I’m sure you want to know, “Can You Build Muscle Without Creatine?”
It seems as though just about everyone who works out takes creatine.
In fact, creatine has become so popular in the modern day-and-age that you may well think that it’s impossible to build muscle without it.
But, is this really the case?
Are you missing out by not supplementing creatine?
Or can you sculpt a muscular physique without it?
Allow me to reveal all.
Can You Build Muscle Without Creatine?
Yes, you can definitely build muscle without creatine. The main purpose of creatine supplementation is to replenish the muscles with adenosine triphosphate (ATP) more quickly. ATP is the body’s main source of energy, which is especially important when you exercise. With that being said, the main components of building muscle are eating at a caloric surplus, progressively overloading the muscles through resistance training, and taking adequate rest and recovery. All of this can be achieved without the need for creatine.
1. Is Creatine Really Necessary?
Firstly, I will state that you do not need creatine in order to build muscle.
In fact, you don’t need any type of supplement at all.
People have been able to produce strong, muscular physiques for centuries without the need for any “chemical help”.
So, please don’t believe that you have to take creatine, pre-workout, BCAAs, whey protein, etc. to create slabs of muscle.
Okay, I’m not saying that most of these supplements won’t help in some way, but they’re definitely not required.
With that being said, creatine has definitely become one of the most popular supplements in recent years.
And it seems that just about everyone who lifts takes creatine.
So, I can certainly understand while many people believe it’s a “must” to build muscle.
However, I think that most of us misunderstand what creatine actually does.
I’ve often heard creatine described as “giving that extra 5%”.
Plus, there have been scientific studies which show that creatine supplementation has led to an 8-10% increase in strength in individuals over a certain period of time.
So, yes creatine helps, but it’s not essential.
2. Creatine’s Role in Muscle Building
I’ve mentioned that most of us misunderstand what creatine actually does.
By this I mean that creatine is not responsible for actually building slabs of muscle on your body.
In fact, in order to build muscle there are 3 main things you need to do, and I’ll get to these in a moment.
But, none of these factors involve taking supplements.
Creatine is naturally produced in the kidneys, liver and pancreas.
Therefore, we all have creatine readily available in our body whether we supplement with it or not.
Furthermore, creatine is found in many foods, especially red meat and seafood, so it is possible to “supplement” through normal eating.
However, the main reason you would take creatine is to increase the production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP).
The body is fuelled by the ATP found in the cells of the muscles.
So, in effect, ATP is the body’s main source of energy.
But, the body typically only stores small amounts of ATP, but this is enough to fuel short bursts of energy.
In order to produce more ATP the compound adenosine phosphate will take the phosphate molecules it requires from creatine phosphate.
Therefore, if you supplement with creatine you have more creatine phosphate readily available in the body.
Why I Am Reconsidering Creatine
3. The Creatine “Extra 5%”
This is also why I mentioned the “extra 5%” earlier.
In essence what creatine does is give you that additional energy (ATP) to crank out an extra rep or two.
Plus, it will also help with recovery.
This means that you’ll be able to workout for slightly longer and recover slightly quicker.
However, it’s important to remember the “extra 5%”.
Basically, you can still build the same amount of muscle, but it will simply take 5% longer.
So, the muscular growth that you experience with creatine over 20 months would essentially take 21 months without creatine.
I know this is a very basic way to look at creatine supplementation, but I just wanted to make my point.
Creatine helps, but it doesn’t perform miracles.
Plus, I will also say that it very much depends on how your body reacts to creatine.
For the lucky ones they can almost feel the additional 5% in energy, whereas for others creatine has no effect at all.
RELATED====>Why Does Creatine Make Me Feel Sick?
4. You Need to Eat More to Build Muscle
Okay, I mentioned there are 3 main things you need to do to build muscle, and number one has to be to increase your calorie intake.
Basically, you’re looking to pack on size, to get bigger, and the best way to achieve this is to consume more calories.
Diet and nutrition is actually fairly simple when it comes to your physique.
You need to initially calculate your maintenance calories.
This simply means the number of calories you should be eating, in conjunction with your activity levels, to maintain your current weight.
