Build Muscle

A Complete Guide to the New Creatine

New twists on an old favorite make the already-effective creatine even better.

What can we tell you about creatine that you don't already know? Hell, you're probably so sick of hearing us talk about it that you can barely stomach another word on the subject. We don't blame you. Most of the supplement stacks we recommend for gaining size and strength are built around creatine. You might even assume we got so lazy in our supplement recommendations that we just started throwing it into every stack we mention. We admit it -- we're guilty of frequently recommending creatine. But we can live with that.

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After all, creatine is one of the best supplements available, hands down. Few products give you the same mass and strength gains. And we're not just quoting anecdotal reports from the guys at the gym; hundreds of studies support creatine's effectiveness in everyone from teenagers to the elderly, both male and female. It has been shown to increase lean muscle mass and strength, boost brain function, reduce the risk of several diseases, work as an antioxidant and even help prevent sun damage to skin. As far as safety goes, numerous studies show that short- and long-term use of creatine in prescribed doses is safe and doesn't damage the kidneys or cause muscle cramps or strains. Not surprisingly, weightlifting's wonder supp has taken on a few upgrades over the years. Now, you have more options to choose from, all of which are solid choices.

Simple Works

Most of the research on creatine has been done with the simplest and cheapest kind you can buy -- creatine monohydrate. But simple and cheap aren't negative terms. They just mean this form doesn't have any bells or whistles, and it's very inexpensive. Better yet, it actually works.

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For those who want to start out with the basics and stick with what they know works, creatine monohydrate is the answer. Just make sure you get micronized creatine monohydrate. (That means the crystals are ground down to the finest powder possible.) Take 3-–5 grams with food before and after working out. On rest days, take just one dose with food.