Different athletes use different methods to improve their muscle strength during exercise (Hall & Trojian, 2013). Enhancing physical performance is a requirement for all athletes' during their exercise time. Use of substances that aid in improving the performance of athletes, strengthen the efficiency of exercise, and helps in smooth recovery after training is a common practice among athletes.
Creatine (CR) is one of the most common and popular products designed to increase the strength of athletes during the exercise process (Saremi, Gharakhanloo, Sharghi, Gharaati, Larijani & Omidfar, 2010). Creatine was also designed to increase the power of athletes during an intense exercise bout. Creatine is of nutritious content and is intended to work to its full effect for a duration that is less than 30 seconds (Hall & Trojian, 2013).
Several studies have been conducted to identify the effectiveness of creatine to improve the physical performance of athletes during exercise time. Studies have also been undertaken to determine the effectiveness of creatine in enhancing the active recovery of athletes after the exercise (Koch, Pereira & Machado, 2014). Several pieces of literature have discussed the effectiveness of creatine on improving the performance of athletes during training and recovery after the exercise. Still, there are no clear findings on how Cr can be made more effective. However, the extensive research area on the effectiveness of Cr, there is still a need to understand how to make Cr more effective.
This study aims at carrying out extensive research from different peer-reviewed journals to identify the effectiveness of creatine on athletes. Different ways that can be used to make Cr more productive and the role Cr plays in ensuring there is the functional recovery of muscle stretch after high extensive exercise (Williams, Abt, & Kilding, 2014). This study will analyze five peers reviewed articles that are based on the effectiveness of creatine in improving the performance of athletes during training and the recovery of athletes after exercise. While analyzing five articles, the study will focus on the purpose of each review, research methods used by each study, the results of the study, and the conclusion arrived at based on the outcome of each investigation.
The first study that the research will analyze is a study by Wang, Lin, Hsu, Yang, & Chan (2017). This study was conducted to identify the effects of creatine supplementation on muscle strength and optimal individual post-activation potentiation time of the upper body in canoeists. Developing upper body muscles is a common practice among athletes. According to the study by Wang, Lin, Hsu, Yang & Chan (2017), most research work done in the previous studies focused on the effect of creatine on developing lower body muscles while there are no sufficient studies on the effectiveness of creatine in developing the upper body parts of athletes during exercise.
The research has a clear understanding of the upper body parts of the athletes need the same training as their lower body parts. Studies show that when the exercise of 5 -7 days is combined with the use of creatine supplementation of about 20 grams each day can have a massive effect on increasing the lower body and upper body strength. Heavy Resistance Exercise and creatine also increase work performance and power when there are subsequent sets of maximal effort muscle contractions.
The study defines PAP as the enhanced neuromuscular state that is experienced after a heavy resistance exercise session (HRE) and found that muscle fatigue and PAP both take place after a heavy resistance exercise. The study also found that fatigue and PAP have an opposite effect on the production of force and output of power in skeletal muscles, and maximum performance can only be achieved when fatigue is subsided, but its full effect still exists. For this reason, decreasing fatigue during heavy resistance exercise and recovering quickly after the training is essential for effective PAP. The objective of the study by Wang, Lin, Hsu, Yang, & Chan (2017) was to identify the effect of short-term creatine supplementation can help increase the upper body strength since there were few studies on the effectiveness of the ergogenic on the high limb strength.
When collecting data on upper body results, the study by Wang, Lin, Hsu, and Yang & Chan (2017) used similar procedures used by other literature to ensure that the data obtained was accurate enough to conclude the study topic. There are different procedures that all athletes followed to ensure that they were familiar with the processes that were needed. All the study participants visited the laboratory to ensure that they were well conversant with different methods such as bench row and the overhead medicine ball throw (OMBT) technique. The entire participant was taught how to carry out the various procedures by the fitness experts whom they were assigned. After the session of getting familiar with different methods and processes, all the subjects were subjected to anthropometric indexes one day after the first session of familiarization, and measurement of one repetition bench row was taken. The participants were then put through two sets of complicated training bouts and the rest of after every 2 minutes. The study used a double-blind, randomized design to separate the 17 participants into two groups of creatine supplementation and placebo. After six days with a high dose of Cr and plc on the participants, the study carried out a similar test before letting them participate in supplementation to determine the effect of Cr supplementation. Low doses of Cr or placebo was maintained throughout the rest of the study period. The study was approved by the Institutional Review Board of the Fu Jen Catholic University, Taiwan, and all the sessions of familiarization were carried at a specific time of between 10 AM to 2OPM daily.
