Creatine Powder The Hulk

How To Become 20% Stronger in 7 Days: A Beginner’s Guide to Creatine

I’ve never been a fan of supplements. I take Vitamin D and Fish Oil because they’re the most common deficiencies but I rarely feel different after taking multi-vitamins or those herbal medicines with funny names. (But maybe the difference isn’t meant to be overtly felt? Maybe the magic is more subtle?)

Last year though, after hitting an abrupt wall with my training at the gym, I started to experiment with creatine — a supplement I’d heard a lot about but one that also attracts a lot of critics:

  • “It doesn’t work!”
  • “It’s bad for the kidneys!”
  • “Isn’t creatine a steroid?”

But less than a week into taking the supplement, I could only wonder: why isn’t everyone taking this stuff? Because it wasn’t like most supplements. I could actually feel the difference and it was big.

(And don’t worry, I’ll address the critics soon enough).

What is Creatine?

Creatine is produced within the body and found in food products like meat, eggs, and fish. When consumed in larger quantities though, incredible things happen:

  • You become stronger.
  • You build muscle faster.
  • Your aerobic ability improves.

It’s the first point that’s the most obvious while the other ones are seen to a lesser degree, but the first point is a big one. Take the supplement every day for 1-2 weeks and it’s like flicking a switch or discovering you have superpowers. You become stronger without any extra work.

One study in particular showed that creatine was:

…able to increase a 12% improvement in strength to 20% and able to increase a 12% increase in power to 26% following a training regiment using creatine monohydrate.

You do have to keep taking the supplement to continually feel its effect — it takes the 1-2 weeks just to kick-in — but it’s cheaper than many other supplements. You can get my favourite creatine powder for $15 on Amazon and that’ll last about three months at the normal dose of 5g per day (which is roughly one rounded teaspoon).

Creatine Examine

My Experience

The week before taking creatine, I squatted 85kg for three sets of five reps. I had to fight for each rep and my form wasn’t great. The week after taking creatine, I squatted 90kg for three sets of five reps and the reps were easier than what I’d been lifting with the 85kg — I struggled less and my form was a lot better. The reps weren’t easy but I felt close to lifting even more weight during my next session.

There’s a few important things to note about this progress:

After lifting for a few months, adding 5kg to your squat over the course of a week is not a normal thing to do. Especially when you’re a lightweight like me — I weighed just 69kg at the time.  Usually, your progress will dramatically slow after the first 2-3 months.

I’d only been taking creatine for a week. And maybe my body was quick to absorb it but I imagine I would have made further progress had I continued taking it. (I’ll explain in a moment why I stopped taking creatine until recently.)

I didn’t change anything about my diet or training. There wasn’t an X-factor that I’ve failed to mention. The creatine is the only addition to my regime and, as far as I can tell, it’s the only reason my strength jumped so significantly in a matter of days.

But I did exaggerate in the headline when I said no one’s taking creatine since, in reality, it’s:

  • Very popular among athletes.
  • One of the most studied supplements on the planet.

I’m just surprised we don’t see it recommended for “regular” people when it provides such dramatic results without any effort. Isn’t that the dream? To make progress without doing anything?

You might be thinking that there has to be some grand side-effects though if it’s otherwise so wonderful. But, well, not really.

Risks & Side-Effects

Let’s get a few things out of the way:

  • Creatine is not a steroid.
  • Creatine does not damage the kidneys.
  • Creatine has no significant side-effects.

And that’s not a liberal use of the word significant. These are the potential side-effects of creatine:

  • Dehydration, but you simply need to drink more water. You don’t even need to drink a lot more water. Just a bit extra.
  • Cramps, which stems from the dehydration, so water or a sports drink with lots of electrolytes will take care of this.
  • Weight gain, but this is water weight gain. You’re not getting fat. If you ever stop taking creatine, the weight will go away.
  • Diarrhoea, but I’ve never had a problem and it seems to be tied with dosage. Stick with the 5g dose and you should be fine.

There will, of course, be more studies done in the future so there’s still more to learn about the supplement, but all it takes is a perusal of the page to see a lot of comforting evidence.

