Sport General or Sport Specific:

What are the research and practice telling us about working with Athletes?

With all of the information and “research” (albeit real or pseudo) it is difficult for parents, kids, and sometimes even professional and elite level athletes to know how to best approach training for Sports Performance. While the research is pretty solid and difficult to disagree with the fact that training (strength training, power training, core training, etc.) is beneficial and valuable for athletes, how to approach that training and what systems approach is most likely to create the best environment for long-term success is a bit elusive and confusing.

In a recent seminar at Optima (the National Academy of Sports Medicine’s National Conference), I addressed and explored this issue. I have attached the following slides of the presentation so you are able to get a feel for the topic, the field, the progress (and sometimes lack thereof) in discipline, and where we have landed at Prevail Conditioning with our systems approach to athletic and sports performance.

And just in case you don’t want to look through the entire presentation (although I think you should!), I’ll save you some time and sum it up with this quote from Mike Boyle:

“Sport-specific programming is one of the greatest misconceptions in athletics today. The notion that each sport needs its own individual program is fundamentally flawed. The majority of team sports and even many individual sports have similar general needs. All rely on speed and power, with strength as the underlying base. The development of speed, strength, and power does not and should not vary greatly from sport to sport.”

Link to Presentation:

OPTIMA 2017 Sport General or Specific

123chrisChris Ecklund, MA, PES, CSCS, USAW, TPI

Muscle KO: The Reason You’re Doing Scap Pushups

What you need to know12paq

  • The serratus anterior is dagger shaped muscles that protract the scapula.
  • They are critical stabilizers for all pushing movements.
  • Scapula pushups are a corrective movement that targets the serratus anterior.

For Part II of the Muscle KO series we’ll be looking at the serratus anterior, the “boxer’s muscle”, which is incredibly important for stabilization during pushing movements. In the figure, Manny Pacquiao’s serratus anteriors are the dagger-shaped muscles that run along his rib cage. The most important function of these muscles is to protract (shift forward) the scapula.

The reason scapular stabilizing muscles are so important is that the scapula does not have 12retrastrong bony attachments like other bones. Instead, the weight of the scapula and arm is supported by attachments to the clavicle which attaches to the sternum. This arrangement allows for increased scapular mobility but decreased stability. Muscles then take on stabilizing roles and, if weak, can lead to dysfunctional movement.

12scapIn cases where patients have a weak or dysfunctional serratus anterior, “winging” of the scapula is observed when they push against a wall (see figure). This is to say that loss of control of the serratus anterior leads to destabilization of the scapula and inability to brace when pushing.

At Prevail, the serratus anterior is most obviously worked in the scap pushup (see figure below). These pushups are done with locked elbows and build up the serratus anterior and improve scapular mobility. Corrective exercises like the scap pushup prepare your stabilizing muscle groups to assist in bigger lifts.


Work Cited

University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine Anatomy Course 2017





 Tyler Paras12tyler

B.S. – Cellular Molecular Biology (Westmont)

M.D. Candidate – University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine

Tyler was born and raised in Santa Barbara, California and began training at Prevail in October 2016. While at Westmont he graduated summa cum laude, led a student-run homeless outreach program, and volunteered with Hospice of Santa Barbara.

After Tyler’s mother was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), he became interested in the cellular mechanisms behind the disease. He conducted his Major Honors project at Westmont and conducted summers of research at Harvard Medical School studying RA. Tyler is interested in orthopedic surgery and is currently conducting a systematic review on the outcomes of reverse shoulder reconstructions. His research has resulted in seven presentations, three at national medical conferences.

Do You Bruise Easily

Why do some people bruise more easily when they use the vibrating foam roller compared to others?

Even though it is difficult to know exactly what is going on with a particular athlete at a given time, there are some governing principles that can explain the phenomena of bruising that occurs without the inclusion of acute trauma.

In the Western Medical model, bruising is the result of blood moving outside of the vessels in a given area of the body. Normally, this occurs as a result of acute trauma that physically damages the smaller vessels and causes a breach in the vessel wall that allows for blood to seep out and pool in the interstitial spaces around tissues. This blood is darker in color since it does not circulate very well, which creates the typical appearance of a bruise. Normally the body repairs the breach in the vessel wall by depositing clotting factors that rebuild the broken tissue and then reabsorbs the excess blood over time.

