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Creatine Cycle

Based on the information provided here, I propose the following cycle. The length of an ideal cycle would be relatively short. Many studies suggest that the main response to creatine supplementation occurs during the first week, with subsequent weeks of supplementation rendering no significant increase of performance or mass.

Research is very limited with regard to extended cycles at high doses, however. The cessation of ergogenic effects seems to correlate to the end of the "loading" phase. It is therefore suggested that an extended loading phase may prolong the ergogenic effects. It is also important to cycle off of the product for a prolonged period of time, due to the high dose of the cycle and the potential for contaminants in the product.


An ideal cycle would contain the following:


  • Duration of a few weeks
  • An average dose more equivocal to a "loading" phase than a "maintenance phase"
  • A larger dose for potential responders who lack natural, dietary creatine
  • A smaller dose for potential non-responders with a significant amount of existing dietary creatine intake
  • A training protocol that emphasizes all phases of muscular energetics to take advantage of the ATP-CP, glycolytic, and oxidative effects of creatine supplementation (HIIT is ideal for cardiovascular exercise when supplementing creatine, due to the repeated bouts of high intensity work)
  • A training protocol that incorporates negatives in order to stimulate satellite cell fusion, as per Dr. Hatfield's theory of holistic training
  • A training protocol that emphasizes repeated bouts of work per the results of creatine studies
  • A nutrition protocol tailored to reduce post-workout cortisol levels, which would involve a post-workout shake and possible glutamine supplementation
  • A nutrition protocol that takes advantage of carb-load (super compensation) near the end of the cycle

From these guidelines, the following cycle can be extrapolated.

Supplement Cycle

First, the cycle will be short, only 4 weeks in duration. It will involve a rapid "ramp-up" with a corresponding "ramp-down" of creatine and incorporate glutamine supplementation. Nutrition will be manipulated to favor hypertrophy during the first 3 weeks, then take advantage of super compensation and unloading for the final week.


  • First, determine a baseline creatine dose.
  • For the average individual, this is proposed to be 0.3 g / kg lean mass.
  • For vegetarians, consider 0.4 g / kg lean mass.
  • For those with predominant protein (35% of total calories or higher) in the diet, and those who consume at least 1 portion of red meat daily, consider 0.2 g / kg lean mass.
  • A discussion of glutamine is outside the scope of this article. The proposed dose is 0.3 g / kg lean mass.

An example individual weighs 180 pounds at 12% body fat. Lean mass is determined to be 158 pounds, or 72 kg. The individual has predominant protein in their diet and consumes red meat frequently. Therefore, the baseline creatine dose is computed to be 72 kg * 0.2 g / kg = 14 grams. Glutamine dose is set at 72 kg * 0.3 g / kg = 22 grams.

Glutamine will be divided into 3 doses: pre-workout, post-workout, and pre-bedtime. This equates to 7 grams pre-workout, 7 grams post-workout, and 8 grams pre-bedtime.

Creatine will be "ramped up". The first week will be 50% of the baseline. Second week is 100% of the baseline, and third week is 150% of the baseline. The unloading week is 50% of the baseline. The creatine will be consumed post-workout (75%) and pre-bedtime (25%). To summarize dosing:

Week 1:

Creatine: 5g post-workout, 2g before bed.
Glutamine: 7g pre-workout, 7g post-workout, 8g before bed.

Week 2:

Creatine: 11g post-workout, 3g before bed.
Glutamine: 7g pre-workout, 7g post-workout, 8g before bed.

Week 3:

Creatine: 16g post-workout, 5g before bed.
Glutamine: 7g pre-workout, 7g post-workout, 8g before bed.

Week 4:

Creatine: 5g post-workout, 2g before bed.
Glutamine: 7g pre-workout, 7g post-workout, 8g before bed.

Week 5:

All supplementation ceases (cycle is complete).

Nutrition Cycle

As indicated earlier, a post-workout shake is important to replenish intramuscular glycogen and aid with recovery. It has been suggested by several studies that a post-workout shake may decrease cortisol levels. While it has also been noted that ingestion of food can lower growth hormone levels, this effect is minor compared to the potential benefits of a post-workout shake. I recommend 50% of lean weight (pounds) in grams carbohydrate, 1/3 of carbohydrate in grams of protein, and � protein in grams of fat. For the test case, the post-workout shake would be:


    Carbohydrate: 80 grams
    Protein: 27 grams
    Fat: 14 grams*

* Healthy, unsaturated fats, or medium chain triglycerides

This equates to 544 kcal of energy. Post-workout shakes should be consumed immediately subsequent to bouts of resistance training exercise.

