Need A Push At The Gym? Try Creatine


Creatine monohydrate is one of the most widely-researched exercise supplements in existence. This chemical, which is also produced naturally in the body and supplemented through diet, acts on skeletal muscle cells allowing them to synthesize more ATP during times of stress.

An exhaustive review of the wealth of research done with creatine is beyond the scope of this post, but has an excellent compilation of these studies and their findings. The short version? Creatine monohydrate supplementation is associated with myriad benefits involving the brain, skeletal system, cardiovascular system, endocrine system, cognition, and other areas. Even better, the supplement is incredibly cheap; you can get a 4-month supply for about $22.

If you mention to non-weight lifters that you are trying creatine, the first reaction is likely to be negative. You’ll often hear “Isn’t that some kind of steroid?” or “Doesn’t that kill your kidneys?” Disregard this ignorance. The safety and efficacy of creatine is backed up by over 20 years of clinical science, as well as innumerable observations and self-report testimonials. Any social stigma to using this supplement is based on unfounded anti bro-science, but who cares? If it helps you at the gym, you should do it. I came to this conclusion myself and started taking it a couple of months ago.

My Experience

I started with creatine during a lowered-weight week and loaded 10-15g for 10 days before returning to my normal program while taking the recommended 5g daily dose. I consume lots of red meat and eggs in my normal diet, so I suspected my endogenous creative levels were naturally higher. I was skeptical that there would be noticeable differences in my workout. I was wrong. Here are a few things I observed:

1. Measurably increased strength: I noticed quick improvement in calculated one-rep max (10-15 lbs for squats and deadlift a week after beginning supplementation). The initial reps in my sets still seemed difficult, but there was always more left in the tank to pound out an extra rep or two.

2. Mild cognitive enhancements: I was a bit more energetic and focused throughout the day. I noticed this more when I was first started taking it. I would put the effect size around half a cup of coffee.

3. Minimal side effects — Some people report sizeable water weight gains and an overall look of “puffiness,” but I only gained about 2 lbs on a 180-pound frame.

4. Slight increase in thirstiness – I found myself craving more water. Most proponents of creatine recommend staying well-hydrated, though alarmist claims about organ damage  are completely unsubstantiated for healthy individuals.

There is no established need to cycle on and off creatine, but the chemical is recruited most when lifting heavy weight to failure. Thus, it may make sense to use it only during periods of lifting heavy weight at lower reps.

If you’re looking for an extra push to reach your strength goals and get more out of your training, few choices beat creatine. It is one of the few supplements available that fulfills the trifecta of being cheap, safe, and effective.

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50 thoughts on “Need A Push At The Gym? Try Creatine”

  1. Creatine HCL (Hydrochloride) best stuff I have used. And it does not make you bloat.

      1. Yeah look for the pill version. GNC (or whatever equivalent where you live) has a store brand that I use. 2 pills a day. And I took them while on a low and high carb diet and I was getting shredded on my low carb while still getting stronger. I would add around 10 lbs a week to my lifts. All the while I shrunk down body fat wise to around 10% from cardio/diet etc.. Give it a try

  2. It also purportedly masks drug metabolites, and is the main ingredient in so called “Toxic Flushes” used by some people to evade pre-employment drug screenings. I wouldn’t know personally because recreational drugs are illegal.

  3. I also support the use of creatine—I noticed definite strength increases but also experienced significant water weight gain (nearly 10 lbs). Everyone’s body is different.
    I would also advocate only doing two cycles per year—but your mileage may vary.

    1. I expected to gain much more water weight than I did. I wonder if having a very low carb diet on non-lift days has some interaction with its water retention properties
      You mention doing only two cycles per year — Did you notice any adverse effects from more frequent use?

      1. I only did two cycles because one cycle took me about 4 months to get all the way through (ie, loading, maintenance, de-loading).
        But other people’s bodies may respond differently–it really depends.

  4. I would recommend against trying Creatine at all. You can destroy your kidneys using it, and you do not need it.

    1. People complaining about it killing your kidney’s are the same fools
      going out and binge drinking every Thurs-Sat. What the hell do you think
      you’re doing to your body? Studies show it has no adverse affects on the body in proper dosages, only positive. The only negative anyone has really experienced is leg cramps from dehydration. Also if you read the label on any pre-workout and half the proteins on the market they already include creatine.

