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Should I Take Creatine On Off Days?

So are you wasting your money by taking creatine on off days, or doing something necessary?

I think that people who ask this question have a misunderstanding of what creatine is and how it works.

Ever hear someone talk about the “buzz” they get from creatine?

I remember one guy telling me that he took creatine at the same time as red bull and he went “hyper”! I was laughing on the inside.

Creatine doesn’t give you a buzz.

It isn’t a stimulant like caffeine. Nor does it supply energy from calories like food.

Therefore it is not a pre-workout “energy” supplement.

By supplementing with creatine you are simply attempting to maintain a high concentration of creatine phosphate in the muscle. (UK/European readers get your creatine here).

Here’s a quick summary of how it works…

95% of our creatine stores are contained in skeletal muscle. It’s used in the production of energy.

This energy is produced by Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP) and it is important to understand that ATP is essentially the fuel that the human body recognizes.

Now, there is only a very limited amount of ATP in storage at any one time, about 1 – 2 seconds worth. ATP therefore has to be continually synthesized.

High Intensity Bodybuilding like THT places a high demand on ATP production so the phosphocreatine system creates ATP by regenerating it from ADP (Adenosine Diphosphate).

This is accomplished by taking a phosphate molecule from creatine phosphate and converting ADP to ATP.

We therefore want to increase the availability of creatine phosphate, which will allow us to train with more intensity, stimulate more muscle fibers, and produce more muscle growth.

We maximize this availability by supplementing with creatine. You’ll typically cause an increase in creatine phosphate stores of 10-40% by supplementing with creatine!

For a more indepth look at this read, “What is Creatine & How does it Work?

So now you know what you’re taking creatine for, and that it isn’t a stimulant of any kind.

Maximizing creatine phosphate stores can be accomplished by taking about 5g of creatine per day. That’s all you have to do.

Does this include non-workout days? Yes.

Remember, it’s a “top-up”, so yes this includes non-training days. You may be able to get away with a little less e.g. 3g or 4g, but you should still take creatine every day.

After 8 or 10 weeks of continuous use, take a couple of weeks off.

However, a new method of creatine supplementation is currently being tested by MuscleHackers at the moment. You don’t have to cycle off creatine with this method. If this is the first time you’ve heard about this, read this post, “Activate Genes For Increased Muscle Size In The Next 3 Days!

The results should be coming back to us in the coming days and weeks.

Stay Motivated!

Mark

P.S. Over at MuscleHacker.com, Adam just blogged about, “MuscleHacking – it really IS for everyone!” – go check it out.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Paul August 17, 2011, 5:14 pm

    Hi Mark,

    You obviously do very good research and your postings are excellent, however, on this occasion I must correct you. You wrote “This energy is called Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP)”

    Adenosine Triphosphate is not energy, but is the energy supplying molecule.

    I hope you take this with the good intention it was meant. Being a scientist I had to correct this mistake.

    Regards

    Paul.

  • Mark McManus August 17, 2011, 5:28 pm

    Fair point. Correction made.

  • Andrew Mast August 17, 2011, 5:33 pm

    FYI, I find most creatines don’t play nicely with liquids and a good portion ends up stuck to the walls of your cup, and is SANDY!

    But, if you the creatine to some warm/hot water (one or two ounces) and then mix the creatine into that, it dissolves much better. Then, add the stuff (whey, milk/water, glutamine) to the warm mixture.

  • Said August 17, 2011, 5:46 pm

    Hi Mark,

    Thanks for all your great posts! Is it better to take Creatine with “Dextrose” for faster delivery? Maybe a product like ON’s Preload Creatine Complex?

  • Mark McManus August 17, 2011, 6:14 pm

    @Said. No. Just buy creatine mono on its own. If you want fast carbs, buy your own dextrose – it’s dirt cheap.

  • John A Davis August 17, 2011, 6:40 pm

    Two questions for master:
    My understanding is that creatine will bloat you up slightly. If this is true, how long does it take to lose this bloat, even if it is not much of a bloat?
    How long does it take Creatine to hit the blood and muscle system to be made use of? I’ve been taking it beforehand and after workouts. Not a lot.

  • Raymond-ZenMyFitness August 17, 2011, 9:45 pm

    Thanks for reminding me about this.
    I tried creatine nearly 12 months ago 5g per day for 2 months and didn’t notice a thing. But a lot of people swear by it!
    I was expecting a fluid bloat but never got that either.
    I wonder if product quality is an issue? I mean are there lower and higher grades?
    Anyhow so I give it another go, I still have half a container left but its probably gone off like concrete!
    Raymond

  • mikey August 17, 2011, 11:15 pm

    Hey Andrew, I mix my creatine with my protein shake. And then when its almost gone i swirl my glass around in a circle creating like a tornado affect, sucks that creatine right off the sides and bottom. Just some goofy info.

  • jack August 17, 2011, 11:31 pm

    very interesting read, ive always felt creatine helped but never knew exactly why, so thanks for this info.

  • Fabian Burnett August 18, 2011, 1:40 am

    I have taken creatine and to be honest, did nothing for me. I did not see any change whatsoever physically or otherwise.

  • andy August 18, 2011, 2:30 am

    I am trying the new 3 days on and 4 days off creatine cycle at the moment.. Creatine works realy well for me and on the ” normal ” loading cycle I can put on about 6lbs get stronger and look like I am on gear,(which I am not) so I will let you know how this new way compares.