CREATINE: LET’S GET THE FACTS STRAIGHT!

What People Don’t Understand About Creatine Supplementation

Protein powders, creatine, supplements and other ergogenic aids are important to discuss, yet are often misunderstood. Creatine is at the top of the list! This is not to say that every nutritional concept or supplement is on target and safe. But, armed with good information—and knowing what a product can or cannot accomplish—and an understanding of any long or short-term safety concerns—good decisions can be made.

Creatine Monohydrate Supplementation…Creatine Monohydrate, commonly referred to as Creatine, is scientifically proven to enhance performance in some individuals, but therein lies the MYTH and the truth. This very popular supplement is one of the most misunderstood.

Creatine supplementation can aid athletic performance by helping to enhance strength/power gains because of improved recovery ability during and between training and competition sessions.

Key Point: Creatine is not anabolic (building). Let’s say that again. CREATINE is NOT anabolic in terms of its effect.

Creatine is NOT a steroid, and does not build muscle. In other words, it does not contribute directly to muscle growth. Instead, creatine aids in the recovery process so you can work harder and recovery more quickly. This increases the training stimulus, which can stimulate greater strength and power adaptations.

What is it? Creatine is a fuel source stored in the muscle tissue that is derived from the synthesis of a number of amino acids (building blocks of proteins). Creatine is not a protein in the traditional sense. Creatine enhances physical performance by increasing the amount of free phosphates available for the re-synthesis of ATP–the energy currency of the cell that is broken down to liberate energy when we exercise–during strenuous activity of relatively short duration.

How does it work? Creatine reduces fatigue by transporting extra energy into your cells. Adenosine triphosphate, or ATP, is the compound your body uses for energy. For a muscle to contract, it breaks off a phosphate molecule from ATP. As a result, ATP becomes ADP (adenosine diphosphate). The problem: You can’t use ADP for energy, and your body only has so much stored ATP. The fix: ADP takes a phosphate molecule from your body’s stores of creatine phosphate, forming more ATP.

Put simply, if you have more creatine phosphate you can work out longer and do sets of, say, eight reps instead of six, or more quality training runs and sprints. Over weeks and months, that added workload can allow you to add lean muscle mass, lift heavier weights, become stronger, and increase volume of training.

Who’s it for? Research shows that creatine supplementation is most effective in strength, speed and explosive sports or activities. This includes strength training and sports that require repeated short bursts of effort. Research suggests the effect on endurance or aerobic-type exercise is less clear. Also, temporary weight gain (creatine pulls water into your cells) associated with creatine supplementation may be counterproductive in endurance sports and weight dependent sports.

So, you want to take creatine? Here’s how. First, check in with your support team of coaches, teachers, parents and/or guardians! Next, you’ll see a bunch of different forms of creatine on your supplement store’s shelves. The one you want is creatine monohydrate. Creatine monohydrate is the exact compound that more than 95 percent of the studies used, so why take a chance on another compound from a safety and effectiveness perspective? Be careful to read labels to be sure other undesirable ingredients are not added. If in doubt, get a second opinion. Internet shopping for supplements is always risky because you never know the purity of the product, especially if you choose an off brand or one that promises unrealistic results.

Most studies recommend taking creatine before a workout. This timing allows the free phosphate to be available to your muscles to reconstruct ATP and CP (your energy sources). Creatine should be ingested with simple carbohydrates (for example: milk/lactose; juice/fructose etc.). Generally, at least 50g of carbohydrate (200 calories) is recommended in combination with the creatine dose (2014, USSA Alpine Strength and Conditioning Symposium, May 18-19).

How much creatine? Research suggests that 3g/day for three weeks increases muscle creatine levels to the same degree as utilizing a loading dose of 20g/day for 5 days. Therefore, a loading phase, which is commonly recommended by manufacturers, is not mandatory. Creatine is body-mass, dose related. Studies suggest 3g/per day for <175lbs; 4g per day for 175-220lbs; and 5g/per day >220lbs (2014, USSA Alpine Strength and Conditioning Symposium, May 18-19).

Any creatine your body does not use is excreted as a waste product. If you constantly overdose creatine (>20g/day) you will have very expensive urine and you place extra stress on your kidneys, liver, and you might experience gastro-intestinal discomfort.

Creatine doesn’t work well for everyone. True. Some people have high levels of creatine in the muscle naturally. Meat and fish eaters are less likely to respond than vegans, who have low levels of creatine in their diet. In other words, if you are deficient in creatine, you likely will see a better result with supplementation. If you do not discern significant results in 4-6 weeks, discontinue use. Creatine does not work for everyone!