      1. While I’m sure a non-permanently harmful dosage can be found for anything that your body can process, can you tell me why it’s needed? Your body produces the effect that creatine does naturally.

        1. Do you have any evidence that the normal dosage is “permanently harmful”?

        2. The package suggests one teaspoon per day, which is 5g of creatine monohydrate.

        3. Then the current literature suggests no issue for someone with healthy kidneys.
          However, I re-iterate my question. Why is it needed? Pushing yourself harder on your own can be its own reward.

        4. The only thing needed in life is death so your question is loaded. Why is it wanted? Because it makes you bigger, faster, and makes you smarter. Where you draw the line between pushing yourself “on your own” and otherwise is arbitrary

        5. The great question is why take supplements at all. The answer is you can get higher yields nutritionally from supplements to help boost. You can get 30grams of protein from a shake in 150 calories. An 8 oz steak has 500+ calories and 60 grams of protein. depending on your weight and fitness goals you’re going to have to be eating a lot all the time to get enough nutrition, which will be even more taxing to not get fat off of it. Taking supplements will give you the extra kick you need for gains while helping keep your caloric intake in check to not become a lardass.

    2. 5g a day plus a healthy amount of water and you’re fine. I’ve been double and triple-dosing for almost three months now – studies suggest that even QUADRUPLE the normal dose won’t harm you in any way, as tested on NCAA athletes.

  5. I’mma have to dumb this post down. Yo B, that shit is stupid. You be postin pictures of TITS lifting like you be trying to emulate women or some shit. That shit aint even natural, like you adorin’ masculine women. Creatine is a synthetic supplement and makes you stupid.. Durr. Prick teasin’ nigga should be shot. END.
    Yeah, I heard creatine just makes you gain water weight. That was years ago and an immediate turn off. Looks like fags would like it, though.
    There’s a big difference between men using functional strength, building lean body mass, bulletproof nervous systems and tendons of steel… and pumping weight on bidirectional machines in the female dominated gym, pushing water around your muscles, acting macho, when your really just a giant fucking pussy.

    1. Guys who tout “functional strength” are often some of the weakest pussies around. Are you the guy I’ve seen doing squats on a balance ball?
      Thanks for your well-researched insight, but I’ll continue “pushing water around” while I deadlift 390.

  6. For some guys using supplements would never be an option. It breaks a lot of principles. I can gurantee anyone who is using supplements will have a lower confidence (subconsciously) because of it.

    1. Meet me at the beach and measure my confidence levels lolzzlozlzolzo (GBFM Shoutout)

  7. There’s so much misinformation surrounding creatine; some of the comments below gracefully provide evidence without having to look.
    It doesn’t only increase ATP production in skeletal muscle, but it boosts brain activity too. It’s a nootropic and a results booster all in one; you’ve got nothing to lose by taking it.

    1. Except money. There’s more than enough creatine in your diet already if you’re eating red meat once a day.

      1. Debatable; unless you’re eating at least a kilo of red meat a day you’re not getting the 5g a tiny scoop will provide. Creatine is dirt cheap; eating 2.5lbs of steak a day isn’t.

        1. Your body isn’t going to be able to absorb that much creatine in one sitting. Much like protein powder, these things are okay if you don’t have the time or inclination to cook but you’re always going to be better off with real food.

  8. I’ve been taking Creatine for over a decade. It is the only OTC supplement that I would recommend.

  9. Whenever I see an article on here about fitness it’s generally pure crap. Stick to what you know guys, this stuff isn’t your forte.

    1. Call the article crap sure, but please explain what it get wrong or point to a better resource for those of us that don’t know it.

      1. The problem is that guys who are just starting out reading this stuff are looking at it and going “So what I need to get big and cut is creatine/protein shakes/pre-workout/post-workout/peri-workout drinks etc.”.
        When the reality is what you really need to do is stop reading about snake oil and start lifting heavy and eating big. I go to the gym and military press 130kg for reps the first thing someone says to me is “What protein powder do you take.” Not “What’s your workout” or “How often do you press.”
        People are focusing on the wrong thing is the issue. Here’s what you need to focus on; Lift, Eat, Sleep, Repeat.