Then if you’re looking to lose weight or cut body fat you’ll need to eat slightly fewer calories than maintenance levels.
This of course means that if you want to gain weight, or add muscle to your frame, then you’ll need to eat more calories than your maintenance levels.
Now of course, many people will talk about an effective split of macronutrients in order to achieve your body composition goals.
However, I really don’t feel you need to overcomplicate this.
Think Protein First
For me, if you’re looking to build muscle then the main macronutrient you need to concentrate on is protein.
You’ve probably heard of eating 1g of protein per one pound of body weight.
But, in reality this is probably the ideal amount that most of us should be eating anyway.
Okay, you can probably get away with 0.8g of protein per pound of body weight, but try to aim for 1g as a minimum.
With that being said, when it comes to gaining weight and building muscle you’ll want to increase this slightly.
I think an ideal amount of protein would be 1.2-1.6g of protein per pound of body weight.
The actual number will depend on your current physique and your overall goals.
So, if you’re naturally skinny and have a hard time putting on weight, aim for the higher end of the scale.
And vice versa, if you’re someone who typically puts on weight as soon as you look at food.
The remainder of your nutrition should include a minimum of 20% of healthy fats.
You can then fill in the remainder with carbs.
5. Progressive Overload to Build Muscle
The one thing that we’re all aware of in terms of muscle growth is the need to train.
However, there are obviously countless ways to workout, and not all of these will build muscle.
Yes, every form of training will involve using the muscles, but in order to pack on size you’re generally looking at resistance training.
This will usually mean lifting weights with a fairly high volume, while maintaining adequate time-under-tension.
In the main, you’re looking to train each body part with at least 10 sets on a weekly basis and typically perform 6-12 reps per set.
How you achieve this is obviously down to your training split.
Some people prefer to train one body part a day.
Others prefer an upper body and lower body split.
Whereas, there are those who like to train a push, pull, legs split.
Plus, you can still achieve these numbers with just a few full-body workouts a week.
RELATED====>Is 3 Days a Week Enough to Build Muscle?
With that being said, you must progressively overload the muscles in subsequent workouts.
Now, most people view progressive overload as meaning that you have to add more weight to the bar.
However, this isn’t the only way.
You can use the exact same weight, but add more reps, an additional set, or even rest for less time between sets.
You can use different training protocols, such as rest-pause, drop sets, supersets, partial reps, etc.
Basically, progressive overload simply means making an exercise harder week-on-week.
I will admit that creatine can play a role in helping with progressive overload, but you can still achieve this without supplementation.
6. Rest & Recovery to Build Muscle
The final piece of the puzzle when it comes to building muscle is rest and recovery.
And unfortunately, it’s the one that most people either don’t do properly or try to avoid altogether.
There’s a mindset that more is better, so you literally try to pummel your body into submission in order to make it grow.
However, the muscles don’t actually grow while you train, but rather while you’re at rest.
And this is especially true while you sleep.
Various muscle-growing hormones, including Human Growth Hormone, get released while we sleep.
So, you need to ensure that you’re getting at least 7-9 hours sleep a night if you want to build muscle.
Rest and recovery also incorporates taking rest days and perhaps even dialling down your training a notch if you’re not really “feeling it” on a particular day.
Basically, listen to your body, and train at optimum levels by ensuring that you take your rest and recovery seriously.
Why The Days You Don’t Workout Matter the Most
I hope you understand that you can definitely build muscle without creatine.
Yes, creatine is a great supplement in terms of providing that extra hit of energy to get an extra rep or two in the gym.
Plus, it can also help you to recover quicker between workouts.
However, we are all more than capable of building muscle without creatine or any other supplement for that matter.
The most important factors in building muscle will always be eating at a caloric surplus, progressively overloading your workouts, and ensuring that you get adequate rest and recovery.
If you get these 3 things right then you will build muscle.
Hi, I’m Partha, the founder of My Bodyweight Exercises. I’m someone who’s been passionate about exercise and nutrition for more years than I care to remember. I’ve studied, researched, and honed my skills for a number of decades now. So, I’ve created this website to hopefully share my knowledge with you. Whether your goal is to lose weight, burn fat, get fitter, or build muscle and strength, I’ve got you covered.