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Creatine and resistance training enhances muscle size and strength by depressing myostatin

Dr Paul Henning PhD, CSCS, CISSN

Creatine monohydrate is a popular dietary supplement used by athletes to enhance muscle mass and strength and improve sport performance. There are many studies demonstrating an improvement in muscle strength, body composition and an ergogenic (improved performance) effect in exercise from creatine supplementation. 

Creatine in conjunction with resistance exercise enhances muscle size and strength through a few different pathways. For example, an increase in myosin heavy chain mRNA expression [1], an increase in myogenic regulatory factors such as myogenin and MRF-4 [2], an amplification in the training-induced increase in satellite cell number and myonuclei concentration in skeletal muscle fibers [3], and an increase in IGF-1 expression [4].

One interesting mechanism in which creatine and resistance training may work is through the myostatin pathway. In a nutshell, myostatin acts on skeletal muscle as a growth inhibitor. So and increase in myostatin would cause loss of muscle and a decrease would cause gain in muscle. Another important protein in the pathway is growth and differentiation factor-associated serum protein-1 (GASP-1). GASP-1 is a protease inhibitor and may have a critical role in controlling myostatin function in skeletal muscle cell and serum.

The research…

A recent study investigated the effects of resistance training and creatine supplementation on serum levels of myostatin and GASP-1 and changes in lean body mass. The study was 8 weeks long and utilized young, healthy male volunteers who were non-resistance trained and performed 3 days of resistance training per week [5].

The results…

  • Resistance training caused a significant decrease in serum levels of myostatin and an increase in GASP-1.
  • Creatine supplementation in conjunction with resistance training leads to greater decreases in serum myostatin, but had no additional effect on GASP-1.

Summary and practical applications

This is the first study to show that creatine supplementation added to a resistance training program amplifies the training-induced decrease in serum levels of myostatin, increasing the effects of exercise on muscle strength and mass. In addition, it was also shown that 8 weeks of resistance training resulted in a significant elevation in serum GASP-1.

It’s likely the increase in GASP-1 may have inhibited myostatin from binding to its receptor. It seems that in young, healthy males participating in resistance exercise, the increases in serum GASP-1 may serve to inhibit myostatin signaling and muscle catabolism that could conceivably accompany heavy resistance exercise.

The largest decreases in myostatin levels were observed at week four with creatine supplementation. Interestingly, a recent report showed that the largest increases in satellite cell content after creatine supplementation occurred at week four [3]. In addition, creatine and resistance exercise caused significantly greater hypertrophy of type II fibers in the early part of a resistance training program.

In summary, this research is the first to demonstrate that decreasing myostatin and inhibiting its function by GASP-1 may play an important role in increasing muscle strength and mass by resistance training. Supplementation with creatine resulted in greater increases in muscle mass and strength, which were associated with lower myostatin levels.

This is just another research-based mechanism by how this research-proven supplement works to enhance strength and muscle size! If your goals are to increase strength, muscle size and performance, make sure that ATP-Fusion is a part of your supplemental regimen.

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References:

1. Willoughby, D.S. and J. Rosene, Effects of oral creatine and resistance training on myosin heavy chain expression. Med Sci Sports Exerc, 2001. 33(10): p. 1674-81.

2. Willoughby, D.S. and J.M. Rosene, Effects of oral creatine and resistance training on myogenic regulatory factor expression. Med Sci Sports Exerc, 2003. 35(6): p. 923-9.

3. Olsen, S., et al., Creatine supplementation augments the increase in satellite cell and myonuclei number in human skeletal muscle induced by strength training. J Physiol, 2006. 573(Pt 2): p. 525-34.

4. Deldicque, L., et al., Increased IGF mRNA in human skeletal muscle after creatine supplementation. Med Sci Sports Exerc, 2005. 37(5): p. 731-6.

5. Saremi, A., et al., Effects of oral creatine and resistance training on serum myostatin and GASP-1. Mol Cell Endocrinol, 2010. 317(1-2): p. 25-30.

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