        1. I suspect if this post had been “Try This Beginner Weightlifting Program,” you would have said ROK fitness articles were crap because they’re too basic.
          I don’t think pointing out a modest 10lb increase in max weight is selling “snake oil” — even newbies can pick up on context enough to know that 98% of results come from the steps you listed and sticking to a consistent but challenging program over the long term.
          Only dumbasses and keyboard jockeys think that they can go from wimpy to ripped from taking some supplement, even ones that actually work. The idea here is that incremental improvements are still possible when you’re already following the no-brainer steps you outlined. I fail to see how that detracts value.

        2. I can think of one fitness article on RoK that I’ve found enjoyable and that was the one about the clean & press workout. That article recommended one of the most basic workouts I’ve seen and I liked it, I’ve even done it a couple of times when I was pushed for time. Basic workouts are my bread and butter.
          If I’m being honest, this article smacks of someone who’s started workout out about a year ago, has seen some good gains and decided he want’s to spread the good word. I don’t mean to insult you and I don’t want to come across as the typical internet superstar that benches, squats and pulls a 1000 pounds each but that’s how it seems to me.
          Here’s my experience with creatine. I tried it when I was around 18, I did the whole backloading thing for a week then brought it down to 5g a day.
          1. No measurable increase in strength beyond the norm. I was still getting stronger but at about the same rate as before.
          2. Serious Delhi belly. For five or six weeks my guts were churning and I was shitting about six times a day.
          3. Gained about 15lbs in water weight and felt slower, fatter but strangely smarter.
          4. I learned and retained information much faster (I get a similar but much more enhanced version of this from noopept.)

    1. You would have to eat at least a 40 oz. steak a day to get to the common serving amount of 5 grams. Not only is that “too hard for most people”, it isn’t too wise to eat that much of one thing. Especially red meat.

  10. I can confirm it works; however I gained significant water weight while on it which came off as soon as I stopped using it.

  11. Definitely one of the few worthwhile supplements out there. However, there will be people out there that don’t get much out of it (I know I am one).
    Good little write up.

  12. One warning about creatine: sex headaches. When you’re about to pop, it feels like being stabbed in the brainstem. Not recommend.

  13. I was always reluctant to try Creatine because of all the ‘health warnings’ about kidney damage. Then I decided to try listening to the guys that were getting results in the gym, instead of the guys that sit on their fat azzes all day. I started Creatine a month ago and the article paints a very accurate picture based on my individual results. I’m lifting heavier weights, doing more reps and leaving the gym with more energy than ever before. I would be naive to believe that the Creatine had nothing to do with my recent gains.

  14. It raises DHT so is not good for anyone with a predisposition for male pattern baldness. It could accelerate how fast you lose your hair.

  15. supplements for anything will always be a terrible idea! Stick to the natural and healthy ways of doing things if you want to love your body for many decades!

  16. I did see gain increases and greater strength using creatine. However I also had significant water retention, to the point of adding 10-12lbs or so in water! I got bigger but unfortunately due to the water.
    People would comment “wow, you’re really putting on size” but after stopping training or going off of the creatine, I would “shrink down” to my real size, which is dissappointing.
    I tried Creatine RT which supposedly would not have the water issue but unfortunately still did. Would love to hear if anyone has a solution. Thanks.

    1. I actually had the same problem. I actually gave up on most supplements and tried smelling salts to get me pumped up for a workout. Most of the time I could lift 2-3 times longer after smelling the salts (Check out more info here: )
      Doesn’t make you bigger, but helps me lift longer, so I figure its worth it. Thoughts from anyone else?

  17. Half of what you listed as results of taking creatine are just placebo effects imo.
    All creatine does is make your muscles retain water. Thus the warnings about needing to consume extra water.
    You might be able to do more reps and stave off the anabolic burn but you won’t be able to lift more weight. The biggest benefit of creatine is it gives you an artificial pump due to the water in your muscles.

  18. It’s the only supplement that I use. I haven’t had any of these side-effects. I haven’t measured if it helps me gain faster or not, but it helps me recover faster. It’s the first thing that I noticed.

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