To Creatine Or Not? That is the Question.
There is still a lot of controversy regarding the use of creatine supplements during training, so I wanted to take some time to discuss some facts and a personal experience.
What is Creatine Monohydrate?
Creatine monohydrate is a natural substance found in the body that turns into creatine phosphate. Creatine phosphate helps make a substance called adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which provides the necessary energy for muscle contractions. The body is able to produce some creatine itself, and we can consume creatine from sources like red meats and fish.
How does it work?
ATP is the immediate source of energy for muscle contraction. Muscle fibers only contain enough ATP to power a few twitches, so more must be taken from the “ATP Pool”. Hence, creatine monohydrate is converted into creatine phosphate to replenish the ATP pool. Having a large reservoir of ATP available may help you lift heavier weights or gain a few more reps, which means your muscles will get bigger and stronger (don’t we all want that?!).
What are the benefits?
For someone involved in high-intensity training and explosive activities, some benefits include:
Enhanced muscle mass
Increased muscle energy availability
Increased power output
Enhanced recovery after exercise
Is there a downside?
For some, weight gain may not be a favorable outcome, however it is mostly water weight in the beginning, then muscle growth will cause weight gain (better than fat gain any day!).
Too much consumption of anything into the body may be damaging, however to date there are only anecdotal reports of kidney damage, heart problems, muscle cramps and pulls, and dehydration.
Some of these symptoms may be caused from overconsumption of vitamins, so be sure to review your diet and make sure you are in good health with no kidney problems, since the kidneys are used to excrete creatinine, a breakdown product of creatine.
How do I take it?
A general recommended dose is 3-5 grams daily. Many exercisers will mix the powder with other supplements such as whey protein. Some research supports that mixing with fruit juice is advantageous, as the sugar in juice raises insulin levels, which helps increase creatine uptake into the muscle.
Currently, there is limited research on long-term effects of creatine-monohydrate consumption, so it is generally recommended to cycle usage, for example 8 weeks on, 4 weeks off.
One last note, creatine usage is not recommended for people under the age of 18, mainly because children are still in a growth phase, and the effects on bone and muscle growth have not been clearly reported and/or conclusive.
My personal experience with a creatine monohydrate was one of success. I took a cycle for 4 weeks, and lifted like an animal, mainly squats. I felt energetic and powerful, and after a month PR’d my back squat by 15#. I did not experience any serious side effects except for the occasional diarrhea episode. I used this brand of pure monohydrate http://www.bodybuilding.com/store/all/creatine.html.
If you are going to experiment with creatine, it is important to review your overall health, diet and exercise regiment to make sure you are a good candidate for supplement usage.
12 Alt. pistols
16 DB renegade rows (35/20)
20 DB Russian twists
24 Alt. pistols
32 DB renegade rows
40 DB Russian twists
36 Alt. pistols
48 DB renegade rows
60 DB Russian twists
And Coming Thursday
With a running clock, every minute perform 1 lift and add 10/5 lb.
Start with an empty barbell (45/33) and press for as long as possible.
Once you cannot press the weight, push press for as long as possible.
Once you cannot push press the push press, jerk for as long as possible.