Creatine – What’s the hype ?

06 Apr

What is creatine and how does it work ?

Creatine is an organic compound which is predominantly obtained in the diet from meat and fish but it is also synthesised in the body. We store between 120 and 140 grams of creatine and approximately 95% of the body’s total creatine is deposited in the skeletal muscles as phosphocreatine and free creatine. Phosphocreatine breakdown provides the primary source of energy during high-intensity exercise such as weight training or tabata circuits. An increased level of phosphocreatine enables performers to tolerate more muscular work because resulting in greater training effects including augmented muscle protein synthesis, improved tolerance to lactic acid and a reduction in muscle protein breakdown. Research has shown that creatine supplementation concurrent with well planned training can augment strength and power by up to 40%.

How much should I take ?

A number of creatine loading protocols have been recommended but usually people pursue what has been termed a 5 day loading phase followed by an 8 to 12 week maintenance phase. During the loading phase one ingests 4, 5 gram servings per day for 5 consecutive days before the dosage is reduced to a 2 gram maintenance dose for the remainder of the cycle. During creatine supplementation the body’s endogenous creatine synthesis is supressed and one should discontinue supplementation for 4-6 weeks between every cycle.

Numerous forms of creatine are available, which one is best ?

There are numerous forms of creatine and it can be bought as powders, capsules, tablets and stabilised liquids but the cheapest and also the most extensively researched form is creatine monohydrate powder. A single serving can be dissolved in water and is virtually tasteless. It is however noteworthy that using a sugar-containing drink (such as Powerade or Lucozade) augments intramuscular creatine accumulation due to the upregulation of creatine transport via insulin. During creatine supplementation it is important to drink enough because creatine ingestion may cause fluid shifts from the blood in to the muscle cells.

Sounds great but are there any side effects ?

Supplementing with creatine in accordance with the guidelines outlined above is not associated with any health risks although stomach distress and muscle cramping may occur in rare cases. The main side effect of creatine supplementation appears to be body weight gain through both increases in muscle mass. Whilst many users pursue increases in muscle mass, the typical 3 kilogram increases in body mass could be considered a disadvantage in some sports.

So… ?

In sum, creatine is one of the most extensively researched food supplements. It increases performance in activities such as weight lifting which leads to greater gains in muscular strength and size. Creatine is best taken with sports drinks in cycles of 2-5 months and users should increase fluid intake during creatine loading. There are no adverse health effects associated with creatine supplementation and it is not banned by any sports governing bodies.

MYPROTEIN Creatine Monohydrate
3g Creatine Powder
Body Attack Creatine Capsules
Creatine Capsules
Liquid Creatine Serum
Now Sports Creatine Monohaydrate

Olympic Weightlifting

06 Apr

Olympic Weightlifting: A form of Functional Resistance Training


Resistance training refers to exercise training modalities that involve exercising a muscle or a muscle group with some form of external resistance. Regular resistance training can increase muscularity and help combat the loss of muscle mass associated with the aging process. These adaptions to the musculoskeletal system increase both strength and mobility which improve movement quality in both sport and everyday life. Resistance training has also shown to lower the risk of heart disease and osteoporosis by eliciting reductions in blood pressure and cholesterol production and augmenting bone mineral density.

Resistance training exercises can be categorised into isolation and compound movements. Whilst there is a place for isolation exercises, these movements activate only one muscle group crossing a single joint at a time. Compound exercises on the other hand are multi-joint movements that require the recruitment of several muscle groups at once. As the movement strategies used to perform compound exercises are similar as those accessed in sport and everyday life, compound exercises elicit more functional fitness gains.

One form of resistance training that involves various compound exercises is based on the sport of Olympic weightlifting. In Olympic weightlifting competitions athletes hoist a barbell from the floor to an arms’ length overhead in two lifts known as the snatch and the clean & jerk. Athletic success in Olympic weightlifting is therefore dependent on high levels of strength and power. Due to the nature of the sport, Olympic weightlifting exercises are dynamic, whole body movements that activate all major muscle groups in a highly synchronised manner.

Whilst it takes a great deal of practice to master the full snatch and clean & jerk, athletes and exercisers can attain countless performance and health benefits by using a number of component lifts. Exercises such as the various pulling motions, overhead squats and power cleans are just some of the truly numerous weightlifting exercises that engage the entire body. By activating the entire leg, trunk and arm musculature through large ranges of joint motions, Olympic weightlifting exercises challenge both mobility and balance whilst eliciting extraordinary strength gains. The dynamic recruitment of the bodies largest muscle groups has the added benefit of maximising calorie expenditure and fat loss.

Plyometric Training

06 Apr

Ring movement and agility can be improved with plyometric training. Plyometric exercises develop your ability to resist the ground reaction forces that you generate when you step and push-off the floor. Every time the foot is lifted and placed back on the floor the muscles and tendons crossing the ankle and the knee joints stretch before they shorten as you push off the floor to move. The faster you are able to transition from muscle lengthening to muscle shortening the faster you will be able to move in the direction you intend. This muscle-tendon lengthening and shortening mechanism is termed the stretch shortening cycle (SSC). Plyometric exercises such as jumping and bounding drills will improve your ability to resist high ground reaction forces and to use the energy generated to move effectively.


5 major factors that affect punching force and why

  1. Power of leg drive – ground reaction forces are transmitted through the body by pushing against the ground
  2. Stiffness quality of the trunk musculature – A fast rotation of the torso during striking enables the storage and release of strain energy
  3. Dynamic stability and leg rigidity – the transmission of ground reaction forces to the striking limb is dependent a solid well balanced stance
  4. Velocity of limb movement – striking power is equal to force times velocity of the limb
  5. Limb rigidity upon impact – the striking limb must resist the impact force

Power cleans for explosiveness

06 Apr

The principal of specificity states that if training activities are to provide a transfer of training effects to a given sports skill, training activities should mirror the demands of that sport. During the hang power clean an explosive extension of the ankles, knees and hips is performed to pull the bar from the knees to the rack position on the front of the shoulders. As the ankle, knee and hip extensor musculature is also involved during the leg drive in countless fighting skills and because the rate of force development during this exercise is immense, a transfer of training effects will increase explosives.

Altitude Masks or Oxygen Restriction Masks

06 Apr

A few people have asked me about my opinion on altitude masks. Unfortunately all these devices are designed to do is restrict the amount of air that you breathe in with each breath. The physiological adaptions that can be achieved from spending time at altitude (usually 1200-1500m above sea level) are not achieved because of a reduction in the inspired air but because the percentage of oxygen in the inspired air decreases.

Altitude masks do not alter the percentage of O2 you inspire, only the total volume of air. So whilst training with altitude masks may benefit you in terms of your mental toughness because training feels harder, you should not expect much more. In fact, you may wish to consider that altitude masks will actually prevent you from training as hard as you could without them and may therefore be limiting your potential for adaption.

On the other hand there is a device available known as powerbreathe which has been shown to improve the conditioning of the respiratory muscles and endurance performance. As it is used independently of training you can use it without limiting your working capacity in the gym.