Effect of creatine loading on anaerobic performance and skeletal muscle volume in NCAA Division I athletes

Nutrition. 2002 May;18(5):397-402. doi: 10.1016/s0899-9007(01)00802-4.


Objective: We measured the effect of 3 d of creatine (Cr) supplementation on repeated sprint performance and thigh muscle volume in elite power athletes.

Methods: Ten male (mean +/- standard deviation of body mass and percentage of fat (81.1 +/- 10.5 kg and 9.8 +/- 3.5) and ten female (58.4 +/- 5.3 kg and 15.0 +/- 3.4) athletes were matched for sex and 10-s cycle sprint scores, paired by rank, and randomly assigned to the Cr or placebo (P) group. Subjects completed six maximal 10-s cycle sprints interspersed with 60 s of recovery before and after 3 d of Cr (0.35 g/kg of fat-free mass) or P (maltodextrin) ingestion. Before and after supplementation, 10 contiguous transaxial images of both thighs were obtained with magnetic resonance imaging.

Results: Cr supplementation resulted in statistically significant increases in body mass (0.9 +/- 0.1 kg, P < 0.03), total work during the first sprint (P < 0.04), and peak power during sprints 2 to 6 (P < 0.10). As expected, total work and peak power values for males were greater than those for their female counterparts during the initial sprint (P < 0.02); however, the reverse was true during the last three sprints (P < 0.01). Imaging data showed a 6.6% increase in thigh volume in five of six Cr subjects (P = 0.05).

Conclusion: These data indicate that 3 d of Cr supplementation can increase thigh muscle volume and may enhance cycle sprint performance in elite power athletes; moreover, this effect is greater in females as sprints are repeated.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Adult
  • Anaerobiosis
  • Creatine / administration & dosage*
  • Creatine / pharmacology
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Exercise Test
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Muscle, Skeletal / anatomy & histology
  • Muscle, Skeletal / drug effects
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology*
  • Placebos
  • Sex Characteristics
  • Thigh


  • Placebos
  • Creatine