If you bruise easily without first experiencing acute trauma (like using a vibrating foam roller) that could indicate that your body is not able to tolerate the combination of pressure and vibration which could push blood out of vessels if they are too deficient to maintain their integrity. This could be caused by a nutritional deficiency, like for example Vitamin K, which is used in the synthesis of platelets in the blood, or perhaps a genetic condition, which leaves the vessels prone to hemorrhaging. Another angle to consider is the presence of a blood thinning medication in that individual, which could make them more prone to bleeding episodes.

In the perspective of Traditional East Asian Medicine, people who bleed easily have a deficiency of digestive Qi, called “Spleen Qi.” Spleen Qi, among other functions, is responsible for helping the vessels hold blood in its proper place. Spleen Qi is responsible for many “holding” functions in the body, including keeping organs in place, maintaining posture, and preventing prolapses. People who are Spleen Qi deficient will experience a varying degree of symptoms which could include: fatigue, lack of appetite, low quantity/quality of blood, excessive bruising, muscle weakness, and digestive difficulties to name a few. What is particularly interesting is that Spleen Qi is responsible for nourishing the muscle of the body, especially in the extremities. Aggressive foam rolling after a tough workout could promote bruising in some people because some of the Spleen Qi is already exhausted from exercise and the remaining amount cannot do enough to keep the blood in the vessels.

The answer in both cases is to ensure that an adequate nutrition plan is in place to both feed the body and boost the strength of Spleen Qi. This will serve to enhance digestive strength, improve muscular performance, and reduce the likelihood of any excessive bleeding episodes in the future. Beyond an ideal nutrition plan, acupuncture and herbal medicine can further strengthen the Qi of the Spleen and help it perform the functions it needs to, while also improving the levels of energy, quality of blood, regulate appetite, and improve strength.

Traditional East Asian medicine is a huge world of information, but I hope this was helpful in shedding light on some questions that you may have had or observations you have made.

To your health!

Diego Garcia


12345diegoDiego Garcia – Performance Coach


Diego comes from a varied background of fitness and martial arts including resistance training, acrobatics, Capoeira, saber fencing, hand-balancing, and high-intensity interval conditioning. As a coach, Diego acknowledges the mental and spiritual transformation that goes hand-in-hand with athletic training and helps cement positive habits into real personality traits. Whatever your training goals may be, Diego can help you find the safest and most effective path to realizing your fitness dreams.

Meet Our New Trainer Diego Garcia

Diego Garcia

Performance Coach

Diego comes from a varied background of fitness and martial arts including resistance 1235prevailtraining, acrobatics, Capoeira, saber fencing, hand-balancing, and high-intensity interval conditioning.

Diego leads his clients through his own experience and commitment to optimal health and fitness. This is seen through the path of education that Diego has taken in his life. His experience with training and knowledge of Chinese Medicine provide him with a unique point of view and a broader set of tools to further a holistic approach to long-lasting health and fitness.

Training sessions with Diego are built around the needs of the individual. The program evolves as the goals and athleticism the client progress; emphasizing that fitness is not a means to an end, but a lifelong process.

Form and tempo are prioritized over a focus on numbers and quality of movement while reinforcing the mind-muscle connection build the backbone of Diego’s training philosophy. More than anything else, however, is the guidance and acknowledgment of the mental transformation that goes hand-in-hand with athletic training. Whether you are training for strength, health, or a specific athletic endeavor; Diego can facilitate your path to realizing your fitness goals.


Master of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (MAcOM) – Oregon College of Oriental Medicine

Bachelor of Science, Food Science and Human Nutrition (BS) – University of Florida

Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) – National Strength and Conditioning Association

Swiss Ball Versatility

By Mackie Greason BS, CSCS

Written for the La Cumbre Country Club location of Prevail Conditioning

In the La Cumbre Country Club Fitness Center, we have access to a plethora of different pieces of equipment, accessories, and gadgets that can enhance our workouts and rehabilitation. Each piece in the Fitness Center plays a key role, but the Swiss Ball is a multi faceted piece of equipment that can be used in many ways to introduce new challenges to your workouts. Due to the dynamic and unsteady nature of the Swiss ball, it can add a level of difficulty to your planks, push-ups, rows, etc. to stimulate your muscles in a new way.

