EndurElite Chief Endurance Officer Matt Mosman discusses if creatine monohydrate supplementation can improve obstacle course racing performance.
Can Creatine Improve Obstacle Course Racing Time?
Leonidas: "Spartans! What is your profession?"
Spartans: "Ah-hooh! Ah-hooh!"
Matt: Man, that effect would have been so much cooler with a full helmet, a spear, a fully draped cape, and a big muscular bare chest, which, alas, I don't have any of those things.
Good morning, family of fast, and welcome to OCR week at EndurElite. Every day we're gonna be dropping a new video or article that has to do with obstacle course racing. Now during this week, we're gonna cover things from supplements, nutrition, and training. So let's just jump to the topic of today's video and this is, "If Creatine monohydrate supplementations can improve obstacle course racing performance."
How Does Creatine Work?
Now for previous videos, we know creatine is one of the most well-studied and effective supplements when it comes to improving speed, stamina, and strength. It does this by basically contributing in a high energy phosphate group to rephosphorylate ADP to reform ATP or our cellular energy currency. Everything that we do from breathing to jumping to lifting weights to everything else in between requires ATP. And with creatine supplementation, it works by basically rapidly replenishing ATP compared to when you don't take creatine. So it's especially effective for high-intensity intermittent efforts like obstacle course racing.
Have Any Studies Been Done On Creatine In Obstacle Course Racers?
Now you may be saying now, "Are there really any studies done in obstacle course racers that shows creatine monohydrate supplementation can improve performance?" And my answer is kinda. I was digging through the research the other day and I came across a study done in 2002 that involved military personnel and obstacle course racing performance on more of a traditional military obstacle course. So their course included things like climbing a wall, monkey bars, climbing a cargo net, going underneath barbed wire, climbing a rope, a fireman carry, and then running in between all those certain events. So, very similar to today's obstacle course racing obstacles.
What Happened In This Creatine Study?
So, here's what happened in the study. The researchers took a total of 30 elite military personnel and they divided them into two groups. Fifteen people were included in the creatine supplementation group and then 15 were included in the placebo group. So this study was legitimate. They did a double-blind placebo and all the right things you wanna do with a study to make it valid. So they did a few different things in the study, and hang with me, this gets a little bit complicated.
What Was Tested In The Study?
They really wanted to test four things. They wanted to see if obstacle course time was improved with creatine supplementation, they wanted to see if bench press strength was improved with creatine supplementation, and then also to see if mood and marksmanship was improved with creatine supplementation. Now for the purpose of this video, so we don't make this 20 minutes, we'll just look at obstacle course racing time trial performance.
So, to kind of create a really good testing environment, here's what the researchers did. They have both the creatine group and the placebo group do three-time trials each separated by five days. So before the first time trial, they didn't give anything to the groups just so they could establish baseline measurements on these people as far as how long it took them to complete the obstacles. Between time trial one and time trial two, they gave both groups a placebo. And the placebo, in this case, was a sports bar that had a combination of carbohydrates, fat, and protein. So they both got the same thing between time trial one and time trial two.
What Happened When The Obstacle Course Racers Received Creatine?
Now here's where the magic happens. Between time trial two and time trial three which was separated by five days, the creatine group actually got creatine in the form of that sports bar. So what they did is they were required to eat four of these sports bar a day for five days leading up to the third time trial performance. And each of these bars contained about 6 grams of creatine monohydrate. Now this follows a typical loading period for creatine monohydrate. Five grams, about 5 grams a day for five days straight will saturate muscle creatine stores. So that is the creatine group.
Now the placebo group also got the same sports bar but it did not include the creatine in it at all. It was just a regular sports bar with fats, carbohydrate, and protein. So for the first time trial, there was no significant differences notices in time to completion. And that was kinda the case between time trial one and time trial two because both were receiving the placebo again or the sports bar without creatine. Now between time trial two and time trial three, this is really where the magic happens. So, on the third time trial what happened is again both groups, and I believe this is the correct order of the obstacles they did, they climbed a wall, they ran, they did the monkey bars, they ran, they climbed up a cargo net, they ran, they went underneath the barbed wire fence, they ran, they climbed up a rope, they ran, and then they ended with a fireman carry.
Now the course was about a little bit short of a quarter mile but not too long. So they had both groups do this. And when they completed the test and crunched the numbers, they actually found something out very interesting. And this is, creatine monohydrate supplementation had no difference on time trial performance, or I should say more specifically, no significant effect on time trial performance. So this is where it gets a little confusing actually. Even though there wasn't significant differences found, the creatine group actually performed about 4% faster than the placebo group. Now, 4% may not seem like a lot, but it is. Especially when you're on that top tier level of obstacle course racing, you know. Four percent difference can mean the difference between falling in the mud, you know, face first and getting left behind to a podium performance.
So the study is just a little bit deceiving. Even though there were no significant differences found, the creatine group still performed better. So, here's the take-home point of the video. Even though again there was no significant differences found, I still would be taking creatine on a daily basis if I was an obstacle course racer in order to improve that speed, strength, and stamina. I also think if the obstacle course race was a little bit longer than what was conducted in the study, you might see bigger differences. So like, once you start going up to like a mile and beyond, I really do believe that creatine supplementation would make a bigger difference.
Should You Take Creatine As An Obstacle Course Racer?
Now, what about the amount of creatine you should be taking as an obstacle course race? Traditionally you're told to take about 5 grams of creatine, 5 times a day for 5 straight days in order to saturate muscle creatine stores. Now you could also just take 5 grams of creatine daily to saturate muscle creatine stores but it'll take a little bit longer approximately about a month. But one of the problems with creatine monohydrate supplementation, and maybe it's not a problem for some, is you might gain some weight, which as an obstacle course racer you probably want a pretty good strength-to-weight ratio. So if you want most of the benefits of creatine without the weight gain, I would be looking at taking 2 to 3 grams of creatine daily mixed in a carbohydrate drink like a juice or something like SustainElite. And then you can take it at any time during the day. It doesn't really matter if you take it pre or post because creatine requires a loading period.
So, highly recommend creatine supplementation for obstacle course racers. In fact, it's probably one of my top five supplements I would recommend. So, if you aren't already, maybe, consider it.
That is about all I have for today, my obstacle course racing team friends. If you like this video please share it with all your OCR buddies. If you want other videos like this, subscribe to our YouTube channel or head on over to the EndurElite blog at www.endurelite.com. Get social with us on Facebook and Instagram. And until next time, stay fueled, stay focused, stay fast, and stay informed.