There have been numerous of studies of creatine supplementation on cycling performance - and with conflicting results. A quick review of the literature turned up the following. The positive studies included:

1. Subjects performed five 15-s bouts of maximal cycling (1-min rest periods) after 7d of Pl (6 g glucose X 5 doses daily) and again after ingesting Cr for 7 d (5 g creatine plus 1 g glucose X 5 doses). In a second study, the subjects were asked to perform 5-1 minute bouts of maximum cycling. Cr ingestion resulted in a significant increase in the work performed during each 15-s bout of maximal cycling compared to Pl trials. Moreover, the total work completed during all five 15-s bouts of cycling increased significantly from 47.5 +/- 2.3 kJ with Pl treatment to 50.6 +/- 2.3 kJ after Cr supplementation (P < 0.05). However, in contrast to the 15 s bouts, total work completed during five 1-min bouts of maximal cycling was not significantly increased after Cr supplementation (P > 0.05). Total work is increased with creatine supplements in short sprint activities (15 seconds).

2. 18 participants each performed 2 sets of 4 different work bouts to exhaustion. For 5 days prior to the first set of work bouts, all participants received a placebo (5 g of calcium chloride daily). For the second set of work bouts, 9 participants again received the placebo, while the other 9 received creatine supplementation (18.75 g creatine monohydrate daily for 5 days prior to and 2.25 g creatine daily during testing). The four work bouts in each set consisted of cycling to exhaustion at 150% peak oxygen uptake (VO2peak) either nonstop (A), intermittently for either 60-s work/120-s rest periods (B), 20-s work/40-s rest (C), or 10-s work/20-s rest (D). Creatine supplementation significantly increased (p < .01) the total work time of all bouts. Protocol D showed the greatest increase (> 100%); C increased 61.9%; B increased 61.0%; and A increased 23.5%. These results demonstrate that creatine supplementation significantly extends one's capacity to maintain a specific level of high-intensity, intermittent exercise.

3. Nine male subjects performed two bouts of 30-s maximal isokinetic cycling before and after ingestion of 20 g creatine (Cr) monohydrate/day for 5 days. Cr ingestion produced a 23.1 +/- 4.7 mmol/kg dry matter increase in the muscle total creatine (TCr) concentration. Total work production during bouts 1 and 2 increased by approximately 4%, and the cumulative increases in both peak and total work production over the two exercise bouts were positively correlated with the increase in muscle TCr. Cumulative loss of ATP was 30.7 +/- 12.2% less after Cr ingestion, despite the increase in work production. Resting phosphocreatine (PCr) increased in type I and II fibers. Changes in PCr before exercise bouts 1 and 2 in type II fibers were positively correlated with changes in PCr degradation during exercise in this fiber type and changes in total work production. The results suggest that improvements in performance were mediated via improved ATP resynthesis as a consequence of increased PCr availability in type II fibers.

4. The effect of dietary creatine (Cr) supplementation on performance during 3, 30 s bouts maximal isokinetic cycling and on plasma ammonia and blood lactate accumulation during exercise was investigated. Placebo (P) ingestion had no effect on peak power output (PPO), mean power output (MPO) and total work output during each bout of exercise. Cr ingestion (4 x 5 for 5 days) significantly increased PPO in exercise bout 1 (p < 0.05) and MPO and total work output in exercise bouts 1 (p < 0.05, p < 0.05, respectively) and 2 (p < 0.05, p < 0.05, respectively). Cr ingestion had no effect on any of the measures of performance during exercise bout 3. The results demonstrate that Cr ingestion can increase whole body exercise performance during the initial two, but not a third, successive bout of maximal exercise lasting 30 s.

But an equivalent number of equally good studies failed to show any benefit to creatine supplementation:

A. Eight active, untrained men performed a 20-s maximal sprint on an air-braked cycle ergometer after 5 days of CrS [30 g creatine (Cr) + 30 g dextrose per day] or placebo (30 g dextrose per day). The trials were separated by 4 wk, and a double-blind crossover design was used. Muscle and blood samples were obtained at rest, immediately after exercise, and after 2 min of passive recovery. CrS increased the muscle total Cr content (9.5 +/- 2.0%, P < 0.05, mean +/- SE); however, 20-s sprint performance was not improved by CrS. Similarly, the magnitude of the degradation or accumulation of muscle (e.g., adenine nucleotides, phosphocreatine, inosine 5'-monophosphate, lactate, and glycogen) and plasma metabolites (e.g. , lactate, hypoxanthine, and ammonia/ammonium) were also unaffected by CrS during exercise or recovery. These data demonstrated that CrS increased muscle total Cr content, but the increase did not induce an improved sprint exercise performance or alterations in anaerobic muscle metabolism.

