Can creatine improve sprinting performance? Original paper

This randomized-controlled trial found that creatine had a small but notable effect on repeated sprinting performance. During the last 5 seconds of the last sprint, creatine improved speed and power output by a few percent compared to placebo.

This Study Summary was published on May 3, 2022.


Creatine supplementation reduces fatigue during repeated high-intensity exercise.[1] However, most studies tested durations of 30 seconds, which are not common in sports, and used cycling instead of running-based sprint tests. This study examined whether creatine can improve repeated sprinting exercises during shorter sprint periods.

The study

This randomized controlled trial in 16 healthy, physically active men (average age of 26) examined whether oral creatine supplementation can improve sports performance during repeated sprint tests compared to a placebo. At baseline, all participants received placebo supplementation for 5 days and then performed repeated sprint tests (six repetitions of 10 seconds each on a nonmotorized treadmill). Afterward, the subjects received either a placebo or creatine (75 milligrams per kilogram of body weight daily) for 5 days and repeated the sprint test protocol.

During the six sprints, the researchers measured the mean and maximum power output and running speed. They also measured maximal oxygen uptake (VO2max) to assess the possible effects of creatine on aerobic metabolism.

The results

Creatine slightly improved mean speed and power output in the last 5 seconds of the last sprint by a few percent. This effect was not observed in the placebo group. Otherwise, no differences between creatine and placebo were found for sprinting performance. Also, no differences in VO2max were found, indicating that creatine had no effect on aerobic performance.


The creatine group experienced a small but notable increase in body mass index, which was not observed in the placebo group. Because the researchers did not measure body composition, it remains unclear whether the weight gain was due to water retention or muscle gain. If creatine led to improved recovery after the first sprinting test, the results could equally be explained by the muscle gain, not the creatine itself. Future studies should account for changes in body composition when testing the effects of creatine on exercise performance.

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This Study Summary was published on May 3, 2022.