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.
It is regularly reported that creatine supplementation, when combined with heavy resistance training leads to enhanced physical performance, fat free mass, and muscle morphology [18-22]. A 2003 meta analysis [8] showed individuals ingesting creatine, combined with resistance training, obtain on average +8% and +14% more performance on maximum (1RM) or endurance strength (maximal repetitions at a given percent of 1RM) respectively than the placebo groups. However, contradicting studies have reported no effects of creatine supplementation on strength performance. Jakobi et al [23] found no effects of a short term creatine loading protocol upon isometric elbow flexion force, muscle activation, and recovery process. However, this study did not clearly state if creatine supplementation was administered concurrent with resistance training. Bemben et al [24] have shown no additional benefits of creatine alone or combined with whey protein for improving strength and muscle mass after a progressive 14 weeks (3 days per week) resistance training program in older men. These conflicting results can be explained by the possibility that the supplemented groups were formed by a greater amount of non-responders or even because creatine supplementation was administered on the training days only (3 times a week). This strategy has not been adequately tested as effective in middle aged and older men for maintaining post loading elevated creatine stores [5].
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. 
^ Mehta PH, Jones AC, Josephs RA (Jun 2008). "The social endocrinology of dominance: basal testosterone predicts cortisol changes and behavior following victory and defeat" (PDF). Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 94 (6): 1078–93. CiteSeerX doi:10.1037/0022-3514.94.6.1078. PMID 18505319. Archived from the original (PDF) on April 19, 2009.
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Brain injury. Early research shows that taking creatine by mouth daily for 7 days increases the ability to exercise by increasing lung function in people with a spinal cord injury. However, other research shows that creatine does not improve wrist muscle or hand function. Early research also shows that taking creatine by mouth daily for 6 months reduces amnesia following a traumatic brain injury in children.
Glycogen synthesis is known to respond directly and positively to cellular swelling. This was demonstrated in an earlier study, during which rat muscle cells were exposed to a hypotonic solution in vitro to induce cell swelling, which increased glycogen synthesis by 75%. In contrast, exposing these same cells to a hypertonic solution hindered glycogen synthesis by 31%. These changes were not due to alterations in glucose uptake, but are blocked by hindering the PI3K/mTOR signaling pathway.[112] It was later noted that stress proteins of the MAPK class (p38 and JNK) as well as heat shock protein 27 (Hsp27) are activated in response to increasing osmolarity.[113][114] Furthermore, activation of MAPK signaling in skeletal muscle cells is known to induce myocyte differentiation[115] via GSK3β and MEF2 signaling, which can induce muscle cell growth.[116][117]
It is suggested [16,37] that another mechanism for the effect of creatine could be enhanced muscle glycogen accumulation and GLUT4 expression, when creatine supplementation is combined with a glycogen depleting exercise. Whereas it has been observed [38] that creatine supplementation alone does not enhance muscle glycogen storage. Hickner et al [15] observed positive effects of creatine supplementation for enhancing initial and maintaining a higher level of muscle glycogen during 2 hours of cycling. In general, it is accepted that glycogen depleting exercises, such as high intensity or long duration exercise should combine high carbohydrate diets with creatine supplementation to achieve heightened muscle glycogen stores [39].
More recent studies on the regulation of CrT creatine transport activity have identified the protein kinase (Janus-Activating Kinase 2) JAK2, which suppresses the rate of creatine uptake via CrT without affecting creatine binding.[181] JAK2 is a regulatory protein involved in stabilizing the cellular membrane and controlling water concentrations in response to osmotic stress.[182][183] Similar to c-Src (a positive creatine transport regulator), Jak2 can also be activated by growth hormone signaling.[169][184] The growth hormone receptor seems to activate these two factors independently, as gh-mediated activation of c-Src does not require JAK2.[168] Given that c-Src is a positive regulator of CrT, JAK2 is a negative regulator, and the fact that downstream signals from both are induced by growth hormone, it is tempting to speculate that JAK2 activation downstream of the gh receptor may function as a homeostatic response to limit c-src induced creatine uptake. This has not been studied, however, and the effects of gh-induced JAK2 signaling on CrT activity have not been examined.

Chwalbinska-Monteta [34] observed a significant decrease in blood lactate accumulation when exercising at lower intensities as well as an increase in lactate threshold in elite male endurance rowers after consuming a short loading (5 days 20 g/d) CM protocol. However, the effects of creatine supplementation on endurance performance have been questioned by some studies. Graef et al [35] examined the effects of four weeks of creatine citrate supplementation and high-intensity interval training on cardio respiratory fitness. A greater increase of the ventilatory threshold was observed in the creatine group respect to placebo; however, oxygen consumption showed no significant differences between the groups. The total work presented no interaction and no main effect for time for any of the groups. Thompson et al [36] reported no effects of a 6 week 2 g CM/d in aerobic and anaerobic endurance performance in female swimmers. In addition, of the concern related to the dosage used in these studies, it could be possible that the potential benefits of creatine supplementation on endurance performance were more related to effects of anaerobic threshold localization.
D-aspartic acid can also help to reduce cortisol levels. Cortisol is known as the “stress” hormone because its production increases during stressful situations. High cortisol levels can have many negative side effects, such as weight gain, muscle tissue breakdown, or increased blood sugar. Taking a supplement that includes cortisol can reduce stress and prevent excess fat storage or muscle loss.
Supporting the muscles of the back — In patients who complain of lower back pain, many experts recommend strengthening the glutes to improve posture and take pressure off of the lower body. Lower back pain is one of the most common complaints among middle-aged and older adults, often tied to lots of sitting, too little movement of the lower body and not enough stretching. (02)

