can you build muscle without creatine
Nutrition

Can You Build Muscle Without Creatine? 5 Things To Do

Yes, you can build muscle without creatine. Creatine is a supplement that will provide you with an extra 5 percent of muscle growth potential. So, you can still get 95 percent muscle-building benefit by training and eating for muscle gains without creatine supplementation.

How Creatine Works

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Creatine is a natural substance that is formed in the body. It is vital to the production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which is the body’s main energy system. When you engage in had physical activity, such as working out with heavy weights, ATP is what powers you.

But within a few seconds, a phosphate molecule with drop off to turn ATP into Adenosine diphosphate (diphosphate means two molecules of phosphate).

To continue supplying your muscles with the energy they need to continue working, you need to replace that lost phosphate molecule to turn it back into ATP. When you supplement with creatine, you will have stores of creatine phosphate ready to be called upon. The energy system calls upon that store to turn ADP back into ATP. 

As a result of its ability to replace the lost phosphate molecule, creatine supplies the fuel to help you to pump out those last couple of reps that you would not get without it. For the greatest benefits from creatine, take 5 grams of creatine per day. 

There are a number of types of creatine. The best is the most simple; creatine monohydrate. The best way to take creatine is a daily maintenance level without creatine cycling or loading. There are no known negative side effects. 

5 Tips on Training Without Creatine

Training while taking a daily dose of creatine supplement will definitely give you an advantage of about 5 percent in terms of getting stronger, gaining muscle, and having more energy during your workout.

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However, unless you are nailing it on the other 95 percent, you won’t see any gains. A lot of guys rely on creatine intake while neglecting the most important thongs – training and diet.

Here are 5 things you need to do to build muscle without creatine.

1. Avoid Over-training

Most people, especially beginners, have a tendency toward over-training. Their muscle-building keenness often leads them to work out too much, which does not give their muscles enough time to recover. Because creatine helps with recovery, people who don’t use it need to be especially careful about not over-training.

To give your muscles enough time for a full recovery and active muscle building, you should only train a muscle group every five days. So, if you work your workout program has you training your chest on Monday, don’t hit it again until Friday.

You should also not over-train in the gym. Marathon workouts that last beyond 90 minutes are going to be counterproductive.

Train no more than two body parts per workout, with around 16 sets on major body parts (chest, back quads, glutes) and 10-12 sets for minor body parts (biceps, triceps, shoulders, hamstrings, calves).

2. Use Progressive Resistance

Building muscle only happens if you give it a reason. That means placing more stress on them than they are used to. If you keep doing the same workout with the same weights every week, your muscles will soon adjust to that level of stress and stop responding.

To keep upping the stress level on your muscles, you should progressively increase the weights you are using. Here’s how to do it …

  • Choose a weight that allows you to get to your rep target (let’s say 8 reps), with the last 2 reps being difficult.
  • Stick with that weight until you can do 10 reps.
  • Now add a little bit of weight to the bar so that you are back to doing 8 reps with difficulty during the last 2 reps.
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3. Use Intensity Enhancers

You should make use of intense exercise techniques to add further stress to the muscle fibers you are working on. One great technique you should adopt is drop sets.

Drop sets involve extending a set by dropping the weight you are using and continuing with a lighter weight for 4-5 drops. Here’s an example using the dumbbell curl …

  • Stand in front of the dumbbell rack at a weight that will allow you to do 6 reps with good form.
  • Perform 6 reps and then replace the dumbbells on the rack.
  • Grab the next weight down and perform another 6 reps.
  • Continue in this manner until you have completed 4-5 drops.

Other intense exercise techniques you should add into your workout routine are forced reps, where a partner helps you get 2-3 more reps than you could get by yourself, and pre-exhaust sets where you do an isolation exercise, like flys, before doing a compound exercise, like the bench press, to isolate the working muscle group for greater muscle growth.

4. Increase Your Caloric Intake

In order to build muscle, you must take in more calories than you burn off each day. To do this you need to know what your daily caloric maintenance level is. That’s how many calories you need to take in to provide the energy you need to function for the day. 

In order to gain muscle, you should take in 500 calories more than your maintenance level every day. This type of high-calorie diet will provide the nutritional excess that the muscle cells can use to repair and rebuild the muscle you have stressed during your workouts. 

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5. Eat More Protein

Gaining muscle mass isn’t just about eating more. You need to make sure that you are putting the right types of calories into your body to add muscle rather than fat to your body. That means consuming quality lean protein.

Protein provides your muscles with the amino acid profile they need to repair damaged fibers. Focus on eating such protein food sources as white meat (chicken, turkey), eggs, animal meat, and such fish sources as salmon and tuna, as well as drinking a protein drink.

You should eat 5 times daily, aiming to get 100-150 grams per day on a balanced diet that includes healthy fats and low glycemic carbs. 

Final Thoughts

Although the muscle and strength-building effects of creatine are undeniable, building muscle without creatine is definitely possible.

By spacing your workouts 5 days apart, using progressive resistance, applying intensity techniques, and increasing your calorie and protein intake with a balanced diet, you can get huge without taking any supplements at all. 

Frequently Asked Questions

When should you consider creatine supplementation?

You should consider dietary creatine supplementation from the very first day you step foot in the gym. Creatine is the safest, most researched, and one of the cheapest gym supplements you can buy.

It will give you an extra 5 percent in terms of building muscle and making strength gains. This makes creatine supplementation a smart choice for muscle growth. 

How should I pick out supplements?

Start by doing your research online. Check expert as well as user reviews. Only choose supplements that show the dosages of their ingredients on the label (no proprietary blends), and that avoid artificial sweeteners and preservatives. 

Steve Theunissen

Steve Theunissen is a former gym owner and personal trainer based in Tauranga, New Zealand. He is the author of six hardcopy books and more than a hundred ebooks on the topics of bodybuilding, fitness, and fat loss.

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