Here in the LCCC Fitness Center, we have 3 different sizes of the Swiss Ball and each can be utilized in various ways to achieve different results. In general, the smaller Swiss Ball will be harder to balance on because of the decreased surface area in contact with your body (feet, shins, back, forearms, hands). Due to its size, the smaller Swiss Ball can hold less air, thus it depresses against the weight of your body more making it tougher to stay stable through your exercises. The introduction of a new unstable surface will engage smaller, synergistic muscles to coordinate with the larger more powerful ones to create a chain of stability.

Swiss Ball Push-ups, Planks and Hamstring Curls are three key exercises that can be added to any workout to increase whole body stabilization and activation. As is with any exercise, adding tempo/pauses to your Swiss Ball movements will increase the difficulty and will require your body to hold muscle tension longer and will develop strength and stability. If the addition of tempo isn’t enough of a challenge, trying your Swiss Ball exercises with one leg or arm can increase the challenge of any exercise.

In conclusion, using the variety of Swiss Balls you can add new stimulus to your workout without completely changing exercises. The introduction of an unstable surface can encourage your body to recruitment smaller muscles to work with the large ones to create a whole body stability and strength.

Self Care of Lower Back Pain: Part 4

Part 4: Self Care of Lower Back Pain

The purpose of this article is to discuss some of the self-care practices that can prevent or address lower back pain. Lower back pain is not a general condition but has many specific potential sources that cannot all be addressed in this article. This article will discuss self-myofascial release

(foam rolling) for maintaining tissue health and Stuart McGill’s Big 3 exercises for building a strong, well-rounded core.

Self-myofascial release (SMR):

SMR is essentially the poor man’s massage. Massages are great for releasing knots and reducing creep. Creep is the low stretching of muscle beyond their normal length that can come from slouching. Mike Boyle explains creep as slowly pressing your fist through a plastic bag. If you don’t apply too much pressure, the bag will stretch and retain that stretched length. Slouching does the same thing for the lower back. The muscles and connective tissue of the lumbar spine are slowly stretched a lengthen and become denser. It was found that slouching as little as 20 minutes a day causes the ligaments of the lower back to lengthen (Boyle). The end result is lower quality muscles. SMR is especially important for the back side of your body because it reduces creep.

Importantly, SMR is perhaps the only area of strength and conditioning where “no pain, no gain” is actually true. For any SMR movement, roll out at a rate of about 1 inch per second and when you find a sensitive area hold that position while taking 3-5 deep breaths. The targeted muscle should be relaxed while rolling. If the muscle is flexed, transition to a softer tool.

Foam Roller Piriformis

The piriformis is an area I roll out daily. Put a foam roller, tennis ball, or lacrosse ball on the ground and sit down on it so pressure is applied against the butt cheek. You are looking for sensitive areas where the back pocket of your pants would be located. Check out the video below!


Other areas I like to focus on during SMR are my thoracic spine, levators, traps, quadriceps, and IT band. Below is a link to Prevail’s Self Myofascial Release YouTube playlist.

Self Myofascial Release Playlist

Stuart McGill’s Big 3

Stuart McGill is one of the leading lower back pain researchers. If you would like more information on lower back pain, his articles are very highly regarded in the strength and conditioning community (Here is a great summary article on his system). McGill’s Big 3 movements are core exercises that increase core stability without risking your spinal health. They aren’t the movements you’ll see in the latest YouTube video on getting 6 six-pack abs or a slimmer waist, but they have the potential to build a healthier, more resilient torso.

Curl to Neutral (curl up)

The curl to neutral is similar to a sit up except the lower back stays on the ground. The purpose of the movement is to train the abs without straining the lower back like sit ups.

Side Bridge

The core is never really a massive generator of force. For most functional movements, it just transfers force generated by the lower body to the upper body. Thus, the core should be trained to remain rigid against extension and rotation. The side plank trains the core to remain rigid when a lateral force is applied. During the movement, everything should be flexed especially the hips, core, and lat of the bottom arm. For this movement, it is important that the entire body remains straight (including the neck) and that the top shoulder stays back.

Quadruped Position (Bird Dog)

The quadruped position is an anti-extension and anti-rotation movement. The user has to keep themselves from letting their back arch and stay balanced as their leg moves.