Creatine, through its ability to act as an energy reserve, attenuates neuron death induced by the MPTP toxin that can produce Parkinson’s disease-like effects in research animals,[235] reduces glutamate-induced excitotoxicity,[236] attenuates rotenone-induced toxicity,[120] L-DOPA induced dyskinesia,[237] 3-nitropropinoic acid,[238] and preserves growth rate of neurons during exposure to corticosteroids (like cortisol), which can reduce neuron growth rates.[239] Interestingly, the energetic effect also applies to Alzheimer’s disease, during which creatine phosphate per se attenuates pathogenesis in vitro, yet creatine per se did not.[240]

2. What's your training like? Are you crushing 25 sets for chest like the average juiced out bodybuilder? If so, there's a pretty good chance you might be working above your MRV (maximal recoverable volume) and as such any physiological adaptation which could have taken place is going to be minimal given the cellular environment which occurs in a state of functional overreaching.
Creatine is a non-protein amino acid found in abundance in animal foods such as red meat and fish. A pound of either contains roughly 1 to 2 g of creatine. About 95% of bodily creatine is stored in skeletal muscle, roughly two-thirds of which is phosphocreatine and one-third of which is free creatine. Other creatine storage depots include energy-hungry organs such as the brain and testes.
Now that you've got the training part down, it's time to stretch it out. (Can you say ahhh?) Stretching while your muscles are warm can help improve your flexibility, says Davis, not to mention it just feels phenomenal after you've pushed yourself hard. A light cool-down is also great for calming the nervous system. While dynamic stretches should be your go-to during a warm-up, the cool-down is where static stretching comes in—this means holding a stretch for 20-30 seconds. These four passive stretches will do nicely.

Testosterone is most commonly associated with sex drive in men. It also affects mental health, bone and muscle mass, fat storage, and red blood cell production. Abnormally low or high levels can affect a man’s mental and physical health. Your doctor can check your testosterone levels with a simple blood test. Testosterone therapy is available to treat men with low levels of testosterone. If you have low T, ask your doctor if this type of therapy might benefit you.

The exercises that allow you to use the greatest amount of weight are the ones that help you build muscle the fastest. These also happen to be the lifts that allow for the greatest percentage of increases in loading. We’re talking compound (multi-joint) exercises here, done with free weights. You’re not going to grow at nearly the same rate with a workout comprising machine exercises and isolation movements.
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]
The slider reverse lunge is simple to perform and doesn’t need much in the way of instructions. Simply grab a Valslide, or a similar tool that will allow you to move smoothly across the ground. Put the slide under one foot, and use that foot to slide into a reverse lunge, and then return to standing. Try doing this exercise after one of the ones above, and just wait until you feel the burn!
If you’ve been training longer than 6–12 months, you can split your workouts into upper- and lower-body days. The most common setup is to train upper body one day and lower the next so that each area gets trained twice in one week. If you train four days per week, you can train upper body on Monday, lower Tuesday, rest Wednesday, and then do upper body again on Thursday, lower body on Friday, and then rest on the weekend.

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).

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.
For the bench press, start with a weight that you can lift comfortably. If you are a beginner, try lifting the bar along with 5lbs or 10lbs on each side. With arms at shoulder-width apart, grab onto the bar and slowly lower the bar until it's at nipple level; push up until your arms are fully extended upwards. Do 8–10 repetitions (reps) like this for three sets (3 x 8), adding additional weight each set. Once you have a few months of practice, slowly increase weight and go down to 6–8 reps per set, aiming to reach muscle failure at the end of the third set.
Practice Sleep Hygiene – For optimal health of your mind and body, it is recommended that adults get 7 to 8 hours of sleep every day. Lower or more amounts of sleep can exacerbate your depressive symptoms. Sleep hygiene practices include limiting daytime naps, scheduling a regular sleep and wake-up times, and ensuring the environment is rid of potential sleep disruptors such as light, noise, and heat.
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.
In addition to conjugation and the 17-ketosteroid pathway, testosterone can also be hydroxylated and oxidized in the liver by cytochrome P450 enzymes, including CYP3A4, CYP3A5, CYP2C9, CYP2C19, and CYP2D6.[159] 6β-Hydroxylation and to a lesser extent 16β-hydroxylation are the major transformations.[159] The 6β-hydroxylation of testosterone is catalyzed mainly by CYP3A4 and to a lesser extent CYP3A5 and is responsible for 75 to 80% of cytochrome P450-mediated testosterone metabolism.[159] In addition to 6β- and 16β-hydroxytestosterone, 1β-, 2α/β-, 11β-, and 15β-hydroxytestosterone are also formed as minor metabolites.[159][160] Certain cytochrome P450 enzymes such as CYP2C9 and CYP2C19 can also oxidize testosterone at the C17 position to form androstenedione.[159]
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.[60] 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.[61] 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[62] 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[63].

