Creatine monohydrate (CrH2O) supplementation has been demonstrated to increase skeletal muscle power output in men. However, its effect upon women is not as clearly defined. This study investigated the effect of oral creatine supplementation upon muscle function, thigh circumference, and body weight in women. Twenty-two consenting college-age women were assigned to 1 of 2 groups matched for dietary and exercise habits, phase of menstrual cycle, and fat-free mass (FFM). After familiarization with testing procedures, pretrial measures of muscle function (5 repetitions 60 deg · s−1 and 50 repetitions 180 deg · s−1) were conducted during maximal voluntary concentric contraction of the preferred quadriceps muscle using an isokinetic dynamometer. Subjects then ingested 0.5 g · kg−1 FFM of either CrH2O or placebo (one fourth dosage 4 times daily) in a double-blind design for 5 days. Resistance exercise was prohibited. After the ingestion phase was completed, all measures were repeated at the same time of day as during pretrials. Statistical analysis revealed time to peak torque in quadriceps extension decreased from pre-test values of 255 ± 11 ms (mean ± SEM) to post-test values of 223 ± 3 ms; average power in extension increased from 103 ± 7 W pre-test to 112 ± 7 W post-test; and, during flexion, average power increased from 59 ± 5 W pre-test to 65 ± 5 W post-test in the creatine group as compared to controls (p ≤ .05). FFM, percent body fat, mid-quadriceps circumference, skinfold thickness of the measured thigh, and total body weight did not change for both groups between trials. We conclude that CrH2O improves muscle performance in women without significant gains in muscle volume or body weight.
The authors are with the Department of Kinesiology at The College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, VA 23187-8795.