Creatine for Exercise and Sports Performance, with Recovery Considerations for Healthy Populations

Nutrients. 2021 Jun 2;13(6):1915. doi: 10.3390/nu13061915.


Creatine is one of the most studied and popular ergogenic aids for athletes and recreational weightlifters seeking to improve sport and exercise performance, augment exercise training adaptations, and mitigate recovery time. Studies consistently reveal that creatine supplementation exerts positive ergogenic effects on single and multiple bouts of short-duration, high-intensity exercise activities, in addition to potentiating exercise training adaptations. In this respect, supplementation consistently demonstrates the ability to enlarge the pool of intracellular creatine, leading to an amplification of the cell's ability to resynthesize adenosine triphosphate. This intracellular expansion is associated with several performance outcomes, including increases in maximal strength (low-speed strength), maximal work output, power production (high-speed strength), sprint performance, and fat-free mass. Additionally, creatine supplementation may speed up recovery time between bouts of intense exercise by mitigating muscle damage and promoting the faster recovery of lost force-production potential. Conversely, contradictory findings exist in the literature regarding the potential ergogenic benefits of creatine during intermittent and continuous endurance-type exercise, as well as in those athletic tasks where an increase in body mass may hinder enhanced performance. The purpose of this review was to summarize the existing literature surrounding the efficacy of creatine supplementation on exercise and sports performance, along with recovery factors in healthy populations.

Keywords: athletic performance; ergogenic aid; muscle damage; muscular adaptation; muscular power; recovery; resistance exercise; supplementation; training; weightlifting.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adenosine Triphosphate
  • Athletes
  • Athletic Performance / physiology*
  • Creatine / pharmacology*
  • Databases, Factual
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Muscle, Skeletal
  • Performance-Enhancing Substances / pharmacology


  • Performance-Enhancing Substances
  • Adenosine Triphosphate
  • Creatine