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.[541] Combination therapy has also been used with creatine and folic acid (both in vitro[543] and in vivo), resulting in increased skin firmness and reduced coarse and fine wrinkles.[544]
Perform the exercise pairs (marked A and B) as alternating sets, resting 60 seconds between sets. You’ll complete one set of exercise A and rest; then one set of B and rest again; and repeat until you’ve completed all sets for that pair. On your very first training day, perform only one set for each exercise. Progress to two or more sets (as the set prescriptions below dictate) from your second workout on.
Perform the two workouts (Day 1 and 2) once each per week, resting at least a day between each. Perform the exercises marked with letters as a group. Do one set of A, rest, then one set of B, rest (note that some groups have an exercise “C”), and repeat until all sets are complete. Then go on to the next group. Perform three sets of 8–10 reps for each exercise. After a month, you’ll see how rewarding just a months in the gym can be.
It is prudent to note that creatine supplementation has been shown to reduce the body’s endogenous production of creatine, however levels return to normal after a brief period of time when supplementation ceases [1,6]. Despite this creatine supplementation has not been studied/supplemented with for a relatively long period. Due to this, long term effects are unknown, therefore safety cannot be guaranteed. Whilst the long term effects of creatine supplementation remain unclear, no definitive certainty of either a negative or a positive effect upon the body has been determined for many health professionals and national agencies [19,78]. For example the French Sanitary Agency has banned the buying of creatine due to the unproven allegation that a potential effect of creatine supplementation could be that of mutagenicity and carcinogenicity from the production of heterocyclic amines [78]. Long term and epidemiological data should continue to be produced and collected to determine the safety of creatine in all healthy individuals under all conditions [78].
Whenever you hear the word, “bodybuilding”, your mind usually flashes you images of bulging muscles, steel, sweat, the shouts of weightlifters, and ripped, muscular bodies of men and women in skimpy spandex. Your mind instantly takes you to the gym followed by wishful thinking that you can have a sexy body and bigger muscles. However, it takes more than just
In general, muscle content of creatine tends to be elevated to 15-20% above baseline (more than 20mM increase) in response to oral supplementation. People who get a sufficiently high influx of creatine are known as responders.[150][151][152][153] A phenomena known as “creatine nonresponse” occurs when people have less than a 10mM influx of creatine into muscle after prolonged supplementation.[154] Quasi-responders (10-20mM increase) also exist.[154] Nonresponse is thought to explain instances where people do not benefit from creatine supplementation in trials, since some trials that find no significant effect do find one when only investigating people with high creatine responsiveness.[155] There are clear differences between those who respond and those who do not, in regard to physical performance.[156] People who are creatine responsive tend to be younger, have higher muscle mass and type II muscle fiber content, but this has no correlation with dietary protein intake.[154][157]
HMB supplementation is claimed to build muscle size and strength and promote fat loss in conjunction with a strength program. Studies of HMB have shown some benefit to strength athletes in building muscle bulk but the benefits are relatively small and the cost of HMB is high. The effective dose seems to be 3 grams/day divided into 1 gram three times a day. Probably not worth taking. Beta-alanine is the new guy on the block and has not been evaluated sufficiently in my view. It may provide some advantage in high-intensity sports like weight training but it’s much too early to know that it does. Some early studies are flawed. Save your money or try creatine instead.

