testosterone, but to diabetes, depression, high blood pressure, and coronary artery disease. But awareness and appreciation of low testosterone has risen. We recognize now that low testosterone may be at the root of problems."
Like other steroid hormones, testosterone is derived from cholesterol (see figure). The first step in the biosynthesis involves the oxidative cleavage of the side-chain of cholesterol by cholesterol side-chain cleavage enzyme (P450scc, CYP11A1), a mitochondrial cytochrome P450 oxidase with the loss of six carbon atoms to give pregnenolone. In the next step, two additional carbon atoms are removed by the CYP17A1 (17α-hydroxylase/17,20-lyase) enzyme in the endoplasmic reticulum to yield a variety of C19 steroids. In addition, the 3β-hydroxyl group is oxidized by 3β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase to produce androstenedione. In the final and rate limiting step, the C17 keto group androstenedione is reduced by 17β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase to yield testosterone.
One of the biggest goals of bodybuilders is to increase their muscle size and strength. Bodybuilding supplements often contain many ingredients that help to encourage this. Branched-chain amino acids are a common ingredient that can significantly increase muscle growth. Other ingredients help to increase the levels of hormones, such as growth hormone and testosterone, that can also stimulate muscle growth.
How to Take It: So, you want to give it a go? How much should you take and what should you look for in a supplement? Definitely opt for creatine monohydrate, as it performs better in studies than other varieties, as mentioned above. A standard dose is about 5 grams a day. You can try taking this muscle builder for about 4 weeks to boost your levels. Following this time, you can either cut out creatine or lower to a maintenance dose of 3-5 grams per day. However, you’ll notice if you read the fine print that subjects in studies often have a loading phase of five days where the dosage is upped to 20 g per day, prior to adopting a standard dose (7, 8).
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. The increased gain in lean mass may be more significant in vegetarians, relative to omnivores. Supplementation of creatine in vegetarians appears to normalize the gap in storage between vegetarians and omnivores. 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.
Before supplementation, our intramuscular pools of creatine and phosphocreatine are usually at about 70% of their full capacities. The levels of these pools can be raised by increasing dietary creatine. As vegans and vegetarians omit many creatine-rich foods, they tend to have lower creatine pools than omnivores and hence tend to benefit more from creatine supplementation. At the other end of the spectrum, creatine ingestion doesn’t increase creatine stores in a small proportion of people. It follows that these individuals don’t seem to experience the benefits of creatine supplementation.
This suppression of creatine synthesis is thought to actually be beneficial, since creatine synthesis requires s-adenosyl methionine as a cofactor and may use up to 40-50% of SAMe for methylation (initially thought to be above 70%, but this has since been re-evaluated) though the expected preservation of SAMe may not occur with supplementation. Reduced creatine synthesis, via preserving methyl groups and trimethylglycine (which would normally be used up to synthesize SAMe), is also thought to suppress homocysteine levels in serum, but this may also not occur to a practical level following supplementation.
You see, there is only so much muscle that the human body is capable of building in a given period of time. So, if you supply your body with MORE calories than it’s actually capable of putting towards the process of building new muscle… it’s not going to magically lead to additional muscle being built. It’s just going to lead to additional fat being gained.
Overload: The first thing you need to do to build lean muscle tissue is use more resistance than your muscles are used to. This is important because the more you do, the more your body is capable of doing, so you should increase your workload to avoid plateaus. In plain language, this means you should be lifting enough weight that you can only complete the desired number of reps. You should be able to finish your last rep with difficulty, but also with good form.
It's woooooorkkkkkiiiinnnngggg!!! I've been working out without creatine for over a year and a half now and have been missing that extra boost at the end of a set of reps. Not anymore! Started to feel the creatine help out in my 4th workout since using this stuff. It's good, real good. Creatine is one of those only supplements that have actually been proven to increase strength and bursts of endurance at the end of a set, and it's that one thing that can turn a regular workout into something that you're proud of. Just buy it, it works, you won't be disappointed. Use 2 of their servings sizes though, you need 5mg not 2.5. No spoon in bag, you'll need a measuring cup. Mixes effortlessly in juice.
Helping with running and other higher intensity activities that involve lift off — Some research has found that while the gluteus maximus supports lower levels of activity (like walking uphill or on an even surface) in certain ways, it’s strength is required much more for activities that require speed, such as jumping or running. In fact, some researchers believe that growth of the glutes in humans and other primates is tied to the evolution of running capabilities.
The neuroprotective effects of creatine appear to exist in regard to dopamine biosynthesis, and the suppression of dopamine synthesis seen with some neurological toxins appears to be partially attenuated with dietary intake of creatine. The protective effect is weak to moderate in animal research, but appears to be additive with anti-inflammatories.
Beginners are advised to build up slowly to a weight training program. Untrained individuals may have some muscles that are comparatively stronger than others; nevertheless, an injury can result if (in a particular exercise) the primary muscle is stronger than its stabilizing muscles. Building up slowly allows muscles time to develop appropriate strengths relative to each other. This can also help to minimize delayed onset muscle soreness. A sudden start to an intense program can cause significant muscular soreness. Unexercised muscles contain cross-linkages that are torn during intense exercise. A regimen of flexibility exercises should be implemented before weight training begins, to help avoid soft tissue pain and injuries.