There are many progressions for each of McGill’s Big 3 movements depending on factors including goals, training history, injuries, and mobility limitations. Check out Prevail’s Torso Training playlist for a run through the different variations!

Torso Training Playlist

Alright! That sums up this series on lower back pain. If you read all 4 parts I am very thankful you stuck with it. I hope this information has been informative and useful. I’ve got your back! Get it?


Stuart McGill’s Big 3

Causes and Prevention of LBP From Poor Posture Part III:

Part III: Causes and prevention of LBP from poor posture

Screenshot 2017-08-22 11.48.53The purpose of this article is to discuss the causes and prevention of lower back pain that comes from poor sitting and standing posture. There are many ways LBP can develop from slouching and this article will focus on one source and attempt to provide an understanding of common motifs on how the body works. In Part II of this series, I talked a lot about the role of hip mobility restrictions in LBP and in this article I will focus on the role of the thoracic spine. Figure source

It would be helpful to read the previous parts of this series (especially Part I):

Part I: Introduction to the Anatomy and Physiology of Lower Back Pain

Part II: Causes and Prevention of Lower Back Pain in Athletes

The thoracic spine

The thoracic spine are the middle 12 vertebrae that mostly run along the rib cage. When Screenshot 2017-08-22 11.49.02we slouch, the thoracic spine bends forward, putting more stress on the lower back and pushing the neck and head forward. This can lead to LBP and headaches (Alexander). Figure source

Only so many bends before it breaks

The spine is a collection of versatile joints that can generate mobility and stiffness while withstanding high compression forces. Unfortunately, the stress placed on the spine means that it is vulnerable to fatigue, and later, pain. A large portion of the prevention of LBP is respecting the fatigue lifespan of the spine by reducing the number of flexions that put the spine in a vulnerable position (McGill). Patients who repeat the flexion events that aggravate their pain, such as sitting, set themselves up for worsening pain. Degeneration of the spine is completely normal, but good posture can be the difference between getting LBP now or later.

Joint by joint perspective revisited

The thoracic spine is especially relevant to the lower back because it is the joint directly above the lumbar spine. In Part II, we discussed the joint by joint perspective of training where the lower back primarily needs to provide stability while the hips and thoracic spine should provide mobility (Rusin). The hunched over position during sitting tightens the thoracic spine, which compromises our ability to maintain a good posture (Alexander).

Improving thoracic spine mobility

The press up is a valuable corrective movement that moves the user in back extension. The press up keeps the user away from flexion and counteracts the poor posture most of us assume when sitting. The bend in the spine should be distributed throughout the spine (the lower back does not articulate that much in this plane). The glutes should be relaxed. If practical, doing work while in the press up position (supported by elbows) can be helpful!

VIDEO: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G2CsgK9BNaI

Furthermore, stretching the thoracic spine through multiple planes of motion is also beneficial. A lying spinal rotation stretch can help the thoracic spine improve its mobility. For the spinal rotation it is important to remember the emphasis is on the thoracic spine. The lumbar spine only has a rotational range of motion of 13 degrees and most people have decent lumbar mobility. The shoulder should be placed on the ground before the hips are rotated and the emphasis is on the twisting in the chest.

Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jplj_fe11sI

Misconception Correction: Some stretches are bad for LBP

A pillar of the prevention of future LBP is removing the movement that causes pain. For most people this movement is flexion. Oddly, some LBP patients stretch their spine by curling up and pulling their knees into their chest. This reduces their pain because it activates stretch receptors in the lower back muscles, but sets the patient up for worse future pain. The stretch is a flexion event that will trigger the pain mechanism they suffer from. Beware of stretches that are quick fixes to pain.

Tune in next time for a discussion on the self-care of LBP! It will be a more practical article with a healthy array of foam rolling and corrective exercises.

Part II: Fundamentals of Lower Back Pain in Athletes

Part II: Fundamentals of Lower Back Pain in Athletes

This article is on the causes and prevention of lower back pain (LBP) in athletes. LBP can result from several different kinds of causes that cannot all be addressed in a single article. My goal for this article is to provide a foundational understanding of the motifs that can contribute to LBP.