How To Not Use Creatine

Despite everything I’ve said though, my first experience with creatine ended badly. It was, however, my own fault.

Like I said before, I hit an abrupt wall with my training at the end of last year. I’d been hoping to squat 100kg before January but 85kg seemed like my limit. I just couldn’t lift anymore and, with every workout, I felt increasingly tired — yawning during workouts, etc.

At this point, as I teetered on the verge of overtraining, I should have:

But I did none of these things. I had less than two months to add 15kg to my squat and I was impatient.

My solution was to take creatine. I used it as a quick-fix to push myself when my body was crying aloud to rest and recover. I was overtraining but continued to ignore how I felt.

For the briefest of moments, the plan worked and my squat went up. I was making progress again. But the day after I managed the glory of my 90kg squat, I lay down for an afternoon nap and, when I woke, I felt horrible — headache, fatigue, and the first signs of a cold. Then, for the rest of the week:

  • I remained confined to bed.
  • The cold developed.
  • I threw up a few times.

It was a strange sickness since it seemed to change from day to day but, in either case, my body was telling me to take a break.

Forever stubborn though, I returned to the gym and tried to lift weights (this time without the creatine since I wanted to believe it was the culprit, rather than my inability to take a break). I dropped down to lifting just 60kg but even that was too much. I felt groggy during workouts and never walked out of the building with the rush of endorphins that had made me addicted to lifting in the first place. After two weeks of this, I had to accept that I couldn’t keep going. I took three weeks off.

All of this happened four months ago and, while I returned to the gym again for a brief stint after New Year’s, I wasn’t ready for the return and have decided that I won’t start lifting again until the end of April — once I’ve recovered from deviated septum surgery.

I am taking creatine again though (in tandem with the bodyweight training I’m doing through Gymnastic Bodies). I’ll just make sure to use it properly this time around — as an enhancement, not a cure.

Extra Bits

If you’re willing to at least test creatine for a few weeks to see what it can do, here’s a few things to keep in mind:

You only want creatine monohydrate. There are other forms of creatine but these cost more without having an observed benefit. Don’t believe any marketing hype that says otherwise.

Stick with creatine power or capsules. There is a liquid variant but it’s ineffective. Most people will prefer powder since individual capsules contain very low doses (so you need a lot of them).

You don’t need to “load” creatine. This speeds up absorption but the impact isn’t always noticeable and you’ll burn through the creatine faster than needed. I prefer sticking with a consistent, 5g dose.

You don’t need to “cycle” creatine. You don’t need to take a break from it. This just stems from when people thought creatine had side-effects. You can take it regularly without a problem.

Not everyone will feel the benefits. I’m not sure why this happens but a minority people just don’t gain anything from creatine. Try it anyway though. Most people will at least feel some effect.


You won’t hear me talk a lot about supplements because it can be such an iffy industry with a lot of crap peddled by sociopaths. This feels like one of the exceptions though. Creatine is:

  • Safe.
  • Studied.
  • Effective.

And if you try it yourself, you’ll feel the effects within a week or two, or you won’t. There’s no need to buy a 12-month supply and beat a dead horse into submission. Give it a go and see what happens.


Feel free to ask any questions and I’ll do what I can to answer them.

22 thoughts on “How To Become 20% Stronger in 7 Days: A Beginner’s Guide to Creatine”

  1. Hi David,
    I am also a proponent of creatine use in moderation. One thing I have noticed with me is that if I take it on a day that I do not work out, it will affect my nerves (adds stress). So, I usually only use it on workout days!


  2. Hi i loved everything said except for the fact that loading just helps you see results faster because it saturates your muscles quicker

    1. Thanks for the comment. Updated that part. I’m still a bit iffy about creatine loading, having done it the first time I used creatine, but the language I used previously was a tad strong. :)

  3. Great article. I love creatine, too. Another interesting effect that you didn’t talk about is there are many studies showing it improves cognitive function (see e.g. ).

    Also, I wanted to mention that I don’t think it takes 1-2 weeks to notice the effects. I’ve noticed them as soon as the same day if I take creatine in the morning and workout in the evening. My effects have been about the same as you: I can do a few more reps at the same weight or the same reps a little higher weight.

