One of the big issues when it comes to maximizing the efficacy of creatine is creatine cycling.
95% of our creatine stores are contained in skeletal muscle. It’s used in the production of energy.
Supplementing with creatine increases the availability of creatine phosphate in the muscle allowing us to perform better in the gym and generate more muscle growth stimulation.
The problem is that we may not be able to maintain high muscle creatine concentrations over a longer period of time if we do NOT cycle it.
This may be because creatine saturation can occur outside the cell, which would prevent effective muscle uptake.
Therefore I and many others recommend creatine cycling to prevent this and help MAXIMIZE creatine uptake into the muscles at all times.
So, what is the best way to cycle creatine?
I’ll discuss this with a 10-week training cycle in mind – followed by a week lay-off as we do in THT.
(1) Week 1 – 8 – maintain at 5g per day taken AFTER your workout in your Post Workout Shake
(2) Weeks 9 + 10 – come off creatine (2 weeks off in total)
(3) Week Off Training – Load creatine at 20g per day for 5 days (split in to 4 x 5g servings)
(4) Week 1 New Cycle – Muscles are now saturated with creatine and you’re ready to train. Maintain at 5g creatine taken post-workout in your shake (back to step 1 above).
Why load on that week off?
Firstly, loading on your week off means your muscles are as strong as they can possibly be on that first week of training!
Also, creatine has been shown to preserve muscle mass when not training. Most people will not lose muscle when taking a 7-day lay-off (some people get even stronger with this extra recovery). But just to be on the safe side, loading with creatine at this time will aid in preserving your hard-won gains.
Do you still take creatine on off days? Yes. Still take a 5g serving on Saturdays and Sundays.
Supplement wisely and get the most out of creatine, guys!
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So, we don’t need loading phase at the beginning ? And what if we bought creatine after one month of training..when, and how to take it then ?
I have different story to tell about creatine. I’m working out for a year. Last 1 and half month I’m taking creatine indirectly, means, my protein powder contained creatine. So, ~1gm/day I was taking for 1 month. Next month, I tried another protein powder which gave me ~2gm of creatine per serving. Along with that I tried creatine mono 5gm/day(no loading phase). After 2 weeks, I started feeling left flank pain. I noticed it only after I finished 2hrs workout. So, I stopped taking both. Now, I can feel pain only when I press. I’m planning to take 1 week rest. I hope, pain will go away. I don’t want to use creatine anymore.
From my experience, I think I’m a creatine non-responder. I don’t feel like it gave me more lifting power. So, I think, people MUST consult with doctor before taking creatine supp.
Thanks for that. Impeccable timing. I have just started THT5 this morning (6am workout) and was just looking at my pot of creatine thinking ‘What shall I do with you ?’.
Likewise! Today is the first day of me getting back in the gym after 2 months out due to an old injury. I haven’t gone all out yet, still feeling around for my starting weight for all the exercises etc. Gonna load and cycle like you describe here. Very similar to your old post. Awesome stuff.
Great article Mark, as usual. This is, by far, the only non-protein supplement
that has ever given me real results. In fact, I just finished my week off from the gym and creatine. I loaded last week- as I started the HIT cycle. I’ll do it your way next time.
@Ozzy Load NOW then cycle off as he says above.
@Renkm Look through the site’s archives and pull up the older creatine article. There are no side effects with creatine- ‘cept for fuller muscles. Some say they get looser stools during loading, never been a problem for me. Could have been a muscle strain?
Sorry to answer for you, Mark. Cheers!
Renkm! I think it’s more about overtraining where your concerned, 2 hours is over doing it and you’ve more than likely hurt something.
Always good to hear from you mark, stumbled across your site a while back. Soon realised that I had been talking to you in the gym and didn’t know it was you (waves leisure complex) hope your doing well!
Nope Bob, it’s not muscle strain.! I can feel it.. somewhat inside. Only when I’m pressing left flank area… I’m drinking plenty of water and make sure that I’m not dehydrated. I’m not using coffee or taking any medicines(btw, I’m allergic to anti-biotic). Definitely, creatine is safe and result giving for many people but for few like me can’t use it. 🙁
Jordan, Maybe you’re right! My workout style is pull-push-leg split. So, I’m working out every other day. I think, I’m getting enough rest(I’m sleeping ~7hrs/day). I’m still in confusion why this happened… 🙁
In all seriousness, it could be something you need to see your Dr. about if changing your routine doesn’t resolve it. Last year I had right flank pain. Dr. initially thought it was a strain due to working out. Turned out to be the gall bladder. Good luck man.
Great post as always… Bt I’ve got a bit if problem, u c i started with da tht5 last week n also started using creatine bt I’ve been doing da 3 days on and 3 days off.. Should i continue with dis method or should i change? Oh and one more qstn , whats up with dis myth of not taking l glutimine and creatine at the same time?
sory meant I’ve got a bit of a problem
During the first 8 weeks, you said we have to take it post workout. What about on our off days? Do we continue to take 5g Creatine?
@Ozzy. Yes you need to load if it’s your very first time on creatine. After that, follow the 4 steps above and load every week off after your 10 week training cycle.
@Jordan. Alright lad. I’m doing the very best. Hope your training is going well 🙂
@Siya. Both methods work equally well in my experience. Although 5g per days is easier so you could just switch to that now. And I and many others have taken creatine a glutamine together for years.
@Jimmy. Yes, take 5g sometime during the day on non-training days.
oh k kul, thanks Mark
Great. Nice and clear instructions. I guess this applies to any/all types of creatine?
@Richard. I don’t recommend any other types as mono is the superior type of creatine by far https://musclehack.com/creatine-facts-what-is-the-best-creatine/
I have taken creatine before couple of times, and what’s interesting, is that it worked for me only the first time, and after that I felt like it had no impact on me..first time when i used it, I was thirsty all the time, and the effects was quickly noticeable, but every other creatine over years that I have taken, had no effects..no impact on strength, no mass, I was not thirsty very often like the first time, so it didn’t work..I thought maybe it happens sometimes..I took it again after couple of months, and the same thing..no effect..2-3 years after that, I took it again, and no results..maybe it was creatine from a bad company, don’t know what was the first one, but I tried two or three times creatine from American Muscle, and once or twice from Scitec Nutrition…now I ordered creatine from Dymatize, and I hope that it will be efficient..but we’ll see..if it doesn’t work, then I have no reason to continue using it, although it would be pity, ’cause I ordered 1kg of it 🙂 And I know that some people doesn’t respond to creatine at all, but it’s strange for me ’cause it worked the first time, so I shouldn’t be among those who doesn’t respond good on it..
So we don’t need 10g of creatine for maintenance as they said..OK..and I will go through the loading phase first, and then I will follow the four steps above 🙂
p.s. also I have ordered Amino 5600 from Scitec Nutrition, because they currently don’t have similar product from Dymatize..is it any good ?