Creatine is one of the top selling workout supplements on the market today and it’s one that I’ve only personally discovered in recent times. I find it to be a highly efficient addition to my training regime, in particular my paddle fitness, strength and endurance in other workout activities. There does however seem to be many heated debates about whether creatine should be used by women as it has been known to increase bloating and water retention.
Creatine for women
As with most things I do believe it needs to be trialed personally before you make a decision about whether creatine is right for your workout regime or not. I did find mild bloating but compared to the other positive effects and what I’m getting out of creatine, it’s really not a big issue for me.
One thing I do believe needs to be monitored in particular with women, is that we generally need to be gentler with our bodies when it comes to recovery.
Creatine really makes you push harder with your workouts, therefore you need to ensure you’re getting more rest time, than you would otherwise without it. Stretching is also very important, due to how much harder you are pushing your muscles.
How it actually works
Within your body there is a very important molecule called Adenosine Tri Phosphate (ATP) which is the source of energy for every muscle and cell in your body. ATP is stored within your cells and is used for almost every move you make.
However the levels that can be used straight away for high intensity activity is quite low and only lasts a very short time-a few seconds. Creatine helps to increase the time in which your body can perform at that optimal level and therefore allows you to push harder in your workouts.
What I found quite unique about creatine is that I actually feel a physical change in whichever muscle I am working out at the time, almost like a light burn or fuzzy effect! I guess this is the same as when you take a pain killer, science has made it so that it targets the key points of pain.
How much and when to take
The trick to creatine is that it requires loading and maintenance. Unfortunately it’s not something you can just take sporadically before any given surf while skipping days at a time. Take the dosage (1tsp) per day at the same time if you can, for five to six weeks, along with generous servings of carbs and protein to enable your body to store more creatine in your muscles. Any longer than a five to six week period, you might notice that you’re more lethargic than usual. This is when you know your body’s having trouble absorbing it.
Give yourself a rest for 4 weeks and repeat. It’s interesting to note that vegetarians naturally have much lower levels of creatine in their bodies than meat eaters.
Why it’s perfect for surfers
When you’ve been out in the surf for a couple of hours you usually get to the point where you feel fatigue in your muscles and thus you need to replenish by food (high carb) and thoroughly re-hydrate before you can get out for another session. Creatine works to increase your body’s capacity to perform at an optimal level and therefore assists in the building of greater muscle and increases your performance.
This is ideal for the days when it’s pumping and you want to stay out for as long as you can push your body. I wouldn’t be surprised if many of the WQS competitors have cottoned onto creatine! I certainly notice a positive change in my paddling strength and feel a little like superwoman when I can rapidly paddle and duck dive back into the lineup with much less fatigue.
Aside from the above effects there are also many scientific studies carried out that prove creatine can enhance brain function, improve recovery time and even healing of bones. There is a great write up about these particular effects here > www.bodybuilding.com/fun/drobson181.htm
If you’re looking to increase strength and cardio fitness, lose weight or tone down then it’s certainly worth adding creatine to your supplement list. I find in other activities such as running, that I’m able to push myself much harder than I otherwise would. I think it’s a fantastic supplement for surfers as we engage in a very high cardiovascular sport where we continually need short bursts of energy and is great for increasing performance out in the water.
Graph courtesy of www.muscleandfitness.com