Journal of Applied Physiology

Role of submaximal exercise in promoting creatine and glycogen accumulation in human skeletal muscle

Tristan M. Robinson, Dean A. Sewell, Eric Hultman, Paul L. Greenhaff


We examined the effect of glycogen-depleting exercise on subsequent muscle total creatine (TCr) accumulation and glycogen resynthesis during postexercise periods when the diet was supplemented with carbohydrate (CHO) or creatine (Cr) + CHO. Fourteen subjects performed one-legged cycling exercise to exhaustion. Muscle biopsies were taken from the exhausted (Ex) and nonexhausted (Nex) limbs after exercise and after 6 h and 5 days of recovery, during which CHO (CHO group, n = 7) or Cr + CHO (Cr+CHO group, n = 7) supplements were ingested. Muscle TCr concentration ([TCr]) was unchanged in both groups 6 h after supplementation commenced but had increased in the Ex (P < 0.001) and Nex limbs (P < 0.05) of the Cr+CHO group after 5 days. Greater TCr accumulation was achieved in the Ex limbs (P < 0.01) of this group. Glycogen was increased above nonexercised concentrations in the Ex limbs of both groups after 5 days, with the concentration being greater in the Cr+CHO group (P = 0.06). Thus a single bout of exercise enhanced muscle Cr accumulation, and this effect was restricted to the exercised muscle. However, exercise also diminished CHO-mediated insulin release, which may have attenuated insulin-mediated muscle Cr accumulation. Ingesting Cr with CHO also augmented glycogen supercompensation in the exercised muscle.

  • phosphocreatine
  • insulin
  • carbohydrate
  • fatigue


  • Address for reprint requests and other correspondence: T. Robinson, School of Biomedical Sciences (Floor E), Univ. of Nottingham Medical School, Queens Medical Centre, Nottingham, NG7 2UH, UK.

  • The costs of publication of this article were defrayed in part by the payment of page charges. The article must therefore be hereby marked “advertisement” in accordance with 18 U.S.C. §1734 solely to indicate this fact.

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