This is the third and final article in our New Year's Resolution Series. Assuming that you have taken the advice from the previous two articles ( #1. Take Control, #2. Maximize Anabolism), have been training hard and eating sensibly, then you should be seeing some pretty dramatic improvements in your overall condition.

Summer is just around the corner and it is time to take your newly formed physique to the next level. By following this series diligently, you will have incorporated a high quality fat burner (like BioQuest's Tetrazene ES-50, and included a timed protein loading strategy into your day. Maintain this supplement regime to be certain that your muscles are being fed and your fat cells are starving! In this article we will focus on maximizing muscle growth and strength using creatine monohydrate. The following research based facts should easily convince you that this small addition to your current supplement stack will mean great muscular and strength gains. Overall, scientific data supports the use of creatine supplementation as an ergogenic aid for strength athletes and bodybuilders. Several studies, utilizing meta-analysis, confirm the benefits of creatine supplementation on increasing lean body mass and upper-body strength (Branch, 2003;Nissen & Sharp, 2003). Furthermore, one surefire test for the efficacy of any supplement is time and creatine monohydrate has been used successfully by many athletes for over 15 years!

Creatine, Whey Protein, Strength and Muscle Hypertrophy

Recently, a thorough double-blind study published in the American College of Sports Medicine's Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise examined the effects of whey protein isolate, creatine, and resistance training on muscle hypertrophy in 33 steroid-free recreational male bodybuilders. The resistance-trained subjects were matched for strength and placed into 1 of 4 supplement groups:
  1. creatine/carbohydrate (CrCHO)
  2. creatine/whey protein (CrWP)
  3. whey protein only (WP)
  4. or carbohydrate only (CHO)
The researchers measured strength (via 1RM in three exercises), body composition (DEXA scan), muscle fiber type (biopsy from quads), muscle cross-sectional area (CSA), and creatine content (Cr). The authors reported significant increases in strength (in all three exercises) and muscle hypertrophy in the CrCHO, WP, and CrWP groups compared to the CHO only group. Furthermore, up to 76% of the strength increase (in the squat exercise) was due to muscle hypertrophy (Cribb et al., 2007). The relevant finding from this investigation was that the groups who ingested creatine, whey protein isolate, or a combination thereof saw robust gains in muscular growth and strength when compared to those who ingested CHO alone. In a similar and earlier study, Burke et al. observed that males who ingested creatine and whey protein during a strength training program had greater increases in lean mass and bench press (1RM) strength than males who supplemented with whey protein alone or placebo. In fact, they reported an approximately 4kg (almost 9lb) increase in lean body mass in 12 weeks (Burke et al., 2001)!

Creatine Monohydrate Supplementation Guidelines
Based on current data, the best way to supplement creatine monohydrate is by including a one week loading phase at approximately 0.3g/kg (body weight) per day followed by maintenance at approximately 0.1g/kg (body weight) per day. During the loading phase, split the daily dose into approximately 5g servings to be ingested throughout the day, making certain that one dose is ingested 30 minutes before your workout and another 4-6 hours after post-workout. During the maintenance phase, ingest one serving prior to and post-workout. As with all supplements make sure you use a high quality creatine monohydrate product (preferably German premium grade). If you want to completely exploit the benefits of creatine supplementation, then look for products that contain maltodextrin, and arginine AKG to increase creatine transport into muscle cells (such as the new SynthaTrex Xtreme). The benefits of creatine monohydrate supplementation are obvious; add this to your current and ongoing supplementation strategy and you can look forward to stronger workouts and an increased rate of skeletal muscle hypertrophy---just in time for summer!

Click here to view Article 1: Take control of the New Years Resolution Series

Click here to view Article 2: Maximize Anabolism of the New Years Resolution Series
References Branch JD (2003). Effect of creatine supplementation on body composition and performance: a meta-analysis. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab 13, 198-226. Burke DG, Chilibeck PD, Davidson KS, Candow DG, Farthing J, & Smith-Palmer T (2001). The effect of whey protein supplementation with and without creatine monohydrate combined with resistance training on lean tissue mass and muscle strength. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab 11, 349-364. Cribb PJ, Williams AD, Stathis CG, Carey MF, & Hayes A (2007). Effects of whey isolate, creatine, and resistance training on muscle hypertrophy. Med Sci Sports Exerc 39, 298-307. Nissen SL & Sharp RL (2003). Effect of dietary supplements on lean mass and strength gains with resistance exercise: a meta-analysis. J Appl Physiol 94, 651-659.