Though creatine is relatively well researched in sports nutrition, researchers in Taiwan argued that “no study has investigated the effects of [creatine] supplementation on increasing post-activation potentiation effects during a complex training bout,” they wrote in a study published in the journal Nutrients.
By “post-activation potentiation,” they meant the phenomenon where a muscle’s acute contractile ability is enhanced through heavy resistance exercise conditioning. They hypothesized that short-term creatine supplementation will have a positive effect on strength and power performance, as well as the optimal individual post-activation performance time during a complex training bout—which means heavy resistance training followed by plyometric exercise.
Their clinical test on 30 athletes proved creatine’s benefits, specifically on the strength of the lower limbs. “This study demonstrates that creatine supplementation improves maximal muscle strength and the optimal individual post-activation potentiation time of complex training,” they wrote.
The study design
Thirty male university athletes volunteered for the study: 10 baseball athletes, 10 basketball athletes, and 10 tchoukball athletes. The volunteers maintained their basic training programs and were asked to keep their normal diet pattern during the experiment’s period. Subjects were also required to not have taken daily doses of anti-inflammatory medications or nutritional supplements within the past month.
Then, in a double-blind, randomized matched-pair design, the 30 athletes were assigned into either a creatine or placebo group. Before supplementation, subjects’ strength and anthropometry were measured by performing two sets of complex training bouts, back squats and countermovement jumps.
After the initial measurement, subjects took either 5 g of creatine, manufactured by Twinlab, four times a day for six day, or the placebo supplementation. Then, the same test procedures from before supplementation were conducted again. A low dose of creatine or placebo supplementation was maintained until the end of the study.
The creatine supplemented group exhibited an increased strength while performing a back squat after supplementation. The study labelled it as a “significant difference.” Meanwhile, the placebo group exhibited no change.
“Overall, the major findings of this study are that creatine supplementation significantly increased the maximal strength of the lower limbs and reduced the negative influence of fatigue on post-activation potentiation,” the researchers wrote.
“Our results show that the optimal individual post-activation potentiation time was significantly earlier after creatine supplementation,” they added. However, the acute benefit did not enhance explosive performance, which is used to describe activities requiring high acceleration and output (such as baseball or soccer).
Citing many other studies, the researchers said that “these findings demonstrated that peak post-activation potentiation was immediately increased by conditioning contraction, but instantly began to decrease with a rapid decline for 3 minutes followed by a more gradual decline over the remainder of the recovery period.”
“Further studies should evaluate the efficiency of creatine supplementation on other main biomarkers and athletic performances after long-term complex training,” the researchers said.
Published online, doi:10.3390/nu8030143
The Effects of Creatine Supplementation on Explosive Performance and Optimal Individual Postactivation Potentiation Time
Authors: C. Wang, et al.