Creatine For Calisthenics: What You Need To know!

Creatine is a naturally occurring compound that is stored in the muscles in the form of phosphocreatine and is involved in the regeneration of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the primary energy currency of cells. Creatine is found in small amounts in foods such as red meat, fish, and poultry. However, it can also be obtained through dietary supplements. It plays a crucial role in the production of energy, particularly during short bursts of high-intensity activities.

Benefits Of Creatine For Calisthenics

Creatine is one of the most researched and well-tolerated supplements. When taken within recommended doses, it is generally considered safe for healthy individuals.

Creatine supplementation has been shown to be effective at increasing muscle mass. In a comprehensive analysis (1), creatine was identified as the most potent and effective dietary supplement for increasing muscle mass (not including roids of course 😉).

Studies (2) have also demonstrated that creatine supplementation enhances performance in high-intensity, short-duration activities, such as sprinting, and weightlifting (or calisthenics). Creatine supplementation enhances the availability of phosphocreatine, allowing for more rapid regeneration of ATP (the cell’s energy molecule) during short bursts of intense activity.

Creatine may also help recovery (3), through a reduction in indicators of muscle damage and enhanced muscle function, particularly in mitigating the loss of muscle power following exercise.

Will Creatine Make Calisthenics Exercises Harder?

One of the effects associated with creatine supplementation is an increase in water weight. This is due to creatine’s ability to draw water into muscle cells, leading to a state of increased cell hydration. The increase in water weight can lead to an increase in overall body weight. The temporary increase in water weight will contribute to an increase in overall body weight.
For calisthenics practitioners who want to learn advanced bodyweight skills, this additional weight might affect the perceived difficulty.

Many calisthenics practitioners experience enhanced performance from taking creatine, but some may respond negatively, where the extra water weight outweighs the performance benefits you gain from creatine. The way to find out which camp you belong in is to try creatine out for yourself and see how it affects you.
Taking creatine HCL instead of monohydrate might reduce water retention (4). However, more research is needed to confirm this.

If your main goal with calisthenics is hypertrophy aka muscle growth creatine will be beneficial for you in most cases.

Final thoughts

Creatine is generally safe and well-tolerated, with potential side effects being mild and infrequent. It is effective for building muscle slightly faster and may boost calisthenics performance. Therefore using creatine might help speed up your progress a little. Even so, it is no magic pill and comes nowhere near the importance of proper training, recovery, and nutrition.

What is your take on creatine, have you tried it? please share your thoughts in the comments!

  1. Wu SH, Chen KL, Hsu C, Chen HC, Chen JY, Yu SY, Shiu YJ. Creatine Supplementation for Muscle Growth: A Scoping Review of Randomized Clinical Trials from 2012 to 2021. Nutrients. 2022 Mar 16;14(6):1255. doi: 10.3390/nu14061255. PMID: 35334912; PMCID: PMC8949037.
  2. Wax B, Kerksick CM, Jagim AR, Mayo JJ, Lyons BC, Kreider RB. Creatine for Exercise and Sports Performance, with Recovery Considerations for Healthy Populations. Nutrients. 2021 Jun 2;13(6):1915. doi: 10.3390/nu13061915. PMID: 34199588; PMCID: PMC8228369.
  3. Jiaming Y, Rahimi MH. Creatine supplementation effect on recovery following exercise-induced muscle damage: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. J Food Biochem. 2021 Oct;45(10):e13916. doi: 10.1111/jfbc.13916. Epub 2021 Sep 2. PMID: 34472118.
  4. Caroline Ayme Fernandes Yoshioka, Diana Madureira, Paulo Carrara, Natália Gusmão, Kamila Santos Ressureição, Jeferson Oliveira Santana, Marco Aurélio Lamolha, Renata Furlan Viebig, Iris Callado Sanches, Fabio Santos de Lira, Erico Chagas Caperuto. Comparison between creatine monohydrate and creatine HCl on body composition and performance of the Brazilian Olympic team. International Journal of Food and Nutrition Research, 2019; 3:28. DOI:10.28933/ijfnr-2019-05-2205
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