B. Eighty healthy, active male subjects were randomly assigned to one of two groups (creatine or placebo) and one of four recovery intervals (30, 60, 90, or 120 s). Two maximal cycle ergometer sprints, separated by the assigned recovery interval were performed before and after a 5-day supplementation protocol in which 20 g/day of creatine (plus 4 g/day glucose) or 24 g/day glucose placebo were ingested by subjects from creatine and placebo groups, respectively. Maximal peak power output (PP) and the absolute time to fatigue (TTF) were compared pre- versus postsupplementation. No significant group interactions were noted in this study. Specifically, creatine supplementation had no effect on subjects' ability to reproduce or maintain a high percentage of PP during the second bout of exercise.

C. Power output was recorded for 12 healthy untrained males (age 24.08 +/- 0.53 yr, weight 81.22 +/- 1.32 kg) before and after 5 days of creatine (n = 6) or placebo (n = 6) supplementation. A double-blind research design was employed. Subjects performed maximal sprints against a constant load (111.8 N) for 15 s. Each one-half pedal revolution was magnetically counted, and subsequent measurements of peak power, time to peak power, total work, and the fatigue index were digitized and stored on disk. Mean values for peak power, time to peak power, total work, and fatigue index were 958.01 +/- 40.66 W, 4.09 +/- 0.82 s, 11.28 +/- 0.46 kJ, and 32.1 +/- 1.58% decline from peak power, respectively. No significant differences were observed within or between groups before or after supplementation for any of the mechanical parameters measured (P > 0.05). These findings suggest that oral creatine supplementation does not positively affect power output or fatigue during continuous high-intensity bicycle exercise in untrained men.

D. This study examined the influence of oral creatine monohydrate supplementation on repeated 10 s cycle ergometer sprint performance. Seventeen recreationally active males (mean +/- SD age, body mass, height, and peak oxygen uptake = 20.5 +/- 1.2 yr, 72.1 +/- 10.3 kg, 176.8 +/- 6.6 cm and 3.87 +/- 0.91 l.min-1, respectively) participated in the 16 day experiment. All subjects initially completed a VO2peak test and were then administered glucose (4 x 10 g per day) in a single blind fashion for four days, after which they completed the first series of multiple sprints (7 x 10 s). Following the sprints, subjects were matched on sprint performance and divided into two groups (n= 8, placebo (Pl); and n = 9, creatine (Cr)). For the following four days, diets were supplemented with either Cr (4 x 70 body mass per day mixed with 5 g glucose) or glucose (4 x 10 g per day); supplementation during this phase was double-blind.Subjects then repeated the multiple sprint and VO2peak tests. Measures of peak power output (PPO), mean power output (MPO), end-power output (EPO), and percent power decline were recorded during the sprints. Each 10 s sprint was separated by 30 s of passive recovery except for sprints five and six which were separated by five minutes. Venous blood was sampled at rest, immediately after sprint five, before sprint six, and following sprint seven for the analysis of plasma lactate and blood pH. Expired air was sampled for five minutes following sprint seven for the calculation of post-exercise VO2. Analysis of variance revealed that four days of Cr supplementation did not influence multiple sprint performance, plasma lactate, blood pH and excess post-sprint oxygen consumption. Furthermore, VO2peak was unchanged following Cr supplementation. The data suggest that either the four day period of Cr supplementation failed to significantly raise resting muscle [Cr], or that multiple sprint performance was not enhanced by increases in resting muscle [Cr].

E. The effects of creatine supplementation on power output during a 30-s maximal cycling (Wingate) test. Nine males underwent 3 randomly ordered tests following ingestion of a creatine supplementation (CRE), placebo (PLA), and control (CON) CRE was ingested as creatine monohydrate (CrH2O) dissolved in a flavored drink (20g.d-1 for 3 d), while PLA consisted of the drink only. Tests were performed 14 d apart on a Monarch ergometer modified for immediate resistance loading. Needle biopsies were taken from the vastus lateralis at the end of each treatment period and before the exercise test. No difference was found between conditions for peak, mean 10-s, and mean 30-s power output, percent fatigue, or post-exercise blood lactate concentration. Similarly, no difference between conditions was observed for ATP, phosphocreatine (PCr), or total creatine (TCr); however, the TCr/ATP was higher in the CRE condition (P < 0.05) than in the CON and PLA conditions. Findings suggest that 3 d of oral Cr supplementation does not increase resting muscle PCr oncentration and has no effect on performance during a single short-term maximal cycling task.

Additonal information - Nov, 2003. Updates on rationale, toxicity, how to use. No evidence that it helps other than in short burst, high power events.

Questions on content or suggestions to improve this page are appreciated.

Cycling Performance Tips
Home | Table of Contents | Local Services/Information