Creatine is one of the most potent supplements a natural muscle builder can take and it is also safe. It has been used by athletes since the 70’s and over the past two decade has been used by countless athletes and fitness enthusiasts.
Creatine can significantly enhance anaerobic performance – specifically short duration activities of 10 seconds to two minutes – such as resistance training or the 100 yard sprint.
During muscle contraction, energy in the form of Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP) is generated through a process called glycolysis. As ATP is utilized, it is converted into Adenosine Diphospahte (ADP). ADP is converted back into ATP by continued glycolysis; however, it can also be converted back into ATP using another high energy biomolecule – creatine monphosphate.
In short, having an abundance of creatine available increases the potential power output of the muscle. University studies have demonstrated an increase in muscular strength and endurance of 5 to 15 % for some athletes. This means that taking creatine can help improve your 1 rep max or increase the amount of repetitions you can perform with a given weight.
Creatine also causes water retention in the muscles increasing lean body mass. For a swimmer this is not a good thing; however, for a bodybuilder or powerlifter this effect can make a huge difference.
Depending on the size of the athlete – more specifically how much muscle mass they have – loading up on creatine for 4 weeks can retain 5 to 10 lbs of water right where you want it to be – inside the muscles.
This effect will cause your muscles to appear larger and more swollen – independent of diuretics. Plus, an extra 10 lbs of muscle mass will also allow you to lift more. The more you lift, the bigger you get. And, the bigger you are the more you can lift.
It is important to know that creatine is produced in your body by the kidneys and liver; however, the amount our skeletal muscles can be saturated with well exceeds any natural levels. In fact, through dietary needs we would have to consume around 20 lbs of red meat a day in order to acquire the amount of creatine our muscles can be saturated with.
Fortunately creatine is cheap and widely available. Some believe a loading phase is important, followed by a lower daily maintenance dose. Others argue and claim loading is simply a waste of creatine and hard on your digestive system and taking the normal amount of 5 grams a day is more than sufficient for “loading” and maintenance.
Either way there is no argument that creatine is effective for increasing size and strength. It is also one of the few ergogenic aids that actually works. In fact, you will lose the extra 5 to 10 lbs of weight you gained within the same time period that it took you to gain it once you stop taking it.