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The purpose of the study was to evaluate how supplementing with creatine affects levels of strength when the subject is practicing a concurrent training approach.
Unfortunately, when you're providing the body with differing signals (resistance and endurance), the ability of the body to fully take advantage of both, becomes impaired, which means that neither adaptation is getting the love it needs to thrive. This is why most bodybuilders and powerlifters don't run and why most endurance runners don't lift like a bodybuilder.
Why Study This?
First and foremost, this is extremely valuable for a number of different populations. People that are athletes, active military or are just plain active all the time can benefit from this information.
See, strength training and endurance training have differing adaptations. When you lift, you get stronger. When you run you become fatigue resistant. Unfortunately, the mechanisms that drive these adaptations are actually polar opposites of one another and if you want to use both, typically one of the two variables suffers. Either you lose fatigue resistance or you lose strength. Being able to appropriately manage both is what makes champions.
If creatine is able to reduce strength loss at the hand of endurance training, this could revolutionize athletic ability.
31 resistance training individuals were recruited for the study. Upon being accepted, subjects underwent a V02 max test, anaerobic threshold testing and 1 RM and strength endurance (4 x 80% of 1 RM to failure) measurements on Leg Press and Bench Press. Here's a table of measurements taken at baseline:
Upon completion of baseline testing, subjects were placed into a group receiving Creatine supplementation or a Placebo group.
Each training session, separated by at least 72 hours was completed using a protocol of Aerobic exercise --> Passive Recovery --> Resistance Training --> Passive Recovery --> Aerobic Exercise --> Passive Recovery --> Resistance training.
In total, there were 4 training sessions that followed the above procedure. However, it's important to note that there were two different protocols using the structure above.
1. Cardio was Continuous and Resistance training focused on Strength (1 RM)
2. Cardio was intermittent and Resistance training focused on Strength Endurance (4 x 80% of 1 RM to failure).
It's important to know this because they measured effectiveness according to these protocols (i.e. results were different when comparing performance in each protocol.
In a double blind fashion, subjects were provided with 20 grams of Creatine Monohydrate per day, for 7 days (a standard loading protocol for creatine), followed by 5 grams per day for the remainder of the study. Keep in mind this is fairly typical for most users. Just keep in mind, a loading protocol is not totally necessary. Further, you have to break it up over multiple doses unless you want to spend the day on the toilet.
When viewing leg press strength, there was only a significant increase of leg press strength when creatine supplementation was paired with Continuous Aerobic exercise and strength-based training.
In terms of bench press strength, along with creatine supplementation, we see an improvement of strength relative to the control for when creatine was paired with the two training protocols.
Hard To Know If This Will Be Beneficial
It's important to understand that the real world situations in which this would be applicable will be drastically different. For example, the conditions on a football field will be much different from this procedure, so it's difficult to know if this ability to maintain and even increase strength with creatine will actually happen.
Further, a real world training procedure will likely be a bit more intensive, which could affect recovery and performance to a much greater extent, meaning it's difficult to know if taking creatine would have an effect. Truth be told, the benefit was small to begin with so it's hard to know if this benefit would be observed real world.
This Method Of Endurance and Resistance Training May Reduce Interference Alone
Note: this section may be complicated for many. Read with caution.
When using resistance training and endurance training at the same time, this sutiation can create issues with recovery, strength ability and performance. The reason for this is that the adaptations that occur from each are differing, meaning they conflict. When you resistance train, you're increasing size and strength of the muscle. When you endurance train, you're actually reducing muscle size and making them more fatigue resistant and optimized for long durations of muscle contraction.
Unfortunately, when you're providing the body with these differing signals, the ability of the body to fully take advantage of both, becomes impaired, which means that neither adaptation is getting the love it needs to thrive. This is why most bodybuilders and powerlifters don't run and why most endurance runners don't lift like a bodybuilder.
When you endurance AND resistance train at the same time, your number one goal is to reduce this "interference" effect that occurs.
Now in order to avoid this interference effect, there is a theory that if you pair exercise modalities that rely on similar mechanisms, then there will be less of this interference. Here's a brief audio recording that will do a better job of explaining this concept than me trying to write it.
Essentially, the idea is that potentially pairing exercises that rely on similar mechanisms may help to avoid interference. For example, strength (1 RM) is largely dependant on central mechanisms such as neural output or the efficiency of motor unit output. Longer duration cardio also relies on central mechanisms. While long duration cardio certainly relies on the muscle, performance is much less contingent on muscle contraction specifically and rather based on a constant signal to continue contracting.
Strength endurance and intermittent cardio is much more dependant on peripheral mechanisms, such as the ability of the muscle to contract repeatedly at a high intensity and other variables like muscle glycogen.
Essentially, it's important to understand that the benefit observed here: 1. may not be entirely due to creatine supplementation and 2. may not be indicative of how real world athletes combine endurance and resistance training.
Don't Expect Creatine To Make Or Break Your Performance
It's important to keep in mind that creatine won't make or break your performance or ability to recover. In fact, almost every single supplement won't either. People place way too much stock into supplements and unfortunately it doesn't pan out. Not to mention, if there is a supplement that actually works, it catches the eye of the FDA and is almost always banned.
Even if you're just bodybuilding, if your training, nutrition and recovery strategy is subpar, no supplement will help you. If you're trying to optimize concurrent training without having everything else in line, you can forget about a supplement helping.
Why This Should Matter To You
This sort of information is important because while most people don't notice, almost all athletes concurrently train resistance and endurance, in the hopes of improving performance. If there are methods to help improve that performance, it's important we investigate. Not to mention, this doesn't need to be just for you. Imagine how this sort of information could influence your child's football or baseball training...
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