I had to inform you guys about this... What are you views?QuoteMario van Biljon, NHDip: Microbiology, Competitive Athlete & Founder BodyGuru.co.za
The traditional approach to creatine supplementation, which most of us are familiar with by now, typically involves a high dose loading phase followed by a lower dose maintenance phase. "Loading" usually entails consuming 15 to 20 grams a day for 5 to 7 days. This is then followed by a daily maintenance dose of 2 to 5 grams of creatine for the next 8-12 weeks.
Whilst this traditional approach certainly gets the job done, as millions of satisfied creatine consumers will attest to, this approach might not be the absolute best strategy to maximise creatines muscle building potential.
Before we consider an alternate approach we need to understand the limitations of the aforementioned approach:
Achieving and sustaining an elevated level of creatine phosphate within the muscle cell is critical to deriving creatines powerful anabolic, muscle building effects. The problem with the traditional dosing strategy (acute loading followed by medium term maintenance) is that it fails to maintain high muscle creatine phosphate concentrations for much longer than 2 or 3 months.[1-3]
Furthermore, after loading and achieving muscle saturation, a small maintenance dose is often not sufficient to maintain peak muscle creatine phosphate levels for much longer than 6 weeks - especially in hard training, muscular individuals
The solution may lie in a creatine cycling strategy currently being proposed by some leading experts in the field. The proposed cycling strategy is designed to maximize the uptake of creatine by muscle cells and then to maintain peak intra-muscular creatine phosphate levels for an extended period of time.
For those few who have used creatine in the past and have not been entirely satisfied with the results, this strategy may certainly renew your faith in this wonder supplement. Those of us who have obtained good results employing the typical supplementation strategy in the past, may be in for a surprise as the true long term muscle building capabilities of creatine are now realised for the first time.
Use Creatine monohydrate for three days only. The daily dosage will range from 15-20 grams per day depending upon bodyweight. Those individuals upwards of 80kg should shoot for the upper end of the scale (i.e. 20 grams per day).
Take one 5 gram serving 30-45 minute pre-workout, ideally with a small serving of liquid carbs & protein.
Take one 5 gram serving immediately post-workout, ideally with a serving of liquid carbs & protein.
Take another 5 grams of Creatine, with a small easily digestible protein/carb meal, within the 3-hour post-workout period.
Larger, more muscular athletes can take a 4th serving in the morning (with breakfast) or evening (with dinner).
Note - those using a creatine ester product should simply substitute each 5g serving of creatine monohydrate with a serving of the creatine ester product..
No creatine supplement is used for the next three days.
Perform step 1 followed by step 2 repeatedly to form a three days-on/three days-off cycling pattern throughout your training cycle.
When taking a weeks break from training, which I recommend every couple of months in order to regenerate ones physical and mental passion for intense training, commence your creatine cycling strategy in the last three days of this rest week, so that you start your next training cycle with optimal muscle creatine stores.
Based on the latest science pertaining to creatine supplementation and transport into muscle cells, the aforementioned strategy should ensure continued maintenance of high muscle creatine phosphate reserves without one having to worry about creatine receptor down regulation in muscle cells, which typically occurs within weeks using the typical loading & maintenance dosing strategy.
The brief, 72 hour, loading phase maximizes creatine uptake into muscle without de-sensitizing or down regulating creatine receptors located on the muscle cell membrane. Three days without creatine supplementation should allow just enough time to "re-sensitize" creatine transporters but is not so long that muscle creatine stores will decline to non ergogenic levels.
What do we do on "off" or non-training days?
Creatine consumers frequently ask if they should use creatine on non-training days. Good question.
It is my opinion that the three days-on/three days-off cycling strategy should be employed regardless of whether or not it is a training day. Remember that intense physical stress, as in weight training, results in a physiological environment in which the body is in a constant state of recovery. Rest days facilitate enhanced recovery and creatine supplementation in turn stimulates anabolic cellular mechanisms which enable muscles to recover and grow bigger and stronger. I therefore suggest that the proposed creatine cycling strategy not be interrupted, irrespective of whether it is a training day or not as it will help promote optimum muscle cell recovery during intense training cycles.
On non-training days consider supplementing with creatine after meals or with your liquid meal replacement. Stick to the recommended daily dose and remember that creatine needs optimal hydration levels to exert its anabolic effects. Creatine phosphate draws water into the muscle cell causing a cell volumisation effect which triggers protein synthesis (i.e muscle growth). Therefore, along with each serving of creatine make sure you consume at least 300-500ml of fluid as well as stay adequately hydrated throughout the day.
So there you have it - a novel creatine cycling strategy which by all accounts is already producing some awesome real world feedback.
For more cutting edge information on training and nutritional strategies aimed at enhancing your physique or physical performance, visit www.bodyguru.co.za
1. Volek et al. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise 31: 1147-1156, 1999.
2. Cribb et al. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise 35: S400, A2239, 2003
3. Cribb et al. Presented at The Australian Association of Exercise and Sports Science Conference, April, 2004
4. Van Loon et al. Clinical Science 104:153–162. 2003
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