The study found that there was significant interaction between groups and time. The study also found that there was a considerable increase in 1-RM strength in the creatine group from 85.63 ± 8.63 kg to 88.12±8.36 kg (p < 0.05) (Claudino et al., 2014). The study did not find a significant difference between creatine and placebo groups since the p-value >0.05. The study also found that there were no changes in OMBT distance after all the groups went through complex PAP training bouts. From the finding of the study, it is evident that creatine supplementation increases maximal strength on bench row but also reduces the influence of fatigue on the individual PAP.
The second study that this research will analyze is by (Claudino et al., 2014) on the impact of creatine monohydrate on the lower limb muscle power. The study says that creatine is mainly used to enhance strength performance in individuals. The most common skeletal muscle where strength improvement is mostly reported is the lower limb, which is relevant in different sporting activities (Claudino et al., 2014).
A higher level of soccer performance requires the ability to speed up activities and strength to jump. The use of a creatine supplement is a better strategy to enhance the power of the muscles in athlete activities. The study was conducted to analyze the impact of using creatine supplements on the power of the lower limb among soccer players (Claudino et al., 2014). The study was conducted during the pre-season period of training since the period involved intensified training. It was expected that the creatine supplement would enhance the power performance of the lower limb. An experimental design technique was used in which randomization was considered. Participants were elite football players from the Brazilian group. Countermovement jumps (CMJ) were performed to assess the muscle power of the lower limbs. Creatine or placebo supplement was used before and after the participants underwent specific activities selected by the team leader, and the height and body mass were recorded (Claudino et al., 2014). Twenty-three participants were included in the study. Still, five individuals were discharged from the soccer team, three were injured, and one was unwilling to use the supplement, meaning that a total of 14 were used until the end of the study. No participant used a dietary supplement for a minimum of three months before the beginning of the experiment, and during the experiment, everyone took a similar diet and observed similar training procedures.
The result of the study involves comparing jumping performance between the two groups (placebo and creatine groups). It was observed that jumping performance was less in the placebo group compared to those in the creatine group, but the difference did not have a statistical significance (Claudino et al., 2014). The proportion of the participants who had reduced jumping power was significantly higher in placebo compared to the creatine group after training was intensified. The creatine group indicated a 96% likely minor outcome, while the placebo participants had a 50% possible adverse outcome in jumping performance (Claudino et al., 2014). It was concluded that creatine supplement prevented the decrease in the power of the lower limb muscles in football individuals during the pre-season continuous training.
The third study that the literature review will analyze is a study by Williams, Abt, & Kilding (2014) that was carried out with an objective to determine the effects of acute short term Cr supplementation on the physical performance of soccer players during the 90 minutes’ game time. The study aimed at finding out the effect of creatine on soccer-specific performance tests. The research by Williams, Abt, & Kilding (2014) stated that many athletes are creatine to improve both the quality and quantity of training.The study by Williams, Abt, & Kilding (2014) also says that most soccer players also use creatine supplementation to improve their performance during a competition. The study by Williams, Abt, & Kilding, (2014) was more concerned with determining the effects of creatine on improving the muscle strength and power over the long duration of 60 -90 since scientist were mainly in support of the use of Cr supplementation on a single bout event that requires high-intensity muscle strength.
