The supplements I’ve discussed up to this point should be taken all the time, regardless of the climber’s training phase. Certain supplements, however, are more appropriately used only during certain buy codeine uk training phases. I believe creatine monohydrate falls into the latter category.
Creatine: Think of your muscle cells as a car’s engine, which can only run on gasoline. Your car stores gasoline in its fuel tank and, when you step on the gas, it pulls fuel from the tank and burns it, which releases the energy necessary to move the car. When your car runs out of gas, it can no longer move. We then pull oil from the ground, turn it into gasoline, and put it into the fuel tank so the car can burn it and continue running.
Analogously, your muscle cells run on something called Adenosine Tri-Phosphate (ATP), which is comprised of an adenosine molecule and three phosphate molecules.
ATP is stored in small amounts your muscle cells and it is used to power muscular contractions. Once used, ATP is reduced to Adenosine Di-Phosphate (ADP), as the energy contained in ATP is released by breaking the chemical bond between one of the Phosphate molecules, leaving only two phosphate molecules behind.
Since ATP is stored in muscles cells, it is the first place your muscles go for fuel. However, ATP runs out after a few seconds (10-30, on average) and your muscle cells must get more in order to keep working. They do this in a number of ways, including converting fat into blood sugar, and then blood sugar into ATP.
However, the muscle cell has a more efficient method of providing more ATP. It does this by converting ADP back into ATP. This is where supplementing with Creatine comes in.
Once in the body, Creatine binds to phosphate molecules, resulting in a compound called phosphocreatine. Phosphocreatine is also stored in muscle cells and ADP takes a phosphate from phosphocreatine stores and uses it to provide a third phosphate molecule that turns ADP back into ATP.
When you supplement with creatine, you increase your body’s phosphocreatine stores, which in turn increases your muscle’s ability to turn ADP back into ATP. The end result is more energy in your muscles for short-duration, high-intensity efforts. In the real world, this translates to more power for hard moves like bouldering or crux sections of routes.
You will hear rumors about creatine, and they’re just that: rumors. I gave you this in-depth explanation of how creatine works because rumors exist where actual knowledge is absent. Creatine does not just make your muscles bigger (but they will become slightly larger as a result of you being able to “do more” when you train). It does not cause stomach cramps. It does not make your heart/liver/kidneys fail. You may gain a small amount of weight when using creatine, but that’s typically associated with an increase in lean muscle mass and a slight retention of water. Both of these are great for performance.
Going back to the car analogy, creatine is like putting a bigger gas tank in your car. A bigger gas tank means you can store more gasoline, and therefore you can step on the gas more times, and for longer, before running out of fuel.
Your muscle cells can retain a certain amount of phosphocreatine, and it takes a while to max out your storage capacity. It’s for this reason that it takes about a month of daily use before you get the full results of supplementing with creatine.
So how does one use creatine monohydrate? The first thing I would advise is to skip the loading phase (15-25 grams a day). I recommend this because the loading phase can cause some water retention and associated weight gain. Instead, I recommend you take 5 grams a day, every day. It takes approximately one month of daily use for your muscles to reach their full phosphocreatine saturation levels, but you will typically start noticing power gains within the first week of use.
Beta-alanine, is a naturally occurring amino acid that is the precursor to a critically important di-peptide called carnosine. Carnosine’s primary function in muscle is to buffer hydrogen ions (H+). As H+ accumulates it increases the acidity of the surrounding tissue, called acidocis. This is thought to be the cause of the “burn” or “pump” we feel in our forearms and other muscles while climbing, and it’s thought to contribute to muscular fatigue.
Supplementation with Beta-alanine increases carnosine concentration in the muscle tissue, which in turn helps buffer the acidosis-causing H+ ions which make you pumped and fall off routes.
Beta-alanine is better known for its endurance-enhancing effects (as opposed to creatine’s strength-enhancing effects). One minor drawback to beta-alanine supplentation is that it takes about 28 days to achieve muscle saturation of beta-alanine. This means that if you want to experience the endurance enhancing effects of beta-alanine during the power endurance cycle you need to start loading 28 days before you begin training power endurance.
The loading phase consists of taking 6 grams of beta-alanine daily (divided into 3 doses of 2 gram/dose) for 28 days and then shifting to a maintenance phase of 2 grams a day.
CRANK Forearm Fuel:
In my view the two most important ingredients in ‘Forearm Fuel’ are the lactate and the citruline malate. Let’s go through these in order:
Lactate: For a better description of lactate and references, read this. In a nutshell, when we get pumped our forearms get all ‘swole up’ and they burn like the dickens. One is led to believe that the burn we feel during this process is lactic acid accumulation, but that’s not entirely correct. The burn we feel is caused by accumulation of hydrogen ions, which are a byproduct of producing and breaking down ATP (remember power endurance is all about raising the anaerobic threshold and being able to recover from crossing this threshold). Lactate is actually another form of fuel used to create ATP to supply energy for muscular contractions. When the body creates ATP from lactate, it also “takes up” hydrogen ions in the process, thereby reducing the hydrogen ion concentration in the muscles (we call this “buffering”). Lowering hydrogen ion concentration reduces burn and pump. By supplementing with lactate you can increase the amount of available lactate and reduce pump and burn-causing hydrogen ion concentration, thus enabling you to try hard more often during the day.
Supplementing with Crank Forearm Fuel allows you to get at least one more good redpoint attempt during the climbing day and in the case of training it allows you to perform a higher volume of power endurance exercises at maximum intensity.
Citrulline Malate: Again, for a better description, read this. The deal here is that citrulline malate helps your forearms get rid of the ammonia produced (another thing produced when you get pumped) during anaerobic activity. Citrulline Malate works well with lactate supplementation in the whole process of recovering from crossing that anaerobic threshold. Lactate supplementation gives you more “go” and citrulline malate helps clear out the by products of the last go.
The rest of the ingredients in CRANK help with general energy production (by converting stored fat into glycogen, which is another energy supply that can be broken down into ATP), alertness, and focus.