Effects of creatine supplementation on performance and training adaptations
Creatine has become a popular nutritional supplement among athletes. Recent research has also suggested that there may be a number of potential therapeutic uses of creatine. This paper reviews the available research that has examined the potential ergogenic value of creatine supplementation on exercise performance and training adaptations. Review of the literature indicates that over 500 research studies have evaluated the effects of creatine supplementation on muscle physiology and/or exercise capacity in healthy, trained, and various diseased populations. Short-term creatine supplementation (e.g. 20 g/day for 5–7 days) has typically been reported to increase total creatine content by 10–30% and phosphocreatine stores by 10–40%. Of the approximately 300 studies that have evaluated the potential ergogenic value of creatine supplementation, about 70% of these studies report statistically significant results while remaining studies generally report non-significant gains in performance. No study reports a statistically significant ergolytic effect. For example, short-term creatine supplementation has been reported to improve maximal power/strength (5–15%), work performed during sets of maximal effort muscle contractions (5–15%), single-effort sprint performance (1–5%), and work performed during repetitive sprint performance (5–15%). Moreover, creatine supplementation during training has been reported to promote significantly greater gains in strength, fat free mass, and performance primarily of high intensity exercise tasks. Although not all studies report significant results, the preponderance of scientific evidence indicates that creatine supplementation appears to be a generally effective nutritional ergogenic aid for a variety of exercise tasks in a number of athletic and clinical populations.