The Effects of Creatine on Muscle Performance
Creatine is the number-one supplement for improving performance in the gym and is one of the least expensive, most effective, and safest supplements you can take.
It has many health benefits like protecting against neurologic disease, combating high blood sugar and fatty liver disease, and if you want to increase muscle mass, strength, and exercise performance, creatine is the way to go.
What Is Creatine?
Creatine is a substance that is found naturally in muscle cells (about 95% of your body’s creatine is stored in muscles in the form of phosphocreatine). It helps your muscles produce energy during heavy lifting or high-intensity exercise.
When you supplement, your stores of phosphocreatine increase and helps your body produce more of a high-energy molecule called ATP. When you have more ATP, your body can perform better during exercise.
How Does It Work?
Creatine also helps you gain muscle in the following ways:
In high-intensity exercise, its primary role is to increase phosphocreatine. The additional stores can be used to produce more ATP, which is the key energy source for heavy lifting and high-intensity exercise.
Boosted workload: Enables more total work or volume in a single training session, which is a key factor in long-term muscle growth.
Improved cell signaling: Can increase satellite cell signaling, which aids muscle repair and new muscle growth.
Raised anabolic hormones: Studies note a rise in hormones, such as IGF-1, after taking creatine.
Increased cell hydration: Boosts water content within your muscle cells, which causes a cell volumization effect.
Reduced protein breakdown: May increase total muscle mass by reducing muscle breakdown.
Lower myostatin levels: Elevated levels of myostatin can slow or totally inhibit new muscle growth. Supplementing with creatine can reduce these levels, increasing growth potential.
Effects on Muscle Gain
Creatine is effective for both short- and long-term muscles. In one study on weightlifters, creatine increased muscle fiber growth 2–3 times more than training alone. Total body mass also doubled alongside one-rep max for bench press.
Effects on Strength and Exercise Performance
Creatine can also improve strength, power, and high-intensity exercise performance.
One study shows that adding creatine to a training program increased strength by 8%, weightlifting performance by 14%, and bench press one-rep max by up to 43%, compared to training alone.
In well-trained strength athletes, 28 days of supplementing increased bike-sprinting performance by 15% and bench-press performance by 6%.
These improvements are chiefly caused by your body’s increased capacity to produce ATP. ATP normally becomes depleted after 8–10 seconds of high-intensity activity, but with creatine supplements, you can maintain optimal performance for a few seconds longer.