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!

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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Think You Know How To Warm Up? Chances Are You’re Doing It Wrong!

What You’re Doing WRONG In Your Warm Up

Here are 6 key factors that you may be missing out on that will make all of the difference in your training!

WRONG: You’re not doing a warm up!

The warm up/pre workout prep is often the most overlooked and left out aspect of a training program. This dynamic prep is a key component of your overall workout. Leave it out and you’re more likely to get hurt, perform poorly and exercise does not feel as good if your body is not ready to move.

WRONG: You’re warming up using static, sustained stretching.

Your warm up prepares you for what you’re about to do! If it is not dynamic, does not look and feel how you will be challenged in your workout or sport, and does not use mobilization, stabilization and activation strategies, you’re on the wrong track. Static stretching as part of a warm up went the way of the dinosaurs in 1997, when research began to confirm and continues to support the fact that concentrated static stretching “anesthetizes” or “puts the muscle/central nervous system to sleep.” Furthermore, concentrated static stretching before a vigorous workout can negate any warm up/preparation period that one might have done.

WRONG: You’re still calling your pre-workout prep “stretching.”

Let’s start by calling your preparatory period a dynamic warm up (DWU) with the purpose in mind to maximize returns on your workout as it relates to performance improvements and injury prevention.

WRONG: You still think warming up is the same as stretching.

Rule of thumb: Use static stretching whenever you’re warmed up, but AFTER activity, if you’re looking for a better and safer workout.

WRONG: You believe warm up only prepares your body (partially true) for the workout.

Don’t forget that the warm up not only helps you to physically change gears from rest to ready, but also helps you shift gears with regard to focus and mental preparedness. The warm up greatly affects the workout experience and overall performance outcome from a number of physiological and psychological parameters.

WRONG: Utilizing a “warm up” is old school.

Actually, sustained, static stretching pre workout is old school. Not preparing yourself to compete or workout is old school.

What You’re Doing RIGHT in Your Warm Up

Here are some key concepts that you should continue within your warm up!

Right: You understand and value what warming up does for you from a physiological and neurological perspective.

DWUs should:

  • Allow the brain and central nervous system to shift from a rest/inactivity focus and get you ready physically and mentally to move.
  • Require joints to move through a full range of motion using activities that mimic what your about to do in your workout.
  • Raise core temperature, heart rate and level of effort gradually to intensities that will reflect the type of workout one is about to engage in.
  • Prime energy, blood circulation, body temperature and other biological systems to align what is being done in the upcoming activity.
  • Allow the muscles to practice specific movements to come, and rehearse basic movement patterns, as well as activate the core, upper and lower body.

Improve the likelihood that performance and injury prevention is highly probable if a DWU is used to prepare the body before competition or workouts.

RIGHT: You include these types of movement in your warm up: linear, angled, lateral, crossover, directional movement.

RIGHT: You target the appropriate energy systems as it pertains to the upcoming activity and activate the core and glutes.

RIGHT: You understand that concentrated static stretching puts the muscle/central nervous system to sleep.

RIGHT: Controlled dynamic warm up (DWU) should precede vigorous activity:

  1. When a high level of performance is required.
  2. When the goal is to specifically prepare the body for upcoming activity.
  3. When improvements in acceleration, speed, agility, strength and power during exercise or a sport are the end goal.

RIGHT: Rolling or Self Myofascial Release (SMR) techniques can be used prior to the DWU, during or after the workout. But, keep it moving!

SBA PTC11


SBAPTC_Giordano-20

RIGHT: Mobility exercises that are active/dynamic can be use throughout the DWU, workout or sport–and during a warm down. Controlled dynamic mobility training can help to maintain desirable range of motion and combat excessive tightness or restriction in the fascia, muscles or joints.

Key Point: Mobility and stability paired keeps the body prepped for performance!

RIGHT: You understand that while a warm up is not necessarily “good” or “bad,” there are more, and less, effective ways to prep for a workout. An effective warm up will start to look and feel like the activity you’re about to participate in.

Key Point: The transition from warm up to workout should almost feel as though you didn’t know when the warm up ended and the workout began.

RIGHT: You understand an effective workout consists of:

  • at least 5-15 minutes of dynamic movement; controlled, yet dynamic mobility training where you move into and out of position
  • avoiding static stretching before your workout
  • maintaining a warmed up state throughout the workout by adding prep, range of motion, unloaded or lightly loaded skill rehearsal (practice movements you’re about to do) and mobility exercises as needed throughout the workout duration
  • rehearsing strength movement using lighter loads prior to heavy strength training or mimic sport movements, that for example, incorporate rotation or core stabilization or otherwise mimic the upcoming movement demands
  • building heart rate intensity gradually, as is appropriate for the specific workout

Dynamic Warm Up (DWU)

Following are a few video clips that represent elements of how a DWU could look. Remember, the DWU should be tailored to the specific activity that the athlete is going to be doing.

Dynamic Warm Up (DWU) and Mobilization

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SBAPTC_Giordano-23

SBAPTC_Giordano-7

Summary

Before you begin the warm up, plan the DWU to complement the movements and demands of the sport you play–or the activity/conditioning session you’re about to do. Build to and mimic energy system and movement requirements. Once you start playing the sport, or enter into any training activity, the mind and body should be focused on, and optimally prepared to perform. Movement as it relates to the body can then be placed on autopilot–with intensity, tactics and technique taking over as the workout priority. Focusing on the movements and muscles before you “play”–as well as mental aspects related to the activity you’re about to participate in–gives your joints, your mind and the body’s physiological systems a preview of what is to come. Activating muscles and practicing accurate motor patterns of foundational and activity specific movement patterns also enhances muscle memory that is useful for creating higher levels of movement efficiency. Your brain is wired to memorize, or engram, integrated movements versus isolated movement.

 

Simply, the right warm up, or dynamic prep, jump-starts your entire workout experience. Warm up for your training sessions like you would for a competition! Get your mind right; get your body ready!

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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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