The best way to explain how creatine works to build muscle is to give you a real life example everyone who lifts weights can relate to. I’ll start off with a bench press example. This is how I know for a fact that creatine supplementation works!!! Let’s say you want to get 5 reps with a 275 lbs and you really want to get at least 4 reps.
Of course anything more than 4 reps would make your day!. Let’s assume your not supplementing with any creatine supplements. Since you only get a small amount of creatine from your diet your not getting a lot of creatine phosphate in your muscles.
So, you take the weight off the rack and you squeeze out one rep easily. You take a breath and do one more rep but now starting to struggle with the weight. At this point, you know the next rep will come tough, if at all, since your muscles are losing energy.
In your muscle, you’ve exhausted your stores of ATP with these two reps. ATP is your primary energy source for short bursts of energy. After rep 2 your body is now looking for additional stores of creatine phosphate to convert to ATP in order to power up an additional rep or two.
However, you only have minimal amounts of creatine phosphate stored in your muscles, you don’t have enough ATP to power the weight up. Inevitably, your muscles give out and the weight falls on your chest. THANK GOD FOR YOUR TRAINING PARTNER!!!
In short, you simply didn’t have enough short term energy (ATP) to power up those extra two reps you are shooting for. Now, let’s say you’ve been loading up on creatine for the past week. You step into the gym and you decide to try that same weight. You take the weight off the rack and WOW, you complete the first two reps no problem. Inside your muscle, you now have more than enough creatine phosphate stores to convert to ATP. This means more short term energy to push up the weight.
You then push out two more reps and you then squeeze out one more rep to your AMAZEMENT!! You hit 5 reps! You sit up in shock FEELING LIKE YOU THE MAN AND YOU WONDER WHAT JUST HAPPENED!! Simply put, you had more short term energy that allowed you to power up those last couple of reps. THIS IS HOW CREATINE WORKS!!!
This is what creatine does. It helps replenishes short term energy (ATP), energy that is needed to keep on PUSHING UP the weight. More weight and reps means you build lean muscle mass.
When an individual starts out supplementing with creatine, they will notice the greatest amount of size and strength gains in the first couple of months. There have been studies that show a significant increase in body mass.
What you should know is creatine has a cell expanding property which “volumizes” cells. When additional creatine enters the muscle, it brings water along with it. This additional fluid actually expands your muscles giving them a full or pumped look. True, there is some water gain but over time, this becomes a true muscle gain.
How are you not going to gain more muscle when your muscles are getting stronger. At first the muscle gains while supplementing creatine was thought to be just added water weight but scientists now believe that this gain is not just water gain but muscle gain.
It is true that if you’ve been taking creatine for over a couple of months and stop supplementing it, you will lose the cell volumizing effects and the water gain but you won’t lose the muscle you’ve gained through your hard work in the gym.
Muscle takes time to build and over time, and as you get stronger the size will naturally follow. You will not lose this muscle gain if you keep on training once you stop supplementing with creatine.