Over the past 10 years I've struggled bulking up and looking fit. In high school I had the metabolism of some African cat and was the skinniest kid on my cross-country team. I'd never heard of creatine monohydrate and couldn't tell the difference between the best creatine supplement and egg white powder. Hitting my 20s I started to gain weight, but not in the places I wanted to. At that point I decided to change. I started hitting the gym 4-5 times per week, I ran constantly, and I rotated through personal trainers pretty much monthly. What never changed through all of this was my ability to bulk up. I couldn't do it.
I asked my personal trainers time after time about supplements like protein powder and creatine pills, but they kept telling me it was a scam and all I would do is gain water weight. What I really wanted was not just a creatine supplement to test, but the best creatine supplement I could get.
That all changed last year when I first started working with my current trainer. What I have to tell you all is basically outing the entire industry.If you all knew how well creatine supplements worked you wouldn't need a personal trainer in the first place. What I'm about to tell you is what that personal trainer has taught me.
Just looking for energy supplements without the creatine? Check out this list of energy supplements.
My Favorite Creatine Supplements
Note: Some of the prices may vary because of sales or changes since writing this. I'll try and keep it up-to-date as much as is reasonable. Also, some of the supplements areavailable multiple places and therefore could have differing prices.
Best Pre-Workout Boosters
I've included several pre-workout combinations because they are my favorite way of slipping creatine into my diet. I love the instant energy supplementation that comes along with the creatine boost. They generally will mix creatine with caffeine and othersupplements that add a bit more kick to your workout.
1. Cellucor C4 Extreme Pre-Workout Powder
Cellucor is by far my favorite combo powder for workouts. It packs the creatine I need in with caffeine and other supps that help me focus and power through a workout.
Even the other two powder combos I've included here don't live up to Cellucor,so if you need a pre-workout, this will be your baby.
$29.99 Buy Now On: Amazon.com
2. BSN N.O. Xplode 2.0 Pre-Workout Powder
N.O. Xplode is a favorite among many, including my trainer and a few friends. I guess when it comes down to it everyone has their own preference for whatever reason. From what my trainer tells me this one is well engineered for fat burning. As I don't have much fat to burn at the moment, I can't really attest to that, but it does provide the kick needed in a workout and a bit of a better price.
$25.77 Buy Now On: Amazon.com
3. Arnold Schwarzenegger Series Iron CRE3 Pre-Workout
Ok, I know this seems cheesy to put as a top 3 supplements, but the truth is the stuff works and works well. I used CRE3 for a few months before trying Cellucor which just fits my metabolism better. One of the draws of CRE3 is the rapid absorption, which I could really feel. I felt like my load time was cut dramatically when I worked Arnold's mix in.
$24.89 Buy Now On: Amazon.com
Best Creatine Powder Supplements
Sometimes, especially if you are just starting out, a full pre-workout complement is too much. If you're looking for something simpler or even just a bit cheaper, a pure creatine mix is probably what you are looking for.
4. MusclePharm Creatine Powder
MusclePharm is known for their pre-workout, but I actually prefer their lesser-known creatine powder much more. A mix of creatine monohydrate, creatine nitrate, and creatine malate, MusclePharm's powder is definitely my favorite creatine powder. It was also the first one I ever tried, so maybe a bit of that is nostalgia, but it definitely does its job!
$17.25 Buy Now On: Amazon.com
5. MuscleTech CELL-TECH Creatine Powder
CELL-TECH is one of the only creatine powders that I felt like my body absorbed well. Obviously some of that comes down to genetics, but I'm entitled my opinion I suppose. My understanding is that carb-blends tend to absorb better, so that could be the reason it performed better as well. The carb blend also adds an boost of itself considering the carb replacement you need during a workout.
$29.81 Buy Now On: Amazon.com
Best Creatine Capsule Supplements
When I found creatine caps a few months back I had to try them. I feel like the powder gives more control,but the convenience of capsules is unbeatable. Grab a couple caps and you're ready to go.
