Creatine is one of the most well known and most used supplements in fitness and bodybuilding and definitely deserves a spot on the list of the most relevant supplements to use with strength training.
Creatine is a performance supplement that can make a difference for your strength and contributes by making you able to train harder and heavier and hereby grow. Creatine comes in different variations, but creatine monohydrate is proven to have the best effect with strength training, which is why this article is focused on creatine monohydrate.
What is creatine and how does it actually work?
Creatine is naturally found in our bodies and is created by amino acids.
It works as a fast acting energy storage in the muscle cell, for short-term and explosive muscular work. It is stored in the muscle cell where it binds to phosphate – which is why it is named creatine phosphate.
When we perform a muscular work where the energy requirement is large, creatine phosphate works by stepping in as a substitute for ATP (adenosine triphosphate), which is our preferred source of energy to this particular type of muscle work that is short and intense. ATP is a source of energy that runs out fast, and here is the explanation of why creatine can benefit you;
An ATP molecule consists of phosphate groups where the bindings between the groups is used for muscular energy. When performing a muscular work, the phosphate groups splits by hydrolysis and energy is hereby released. When the ATP molecule runs out of phosphate groups, the performance will drop if there is no creatine phosphate available for substitution. The next available energy source is glycogen stored in the muscle cells, and here is the problem. When glycogen is used for energy to perform, the result will be lactic acid in the muscle, which is the pain we feel when we train and fatigue, and that means the performance will drop and the set is over – if there is no creatine phosphate available.
If the storage of creatine phosphate is full, the time before switching to glycogen as energy source will be longer, and that means more reps before fatigue = better conditions of growing muscle and strength. It works by being a donor of phosphate to the ATP molecule and extends the time ATP can be used for energy before switching to glycogen that creates lactic acid.
Creatine monohydrate has a positive effect on extension of muscular power generation in a given exercise during short, explosive and intense work.
This contributes with advantages in containing muscles and strength during a cutting phase in a caloric deficit, where you really want to maximize performance in order not to lose muscle tissue, but also in a building phase where you are in a caloric surplus and want to gain muscle by growing strength and training hard and intense. Therefore it is a supplement that can be used at all time and in all phases. It is recommended to supplement with 5 grams of creatine monohydrate every day for the best results. Creatine monohydrate is to prefer as multiple studies have shown that this particular type has best effects in strength training.