Caution: Generally, there are no known long or short-term risks associated with creatine supplementation. However, due to ethical reasons, no known studies have been done on humans under the age of 18. Because potential side effects are not known in this age group, taking creatine under the age of 18 is not recommended (2014, USSA Alpine Strength and Conditioning Symposium, May 18-19).

Note: The International Olympic Committee, professional sports leagues, and the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) do not prohibit creatine. However, the NCAA does not allow college trainers to provide the supplement to its athletes. 

Summary:

Though nutritional intake has some grey areas, and it is important to find out what works for each individual, the guidelines adapted should fall within a parameter of science-based evidence. Improper nutritional intake and timing can not only hurt performance, but can be unsafe and counter-productive to attaining your training goals. On the other hand, when research-based recommendations are followed, and adjustments are made for personal needs and physiological differences, proper nutritional timing and supplementation is a powerful tool that can have huge impact on optimal performance.

Make sure you know the truth! Food is your friend; knowledge is power!

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Be sure to check out all of our blogs and bi-weekly posts. You’ll always find my favorite progressions, drills, coaching philosophy and trending topics at COREFX.ca

Douglas Brooks, MS, Exercise Physiologist, Director of Education for COREFX, is a former-Ironman® triathlete and currently directs Athlete Conditioning for Sugar Bowl Ski Academy where he works with elite junior and professional athletes. Douglas was inducted into the U.S. National Fitness Hall of Fame and has been honored by Can-Fit-Pro as the International Presenter of the Year. Coach Brooks is the author of numerous training books, and most recently, was the recipient of the IDEA Personal Trainer of the Year Award.

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EXERCISING ON AN EMPTY STOMACH: DON’T DO IT

If I perform cardiovascular exercise on an empty stomach–will doing so result in greater fat loss?

This is another popular myth that needs to be discussed! Performing cardiovascular exercise on an empty stomach for the purpose of burning more fat, is in fact, an empty promise!

Asian healthy girl with dumbbell and salad isolated on white background

The truth: It is VERY important to eat a small, approximately 100-calorie snack, about an hour before exercising so your body has enough fuel to power through your workout! A combination of carbohydrate, protein and fat is acceptable. The issue here is really one of “carbohydrate burning” versus “fat burning.” Experts across the world, while acknowledging that intensity of effort (how hard you workout) is the determining factor with regard to how much fat or carbohydrate will be burned per single calorie—agree that the overlying factor that contributes to greatest weight or fat loss, is total calories used or burned.

A sporty woman is standing in her kitchen, making a smoothie with fresh, seasonal fruits, nuts, and oats, to complete her healthy start to the morning.

The take away message here is…. from a fat loss standpoint it is not important to differentiate what types of energy sources–fat or carbohydrate—are being burned (utilized). Period.

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Be sure to check out all of our blogs and bi-weekly posts. You’ll always find my favorite progressions, drills, coaching philosophy and trending topics at COREFX.ca

Douglas Brooks, MS, Exercise Physiologist, Director of Education for COREFX, is a former-Ironman® triathlete and currently directs Athlete Conditioning for Sugar Bowl Ski Academy where he works with elite junior and professional athletes. Douglas was inducted into the U.S. National Fitness Hall of Fame and has been honored by Can-Fit-Pro as the International Presenter of the Year. Coach Brooks is the author of numerous training books, and most recently, was the recipient of the IDEA Personal Trainer of the Year Award.

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ATTENTION LADIES: STOP THE CARDIO AND START THE WEIGHT TRAINING!

Strength Vs Cardio

If I am trying to lose weight (fat), why should I lift weights?

Let’s get with the times and review the facts:

It has been said that cardiovascular exercise is the key to burning calories and losing weight. However, while cardiovascular training remains a very important part of your program, experts continue to point out the importance of participating in resistance training exercise (i.e., lifting weights) from a health and weight- fat-loss perspective. Why? Strength training boosts metabolic rate! You burn more calories!

Should Women Lift Weights?

This is a common question..and the answer is YES! If you are only losing weight, you may move from a big pear shape, to a smaller pear shape. Although, when you lift weights you can really re-shape your body!

Young woman exercising with barbell in gym.

Young woman exercising with barbell in gym.