    As to people who it doesn’t work in, I think it does work but they probably just don’t notice it because it’s too subtle. I mean I’ve seen visibly drunk and/or high people who claim they “aren’t feeling it.” It only stands to reason that those sort of people wouldn’t think they felt something as subtle as creatine if they didn’t think they could feel something as obvious as alcohol.

    1. Thanks for the comment, Kevin. Lots of great points (and thanks for the link to the study).

      Can’t say I’ve felt the effects of creatine in the same day of taking it (but obviously, we’re all a little different), but I can see how some people would consider the effects too subtle. :)

  4. Definitely switch from powder to creatine pills. My husband used to take the Creatine Powders but it was bad on his stomach and his breath was ALWAYS horrible. He switched to the Dr Max Powers Creatine Pills, and he doesnt have the stomach pain, bad breath – and I have even seen an increase in his muscle size.

  5. I use the GNC powder. $10 for 50 -5g servings, no taste so I can mix it right into water. I drink it 30 minutes before the gym. I have to admit, I feel dramatic increases in endurance. I can’t lift more than i normally would, but I can lift heavier weights for more reps.
    For example I can can rep 225 on bench maybe a few times but after creatine I can rep that same weight maybe 6 or 7 times a set. Then that burn you usually feel after a hard set fades away extremely quick and I’m back on the bench continuing beyond what seems possible.
    I literally cut my workout short sometimes because I can’t believe I still have energy to do more reps.

    1. Absolutely. Your strength will go down after you stop using it, but if you’ve been lifting hard, you should still be stronger than you were at the start of the month (and stronger than you would have been without the creatine).


  6. I have experienced the very bad cold and headache in my first week of creatine at least three times now. This article is the only one I have come across with this issue. Great article.

  7. So I have some questions. From watching others take it, yes, you can notice a significant increase. Both in the individuals size and the amount they can lift. My biggest concern is that… let me explain. Me and some fellow friends go to the gym frequently. I experimented with creatine in highschool but didn’t like it. One of my friends on the other hand loved it and is a huge supporter of it. But for personal reasons he wasnt able to keep up with his schedual and he was in lue for about a month or so; he stopped using his supplements. When he came back everything suffered from his cardio, strenght and endurance. It was ridiculas he was completly crippled. On the other hand, I simply eat healthy and can quit going to the gym for periods upwords of 3 months without a significant loss in strenght/endurance, not nearly as rank as the loss he had experienced but I was away for a longer period of time. So obviously my question is.. Does an individual lose his strength on their break periods? And if I were to start taking creatine regularly and properly for a few months, and if I were to stop, would my overall strenght suffer?

  8. Thanks a lot. I just completed my maintain phase three days back. But i had not taken enough water during the phase so i thougnt my lidneys may get affected. But after reading your post i’m recharged to hit the floor again. Thanks bro.

  9. sir i have been working out for the past 1 year my weight is 49 …. I was 39 when I started my gym work ….should I take creatine ???

  10. A solution to loosing the weight when not taking it is to lower the dose slowly and the water mass slowly fills with muscle. But you have to take it slow or else the water weight goes away faster than the muscle will grow.
    hope this helps

  11. Hi,

    I am from India and thanks for your useful blog. I just started taking creatine and it working wonderful and I am exercising very light both time (Cross trainer – 30 minutes in evening & Abs and cardio – 30 minutes in Morning) but as it happens everytime, after a week I all of sudden started feeling so tired that I have to take rest complete one day and I missed my exercise one day.

    Please guide how to fight with this fatigue.


    Ishwar Dutt

  12. Hello David,

    Your article is very helpful. I just want to know that whether I can mix up creatine with protine shake?

    Thanks shaan

  13. Hey David
    I’m 18 year old and just recently started gym properly had stopped working out at home like a month ago now I’m at gym, I want to get not to BIGG just little bit bigger I’m about 5ft8-9 and weight about 68-69kg. You think I should start taking the creatine pills if so which one would you recommend thanks :) also if you can give me diet plan that would be suit able for me? Thanks :)

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