Branched-chain amino acids (leucine, isoleucine, valine) play important roles in muscle building. Some researchers have found that following exercise, the branched-chain amino acids, especially leucine, increase the rate of protein synthesis and decrease the rate of protein catabolism (Blomstrand, 2006). The billion dollar supplement industry has been quick to respond; leucine supplements are widely available in health food stores, with a cost upwards of $50 per container. However, because the research findings are inconsistent and little is known about the safety of these products, the American Dietetic Association (soon to be renamed the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics) advises against individual amino acid supplementation and protein supplementation overall (Rodriquez, 2009). It may be that food sources of these proteins and amino acids provide the same effect for a small fraction of the cost.
If you have hit a plateau, a good supplement could be all you need to pull yourself out of a slump and make the progress you want to be making. Creatine is widely known as the most effective sports supplement. Scientific studies have proven that creatine maximizes ATP production which is responsible for energy in your body. Essentially, creatine will give you more energy to allow you to do the things that will make you stronger.
The majority of studies have used nothing but a loading period and the duration, overall, was about a week. This is partially because one study that noted benefit with a loading period failed to note benefit with prolonged supplementation.[156] Lowballing supplementation at 2g a day in high active swimmers does not appear to be sufficient to alter any function in skeletal muscle.[383]
When many people think of someone with a high level of testosterone, they may picture a man loaded with strength, sexual prowess, and machismo. But while high-T has been correlated with all those things, it’s also been correlated with aggression, sexual misconduct, and violence. One of testosterone’s most common uses—as a performance-enhancing steroid—illustrates both sides of the hormone. Injecting steroids can be a quick way for athletes to dramatically improve performance, but the side effects can also be extreme, and can include excessive body hair growth, sexual dysfunction, and the hard-to-corral anger known as “roid rage.”
Do you know what happens when a person attempts to build muscle faster than they legitimately can? They fail, and then they wonder why it’s not working as quickly as they thought it would. From there, they’ll jump from workout to workout, diet to diet and useless supplement to useless supplement in the hopes of finally finding the missing link that will make it happen. But they’re never going to find it. They’ll just keep wasting their time, effort and money searching for something that doesn’t exist.
Despite a possible decreasing creatine content in the muscles when maintenance is deemed suboptimal, the overall retention of weight and lean mass is merely additive over time. This is thought to be due to increases in skeletal muscle production (increase in body weight) compensating for the progressive declines in water and glycogen content (decreases in body weight).
When it comes to training, I prefer to stick with the basics. People think they need 10 different exercises to fashion a fine pair of cheeks, but that's not what it takes. When it comes to toning your glutes, you only need two things: drive and dedication—and I mean real dedication. You must train your glutes hard and diligently to get a great response. If you stop every time it gets difficult or whenever it burns, you're not going to get anywhere.

^ Jump up to: a b c d Brosnan JT, da Silva RP, Brosnan ME (May 2011). "The metabolic burden of creatine synthesis". Amino Acids. 40 (5): 1325–31. doi:10.1007/s00726-011-0853-y. PMID 21387089. Creatinine loss averages approximately 2 g (14.6 mmol) for 70 kg males in the 20- to 39-year age group. ... Table 1 Comparison of rates of creatine synthesis in young adults with dietary intakes of the three precursor amino acids and with the whole body transmethylation flux
The basic principles of weight training are essentially identical to those of strength training, and involve a manipulation of the number of repetitions (reps), sets, tempo, exercise types, and weight moved to cause desired increases in strength, endurance, and size. The specific combinations of reps, sets, exercises, and weights depends on the aims of the individual performing the exercise.

The body's pool of creatine can be replenished either from food (or supplements) or through synthesis from precursor amino acids. Dietary sources include beef, tuna, cod, salmon, herring, and pork [2]. The normal dietary intake of creatine is 1-2 g/day, although vegetarians may consume less [3,4]. Dietary creatine is absorbed from the intestines into the bloodstream. If the dietary supply is limited, creatine can be synthesized from the body stores of the amino acids glycine, arginine, and methionine. The kidneys use glycine and arginine to make guanidinoacetate, which the liver methylates to form creatine [1], which is transported to the muscle cells for storage. It is also stored in the kidneys, sperm cells, and brain tissue [5].

So how do you build a stronger backside? Squats are a good place to start. But if you really want to get your booty rock solid, it’s a good idea to incorporate weights, resistance bands, stability balls and even foam rollers into your glute workout. Here are 50 butt exercises that will help you think outside of the box when it comes to squats, lunges, glute bridges, leg lifts and more.
The gluteus maximus can be your best friend when it comes to safely 
performing backbends. Yet overusing this big muscle by clenching your butt as you backbend can lead to irritation and injury in the spine and sacroiliac (SI) joint. In order to mitigate excessive spinal compression in backbends, it’s helpful to use the buttocks and adductors (inner thighs) to support the weight of the pelvis, hips, and spine. Work on the following actions:
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).

You burn calories during strength training, and your body continues to burn calories after strength training (just like you do after aerobic exercise), a process called "excess post-exercise oxygen consumption" or EPOC, according to the American Council on Exercise. (13) When you do strength, weight, or resistance training, your body demands more energy based on how much energy you’re exerting (meaning the tougher you’re working, the more energy is demanded). That means more calories burned during the workout, and more calories burned after the workout, too, while your body is recovering to a resting state.
Nephrectomized rats may have significantly reduced creatine synthesis rates[509] via impairment of methylation (the GAMT enzyme)[510] although creatine reuptake from the urine seems unimpaired.[511] Supplemental creatine in a rat model of 2/3rds nephrectomy (2% creatine in the diet) does not appear to negatively influence kidney function as assessed by the serum biomarkers of cystatin C and urinary protein or creatinine clearance rates.[512] Elsewhere, 2% creatine in the diet in rats for two weeks again failed to show negative effects on kidney function, but showed benefit in reducing homocysteine in late-stage uremic rats.[312] While there is not much human evidence for the rat nephrectomy model, a lone case study in a man with a single kidney failed to find an impairing effect of creatine (20g daily for five days and 5g for another month) in conjunction with a high protein diet.[513]
Creatine is used up as energy during high intensity exercise. Due to this usage, the amount of glucose required from glycogen is decreased a bit. This both preserves glycogen concentrations in skeletal muscle and reduces lactate production, which is produced when glucose is oxidized for energy. There do not appear to be any alterations in the bioenergetic status of muscle cells during low to moderate intensity exercise.
A great analogy that I like is that the balance between training and recovery is like digging a hole. Each time you lift, you dig yourself deeper and make it harder to climb out of the hole. To get back out again, you have to fill in the hole to return to ground level, and the only way to fill it is with food and rest. If you overdo it in the gym by pushing too hard, you won’t be able to train as often or at a high capacity. Eventually, you’ll get injured.
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.
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.[541] Combination therapy has also been used with creatine and folic acid (both in vitro[543] and in vivo), resulting in increased skin firmness and reduced coarse and fine wrinkles.[544]
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.

