Creatine Monohydrate is, by far, the most popular bodybuilding supplement on the market today. Supplementing with creatine will improve your high-intensity training ability, increase your energy levels, endurance level, stamina, muscle power and torque, and also speed up the rate at which your body recovers.
Not adequate positive reasons to supplement with creatine? Well, how about this: Creatine can also increase lean muscle mass, accelerate fat loss, and increase the rate of protein synthesis, while minimizing protein breakdown. This is a fairly respectable list of advantages that creatine can offer us bodybuilders!
Creatine is able to produce these awesome effects by super-hydrating the muscle cells with water. It is a common occurrence to gain 5-10 lbs of body weight within a 3-week period using creatine. On that note, I'll begin to explain how creatine works, and how to optimize its effectiveness to see the greatest results!
How Does It Work?
Our bodies naturally produce creatine in the liver, pancreas, and kidneys, but they only excrete approximately 1 to 2 g of creatine per day. Once it is produced, it gets transported to muscle tissue via the bloodstream, where it is converted into creatine phosphate. Creatine Phosphate is then used to rebuild the muscle's main energy source, adenosine triphosphate (ATP).
Here's how it works. During the first 10 seconds of exercise, a phosphate molecule splits off of the ATP compound and is used to power the contraction, leaving a new compound called adenosine diphosphate (ADP). Creatine delivers a phosphate molecule to the ADP, forming ATP. This ATP molecule is again ready to be used for fuel.
Creatine Loading and Cycling
You may have heard of a technique called "creatine loading". It requires ingesting up to 30 grams per day in order to saturate your muscles with creatine. A loading phase should last no longer than seven days, and I believe a four day loading phase is sufficient for most people. I recommend only using the loading technique for a first time user, or if you have been off creatine for more than 28 days.
Once the loading phase is complete, a daily intake of between 5 to 20 grams will keep your muscles saturated.
(I actually use as much as 50 grams to load, and 30 grams for daily maintenance. Now, I'm not saying there is any need for such a large quantity, but I have an adequate supply to do so. I also know that this excess creatine ingestion will increase urinary creatine excretion, but it ensures that optimal levels are maintained in my muscle tissue.)
Creatine will exhibit its best results when combined with glucose (non-acidic fruit drink) and ingested ½ hour before training and immediately after training. I also highly suggest that you dramatically increase the volume of water that you consume each day, to compensate for the muscles' new demand on your water supply.
As for cycling creatine, cycle for 6 weeks on, one week off, then repeat the entire process. Divide your daily intake equally into 5 gram servings and consume these servings at equally divided intervals throughout the day. Since most people don't use creatine in its most effective dosage range, here is a dosing schedule which includes my suggestion for effective creatine use.
|Recommended Dosing Schedule.|
As a final note, I suggest that you invest in a powdered creatine product since it can be absorbed into the blood much faster that other forms. The liquid forms of creatine are bull$hit and the capsule form takes longer to absorb.
Finally, take the time to experiment with dosage quantities to discover what range is truly the most effective for you.