Consider the following information if you want to lose weight. About 75 percent of the calories you burn on a daily basis come from resting metabolic rate. Think of metabolic rate as the number of calories it takes to maintain your body mass on a daily basis. If you lose muscle as you grow older (which is the norm, metabolic rate decreases. Why? Muscle requires lots of energy and fat doesn’t. If metabolic rate goes down, you’ll find it difficult to lose fat or maintain a desired weight or percentage of body fat. Both cardiovascular and resistance training exercise burn calories while you workout and continue to burn calories at an elevated rate for a short time after the session is over. But, if you want to maintain a healthy weight or lose weight, it is important to include strength training in your workout plans.

Resistance training maintains and/or increases muscle and cardiovascular activity does not. You could run a marathon every day and you would still lose muscle if you did not strength train.

 

cover photo blog

Lastly, adding strength training to your program not only gives you a balanced approach to fitness and your overall health needs, but resistance training also gives you the edge to help you attain your weight loss goals!

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Be sure to check out all of our blogs and bi-weekly posts. You’ll always find my favorite progressions, drills, coaching philosophy and trending topics at COREFX.ca

Douglas Brooks, MS, Exercise Physiologist, Director of Education for COREFX, is a former-Ironman® triathlete and currently directs Athlete Conditioning for Sugar Bowl Ski Academy where he works with elite junior and professional athletes. Douglas was inducted into the U.S. National Fitness Hall of Fame and has been honored by Can-Fit-Pro as the International Presenter of the Year. Coach Brooks is the author of numerous training books, and most recently, was the recipient of the IDEA Personal Trainer of the Year Award.

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Spot Reduction – One Final Attempt to Kill the Myth

Spot Reduction – One Final Attempt to Kill the Myth 

It’s time to STOP listening to Myth Conceptions and START using the correct resources to ultimately get the results you are wanting!

 Lets discuss  one of the most popular Myth Conceptions and that is…Why is it NOT possible to “spot reduce?”

The concept of spot reduction represents a stubborn myth that will not go away. The idea of repeatedly exercising or moving a specific body part in the hope of selectively losing fat (targeting) from that area of the body is certainly appealing.Spot Reduction

Though you could argue that it is possible to “spot tone,” or to target a specific area of the body for muscle development, this is NOT the same as “spot reduction.” Fat stores are generally released in a predetermined order, dependent on individual genetics. This profile, where you lose fat from, depends largely on your parents and the “genetic cards” you were dealt.GENETICS

Bottom line: To a large extent, genetic and hormonal factors control where fat is deposited in our bodies. Doing a 1000 ab exercise repetitions or triceps (back of the upper arm) presses is not going to help you lose fat from your waist or the back of your arms.

What can you do about those trouble spots and areas that include the back of the upper arms, “love handles” and lower abdominal area or “pooch?”

Answer: Expend more calories than you take in by performing cardiovascular and strength training exercise, and add moderate calorie restriction if appropriate to your situation. Remember, strength training (building muscle mass) will turn you into a calorie-burning furnace. If I had to choose between strength training and traditional cardio for fat loss, I’d go with strength training! It’s that important. But of course, do steady state cardio, intervals and strength training for best results. See #’s 2 & 3 for more info on losing weight and “fat burning.”

BLOG STRENGTH TRAINING

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Be sure to check out all of our blogs and bi-weekly posts. You’ll always find my favorite progressions, drills, coaching philosophy and trending topics at COREFX.ca

Douglas Brooks, MS, Exercise Physiologist, Director of Education for COREFX, is a former-Ironman® triathlete and currently directs Athlete Conditioning for Sugar Bowl Ski Academy where he works with elite junior and professional athletes. Douglas was inducted into the U.S. National Fitness Hall of Fame and has been honored by Can-Fit-Pro as the International Presenter of the Year. Coach Brooks is the author of numerous training books, and most recently, was the recipient of the IDEA Personal Trainer of the Year Award.

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Seven Key Concepts Trainers Don’t Think About

Seven Key Concepts Trainers Don’t Think About

Before we jump headlong into our 2016 training programs let’s nail down a solid direction.

What’s your training model? Why do you choose specific exercises? What do you base your planning process on? Have you ever really thought hard about how and why you design long-term programming and daily sessions?

Whether your training a long-term athlete, client or participant, development should focus on physical and mental parameters. Progression simply focuses on moving from point A to point B, and taking into account point A, which is current capability. It is important to note that some athletes or clients might not know their point B long-term goal, acquisition of a variety of motor skills and movement patterns. Distinguishing these key concepts with your clients is what will ultimately allow for personal growth, resulting in success.

