Creatine is beyond doubt one of the best supplements to gain muscle mass and strength. It has been proved time and again by numerous studies!
Now the question comes-
How does creatine help gain muscle mass and strength?
If you Google, you won’t find much information on the topic. Most sources just mention a few studies and note that they added to muscle mass and strength.
The topic remains an elusive subject, so we decided to explore it a bit.
We already discussed in brief how creatine adds to muscle mass in our 10 Health Benefits of Creatine.
Today, we are going to go deep and uncover how creatine increases muscle and strength.
First, let’s find out how creatine adds muscle.
How Does Creatine Add Muscle: An Expert’s Take
During our research, we discovered something that we want to share with you guys. Brad Schoenfeld, Ph.D., C.S.C.S., a leading sports fitness expert, revealed to Bodybuilding.com how creatine might add muscle mass.
Brad says that creatine activates the intramuscular concentrations that are responsible for muscle growth.
So creatine has volumizing properties and draws water into muscles acting as an osmolyte.
This makes your muscles grow and might even contribute to hypertrophy.
Hypertrophy is what bodybuilders aim for – the growth of muscle cells through exercise.
So the volumizing effect may actually increase your muscular size. This is one theory that explains how creatine makes muscles grow.
Test tube research reveals that cell swelling (muscle cell growth) facilitates the synthesis of muscle proteins and reduces protein breakdown. That means you can achieve muscle growth and also prevent muscle loss.
Now let’s move to the next explanation.
You already know that it helps you produce more ATP. We talked in our introductory article how creatine increases the phosphocreatine stores in your muscles. After your muscles burn out the stored ATP, the phosphocreatine kicks in and creates more ATP.
As a result, you get the energy to train hard and do more exercise. You can also increase your levels of high-intensity exercises and resistance training.
And as creatine is safe, you can take it regularly for this continuous supply of extra energy.
So you have more energy, and you work out more. What does that lead to?
As any person would know, that would lead to bigger and stronger muscles!
This supplement seems to have a positive effect on muscle building as it enhances muscle protein synthesis and reduces protein breakdown. Also, it complements your exercising and helps you grow your muscles successfully.
According to Healthline, creatine increases the hormone IGF-1. This is an insulin-like hormone that aids in muscle growth. The hormone also plays a big role in childhood growth and has anabolic results in adults.
So it actually helps adults grow their muscle cells by forming new proteins.
There is also evidence that creatine reduces muscle breakdown, as Brad said. So you can actually maintain your muscles and grow them even if you exercise hard.
This is even known to bring down your myostatin levels. It’s a protein that inhibits muscle growth. So lower levels of myostatin mean more muscle growth.
Healthline also cites a study that says creatine helps you perform more repetitions and lift heavier weights. Over the long-term, it can have significant effects on increasing your muscle size.
Research provides enough evidence to prove the muscle-building powers of creatine. A review of 250 studies found it to the best muscle-building supplement, among many others.
Summary: As you can see, it helps you build muscles through a number of ways. It also prevents muscle loss and decreases proteins that hinder muscle growth. Exercising is a key part of achieving the results we discussed here.
Now we are going to tackle a question that has almost turned into a myth.
Does Creatine Cause Water Retention?
Some people think it just adds water to their muscles, and that is how it works. But according to fitness expert Brad, it’s just a baseless allegation.
Creatine adds water within the muscles, and not under the skin.
So it doesn’t actually lead to water retention. Also, this problem is only associated with creatine hydrochloride. We recommend you to take monohydrate that has been proved to be the safest and most effective.
Next, we will explore how it increases your strength.
How Creatine Boosts Your Strength
You already know how creatine adds to your strength and power. Remember it helps you produce more ATP?
ATP is the energy factor and main driving force for high-intensity exercises, resistance training, and weightlifting.
It gives you the sprints of energy that allows you to perform intensive exercises and lift more weight. As these supplements increase your phosphocreatine levels, your muscles can continuously produce more ATP.
And more ATP means more strength!
You can take this supplements regularly and always feel active and full of energy.
Healthline mentions a 4-week study where creatine resulted in-
- 17% improvement in cycling sprints
- 8-kg increase in bench press 1-rep max
- 20% more workload at a lower weight
In another study, researchers gave college football players creatine over 9 weeks. The following improvements were noticed-
- 5.2% increase in the bench press (1 rep max)
- 3.8% increase in power clean (1 rep max)
- 8.7% increase in squat (1 rep max)
- 19.6% increase in anaerobic peak power (High-intensity)
- 18.4% increase in anaerobic capacity (High-intensity)
Almost all research until now has concluded that creatine increases strength and energy.
A group of researchers found a 5% overall improvement in strength and power after participants took creatine.
Summary: It’s clear that creatine improves various aspects of strength and power. You can do more and perform harder constantly by taking creatine supplements.
We hope we were able to answer all your questions for once and all.
Creatine does add muscle by facilitating muscle cell growth and reducing breakdown. It helps you produce more ATP, which results in increased strength. And when you have more strength, you can work out harder.
All of these factors add up to help you grow your muscle cells and add to your muscle size.