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Creatine supplementation is a booming business with both bodybuilders and athletes looking for an edge over the competition.
And if you've spent even a small amount of time at the gym trying to bulk up, it should be easy enough to understand why—creatine works. In fact, supplementing with creatine monohydrate—the most common form of creatine available—has produced visible results in about 75 percent of users.
Specifically, creatine helps to indirectly enhance protein synthesis, create additional energy stores, and facilitate muscle growth.
But you probably know all of this already. What you want to know is how to use this beneficial supplement to your advantage.
One of the most important things you can do for yourself is gain as much independent knowledge about creatine as possible. This will help you understand how this bodybuilding supplement works, which forms are of the highest quality, and therefore how to use it.
In your study, you're sure to find that one of the most important aspects of creatine is use is timing. If you're a newbie and take creatine without paying attention to your body's natural rhythm, your supplementation—and your money—will be wasted.
However, if you time your creatine doses right, you'll be able to support the natural systems in your body and bulk up in a healthy and lasting way.
Remember that your first source of information is the directions included with your creatine supplement. These are specific to your supplement, so instructions may vary.
However, if you're taking a pure form of creatine or are new to the creatine market, there are a few basic things you should know outside of the recommendations provided by the manufacturers.
Here's a look at the three times it is best to supplement with creatine—and yes, these include non-training days.
1. Before a Workout
As a pre-workout supplement, creatine is best taken for the first time every day about half an hour before your planned workout. This gives the body time to absorb creatine and allow it the opportunity to stimulate muscle fibers to produce more adenosine triphosphate, or ATP. This will give you the energy you need to carry you through your workout, as well as trigger the process of protein synthesis.
Try supplementing with fruit juice at this stage, as this provides the body with a lot of the amino acids and nutrients needed to really stimulate muscle growth.
If you're taking creatine for the first time, you should know that it's best to start in a “loading” phase, in which you attempt to saturate the cells with creatine. This typically requires taking up to 20 grams of creatine daily for five days. Then, you can maintain this level of creatine by taking around five grams every day afterward for about eight to 10 weeks.
2. After a Workout
Following your workout, take another dosage of your creatine supplement. It may seem counterintuitive since your workout is already over, but this is actually the time that your skeletal muscles' metabolic state is best able to absorb creatine.
When you do this, be sure to drink up to 16 ounces of fruit juice that contains dextrose and glucose for maximum effectiveness.
This "before and after" technique will help set up an anabolic state for your muscles and help to prevent muscle breakdown after a workout.
3. Anytime During the Day
Other than that, you can add another creatine serving any time throughout the day. This will help you maintain the muscles you have developed during your workout session.
In total, your creatine dosage should equal about 25 to 30 grams for a loading phase, or 10 to 20 grams for a maintenance phase.
However, if you're taking creatine on a non-training day, you'll only need between three and four grams. Nevertheless, this decreased dosage can be important for your workout routine, so don't skip off-days in an attempt to save up your creatine supply.
When Not to Take Creatine
Just as important as knowing when to take creatine is knowing when not to take creatine.
If you've missed the half-hour window before your workout, don't take creatine. Consuming creatine a few minutes before you work out will be useless as your body won't have had time to absorb the supplement, and could actually compromise your workout.
Similarly, don't take creatine in the middle of your training. Doing so will slow you down and likely give you an upset stomach—especially if you are new to the supplement.
Finally, taking creatine over a long period of time will cause your body to develop a resistance to the substance, so it's important to cycle. After you've used creatine continuously for eight to 10 weeks, it's a good idea to take a couple of weeks off before going back on the supplement.
In this way, you can make the most of your supplement and really build the kind of muscles you've been wanting.
Kre-Alkalyn Creatine Benefits
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