Does Creatine Work? Will it make me stronger with bigger muscles?
It Really Works!
Finally, a supplement that isn't a waste of money. There is a huge body of scientific evidence and personal stories of creatine supplementation improving strength and muscle size over time. Here's how it works:
- You take creatine pills/powder/solution
- Your body stores more creatine in the muscles
- Because creatine is normally a limiting factor during weight training, you can lift a couple of more repetitions per set.
- Extra training causes more damage to the muscle which stimulates the muscle to grow back bigger and stronger.
Studies have shown that creatine supplementation leads to ~30-40% greater improvement in strength over the course of several months, compared to strength training alone. The effect is about twice as large in beginners than in well-trained lifters.
Have you taken creatine before?
There are no known side effects of creatine supplementation. It is widely acknowledged that the initial reports of increased muscle cramping were overblown. Your muscles may feel stiffer after taking creatine because creatine is bound to water in the muscles.
HOW MUCH SHOULD I TAKE?
Creatine usually comes in the form of creatine monohydrate. There are 3 phases to taking creatine. The aim of the first phase (LOADING) is to rapidly elevate muscle creatine concentration. The dosage in the second phase (MAINTENANCE) is reduced but creatine concentration stays elevated. There is a third optional phase of washout if you are participating in a sport. This allows you to maintain the strength gains you've made, but relieve any feelings of stiffness that may be associated with creatine ingestion.
- LOADING: 20-30 grams per day for 5 days (.3g/kg of body weight). Take with carbohydrate to maximize absorption.
- MAINTENANCE: 2-5 grams/day for as long as necessary (usually during the offseason/preseason). Note: No studies have been done to evaluate the effects of long-term (over 2 yr) of continuous creatine supplementation, but it is considered very safe.
WHAT TYPE SHOULD I TAKE?
There is very little, if any, difference between types and brands. There is a lot of spin by the individual companies, but you should dismiss this as marketing. A good idea is to buy the cheapest reliable form of creatine monohydrate that you can find. I would buy it separately from your protein powder since the dose of creatine will vary.
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