The process of phagocytosis (a macrophage consuming a pathogen) in macrophages appears to be associated with an acute reduction in creatine phosphate stores (45%) and an increase in creatine kinase activity, although prolonged stimulation is met with an increase in creatine phosphate (20%). The creatine kinase activity does not appear to be altered based on creatine availability, but since ATP seems to be preserved in these instances, the increase in phosphocreatine may be explained by an overall creatine pool paralleling that found in medium.
Creatine is stored in the body in the form of creatine and as creatine phosphate, otherwise known as phosphocreatine, which is the creatine molecule bound to a phosphate group. Creatine phosphate is thought to maintain the ATP/ADP ratio by acting as a high-energy phosphate reservoir. The more ATP a muscle has relative to ADP, the higher its contractility is, and thus its potential strength output in vivo. This pro-energetic mechanism also affects nearly all body systems, not just skeletal muscle.  During periods of rest and anabolism, creatine can gain a phosphate group through the creatine-kinase enzyme pathway, up to a cellular concentration of 30uM to be later used for quick ATP resupply, when needed.
Another study demonstrated that females receiving 4 days of high-dose creatine intake (20 g/day) followed by low-dose creatine intake (5 g/day) during 10 weeks of resistance training (3hours/week) increased muscle PCr concentrations by 6%. Also, maximal strength of the muscle groups trained increased by 20-25%, maximal intermittent exercise capacity of the arm flexors increased by 10-25% and fat-free mass increased by 60% .
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.
Camacho EM1, Huhtaniemi IT, O'Neill TW, Finn JD, Pye SR, Lee DM, Tajar A, Bartfai G, Boonen S, Casanueva FF, Forti G, Giwercman A, Han TS, Kula K, Keevil B, Lean ME, Pendleton N, Punab M, Vanderschueren D, Wu FC; EMAS Group. “Age-associated changes in hypothalamic-pituitary-testicular function in middle-aged and older men are modified by weight change and lifestyle factors: longitudinal results from the European Male Ageing Study.” Eur J Endocrinol. 2013 Feb 20;168(3):445-55. doi: 10.1530/EJE-12-0890. Print 2013 Mar.
You’d have to look hard to find a fitness expert who doesn’t recommend taking supplemental protein powder for building muscle. It’s one of the best supplements for building muscle on the market! In addition to serving as a muscle building supplement, protein powder can be the perfect complement to a successful weight loss plan. Studies show that the supplement can prevent loss of muscle mass, helping you lose fat exclusively instead.
While they don’t play a big role, your body’s lean body mass and muscle strength is somewhat influenced by genetics. Actually, it’s good that they don’t have too much of an influence. Why? Because that means you have more of an influence on your muscle mass through your lifestyle. You can control it! If genetics were a determining factor, there wouldn’t be much you could do to change your situation.
A muscle imbalance—when one muscle is stronger than its opposing muscle—can limit your ability to exercise effectively, and could lead to injury down the line. “It’s important to recognize whether you’re really working the muscles you think you are and recognize if you’ve developed an imbalance that alters your movement pattern,” says Eric Ingram, physical therapist at Louisiana Physical Therapy Centers of Pineville. One common imbalance in women is stronger quads and weaker, tighter hamstrings, thanks to prolonged sitting, high heels, and improper training. If you suspect you have a muscle imbalance, make an appointment with a physical therapist, who will prescribe exercises to even you out.
In people with COPD given either glucose placebo (40.7g) or creatine supplementation (5.7g creatine with 35g glucose) thrice daily for two weeks followed by a single dose for ten weeks, supplementation was associated with improvements in muscular strength and endurance, but not cardiovascular exercise potential. A later trial of larger power using a loading phase of 22g creatine with a maintenance phase of 3.76g during rehabilitative exercise failed to replicate the improvements in skeletal muscle performance despite increased body weight seen with creatine, and the failure to improve cardiovascular performance during aerobic exercise seen in both aforementioned studies has been replicated elsewhere after eight weeks supplementation, during which muscular performance was, again, unaffected.
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 .
Different forms of creatine in combination with other sports supplements as well as varying doses and supplementation methodology should continue to be researched in an attempt to understand further application of creatine to increase sports and exercise performance of varying disciplines. It is important to remain impartial when evaluating the safety of creatine ingested as a natural supplement. The available evidence indicates that creatine consumption is safe. This perception of safety cannot be guaranteed especially that of the long term safety of creatine supplementation and the various forms of creatine which are administered to different populations (athletes, sedentary, patient, active, young or elderly) throughout the globe.
Trouble walking, running or doing other activities — Any physical movement that involves stability, flexibility and strength in the legs and hips can be compromised. For example, yoga, dancing, horseback riding, cycling, hiking, burst training, sprinting, plyometrics or tabata workouts, and other activities will be more difficult with underdeveloped glutes.