Creatine: Not Even Once
Nah, jk. TL:DR of this article is that it is useful for strength athletes, but ineffectual for aerobic exercises such as running and swimming. Inconclusive if useful for PED users.
Thought I would do something a little different today, with a crossover into review of compounds being sold as common supplements. In this case, creatine is often used by natty lifters in their cycles (lol), but dropped once they move to PEDs in favor of compounds that provide stronger effects.
I saw a claim that it can increase 1RM strength by 5% to 15% probably on some crap being sold at GNC. This is a huge number, and you should be skeptical. It’s like saying that if you have a 225lb bench press, by taking creatine you could achieve up to a 258lb bench press. That kind of gain might ordinarily take people months to achieve at a linear progression. Which, let’s face it, how many of us can expect to put on 5lbs on bench press every week for 33 weeks?
That’s the sought after steroid like effect that just plain ol' doesn't exist.. well unless you take steroids.
Creatine has been shown to be effective in exercises that require maximal single effort. Such as low volume, high weight bench press. In a study by Volek et al, the group taking creatine following a standardized program were able to improve bench press and squat by 24% and 32% respectively. This is compared to the control that was 16% and 24% respectively across 12 weeks. So while that's a huge gain, it's also clearly an untrained sample group, with a delta of just 8% over their control group. My skepticism aside, not only did the creatine group outperform the control group in strength, but also in fat free mass – 6.3% increase for the creatine group, and 3.1% for the control group.
On the flip side, creatine has no effect on athletic ability in resistance or cardio based activities. Creatine does have side effects, the most important of which are water retention, high blood pressure (presumably from water retention), but also diarrhea, dizziness and cramps. Naturally, if you have high blood pressure already, steer clear of this compound. Similarly, if you use non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen and naproxen, diuretics, cimetidine, probenecid, do not use creatine as it can increase risk of kidney damage.
The best method of ingesting creatine is actually through supplementation, if you decide that this compound is right for you. While it exists naturally in meat, it’s only obtained through diet at 1 gram per day from a regular diet. Creatine is available in different types In terms of the form but the studies I reference are all monohydrate, and for a strength athletes purposes that’s the form you will want to buy. It’s also the cheapest, with a 3 month supply selling on Amazon for $15. Some of the studies do reference a loading phase of 20g in the first week until stable blood levels are achieved, with maintenance at 5g thereafter.
My take on this - if I can take creatine and it gives me an 8% increase in my 1RM in conjunction with other PED use... fuck yeah, I'll take that any day of the week. And that's the test that data doesn't exist on: can creatine give me a strength boost even while on steroids? Maybe, but I am skeptical.