The study by Williams, Abt, & Kilding, (2014) carried out a primary test on its participants to determine the effectiveness of Cr supplementation on improving performance of athletes, quality and quantity of training in a duration of 60 -90 minutes. The study adopted a double-blind experimental design on the participants. Placebo-controlled independent groups' experimental design was also adopted alongside double-blind experimental design to ensure there was a better quality result. The study participants were grouped into experimental ether groups (Cr) and placebo groups. Al the participants were required different sessions for test and familiarization that involved two trails of Ball Sport Endurance and Sprint Test (BEAST) before and after the supplementation. The participants of the study included 16 volunteer participants from the amateur league who were recruited with the approval of institutional ethics. All the tests were conducted indoors sports facilities with a controlled temperature of 19oC, 50-60%, or H. The study also conducted a Yo-Yo intermittent recovery test on the participants. The study by Williams, Abt, & Kilding, (2014) used statistical package for social science to carry out data analysis on data collected from participants.
From the result obtained, there was no significant difference between the groups before (Cr) supplementation. The study found out that acute Creatine use did not improve explosive leg power. For a complete 90 minutes assessment using BEAST protocol, the use of creatine had a negative effect on muscle strength, and there were high chances of the effects being detrimental. The BEAST protocol also revealed that there was no performance-enhancing effect of creation over the 90 minutes. The study did not find any significant difference, an indication that Cr had no enhancing effect on offsetting fatigue.
The fourth study by (Wang, Fang, Lee, Yang, & Chan, 2018) explains that creatine plays an essential role in the maintenance of body conditioning. Due to the concern of efficacy of the creatine, several studies have been conducted to help reinforce the importance of training among the athletes. Creatine use is shared among the athletes, and its prolonged supplementation together with resistance training is effective in increasing strength of the muscles and maintaining a lean body mass. Complex training is a useful technique of enhancing strength and developing power in an individual (Wang, Fang, Lee, Yang & Chan, 2018). This study was aimed at investigating the impact of creatine supplementations used for an extended period on the strength of the muscle and performance in sporting activities. The study was based on complex training for four weeks. It made a hypothesis that the use of creatine supplements for an extended period tends to raise performance in sports as it lowers damage of muscles, and a positive impact will be observed in the body composition after complex training for four weeks.
Wang, Fang, Lee, Yang, & Chan (2018) used a randomized study design that involves double-blinding and a matched-pair technique. The research design was used to allocate 30 individuals from three different sporting activities that use an explosive type training technique into placebo or creatine group as per the description in the previous study. For the first six days, ' participants consumed 20g of creatine or carboxymethyl cellulose followed by 2g of the supplement daily in the respectively Wang, Fang, Lee, Yang, & Chan (2018). After the completion of the six days loading period, the participants began a pre-test, after which they started complex training three times a week for four weeks. Blood composition was tested, and the body composition was determined. 30 volunteer male participants were used, ten members from baseball, basketball, or tchoukball university teams.
The study results show that after training, there was a significant increase in strength in both the creatine and the placebo group (Wang, Fang, Lee, Yang & Chan, 2018). Compared with the pre-training sprint performance after the complex training showed a significant increase. The creatine group had a more considerable increase in strength compared to the placebo group, i.e., "178.33±16.86 kg vs. 165.66±14.62 kg," respectively. There was a significant reduction of the creatine kinase activities at the beginning and ending of the training sessions in the creatine group compared with the placebo (Wang, Fang, Lee, Yang & Chan, 2018). The study concluded that engaging in complex training for four weeks three times per week when individuals are offseason can enhance muscular strength, and there will reduce muscle damage.
The fifth study that the literature review will analyze is the study by Amirsasan, Nabilpour, Pourraze, & Curby (2018). The main object of this study was to determine the effects of eight-week resistance training when the creatine is added to body composition. The review was also to determine the physical fitness indexes in male futsal players whose body composition contained creatine and had undergone an eight-week resistance training. The study Amirsasan, Nabilpour, Pourraze, & Curby (2018) selected 20 trained futsal players and grouped them into two categories for the experiment purpose. Participants were obtained through convenience sampling, and they were randomly assigned to the groups consisting of ten participants. The first group consisted of participants who underwent exercise plus creatine, while the second group consisted of participants who underwent exercise plus placebo. All the participants went through an eight-week resistance training.The exercise plus creatine group ingested 0.3g/kg during the loading process and 0.1g/kg for the maintenance purpose. Measurement for body weight, muscular strength, fat percent, fat-free mass, speed, and anaerobic power were all taken before and after the process.
