In the past decade, the sports and fitness world has seen many performance enhancing supplements arrive on the scene as the quest for maximum possible performance from the human body continues. Since I became a personal trainer 17 years ago I have personally seen and used dozens of different supplements, as much out of curiosity as to “what’s new” as a desire to improve my performance and physique.
From energy drinks to prohormones to protein supplements to nighttime recovery, I have experimented with many, and found a lot that I have chosen to keep using. Above all of them, however, the one constant that has ALWAYS been present since the very first time that I used it is creatine. It has proven to be one of the effective and safe supplements available when used properly. I always feel stronger and recover quicker using creatine when I participate in any kind of training that requires strength or quick bursts of anaerobic power. Any workout I do in the weight room or when rock climbing feels incredibly enhanced when I supplement with creatine, and I have no problem as an online personal trainer recommending this product to healthy individuals who can safely take the recommended dosages supplied by the manufacturers. I always say to people, it is your responsibility to make sure that you are a healthy individual who is cleared medically to participate in the high intensity training made possible by safe and proper creatine supplementation.
I remember the first time I took creatine back in 1995, and I did a leg press exercise as my first set of the workout. I easily lifted 10% more weight that I had been lifting before that day, and found I could do over 20% more repetitions per set with weights that I had been using. WOW! It was a very strange feeling to have that effect only minutes after taking the product. It was like a wonder pill, in some ways. As someone who loves lifting weights and being strong, it was a huge psychological boost to feel that different so quickly. Creatine has literally been a part of my training regimen ever since that day.
What was going on was that the main ingredient in the creatine supplement, creatine monohydrate, was enhancing my muscles’ ability to produce effort before fatiguing. The monohydrate component of creatine monohydrate combines with the most immediate metabolic byproducts of intense muscular effort during exercise, which turns a large percentage of the byproducts right back into usable muscular energy. The muscle is able to lift more weight and fatigues later than without the supplement being present. My experienced increase in performance of 10-20% was right in line with what is the usual benefit.
The initial advantage to being able to lift more weight and do more repetitions is obvious: the body gets a better workout and a better stimulation to improve its performance levels. In addition to this first benefit, creatine also serves to pull more body water volume into the muscle cells, creating a fuller feeling of firmness in the muscle belly, which looks and feels good to the person using it. Muscle recovery is enhanced as well, so not only are the workouts better, the recovery from these workouts is quicker. Performance and cosmetic results are greatly enhanced.
Creatine supplements are always evolving coming onto the market in forms that manufacturers claim improve their results. They are now frequently combined with other performance enhancing ingredients in a single supplement to create amazing feelings of “pump” during a workout. And these latest versions of creatine supplementation are very effective and I have tried most of them. In the end, the actual way the creatine itself is acting upon the body and its effectiveness are largely unchanged from when I used it for the first time. It is a very effective and safe supplement when the manufacturer guidelines for use are followed or it is used in conjunction with a certified personal trainer.