Discomfort can arise from other factors. Individuals who perform large numbers of repetitions, sets, and exercises for each muscle group may experience a burning sensation in their muscles. These individuals may also experience a swelling sensation in their muscles from increased blood flow (the "pump"). True muscle fatigue is experienced as a marked and uncontrollable loss of strength in a muscle, arising from the nervous system (motor unit) rather than from the muscle fibers themselves. Extreme neural fatigue can be experienced as temporary muscle failure. Some weight training programs, such as Metabolic Resistance Training, actively seek temporary muscle failure; evidence to support this type of training is mixed at best.[24] Irrespective of their program, however, most athletes engaged in high-intensity weight training will experience muscle failure during their regimens.
Increasing creatine levels in skeletal muscle to 687% of baseline (0.5mM creatine, thought to be equivalent to 5g creatine[135]) doesn’t seem to per se increase glucose uptake, but increases glucose oxidation (140% of baseline)[341] 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.[341] Glucose uptake associated with AMPK has indeed been noted in diabetic people who are undergoing physical exercise[342] and in contracting skeletal muscle cells,[153][330] but according to rat[343][344][345] and in vitro studies of cells not being contracted,[341] this is not a per se effect of non-exercising tissue but an augmentation of exercise-induced glucose uptake.
Several studies have used either beet root juice or pomegranate extract in multi-ingredient performance supplements and have observed improvements in strength, hypertrophy, and performance in resistance-trained men. At this point, however, it's difficult to determine if these benefits are from beet root juice and pomegranate extract working alone or synergistically with other ingredients.[11,12]
While most of these muscle building supplements can be taken at any time of the day, some are best to include in your pre-workout routine. Citrulline malate, in particular, is one that should be taken about an hour ahead of your workout. Because this supplement boosts performance, taking it ahead of your workout will maximize its effect, making sure you get the most out of the supplement.
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.
Glycogen synthesis is known to respond directly and positively to cellular swelling. This was demonstrated in an earlier study, during which rat muscle cells were exposed to a hypotonic solution in vitro to induce cell swelling, which increased glycogen synthesis by 75%. In contrast, exposing these same cells to a hypertonic solution hindered glycogen synthesis by 31%. These changes were not due to alterations in glucose uptake, but are blocked by hindering the PI3K/mTOR signaling pathway.[112] It was later noted that stress proteins of the MAPK class (p38 and JNK) as well as heat shock protein 27 (Hsp27) are activated in response to increasing osmolarity.[113][114] Furthermore, activation of MAPK signaling in skeletal muscle cells is known to induce myocyte differentiation[115] via GSK3β and MEF2 signaling, which can induce muscle cell growth.[116][117]
Many athletes follow a "loading" protocol of around 25 grams a day for five days, but this isn't essential. But as Ciaran Fairman notes in the article "Do I Need to Load With Creatine," you can also get the same benefits with around 5 grams a day, potentially with none of the mild side effects of the loading protocol, which include stomach pain and water weight gain. The catch is that you have to take it consistently. Don't skip it!
To do dips, place your hands at shoulder-width apart on a bench, with your body and feet stretched out in front of the bench. Slowly bend your elbows and lower your body down so that your butt nearly touches the floor. Lift back up with your arms to starting position; repeat, doing 3 x 8. If this isn't a high-intensity set for you, increase the resistance by lifting one foot off the floor.
You’ll Feel Better: Not only will you find yourself with more energy and confidence, less stress and anxiety, and a better overall mood, but you’ll actually begin to think better (resistance training has been proven to help increase cognitive function). And while training too close to bedtime can be a bad idea, exercising earlier in the day has been proven to help prevent sleep apnea and insomnia. I even improved my posture – when I started lifting, I was 5’4”.  Now I’m 5’5.5”.
Eating the right carbs is important too. Carbohydrate is stored in your body in the form of glycogen. Glycogen in the muscles is an important fuel reserve during intense physical exercise or in times of energy restriction – protein sparing. It is best to restrict or to keep away from junk carbohydrates such as sweets, cakes, and biscuits, and stick to foods like porridge, pasta (wholemeal), rice (brown), bread (wholegrain), and cereals (try to choose the versions with low or reduced sugar and salt). For more on carbohydrate and the effect of sugar on the body, click here.