The subject should be in a hypo caloric state throughout the cycle (taking in more calories than expended to induce muscle growth). This would preferably involve a zigzag of calories, with higher calorie days coinciding with resistance training. Protein intake should be considerable to accommodate increases in muscle mass. Nutrition requirements vary widely from individual to individual, so no example menu is provided.

One important factor for consideration is the super compensation phase. After the third (highest) week of the cycle, a period of low carbohydrate intake should ensue. This period should last approximately three (3) days. The purpose of this period is to deplete muscle glycogen stores. The third day will consist of an "unloading" workout; a full-body regimen designed to fully deplete intramuscular glycogen. Protein should be increased while carbohydrate is reduced to maintain consistent overall caloric intake. After the unloading workout, carbohydrate will be increased to 150% of the original levels and protein reduced slightly to allow super compensation. This period will last 2 days, and then the diet will resume to normal.

If a typical intake were 200 grams of protein and 200 grams of carbs, this would shift to 325 grams of protein and 75 grams of carbohydrate during the carb-depletion phase (as an example). During the super compensation phase, the subject would consume 100 grams of protein and 300 grams of carbohydrate.

Training Cycle

In order to take advantage of various systems of muscular energetics, a holistic approach is recommended. This approach would involve a series of "mega-sets" (Dr. Fred Hatfield's "Holistic sets" or "ABC training") designed to recruit a broad spectrum of muscle fiber types for each muscle group. An example mega-set for chest might be:


    6 reps 90% intensity - explosive
    10 reps 70% intensity - moderate
    40 reps 55% intensity - slow

Intensity is expressed as a percentage of one rep max. If the subject can bench 200 pounds for a single rep, then the mega-set would be:


    6 reps at 180 pounds - explosive tempo (accelerate as quickly as possible)
    10 reps at 140 pounds - steady tempo (1 second down, 1 second up)
    40 reps at 110 pounds - slow tempo (3 seconds down, 2 seconds up).

The mega-set is performed with minimal rest - only enough time to strip the weight between mini-sets. After a mega-set, rest no more than 1 minute and repeat the mega-set for a total of three (3) times. Note that these reps are general guidelines. A person with predominantly slow-twitch (endurance) fiber in their chest would have higher reps and may only perform 2 sets, as opposed to another individual with explosive fiber in their chest.

Holistic sets are very taxing on the central nervous system. For this reason, a moderate workout should be used to extend recovery while preventing atrophy. An example schedule for this program:

Week 1


    Monday - Chest/Back (row) holistic

    Tuesday - HIIT exercise
    Wednesday - Legs moderate
    Thursday - HIIT exercise
    Friday - Shoulders/Back (pull-down) holistic
    Saturday - Moderate cardio
    Sunday - ** rest **


Week 2


    Monday - Chest/Back moderate + triceps

    Tuesday - HIIT exercise
    Wednesday - Legs holistic
    Thursday - HIIT exercise
    Friday - Shoulders/Back moderate + biceps + traps
    Saturday - Moderate cardio
    Sunday - ** rest **

Week 3


    Monday - Chest/Back (row) holistic

    Tuesday - HIIT exercise
    Wednesday - Legs moderate
    Thursday - HIIT exercise
    Friday - Shoulders/Back (pull-down) holistic
    Saturday - Moderate cardio
    Sunday - ** rest ** (begin low carb phase)

Week 4


    Monday - HIIT exercise

    Tuesday - Unload routine (full body workout)
    Wednesday - Moderate cardio (begin high carb phase)
    Thursday - Moderate cardio
    Friday - ** rest ** (return to normal diet)
    Saturday - ** rest **
    Sunday - ** rest - end of cycle **

The "unload routine" should contain mostly multi-joint, compound movements, such as squats, dead-lifts, bench press, clean and press, wide-grip pull-ups, and bent-over rows. Multiple sets of higher reps (15 - 20) should be performed in superset fashion with minimal rest. The final rest period prior to the end of cycle will allow recovery while in a super compensated state. This could lead to significant hypertrophy.

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