6. ProMera Sports CON-CRET Creatine Capsules
As I said, the capsule delivery is awesome. The CON-CRET powder is a good one and throw that in a capsule and your set. This one is the purest creatine supplement on the list so those of you purists out there, this one has one ingredient on the label: "creatine HCL." [EDIT: Bodybuilding.com's micronized powder was added which also is a pure creatine monohydrate]
$28.98 Buy Now On: Amazon.com
7. All American EFX Kre-Alkalyn EFX Creatine Capsules
Kre-Alkalyn is pure creatine supplement with one "exception." That exception is something called PH buffered creatine. If your body responds better to a buffered creatine then give EFX a try. I didn't notice significant differences, but as I said, my body absorbs pretty well with the standard forms. PH difference is one of the problems that is blamed when creatine doesn't take in your body.
$23.98 Buy Now On: Amazon.com
8. Optimum Creatine Capsules
Optimum is one of my favorite supplement companies. Why? If you look through their product brochures and sales pitches, you'll see that they take a very simplistic approach. A minimum amount of ripped beyond belief muscles packed onto photoshopped guys that look kind nasty to tell the truth. I like that they say it how it is and their product backs itself up.
$25.48 Buy Now On: Amazon.com
Best Micronized Creatine Supplements
Micronized creatine has its advantages and disadvantages. The reason it was developed is to build a creatine powder that dissolves easier in water. In order to absorb the creatine better it needs to be dissolved completely. Like the capsules, you can see the convenience advantage.
9. Optimum Micronized Creatine Powder
Optimum is the only company that secured two different products on my top 10 list. I already went over whyI like them as a company, but their product really deserves its spot in the topcreatine supps. Their micronized creatine dissolves far better than any other that I've tried since, which means a far superior rate of absorbtion. IF you're having troubles with creatine working for you, try this one.
$37.48 Buy Now On: Amazon.com
10. Bodybuilding.com Foundation Micronized Creatine
Bodybuilding.com is probably acommonplace destination for many of you, but did you know they own their own creatine supplement? A very simple supplement, but definitely does the job.Another one for those of you purists out there. One of two creatine-only supplements I've ever liked much. If you find another one, let me know,; I've taken a liking to being able to build out my own stack.
$14.97 Buy Now On: Amazon.com
Do You Need Creatine?
The first thing my trainer hit on was no surprise considering it is the only thing I had heard from my other trainers. "Not everyone needs creatine." What the other trainers hadn't told me was why. Not everyone needs a creatine supplement because the vast majority of people want an easy route to getting shredded and expect to take some magic powder that will shred off the pounds and load up the weight. Does creatine work this way? NO! Does creatine work? A resounding YES!
If you think you can dose up your creatine every day and go for a jog around the block then do some pushups water weight is exactly what you will get and a creatine supplement is not for you.
In order for you to get the full advantage of your creatine, you need to work hard. The reason why actually comes down to the way that creatine monohydrate (as well as other forms) work in your body.
How Does Creatine Work?
Creatine is a naturally occurring combination of amino acids that can actually be found in various high-protein foods such as meat or fish. The short story is that creatine enters your body, goes through several stages of chemical reaction and ends up creating more energy for use within your body.
You may want more than simply this explanation. If you do feel free to check it out in full details here
I assume you can understand why more energy is important. The increased energy levels catalyzed by the creatine means you can workout harder, longer, and more efficiently.
As I hope you can see, there is nothing about creatine that "makes you big"directly. What it does is allows your body to do what you want it to do; it facilitates and amps up the body's natural process of building muscle.
My Experience With Creatine Supplements
Ok, so back in May or so last year I started into my first loading phase of creatine. At that point I weighed about 200lbs and was benching just over my body weight (around 210 I think. Yeah, lame, I know). About 3 and a half weeks into my new workout routine,I had gained 18 lbs and was benching about 245! I think the reason I saw such a big jump at first was that I really had a lame bench to start :)
From there it only went up. Since then, I've fluctuated a bit in weight,sometimes gaining and sometime plateauing a bit; but my max bench weight has steadily gone up ever since. Just yesterday I maxed out at 335 and was stoked!
Author: Carl Lombard