The research by Amirsasan, Nabilpour, Pourraze, & Curby (2018) found that there was a significant increase in muscular strength of the group that carried out exercise plus creatine as compared to the group that carried out exercise plus placebo. Both groups did not show a significant difference in speed, anaerobic power, and flexibility. The study by
Amirsasan, Nabilpour, Pourraze, & Curby (2018) conclude that resistance training with Cr leads to a more significant increase in body weight, fat mass, and muscular content, and a more substantial decrease in fat percent compared to resistance training without creatine.
Discussion and Conclusion
Creatine plays a vital role in the enhancement of strength among the athletes by increasing the skeleton energy of the skeleton muscles. Athletes tend to require a lot of power since they engage in different strenuous activities. The use of Creative is essential when used with the right quantity, but failure might not lead to the desired outcome. The articles provide relevant information that creates a better understanding of the impact of creatine in athletes. It shows that it has a positive outcome when used, and it improves performance by increasing skeletal muscle strength. The results make sense because they are well explained, and clear testing procedures were applied. From the research findings of the studies that were viewed by this literature review, almost all the study findings indicate that creatine use to a certain level has significant increase1-RM strength, intramuscular strength, and increased body weight. Creatine is used in other sections apart from the athletic section; hence, further research should be done to determine the effect of creatine in other parts. Most studies that provided a significant increase in muscular strength carried out a laboratory-controlled experiment where the participant was grouped into two categories with one group consisting of creatin plus heavy resistance exercise while the other groups consisted of heavy resistance training alone. Most studies preferred 0.3g/kg/day of Cr being ingested into the body composition during the loading process and subsequent 0.1gkg/day for the following seven days of the stud period for maintenance purposes.
A combination of Cr supplementation with heavy resistance training was found to increase muscle insulin growth factor (IGF-1) based on the research findings of the studies viewed by the literature. The studies that were used to write the literature did not find a significant effect of Cr on offsetting the fatigue after athletes were tired at the end of 90 minutes heavy resistance exercise Williams, Abt, & Kilding, (2014). The study by Williams, Abt, & Kilding, (2014) also found the effect of creatin on muscles for a heavy resistance training that lasted 90 minutes to be detrimental to the muscle strength.
Amirsasan, R., Nabilpour, M., Pourraze, H., & Curby, D. (2018). Effect of 8-week resistance training with creatine supplementation on body composition and physical fitness indexes in male futsal players. International Journal of Sport Studies for Health, 1(3).
Claudino, J. G., Mezêncio, B., Amaral, S., Zanetti, V., Benatti, F., Roschel, H., ... & Serrão, J. C. (2014). Creatine monohydrate supplementation on lower-limb muscle power in Brazilian elite soccer players. Journal of the international society of sports nutrition, 11(1), 32.
Hall, M., & Trojian, T. H. (2013). Creatine supplementation. Current sports medicine reports, 12(4), 240-244.
Wang, C. C., Fang, C. C., Lee, Y. H., Yang, M. T., & Chan, K. H. (2018). Effects of 4-week creatine supplementation combined with complex training on muscle damage and sports performance. Nutrients, 10(11), 1640.
Wang, C. C., Lin, S. C., Hsu, S. C., Yang, M. T., & Chan, K. H. (2017). Effects of creatine supplementation on muscle strength and optimal individual post-activation potentiation time of the upper body in canoeists. Nutrients, 9(11), 1169.
Williams, J., Abt, G., & Kilding, A. E. (2014). Effects of creatine monohydrate supplementation on simulated soccer performance. International journal of sports physiology and performance, 9(3), 503-510.
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