What products will aid power & strength training?

Power and strength training are important components of many sporting codes. These training modes generally require an athlete to perform under high intensity. At the onset of such high intensity workouts, there is insufficient oxygen present to allow for carbohydrate to be used as fuel, and the body primarily relies on its creatine stores to fuel the muscles. However creatine stores are very small and deplete very quickly, therefore athletes generally cannot sustain such high intensity work outputs for long e.g. you can generally sprint at full pace for 10 seconds before tiring and reducing your speed, after which carbohydrate stores kick in as your primary fuel to get you around the 400m track.

Creatine

There have been numerous studies on creatine supplementation in athletes and non-athletes, and its effects that has on physical performance. Creatine supplementation has been shown to exert beneficial effects in situations where repeated bouts of short maximal efforts are combined with brief recovery periods (1).
The International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN) summarises creatine monohydrate:

  • The most effective ergogenic nutritional supplement to increase high-intensity exercise capacity and lean body mass during training
  • Creatine monohydrate is safe when taken according to recommended guidelines
  • The addition of carbohydrate aids muscular retention of creatine

Beta Alanine

Beta Alanine is an amino acid, which along with histidine, produces carnosine. Carnosine is naturally present in muscles and acts as a buffering substance against lactic acid build up. Researchers have found promising benefits from beta alanine supplementation, including:

  • Increased carnosine saturation after 4 & 10 weeks (3)
  • Increased number of repetitions one can do (4)
  • Decreased fatigue (5, 6)
  • Increased training volume (5)
  • Increase lean body mass (7)

Supplementation with creatine and beta alanine, in combination with a tailored training programme, shows promise for strength and power performance gains.

References

(1) Creatine: Australian Institute of Sport: Australian Sports Commission. http://www.ausport.gov.au/ais/nutrition/supplements/supplement_fact_sheets/group_a
(2) Kreider et al: ISSN exercise & sport nutrition review: research & recommendations. J Int Soc Sports Nutr 2010, 7(7).
(3) Hill CA et al: Influence of beta-alanine supplementation on skeletal muscle carnosine concentrations and high intensity cycling capacity. Amino Acids 2007, 32(2): 225-33.
(4) Hoffman J, et al: Beta Alanine and the hormonal response to exercise. Int J Sports Med 2008, 29(12):952-8.
(5) Hoffman J, et al: Short-duration beta-alanine supplementation increases training volume and reduces subjective feelings of fatigue in college football players. Nutr Res 2008, 28(1):31-5.
(6) Stout JR, et al: Effects of twenty-eight days of beta-alanine and creatine monohydrate supplementation on the physical working capacity at neuromuscular fatigue threshold. J Strength Cond Res 2006, 20(4):928-31.
(7) Smith AE et al: Effects of beta-alanine supplementation and high-intensity interval training on endurance performance and body composition in men; a double-blind trial. J Int Soc Sports Nutr 2009, 6(1)-5.