If you’re the kind of person who shops for popular dietary supplements like protein or collagen powder, you’ve probably seen another popular bottle on the shelves: creatine. This supplement, which can be taken as a powder or liquid (and usually in some kind of healthy shake), is a staple in the bodybuilding community thanks to its ability to help you pack on muscle and work out longer and harder. (1) While creatine is generally considered safe — and is one of the most researched supplements out there (according to a review published in July 2012 in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition) — it is still a supplement, which means it’s not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and product claims don’t necessarily need to be substantiated (though the FDA can pull products that are found to be unsafe). (2,3)
According to the abstract, in the stratified analyses by forms of aerobic exercise, weekly resistance exercise of 1 time or 1-59 minutes was associated with lower risks of total cardiovascular events and cardiovascular disease, regardless of meeting the aerobic exercise guidelines. The analysis showed that resistance training reduced the risk of cardiovascular events in 2 ways: training had a direct association with cardiovascular risk, and resistance training indirectly lowered cardiovascular risk by decreasing body mass index.
However, the basis of “take creatine after your workout” comes from a 2013 study published in the JISSN, which can be found here (open access too!). In this study, recreational male bodybuilders (19 men overall) were given five grams of creatine either before or after their workouts. They trained five days per week but were also directed to consume 5g on their rest days at any time they wanted. The workouts were fairly similar to most gym workouts, and the methodology (what they did and how they did it) suggests that the findings would apply to most weightlifters.
Creatine (/ˈkriːətiːn/ or /ˈkriːətɪn/ is an organic compound with the nominal formula (H2N)(HN)CN(CH3)CH2CO2H. This species exists in various modifications (tautomers) in solution. Creatine is found in vertebrates where it facilitates recycling of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the energy currency of the cell, primarily in muscle and brain tissue. Recycling is achieved by converting adenosine diphosphate (ADP) back to ATP via donation of phosphate groups. Creatine also acts as a buffer.
In the 1970s, bodybuilding had major publicity thanks to the appearance of Arnold Schwarzenegger, Franco Columbu, Lou Ferrigno, and others in the 1977 docudrama Pumping Iron. By this time, the IFBB dominated the competitive bodybuilding landscape and the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) took a back seat. The National Physique Committee (NPC) was formed in 1981 by Jim Manion, who had just stepped down as chairman of the AAU Physique Committee. The NPC has gone on to become the most successful bodybuilding organization in America and is the amateur division of the IFBB. The late 1980s and early 1990s saw the decline of AAU-sponsored bodybuilding contests. In 1999, the AAU voted to discontinue its bodybuilding events.
Another study tested male subjects performing two bouts of 30 second isokinetic cycling before and after ingesting 20 g creatine monohydrate daily for 5 days. Work production improved about 4%. Cumulative increases in both peak and total work production over the two exercise bouts were positively correlated with the increase in muscle creatine .
Translation: your muscles are going to have more energy. The process of accessing that energy is so complicated, you almost need an organic chemistry degree to totally understand it. Yes, it’s complicated, but completely necessary for biochemical reactions like muscle contractions. And the more your muscle works, the more ATP is depleted and needs to be replaced for you to make progress toward your goals. With creatine supplementation, you can enhance your ATP regeneration and thus delay onset of muscle fatigue and work more intensely for a longer period of time. Little goes a long way in the pursuit of muscle gains.
Spero Karas, MD, assistant professor of orthopaedics in the division of sports medicine at Emory University, says that testosterone, the male hormone responsible for muscle growth, maxes out between the ages of 16 and 18. It reaches a plateau during the 20s and then begins to decline. As a result, muscle building after the adolescent years can be challenging, he says.
Do standard squats with a weighted bar. Place enough weight on a bar and rack so that it's a little lower than shoulder height. It should be heavy enough that doing a squat is difficult, but not impossible. If you're a beginner, this may mean using a bar without any weight to start with. Duck under the bar and stand up so that the bar rests comfortably on your trapezius muscles, just below the neck. Keep your knees slightly bent and your legs slightly wider than shoulder width. Lift the bar up off the rack and move backwards one step.
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One case study exists of a man with focal segmental glomerulosclerosis who experienced an accelerated rate of GFR decline during supplementation (5g thrice daily for loading, then a 2g maintenance for seven weeks) which was partially reversed upon supplement cessation. This was deemed strong circumstantial evidence, and the brand of supplement was not named. Elsewhere, interstitial nephritis associated with creatine supplementation has been reported in a man, although symptoms arose four weeks after supplementation started with no evidence to support correlation. Some studies involving athletes and various dietary supplements have attempted to draw a correlation with creatine and cases of rhabdomyolysis. Finally, one study in a diabetic person ingesting both metformin and creatine resulting in metabolic acidosis has attempted to place causation on creatine, but it did not establish causation or circumstantial evidence.