When creatine is increased in the fetus (from maternal supplementation of 5% creatine), the fetus has a greater chance of survival and increased growth rates to a level not significantly different than vaginal birth.[531] Protection from hypoxia has also been noted in the offspring’s diaphragm (through preserved muscle fiber size),[533] kidneys,[534] and neural tissue (due to less oxidation in the brain and less cellular apoptosis).[535]

^ Jump up to: a b c d Brosnan JT, da Silva RP, Brosnan ME (May 2011). "The metabolic burden of creatine synthesis". Amino Acids. 40 (5): 1325–31. doi:10.1007/s00726-011-0853-y. PMID 21387089. Creatinine loss averages approximately 2 g (14.6 mmol) for 70 kg males in the 20- to 39-year age group. ... Table 1 Comparison of rates of creatine synthesis in young adults with dietary intakes of the three precursor amino acids and with the whole body transmethylation flux
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]
The important role of nutrition in building muscle and losing fat means bodybuilders may consume a wide variety of dietary supplements.[41] Various products are used in an attempt to augment muscle size, increase the rate of fat loss, improve joint health, increase natural testosterone production, enhance training performance and prevent potential nutrient deficiencies.
Creatine supplementation may be able to enhance lifespan, secondary to increasing intracellular carnosine stores. Carnosine is the metabolic compound formed from beta-alanine supplementation, and in a mouse-model for premature aging (senescence-accelerated premature aging, SAMP8) creatine supplementation without any beta-alanine has been shown to increase cellular carnosine stores.[126] That being said, the aforemented SAMP8 study noted an increase in carnosine levels at middle age, but not old age in the mice.[126] A human study using 20g of creatine for one week in otherwise healthy people failed to find an increase in intracellular carnosine stores.[126]
Every gym has a guy shaped like a lightbulb. He's the one who neglects his lower body. If you don't want to be that guy, work your major leg muscles on the leg press machine. Place your feet on the plate with knees bent at 90 degrees. Grasp the handles and slowly push the plate out until your knees are straight but not locked. Pause and slowly return to the starting spot.