See Part I here

Prevention is the most important component of keeping your back pain-free. The best predictor of a new injury is a previous injury. One of the founders of chiropractics, B.J. Palmer, said: “The preservation of health is easier than the cure of the disease” (Palmer). For this reason, time invested in prevention will yield more benefit than time spent on rehabilitating an injury that could have been avoided.

Back pain may not be rooted in back issues. When looking at the primary needs of our joints beginning at the ankles and ascending to the shoulders they alternate between needing mobility and stability work (see table).

Joint Primary Training Needs
Ankle mobility
Knee stability
Hip mobility
Lumbar Spine stability
T-Spine mobility
Shoulder stability
(Boyle, 2007)

The alternating pattern comes from observations that joints like the ankle have a tendency to become stiff and need additional mobility work, while joints like the shoulder have a tendency to move sloppily and need stability work (Cook). Most people have good mobility in their lower back but are poor at maintaining its stability.

The significance of the alternating pattern is that a deficit in the primary needs of the joints immediately above and below lumbar back forces the spine to compromise its ability to stabilize (Boyle, 2007). A lack of hip mobility is a common cause of LBP because it forces the lumbar spine to compensate by providing mobility. The lower back cannot provide maximal mobility and stability in the same moment.

When these errant patterns are repeated and become habits, it becomes more difficult to engage the hips without also losing a neutral spine position. A joint by joint view of training suggests that the early signs of LBP may reflect inactive hips and preventative work may be best focused on joints above and below the lower back.

The Cook Lift is a good test of whether an athlete activates their lower back when they engage their hips. Here is a video of the Cook Lift demonstrated by Prevail Chief Operations Officer Peter Blumert!

A good progression for the Cook Lift is a set of 8, then 10, then 12 reps.

The cause of back pain results from cumulative trauma rather than a singular event.

LBP originates from thousands of flexions of the lumbar spine which causes disc herniation at a microscopic level through nucleation and delamination (Tampier et al., 2007; McGill, 2010). These preceding events occur without giving athletes an indication a future injury is looming. An important idea is that the lumbar spine only has so many bends before it breaks (McGill, 2014). Use them wisely for essential everyday activities instead of sit-ups that place a large load on intervertebral disks (Reynolds, 2009). Simply substituting the curl-up for the sit-up takes a lot of the stress out of the back.

Movement quality and endurance are the keys to preventing LBP.

Between strength, endurance, mobility, and movement patterns, the quality of the movement patterns appears to be the most significant difference between patients with lower back injuries and asymptomatic controls (McGill, 2014). Patients with LBP lift more with their back causing unnecessary lumbar flexions. A common flawed movement pattern involves “gluteal amnesia” where athletes present with tight hips, hamstrings, and hip flexors and do not activate their glute complex to the necessary degree (McGill, 2007). These patients often do not improve with typical therapy methods because general back pain programs do not focus on developing the hips. Furthermore, the endurance of the lower back is more critical than its strength because the technique is more likely to breakdown after several, light movements compared to a few heavier ones (McGill, 2007).

Misconception correction:

Balance is not stability. YouTube and gyms everywhere have a population of lifters that rely on the Bosu ball (half ball) and fitness ball for their workouts. Their core argument (get it?) is that the instability of the ball provides more stability training than traditional lifts. Squatting, pressing, and rowing on the Bosu ball improves balance but does not improve spine stability (McGill, 2014). Instead, spinal stability is improved by practicing stiffening the core to allow the force to be transferred through it more effectively. Practice abdominal bracing during your big lifts to improve your core stability.

Our next article will discuss lower back pain developed from sitting and standing.

Further Reading:

A Joint-by-Joint Approach to Training

Designing Back Exercise: from Rehabilitation to Enhancing Performance

Lower Back Disorders, 2nd Edition

Lower Back Pain Part I: Overview of the lower back anatomy and mechanics

Lower Back Pain Part I: Overview of the lower back anatomy and mechanics

One of my greatest fears in weightlifting is the development of chronic lower back pain. To me, developing chronic lower back pain would turn weightlifting into nearly a zero sum game. The vast majority of lifters need to stay healthy more than they need to increase in strength. Yet, athletes of all levels of competency develop lower back pain (LBP). The purpose of this four part series of articles is to discuss the causes, prevention, and self-care of LBP.

