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The Right Way to Use Creatine

The Right Way to Use Creatine

Creatine is one of the most popular body building supplements out there, and so naturally there are a lot of questions about what are the proper ways to use it. The other problem is that you’ll get different answers from different sources! Let’s go over a few of the different theories that are out there about how to use creatine.

Creatine Loading

If you’ve ever used creatine before then you’ve probably gone through a loading phase. The standard loading phase would usually be to take up to 20g of creatine a day for 5 days, then back off to a maintenance dose of 5g a day. The idea here was to saturate your muscles with a bunch of extra creatine and then try to maintain that saturation with the rest of the cycle.

Supplement companies love this idea I’m sure, because by the time you’re done with your loading phase you’ve pretty much gone through your first bottle of creatine! But is it really necessary?

A lot of people will tell you that it really isn’t necessary. I’ve read articles before (I’d source them here, but I can’t remember where I read them!) that suggest that if you use creatine long term you will get the same benefit as loading. A lot of users have also found that it probably isn’t necessary either.

I found another interesting twist on the creatine loading cycle idea from MuscleHack.com. He suggests loading for 3 days, abstaining for 3 days, and repeating that cycle over and over again. The idea being that if you cycle in this way you will maintain a higher level of creatine concentration in the muscles over time.

In the end, I don’t really know which way is best. This is one area where you should experiment and see which method reacts the best with your body.

When to Take It

Another area of concern is when creatine should be taken. This was a big question that I had when I very first started taking creatine. The standard suggestion has often been to take creatine soon after your workout (unless you are doing a standard loading phase, then you would take it throughout the day). Here is an article by Shannon Clark that suggests the same thing: Getting the Facts Straight on Creatine.

But there are variations to this standard approach as well. For example, if you’re going with the 3 days on 3 days off approach suggested by MuscleHack Mark McManus, you would take creatine before your workout, after your workout, and then at least 2 other times throughout the day.

Once again, it would seem that you will need to experiment and see what works best for you and your body.


My intent in writing this article was not to come out with some kind of decisive solution as to what is the best way to get all the benefits out of using creatine. As you can see, there are several different approaches that different people have found to work. In the end you really do have to test and see how your body reacts to the different approaches.