In standard dosages (5-10g creatine monohydrate) the bioavailability of creatine in humans is approximately 99%,[68][83] although this value is subject to change with different conjugates (forms) of creatine and dosages.[83] Coingestion of cyclocreatine (an analogue) can reduce uptake by about half[131] and coincubation of taurine, choline, glycine, or beta-alanine had minimal attenuation of absorption, which is likely not practically relevant.[131] The inhibition noted with cyclocreatine may be due to receptor saturation.
Moving through repetitions too quickly, going too fast; there is nothing gained by lifting weights fast. Some of the perks of lifting weight in a slow and controlled manner, include more total muscle tension and force produced, more muscle-fiber activation both slow and fast twitch fibers, and less tissue trauma. Remember, a joint is only as strong as the muscles that cross it; if you haven't lifted in a long time, or ever, be careful what you ask of your joints.
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We hear this from 30 year olds and 60 year olds alike…and, like “I don’t have time,” it is a big fat lie! Even for the frail elderly, studies have shown that drastic results are possible in just 10 weeks of weightlifting (for both men and women in their 70s through their 90s). In fact, weight training has also been shown to delay Alzheimer’s and stave off dementia. So, if you think you might be “too old,” you’re probably the exact type of person that SHOULD be strength training!
An obvious use case is injury rehabilitation. Creatine has sometimes (not always) been shown to improve responses to rehabilitation protocols. Related to this, a very rigorous review of all studies that explored effects of creatine in treating skeletal muscle disorders unambiguously showed that creatine improves muscle strength and quality of life in muscular dystrophy patients.
The winner of the annual IFBB Mr. Olympia contest is generally recognized as the world's top male professional bodybuilder. The winner of the Women's Physique portion of the competition is widely regarded as the world's top female professional bodybuilder. The title is currently held by Juliana Malacarne, who has won every year since 2014. Since 1950, the NABBA Universe Championships have been considered the top amateur bodybuilding contests, with notable winners such as Reg Park, Lee Priest, Steve Reeves, and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Winners generally go on to become professional athletes.
In the stomach, creatine can degrade by about 13% due to the digestive hormone pepsin, as assessed by simulated digestion.[127] Although creatinine is a known byproduct of creatine degradation, simulated gastric digestion did not increase creatinine levels, indicating that other breakdown products were formed. However, creatinine was noted to increase in the presence of pancreatin, a mixture of pancreatic enzymes.[127] 
A double-blind study provided 20 g/day of creatine monohydrate for 5 days to qualified sprinters and jumpers who performed 45 seconds of continuous jumping and 60 seconds of continuous treadmill running. Supplementation enhanced performance in the jumping test by 7% for the first 15 seconds and 12% for the next 15 seconds, but there was no difference for the final 15 seconds. There was a 13% improvement in the time of intensive running to exhaustion [12].
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 8-12 reps for muscular strength and 10-15 reps for muscular endurance. They also recommend at least 1 set of each exercise to fatigue although you'll find that most people perform about 2-3 sets of each exercise. In general:
Electrolytes derive mainly from minerals in the diet and they maintain fluid balance and assist the nervous system to perform muscle contractions. Electrolytes are sodium, potassium, magnesium, calcium and chloride, bicarbonate, phosphate, sulfate. Exercisers are particularly dependent on sodium and potassium balance. Carbohydrates are important for fueling exercise, including vigorous weight training, and in post-exercise energy replacement nutrition. Carbohydrates, mostly sugars, are formulated in sports drinks with electrolytes such as sodium chloride and potassium and sometimes magnesium.
How to maximize its effects: Take 20 grams of whey protein powder in the 30 minutes before working out, and take 40 grams within 60 minutes after training. Also consider taking 20-40 grams of whey immediately upon waking every morning to kick-start muscle growth. Your best bet is to choose a whey powder that contains whey protein hydrolysates (whey protein broken down into smaller fragments for faster digestion) or whey protein isolate.
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 »
^ Jump up to: a b c d e f g h Momaya A, Fawal M, Estes R (April 2015). "Performance-enhancing substances in sports: a review of the literature". Sports Med. 45 (4): 517–531. doi:10.1007/s40279-015-0308-9. PMID 25663250. Wilson et al. [91] demonstrated that when non-resistance trained males received HMB pre-exercise, the rise of lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) levels reduced, and HMB tended to decrease soreness. Knitter et al. [92] showed a decrease in LDH and creatine phosphokinase (CPK), a byproduct of muscle breakdown, by HMB after a prolonged run. ... The utility of HMB does seem to be affected by timing of intake prior to workouts and dosage [97].
The concentration in healthy controls (57+/-8 years) without supplementation of creatine appears to be around 1.24+/-0.26µM per gram of hemoglobin[292] and appears to decrease in concentration during the aging process of the erythrocyte.[294][295][296] Otherwise healthy subjects who take a loading phase of creatine (5g four times daily for five days) can experience a 129.6% increase in erythrocytic creatine concentrations from an average value of 418µM (per liter) up to 961µM with a large range (increases in the range of 144.4-1004.8µM),[297] and this effect appears to correlate somewhat with muscular creatine stores.[297]
Testosterone is only one of many factors that influence aggression and the effects of previous experience and environmental stimuli have been found to correlate more strongly. A few studies indicate that the testosterone derivative estradiol (one form of estrogen) might play an important role in male aggression.[66][71][72][73] Studies have also found that testosterone facilitates aggression by modulating vasopressin receptors in the hypothalamus.[74]
In fact, you could probably ride across Kansas (the pancake flat part anyway) while your butt muscles mostly snooze, explains kinesiologist Stuart McGill, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada, chief scientific officer at Backfitpro Inc., and author of Ultimate Back Fitness and Performance. “Typical cycling challenges the thighs—the quads and the hamstrings—but not really the gluteals,” he says. There are exceptions. “Sprinters use the glutes for acceleration. Hill climbers will use them when they’re out of the saddle. Otherwise, you will see most cyclists with hypertrophied [enlarged] legs, but the same could not be said for their glutes.”
One study investigating the effects of creatine supplementation on people with osteoarthritis undergoing knee arthroplasty (surgical procedure for osteoarthritis), who received creatine at 10g daily for 10 days prior to surgery and 5g daily for a month afterward, failed to find benefit with supplementation.[424] This study failed to find any differences in muscular creatine stores or weight changes.[424]
Exercise is highly effective in increasing your lean body mass, which is essentially muscle. In a study published in 2012, progressive resistance training helped men ages 50 to 83 gain an average of 2.4 pounds of lean body mass over an average of 20.5 weeks. Progressive resistance training involves performing weight bearing exercises. In addition, you must slowly increase the challenge of the exercise over time by increasing the weight, reps and/or sets. Studies show that either increasing reps or weight amount will work. So, if you don’t want to lift more weight, you can just do more reps and still build muscle.

 Besides the obvious benefits of getting protein into your system, our vegan protein powder offers other benefits too. It’s one of the one of the best bodybuilding supplements for anyone –– regardless of their diet –– because it’s a Smooth Protein™. That means it’s organic, non-GMO, gluten-free, and non-allergenic, and it also doesn’t have that gritty texture and earthy flavor associated with other plant-based protein supplements.

If you're a serious strength or physique athlete, you've surely heard that supplements can help you get the most from your intense training sessions and on-point diet. But which supplements? The market is overstuffed like a bodybuilder in a child's blazer! You might be tempted to wander through a digital forest of get-big blogs and personal guru websites, but unfortunately those places can often be rife with misinformation.

