In an effort to combat the effects of the winter — which in my case include slowing down and eating more — I decided to head back to the gym where I’ve rekindled my love affair with pumping iron. Of course I’m not sure at my age if what I do in the gym can actually be called “pumping iron,” but I decided to really get back into it for the nest 8 months or so and — as long as my joints hold up under the strain of lifting weight — I’m banking on my muscles having enough “memory” left in them to remember when they were a lot bigger.
This brings up an interesting point — the whole discussion about wear and tear on your joints when you’re in your late 40’s and beyond and you’re lifting weights. There are a lot of supplements on the market for individuals who lift weights, but one in particular — Creatine — not only am familiar with but am pretty convinced of the results this particular supplement can provide. You see, Creatine — far from being some miracle drug that will make your muscles double in size or make your sex drive go into 6th gear — is actually a naturally produced compound that supplies energy to muscles. Taken over time creatine helps your muscles produce when you need them the most — namely in the gym, and creatine also helps your muscles recuperate after a hard workout.
This is great news — especially when you get older and it takes longer to make it through a workout and then get ready for the next one.
Not that I’m an expert or my word matters, but I’ll be the first in line to agree with anyone who says regular exercise will make you feel sharper, sleep better and maybe even live longer – regardless of how old you are. So I was pleasantly surprised then to find out about a recent study that demonstrated taking a combination of creatine monohydrate (CrM) and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) in addition to resistance exercise training provides even greater benefits to “mature” athletes and competitors.
According to an article posted on www.sciencedaily.com, the study — published this week in PLosOne (www.PlosOne.org) involved 19 men and 20 women who were 65 years or older and took part in a six-month program of regular resistance exercise training.
In the randomized double blind trial, some of the participants were given a daily supplement of creatine (as I mentioned earlier, creatine is a naturally produced compound that supplies energy to muscles) and linoleic acid (a naturally occurring fatty acid), while others were given a placebo. All participants took part in the same exercise program.
The head of the research — Dr. Mark Tarnopolsky (www.diet-coaching.com) — showed that the exercise training resulted in improvements of functional ability and strength in all participants, but those taking the creatine and linoleic acid showed even greater gains in muscle endurance, an increase in fat-free mass and a decrease in the percentage of body fat.
All I have to say to that is “Amen, brother.” The benefits of pumping iron aren’t just getting bigger muscles — but include an increase in strength, improved cardio-vascular efficiency and even better flexibility.
According to safesport.co.uk, creatine is naturally found in many foods — like fish and meat — and a typical diet can provide about 2 grams of creatine. Studies have shown that an increase in creatine intake of between 10 and 20 grams a day can yield impressive results. But I want to stress, that the issue here is your muscles recuperating faster after a workout as opposed to any perceived increase in size.
Creablast.net recommends creatine intake be limited to a cycle of “5 weeks on and 4 weeks off.” According to Dr. Tarnopolsky (see photo) his data “…confirms that supervised resistance exercise training is safe and effective for increasing strength and function in older adults and that a combination of CrM and CLA can enhance some of the beneficial effects of training over a six month period…”
Not only that but Sciencedaily.com quoted researchers as saying the combination of resistance training and creatine also reversed some of the muscle gene expression abnormalities associated with the aging process over a six-month workout regimen.
I’ll let you know how I feel 6-8 months from now, but I’m confident that whatever the result – the addition of creatine in my pre and post workout diet can only help me in the long run.
It goes without saying that before you try any health supplement you should consult your physician first.