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Creatine helps strengthen muscles in the over-sixties

Women over 60 who are starting to lose muscle bulk and strength also react well to creatine. The best sports supplement available also has a positive effect on musculature in this group. But just taking creatine is not enough. You have to train as well of course.

Creatine is a tried-and-tested extremely effective supplement for strength athletes. In fact its positive effects are so convincing that doctors have wondered whether their patients would also react well to creatine in the elderly for example, who are starting to lose muscle mass and strength.

Researchers at the University of Sao Paulo in Brazil studied the effect of creatine on women in their sixties who were losing bone mass and strength. Strength training can delay this progress, and a few studies have even shown that it can stop or reverse the progress. The Brazilians wanted to know whether creatine supplementation could boost the effect that strength training has on muscles and bones.

Experimental setup
The researchers performed experiments with four groups of 15 women.

The control group did no exercise and took a placebo [PL]. A group of 15 women took creatine: 20 g a day for the first five days, and then 5 g a day [CR].

Another group of 15 women took a placebo and did strength training twice a week. A workout consisted of seven basic exercises, which together trained all large muscle groups in the body [PL+RT]. A fourth group also trained and took creatine as well [CR+RT].

The experiment lasted 24 weeks.

Strength and body composition
Creatine supplementation increased the effect of the strength training. For example, the maximal weight with which the women could manage 1 rep on the bench press [1RM] increased significantly only in the CR+RT group. In addition, the combination of strength training and creatine supplementation resulted in the women being able to get up from an armchair more often in a period of 30 seconds. [Timed-Stand Test]

Creatine helps strengthen muscles in the over-sixties

Creatine helps strengthen muscles in the over-sixties

In the CR+RT group the women's muscle mass on their arms and legs [Appendicular lean mass] increased by a significant amount; in the other groups this did not happen.

Bone tissue
The researchers measured the women's blood concentration of Type 1 collagen C-telopeptide [CTX] and Procollagen type I N-propeptide [P1NP]. These are markers for the breakdown and build up of bone tissue. Neither strength training, creatine supplementation, nor a combination of the two, had any effect, however.

"These findings point out the therapeutic potential of creatine supplementation, especially in association with resistance training, in offsetting the decline of muscle mass and muscle function in aging", the researchers write.

Exp Gerontol. 2014 May;53:7-15.

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