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.
Standing with your feet hips distance apart, hold a barbell or free weights at shoulder height (either the barbell resting above your shoulder blades on your back, or free weights resting on top of your shoulder muscles held in front of you). Keeping your spine in a neutral position move into the squat by retracting your hips and pulling them backward. Hinging at your hips, bend your knees until your thighs come almost parallel to the ground (knees should be directly over your feet). Then push back up until your back is straight and repeat 5–10 times depending on the weight you’re using.
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.
Crave instant gratification? Strength training is a good motivator because you see progress quickly. “If you put someone on a walking program, it will take time before they perceive their body is changing,” explains Katula. “But with strength training, you can feel a difference in your muscles even after one session.” And it only takes a couple workouts before you’ll notice some muscle definition in the mirror. (Go ahead and flex. We dare you.)

Endogenous serum or plasma creatine concentrations in healthy adults are normally in a range of 2–12 mg/L. A single 5 g (5000 mg) oral dose in healthy adults results in a peak plasma creatine level of approximately 120 mg/L at 1–2 hours post-ingestion. Creatine has a fairly short elimination half-life, averaging just less than 3 hours, so to maintain an elevated plasma level it would be necessary to take small oral doses every 3–6 hours throughout the day. After the "loading dose" period (1–2 weeks, 12–24 g a day), it is no longer necessary to maintain a consistently high serum level of creatine. As with most supplements, each person has their own genetic "preset" amount of creatine they can hold. The rest is eliminated as waste. A typical post-loading dose is 2–5 g daily.[52][53][54]
Creatine has been shown before in vitro to protect from MPTP-induced toxicity, which targets dopaminergic neurons in the substantia nigra and induce Parkinson’s disease in research animals.[235] Creatine also protected these cells from death induced by low oxygen or glucose.[574] One study noted that dopaminergic cell survival under the influence of creatine was 1.32-fold higher than control cells, the soma (cell body) was enlarged by 1.12-fold in these cells,[574] and creatine showed some growth-enhancing effects while helping reducing destruction of dopaminergic neurons by various insults.[574]

Your basal metabolic rate (BMR)—the calories you burn just to live—is driven by a host of factors, including your sex, genetics, and age, Tim Church, M.D., professor of preventative medicine at Pennington Biomedical Research Center at Louisiana State University, tells SELF. Research published in the medical journal PLOS ONE also shows that the size of your internal organs plays a huge role in why some people burn more calories at rest than others—in fact, the study found that 43 percent of the differences between people’s metabolic rates can be explained by organ size.

I’m 6 foot and 154 pounds and I’m thinking of using this diet to bulk up before I do a cut to shed body fat for a more lean look. How good would this diet be to maintain body fat while building muscle and how much muscle could you expect to put on. Thanks. I do not want to gain that much body fat while bulking and if possible I would just like to maintain my current body fat while bulking.

Despite the popularity of creatine among young people, there has been very little research conducted in children under age 18. Of those studies, a few have suggested a positive effect but the overall evidence is inconclusive. In one study, teenage swimmers performed better after taking creatine; in another study, it helped high school soccer players sprint, dribble, and jump more effectively.

The harder an exercise is – both in terms of technicality and physical/mental demand – the more rest there should usually be. So exercises like squats and deadlifts should have more rest between sets than exercises like leg extensions and leg curls. And exercises like various bench presses, shoulder presses, rows and pull-ups should have more rest between sets than bicep curls, tricep extensions, chest flies and lateral raises.
The amount of testosterone synthesized is regulated by the hypothalamic–pituitary–testicular axis (see figure to the right).[133] When testosterone levels are low, gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) is released by the hypothalamus, which in turn stimulates the pituitary gland to release FSH and LH. These latter two hormones stimulate the testis to synthesize testosterone. Finally, increasing levels of testosterone through a negative feedback loop act on the hypothalamus and pituitary to inhibit the release of GnRH and FSH/LH, respectively.
Men who watch a sexually explicit movie have an average increase of 35% in testosterone, peaking at 60–90 minutes after the end of the film, but no increase is seen in men who watch sexually neutral films.[43] Men who watch sexually explicit films also report increased motivation, competitiveness, and decreased exhaustion.[44] A link has also been found between relaxation following sexual arousal and testosterone levels.[45]
Testosterone is the primary sex hormone in men, and it is responsible for the development of many of the physical characteristics that are considered typically male. Women also produce the hormone in much smaller amounts. Testosterone, part of a hormone class known as androgens, is produced by the testicles after stimulation by the pituitary gland, which is located near the base of the brain, and it sends signals to a male's testicles (or to a woman's ovaries) that spark feelings of sexual desire. (1)
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Testosterone is observed in most vertebrates. Testosterone and the classical nuclear androgen receptor first appeared in gnathostomes (jawed vertebrates).[194] Agnathans (jawless vertebrates) such as lampreys do not produce testosterone but instead use androstenedione as a male sex hormone.[195] Fish make a slightly different form called 11-ketotestosterone.[196] Its counterpart in insects is ecdysone.[197] The presence of these ubiquitous steroids in a wide range of animals suggest that sex hormones have an ancient evolutionary history.[198]
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.