• Coming Back From Injury
  • Get Trip-Fit Fast
  • Systems Wall and Symmetrical Training
  • Coaching Climbing - How To Train Juniors with Care and Caution
  • Grip Trainers - Gimmicks, or Worth the Money?
  • Hangboarding for Endurance: Not Just for Power
  • Simulation Training: How to Do a Move You Can't Do
  • Planning a Year's Climbing
  • Portable Training Rigs - How to Stay Fit on the Go
  • How to Keep Your Job and Family and Still Climb at Your Limit
  • Suspension Training for Rock Climbing
  • Eat Fat, Climb Harder - The Ketogenic Diet
  • Witness the Mental Fitness: Set Thought Aside to Improve Performance
  • Mental Training Made Simple
  • Counterintuitive Climbing Tips to Change Your Game - Part 2
  • Endurance Training Tips for Winter
  • Five Counterintuitive Climbing Tips to Change Your Game - Part 1
  • Staying Power - How to Last All Day at the Crag
  • Attack and Defend - Tips for Effective Resting
  • Change Up - Plug the Gaps In Your Strength Training This Winter
  • Training While Injured
  • The Hard Way, Easier: How to Cope with Redpoint Nerves
  • Climbing Literacy - Get Better Instantly by Reading Routes
  • The Numbers Game - How to Use Your Age to Your Advantage
  • Injury-Free Bouldering: 15 Tips to Keep You Healthy and Strong
  • Injury-Free Boarding: 14 Training Tips to Save Your Fingers
  • The Truth About Caffeine and Climbing
  • Pushing Past Your Training Plateau
  • Five Strategies to Sharpen Concentration and Climb Better
  • Five Ways to Get Better Without Training
  • Beat the Burnout: Only Ondra Should Train Like Ondra
  • Effective Gym Training Strategies (for Route Climbing)
  • Should You Add Weight or Use Smaller Holds on a Hangboard?
  • Map Out a Plan with the Radar System
  • Managing the Fear of Falling
  • Projecting 101 – 6 Tips For Sending
  • Slowing the Pump Clock - Three Strategies to Prevent the Pump
  • Training on the Go
  • How to Train for Compression
  • Nutrition: Eating Your Way to Better Climbing
  • How to Dyno
  • General Conditioning for Climbers
  • Transitioning from Gym to Crag
  • Staying Strong to Perform Your Best All Season
  • How to Lose Weight for Climbing
  • Building a Better Climber: Final Phase - Peaking
  • Building a Better Climber: Phase 7 - Power Endurance Training
  • Building a Better Climber: Phase 6 - Endurance II
  • Building a Better Climber: Phase 5 - Strength and Power II
  • The Training Effect - Steve House and Scott Johnston
  • Training for Climbing: Injured? Train Your Core!
  • Building a Better Climber: Phase 4 - Power Endurance
  • Building a Better Climber: Phase 3 - Strength Training
  • Building a Better Climber: Phase 2 - Low-Intensity Endurance
  • Building a Better Climber: Phase 1 - Conditioning Phase
  • Gain Confidence by Learning Not to Fear Falling
  • Get Better When You Are Scared and Pumped
  • Never Get Pumped Again
  • Gutbusters - Core Exercises for Rock Climbing
  • Rest ... or Else
  • The Intuitive Approach to Training
  • Free Climbing Tips: Why Get Stronger When You Can Get Better?
  • Crank Like a Russian - How to Power Train for Climbing
  • How to Mentally Train
  • Boost Power With Eccentric Training
  • Tips for Better Onsighting
  • Should You Lose Weight or Get Stronger?
  • Is Protein Important?
  • Getting Strong After a Layoff
  • Does Running or Biking Improve Your Climbing?
  • Training While Hungry
  • How To Use Microcycles
  • How to Improve Slab Technique
  • How to Unlock a Crux
  • How to Use a Hangboard
  • Using a Weight Belt For Training
  • Training During Pregnancy
  • Maximizing a Small Home Wall
  • How to Stay Psyched
  • How to Prevent Bonking
  • Best Ratio of Resting to Bouldering
  • The Importance of Finger Strength
  • Regaining Confidence After a Fall
  • Overcome Anxiety and Send!
  • Maximum Training in Minimum Time
  • Dynamic vs. Static Stretching
  • Do Forearm Trainers Work?
  • Ultimate Strength
  • The Secrets of Warming Up
  • Periodized Training For the Year-round Approach
  • Resting the Perfect Amount
  • How To Recover On Route
  • Does Creatine Work?
  • Recovery Supplement Truths
  • Euro Training Secrets
  • Can Old Guys Get Stronger?
  • Training With an Injury
  • How to Beat Fear
  • How Often Should You Rest?
  • Warming Up Without Warm-Ups
  • How to Develop Sloper Strength
  • Beating the Lactic Acid Pump
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    Does Creatine Work?


    Everyone is talking about creatine, but I've heard it causes major water retention, which cancels out any strength gains. Is this yet another case of climbers experimenting with supplements that only work for weight-lifting or bodybuilding? Are there any benefits for endurance athletes or for those doing strength-to-weight sports?

    —Sam Meyers | Chattanooga, TN

    There is buzz about creatine, and my first reaction is skepticism when it comes to the latest miracle supplement for climbing. However, if you look at the research, much of the hype around creatine seems justified. I don't pay much attention to the manufacturers' surveys, but independent studies point toward creatine having serious benefits, not just for power athletes, but for those whose sports require speed and endurance.

    Creatine is manufactured naturally by the liver and kidneys and is available in muscle and nerve cells, where it plays a crucial role in the production of ATP, the essential muscle fuel. ATP is only available in limited supply, enough to last us for a few hard boulder moves. Once it is depleted, a secondary process kicks in to produce more ATP to sustain activity. Here, creatine phosphate combines with the by-product ADP to produce further supplies of ATP. Research proves that creatine supplementation helps ATP to be stockpiled within the muscles in a way that will greatly assist performance in sports requiring both endurance and power. Increased creatine supply will raise the lactate threshold (a good crude measure of endurance levels) by up to 14 percent according to some studies, and performance in interval training will improve correspondingly.

    Clearly there is much relevance to climbing, but the big question is not whether to take creatine, but how? You are right to point out that creatine is notorious for causing water retention and increasing body weight. A few climbers who have experimented with creatine, myself included, have deduced that the answer is to train on creatine to get stronger and fitter, and then to come off it just before an important climb or competition in order to lose the excess water. This is also what the manufacturers prescribed, but new studies have found that the problem of water retention lies in the excessive dosages that were formerly recommended. It used to be advised that you should crash load with up to six scoops (12 tablespoons) a day during the first four or five days before reducing your intake to one or two scoops a day. It is now understood that less is more and that two or three scoops (four to six tablespoons) to load up are more than sufficient to produce all the performance gains without causing excessive water retention. It is also recommended that creatine is consumed with a meal (in particular with high-protein foods) in order to maximize absorption. Remember also that creatine works best when taken for limited periods of intense training (typically four to eight weeks), so don't take it all year. If you do experiment with creatine, always read the instructions and consult your doctor first if you have a medical condition or an allergy. Note that for most people, all that is likely to happen if you over-do it with creatine is that you will bloat out with water and drain your bank balance!

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