Let’s start 2016 with a new attitude toward getting better.

Here’s how with this 7-point check list:

  1. FAIL: Your mantra is FAIL, FAIL AGAIN, FAIL BETTER; strive toward improvement, not necessarily perfection.COREFX WALL BALL

 

  1. GET BETTER: Whether an athlete is participating in his/her first or hundredth session, generally he/she should be given a training effect. Providing your clients with the attitude and expectation of I will get better today! Will ultimately result in your clients feeling confidant, saying, I got better today! Success often accelerates in knowing and feeling that you got better, and knowing that you got more fit!

    COREFX I will get better

 

  1. FEEL THE DIFFERENCE: Incorporating drills that will help your clients develop motor skills are a crucial aspect within their overall performance. These drills may include, core movement, outdoor skills as well as conditioning room skills. Being able to execute movement skills in the training room and having your efforts transfer to moving better in real life or sport, motivates anyone to take ownership of a program when they know training time transfers to improvement. How does one know? Answer: When you get stronger you move better.crop

 

  1. TRAIN TO GET BETTER: As a trainer, it is important to remind your clients that training is NOT their sport. They train to get better in their sport, and in life’s daily activities.


KEYPOINT 1:

When I set up a training program, at its base are core movement skills, patterns and strength/power conditioning exercises that I would like my athlete and clients to develop, and continue to refine as long as they train, which should be forever.

Regarding exercises that will help them achieve their goals, a comprehensive checklist does not really exist as there are almost infinite possibilities of how conditioning can be personalized based on maturity and capability for every athlete. Keeping an open mind to alternative methodologies and equipment usage is a must!

TRX Exercise

The “Dual Instability” exercise features the suspension trainer (TRX) and the BOSU Ballast Ball (stability ball) providing top down (suspension trainer) instability and ground up (the Ballast Ball) instability at the same time!

 

KEYPOINT 2:

Every athlete should be able to for example hip hinge, squat, deadlift, clean, push, pull, plank and carry, as well as execute bilateral landing/takeoff and single leg movements at some point in their journey, or be capable of an alternative that helps them to accomplish the needed base movement competency. Core stabilization, scapular control and loading overhead are important. As mentioned, no skills acquisition list is comprehensive, as there are many appropriate progressions and regressions possible within, for example, a core dominant movement or any other conditioning skill.

 

  1. ASSESS AND CORRECT MOVEMENT FAULTS EVERY WORKOUT: Keep in mind that movement faults and postural imbalances should not only be assessed once a year, but during every workout. Briefly, if vigilant coaching is maintained with regard to proper head, scapular, shoulder, spine, knee and foot positioning regardless of specific movement pattern or equipment being used, then assessment of movement quality is an ongoing process that is updated during every conditioning session, for each athlete. (More on this in a future blog, titled Why Annual Movement Screens Don’t Work!)number 3

 

  1. DEEP PRACTICE: Finally, it is important to keep in mind Miller’s Law, which is argued to be the most often cited paper in the field of psychology. The paper argues that the number of objects an average human can hold in working memory is 7 ± 2. No athlete can retain every teaching point from session to session, but they can begin to pattern in a few basic motor patterns, experiment with grips and stances, and learn how to use a variety of equipment. Ultimately, a progression to high-level skill attainment can be realized with perfect repetition and skill breakdown. (More on “deep practice,” in a future blog, titled “Deep Practice: What it is and how to claim it!)brain32

 

  1. BE HERE NOW: This is up to the athlete to figure out what this means, as it is different for everyone. However, it is important as the trainer to remind the client that it doesn’t really pay to just phone it in.Untitled-2

At the end of most sessions, the athlete will know they are closer to some of their long-term development goals, because they got better. In other words, providing your client with the feeling of improvement, which is measured and felt by the athlete, is important for continued progression, motivation and adherence. Skill based training and continual assessment/re-assessment is the foundation from which this positive training effect happens.

 

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Douglas Brooks, MS, Exercise Physiologist, is the Director of Education for COREFX, RealRyder and BOSU. The former-Ironman triathlete currently directs Athlete Conditioning for Sugar Bowl Ski Academy where he works with elite junior and professional athletes. Douglas was inducted into the U.S. National Fitness Hall of Fame and has been honored by Can-Fit-Pro as the International Presenter of the Year. Coach Brooks is the author of numerous training books, and most recently, was the recipient of the IDEA Personal Trainer of the Year Award.

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