For people trying to bulk up and build muscle, it doesn’t matter whether you’re simply trying to gain a few pounds of lean muscle, or to enter full-blown beast mode, you’ll need to ensure your diet is on point before you even consider picking up a weight. As hard as the training side of things are, the simple truth is that the diet and nutritional aspects are even harder. Once you’re satisfied that you’re eating healthily and are eating to make the gains required, you may next wish to look into creating a supplement stack for ultimate muscle growth. Bodybuilding is synonymous with the supplement industry and if you’re serious about piling on the muscle, you will ideally wish to choose your supplements wisely. Next to a good quality protein supplement, the second most popular bodybuilding supplement currently on the market is creatine. Many bodybuilders swear by creatine, yet there are a select few people out there that just don’t seem to be reaping the benefits. If you’re one of these people, here’s a more detailed look at creatine, as well as a few reasons why your creatine supplements may not appear to be working for you.
What exactly is creatine?
Creatine is a form of naturally occurring amino acids that is present in small dosages within our own bodies. The word creatine actually comes from the ancient Greek word for meat. This naturally occurring amino acid is nitrogenous and is found within the skeletal muscles of pretty much all vertebrates, and yes, as mentioned, that does include us. It is produced within our livers and our kidneys. This compound is synthesized from the amino acids: L-methionine, L-Arginine, and Glycine. In terms of bodybuilding, creatine works by basically being stored within the cells of our muscles, where it is converted into phosphocreatine, which in turn is used to create Adenosine Tri Phosphate, or ATP, which is a key energy source for the muscles. This basically means that creatine fuels the muscle cells and allows them to work harder, meaning that you can get more done in the gym and have more productive training sessions. It also causes muscle cells to absorb more water and to become saturated with energy, which causes them to swell and increase in volume, which gives you more impressive muscle pumps and causes the muscles to look bigger and fuller.
Why is my creatine not working for me?
Whilst most bodybuilding supplement stacks will almost certainly contain creatine, there are some people out there that just do not seem to be reaping the rewards associated with using this supplement. If you’re one of these people, here are a few reasons why your creatine supplement may not be providing the effects you were hoping for:
You rely on other supplements
As creatine has been proven to be so effective when it comes to building muscle and improving athletic performance, many other sports supplements will now contain creatine. Because of this, some people will simply notice the fact that their other supplements contain creatine, and will rely on them and think that they provide enough. Many pre-workout and intra-workout supplements for example, now contain creatine, and whilst still useful, the quantities they contain are not sufficient enough to meet your creatine requirements. To reap the rewards you should always use an individual creatine supplement and you should aim for around 5g per day.
You cycle creatine
Ignore what some supplements tell you about cycling creatine, as in reality, if you are taking in the correct dosages each day, there is no need to cycle off creatine at all. The reason why they tell you to cycle off of creatine is to simply try and make it sound more powerful than it actually is. This is because when we think of cycling, we automatically think of steroids, and steroids are renowned muscle building compounds. Numerous studies have proven that there really is no need to cycle off of creatine if you use it correctly. Cycling off of creatine will cause natural creatine stores to deplete, meaning that your performance in the gym will take a hit, and it will take a while to build them back up when you do start using the supplement again.
You try too many variations
In the early days, creatine was simply creatine, but as it became more popular, companies began getting clever and trying new things. Nowadays there are all different kinds of variations of creatine supplements, including creatine monohydrate, creatine ethyl ester, creatine malate, creatine HCL, creatine nitrate, and more besides. Whilst some creatine supplements are better than others, the best advice in this instance is to find one that you like, and to stick with it. Don’t try a tub of monohydrate here, and a tub of HCL there, as your body won’t know whether it is coming or going. Simply find a reputable manufacturer and supplier, find a creatine that works for you, and stick with it. As the saying goes ‘if it isn’t broken, then don’t fix it’.
You expect miracles
When you read the packaging on most creatine supplements, of course the supplement companies are going to make it sound like the closest thing to a legal anabolic steroid that they can, as that is how they sell their products. Whilst creatine products can certainly provide noticeable benefits and results, you should never expect them to work miracles. If you buy a creatine powder, and expect to be able to add 90lbs to your bench in a few days, or to add 10lbs of lean muscle to your frame in a couple of weeks, you are going to be let down. If however, you buy it and aim to gradually increase your lifts and your weight over a prolonged period of time, you will most certainly be impressed.