Creatine is one of the most widely used supplements for bodybuilding and strength training and I can see why, it is one of the best. Many studies that focus on creatine supplementation have demonstrated significant increases in muscular strength and size as well as improved body composition. Despite creatine’s growth in popularity, many people are still skeptical of the benefits.
You may be part of a small number of people who do not respond to creatine. You probably notice no improvements in strength, muscle mass or performance.
Before you start thinking creatine doesn’t work though, consider if you are using it correctly, in many cases there is some ‘user error’ involved. Take a look here and see if you are guilty of any of these common mistakes.
With all the positive research supporting creatine use, it is now being added to other products, like pre-workouts. If you rely on just your pre-workout to deliver your daily dose of creatine you will more than likely come up short. Most pre-workouts contain creatine but many if not all underdose the ingredient. Taking only 1-2g of creatine in your pre-workout is not nearly enough to see any real benefit, the recommended dose is 5g, if you don’t take your pre-workout on a daily basis you are even more likely to miss out on gains.
The Easiest Fix: Buy a tub of creatine. It is cheap and because it is unflavored, you can add it to any drink you make. To take full advantage of the benefits creatine can offer you, you need to saturate your cells with the substrate. There are two ways to do this:
The benefits of creatine are very well-known but which form is best? Should you pay a bit more for creatine nitrate or creatine HCL, which often comes with no loading or bloating promises? Or can the tried and tested creatine monohydrate give you the results you are looking for?
Best To Keep Things Simple: Do one or the other but never at the same time. It is all too easy to get caught in a trap where you never quite receive the required dosage and miss out on the benefits of loading.
I personally prefer creatine monohydrate. Many hundreds of research studies show positive effects on increasing muscle size, strength and power that are thanks to creatine monohydrate and the dosage protocol is so simple.
Other variations can deliver success but keep things consistent, at proper dosages for a long enough period of time to give it chance.
Many of us consume protein powders either because we either don’t get enough protein during the day through whole foods or find protein supplements convenient and sometimes cheaper to reach our macro goal.
Creatine is the same. Your body is capable of producing it on its own but it only excretes around 2g per day. Diet and supplementation can help you optimize creatine stores. You could rely on food to reach your creatine intake but you’d have to consume 2-3 pounds of raw meat or fish to get the same amount of creatine as supplementing with a teaspoon of creatine monohydrate. Supplementation is just so much cheaper and easier.
Don’t worry if you miss the odd dose here and there but taking a longer break from creatine can cause creatine stores to deplete and your gym performance is likely to suffer.
Creatine is best known for its ability to improve strength and speed performance. If your training is more centered around endurance work or steady-state cardio you may never see any real benefit.
Your body has three systems that are responsible for producing energy in the form of ATP. The energy system your body mainly relies upon during resistance training and other short-duration activities like sprinting is the ATP-PCr system. Creatine phosphate is readily available here for your cells and rapidly produces ATP. Although this system can product energy at a very fast production rate, the limited stores of creatine phosphate will supply energy for only around 10-15 seconds and can take anywhere from 3-5 minutes to replenish these stores.
The benefit of supplementing with creatine is that it can increase resting concentrations of creatine phosphate, allowing you to continue short-term, high-intensity activity for a longer period. Over time, this can convert into a few extra reps or intervals being performed before any fatigue sets in.
Because moderate-intensity, endurance-based workouts do not rely on the ATP-PCr system, you are not likely to see a significant change in performance with supplementation. Resistance-based workouts using a rep range of 3-12 or other anaerobic training using working intervals of 10-15 seconds long will best show you the effects of creatine.
I do love creatine for being a decent performance enhancing supplement but it is no miracle worker. Supplementing creatine whilst sitting around all day will not magically increase size or strength and taking the occasional dose will not help you set new records for squats.
Many people think creatine will have immediate or amazing effects when they start taking it but in reality it takes a while to fully top off creatine stores in the muscle-cells. Even after that, you will not get a ‘Amazing, I’m on creatine’ moment. You will see though, a gradual increase in total work capacity, meaning a few extra reps, sets and a greater overall training volume. All of this contributes to improvements in body composition, strength and performance over time.
These are best ways to get the most out of creatine, so the next time you are feeling like you are getting no where, refer back here to see where you are going wrong. Click here to also get help losing belly fat as well.
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