If someone told you that by taking a few pills every day you could magically improve your bench press in a matter of days, with no change in training, wouldn't it sound too good to be true? I'd sure he skeptical. Fortunately, my colleagues and I have the ability to test many of
my ideas in a scientifically controlled research setting at the Laboratory for Sports Medicine at Pennsylvania State University in University Park.
You've probably heard or read about the supplement creatine monohydrate. Despite several scientific publications showing positive effects of creatine on performance, only anecdotal evidence and personal testimonials of creatine's effectiveness in the gym have been available. But not anymore! Our laboratory staff has investigated the effects of creatine on various aspects of physical performance over the last few years, and we recently published a study in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association that examines weightlifting performance. Fourteen resistance-trained men were randomly assigned in a double-blind fashion to either a 25- grams-per-day creatine or placebo group. Both groups were tested in the bench press (Five sets to failure using each subject's 10-rep max bench press) and the jump squat (live sets of 10 reps with 30% of each subject's one-rep max squat) before and after one week of supplementation. A two-minute rest period separated each set.
lifting performance and bodyweight weren't altered in the placebo group, hut creatine supplementation resulted in significant improvements in peak power output (rapid strength development) during all five sets of the jump squat and bench press, with a total of eight more reps. Besides these improvements in performance, member of the creatine group also increased their body mass by a little more than 3 pounds.
As a follow-up, we decided to examine whether these findings may be a result of changes in testosterone; as you know, testosterone is a potent anabolic hormone Using the same protocol as the previous study, we found that both groups ended up with elevated levels of testosterone post exercise, with no differences between the groups. Based on these data, it seems clear that if you supplement with 25 grams of creatine a day, you can expect to do between two and three more reps on your first set and a total of eight more reps over five sets in the bench press.
Further, if you need to he more powerful, creatine will probably give you a boost. The fact that creatine supplementation didn't affect testosterone concentrations suggests that changes in bodyweight and exercise performance occur independently of a change in resting and exercise-induced testosterone levels. Clearly, at least during one week of creatine supplementation, the positive adaptations observed weren't a steroid-hormone- driven phenomenon. Another mechanism seems to be involved. I'll try to squeeze my now-larger pecs hack into my lab coat and see what else may he going on.