Supplement companies sell us creatine products promising gains in size and strenght, all through increased ATP (energy). But we’re left wondering, does it make us look stronger? Or does it really make us stronger?
If you’re the kind of guy (or girl) who trains solely for the purpose of looking better, which is perfectly fine, then this is not a concern for you. Creatine does make you gain weight through water retention, thus making it look bigger, almost as if it had a permanent pump. But that’s another topic. Maybe it also makes you gain weight by allowing you to train with heavier weights, and that’s exactly what we’re about to discuss. Also read what’s the optimal creatine dosage?
When you want to verify a hypothesis, there’s nothing better than trying it and see what happens.
Here are a couple studies done on the effects of creatine on muscular strenght :
– Pubmed study : Does oral creatine supplementation improve strength?
This is actually a study of studies, which they call a meta-analysis of existing literature. That means they’ve gathered other studies done in the past on the subject of creatine and strenght, compiled the results and summarized it up for us.
Their Results :
- Benchpress average increase difference of 6.85 kg;
- Squat difference of 9.76 kg;
- No difference in arm curls (interesting).
Now this is obviously comparing average strenght increase over a period of time regarding two groups of athletes : one that took creatine and one that didn’t. Check the pubmed link for more info.
Their conclusion : creatine combined with resistance training significantly increases strenght in young men.
*** Weird that the noticed no improvement in arm curl results. I’m guessing they got stronger but simply lifted the same weight with better form. Check out creatine and dht.
– Article in University of Maryland Medical Center
The article summarizes what has been discovered in numerous studies over the years. Their conclusions :
- Creatine supplementation increases strength and lean muscle during high intensity training;
- Creatine does not seem to improve performance in endurance sports, like running for example.
My personal opinion and results on creatine and strenght
I’m currently traveling so I’m not supplementing on creatine right now but I have in the past and let me tell you it does increase your strength. Nothing too crazy, but at least somewhere in the 10% range. That is a huge improvement in strength for someone who has 2-3 years of bodybuilding and powerlifting under his belt.
Can’t tell you if it increases your 1-rep max because I haven’t tested it yet, but it definitely increase your 10-12 rep range weight by 5-10% very quickly and helps you pump those last one or two reps then you normally can’t ever complete without a spotter. Read also is it bad to take creatine with caffeine?
Sadly a small percentage of users are ”non responders” to creatine, which means the supplement does not improve their strength or muscle mass gains. But this is another topic that we will discuss shortly.
A fun read : the day my father found my creatine.