Bodybuilders and other strength athletes may be able to reduce the amount of time they need to rest between sets by using creatine. This is the message that comes out of a human study that Taiwanese sports scientists published in Nutrients. According to the Taiwanese, creatine supplementation reduces the optimal post-activation potentiation time. Yes, that's a mouthful, we know. But it's pretty useful for anyone who does weight training to know exactly what post-activation potentiation is.
Berry de Mey, the most successful Dutch bodybuilder of all time, explains exactly what the post-potentiation activation effect in a few sentences on his website – and how strength athletes can make use of it to train more effectively and more intensively. Many athletes actually adhere to the principle without knowing the term itself. [berrydemey.nl]
"Immediately after completing a set, the performance capacity of the muscle you've just trained is reduced," De Mey explains. "You can feel it. Your heartbeat is higher, you feel rushed and your muscles feel tired. By resting you feel calm again quickly, and you feel the strength and energy returning to your muscles. Your physiological body is getting ready for a new round of exertion. The beautiful thing is that your muscles, if you keep to the optimal rest time, become a little stronger than they were before you started training. Scientists call that the post-activation potentiation effect."
"Working out the optimal rest period takes experience, and above all sensitivity. If you don't wait long enough you won't get maximum effect out of the next set. If you don't do enough reps, you won't achieve optimal muscle growth stimulation. If you wait too long, your muscles will have recovered, but the strength you built up will have ebbed away again."
The Taiwanese researchers wondered whether creatine supplementation might affect the post-activation potentiation effect. They wanted to know whether athletes could reduce the amount of time their muscle needed for an optimal post-activation potentiation effect by taking creatine.
The Taiwanese first determined the optimal post-activation potentiation time by getting their subjects to do 1 rep of squatting with their maximal weight, and then getting them to jump as high as they could. The researchers then measured how long (in minutes) after the squat they did their best jump.
The researchers performed experiments with two groups of 15 trained athletes. One group took a placebo every day for six days; the other group took four doses of 5 g creatine and 5 g glucose every day for six days. So this group consumed a total of 20 g creatine per day.
The researchers measured the participants' optimal post-activation potentiation time before and after the supplementation period.
The post-activation potentiation time of the placebo group did not change significantly; in the creatine group there was a significant reduction of over two minutes.
Nutrients. 2016 Mar 4;8(3). pii: E143.
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