Part I: Overview of the lower back anatomy and mechanics

Part II: Causes and prevention of LBP in athletes weight training

Part III: Causes and prevention of LBP in sedentary people

Part IV: Self-care of LBP


LBP ranks third in most burdensome causes of mortality and poor health (behind ischemic heart disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease from smoking) — over 25% of people have experienced it in the last three months (NIH LBP Fact Sheet). Most LBP is acute and typically a result of a mechanical problem, resolving itself in a few days. About 20% of people who suffer from acute LBP eventually suffer from chronic LBP lasting over 12 weeks. Furthermore, almost one-third of patients with chronic pain are clinically depressed (Watson, 2011). Staying away from LBP is critical to staying disability free and aging healthily as described in my last article (Paras, 2017).

General Anatomy:

The lumbar spine represents the lowest five unfused vertebrae of the spinal cord. The 121prevaillumbar vertebrae are the largest of the spinal column as they are built to carry the most weight while providing both stability and mobility (Davis, 2013). In between each vertebra there is a cushiony, spongy intervertebral disc that absorbs shocks to the spine. Notably, the spinal cord does not run through the lumbar spine. Instead, large nerves run through the lumbar spine and branch out in the sacrum. This includes the sciatic nerve, which has a larger diameter than most garden hoses (Eidelson, 2017)!

(figure source)

Torque and reasons the lumbar spine is vulnerable:

The lower back is surprisingly mobile considering it is a long stack of discs. It allows for forward and backward bends, twists, and movements in multiple planes simultaneously. However, this mobility comes at the cost of the stability necessary to maintaining proper posture. Common types of injuries are strains (e.g. muscle tearing, ligament tearing) and herniation (i.e. damage to a intervertebral disc).

The torque placed on the lower back is extremely high due to its long lever arm. The amount of force a muscle must produce to counterbalance a rotational force is proportional to the distance of the weight from the joint and the distance of the muscle’s attachment to the joint.The lower back is mechanically disadvantaged because a weight held at shoulder distance is very far away, while the lever formed by the muscle and joint is 12341prvailonly a few centimeters long. Therefore, the muscles of the lower back have to exert many times more force than the weight of any object it needs to support. For example, if a 180 pound person bends over 40 degrees to lift a 30 pound weight, the erector spinae muscles would need to generate 738 inch-pounds of force and experience a compressive force of 2214 inch-pounds just to maintain an isometric hold (Cornell University Ergonomics, n.d.). The massive torque placed on the lower back when lifting even light weights is one reason it is injury prone.

(Figure source)


The lower back is a common injury site that can develop into a source of disability. It provides stability and mobility in multiple planes, but its multi-functionality makes it vulnerable to injury. Furthermore, the lower back is mechanically disadvantaged because weights are typically held far from the hip and thus, require many pounds of exertion for every pound carried.

Tune in next time for a discussion on the causes and prevention of lower back injuries in athletes!

12tylerTyler Paras – Prevail Intern

B.S. – Cellular Molecular Biology (Westmont)

Matriculating M.D. Candidate – University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine

Tyler was born and raised in Santa Barbara, California and began training at Prevail in October 2016. He attended Westmont College and will be attending medical school this fall. While at Westmont he graduated summa cum laude, led a student-run homeless outreach program, and volunteered with medical clinics in Mexico and Bolivia.

After Tyler’s mother was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), he became interested in the cellular mechanisms behind the disease. He conducted his Major Honors project at Westmont on the role of the microbiome in inflammatory arthritis and conducted summers of research at Harvard Medical School studying the role of macrophages in RA. His research has resulted in seven presentations, three at national medical conferences.

Unveiling the Science Behind Creatine – Part 2

The Issue: My biggest problem with creatine has been the barrage of supplements claiming to ‘boost exercise performance.’ It is hard for me to decide which products I should purchase and which I should avoid. Of course, when going to your local Vitamin Shop/GNC, the employees will urge you to buy the latest and greatest; they want you to spend money. Before incorporating a new addition into one’s nutritional plan, one must explore both the positives and negatives of the suggested supplement. Does creatine really help? What harm can it do? Do I need it?

Research Perspectives: Allegations against creatine have been made with complaints of muscle cramps and gastrointestinal ailments. A problem with these complaints is a lack of evidence and the fact that the issues experienced are common symptoms that occur in the general population, not just with those who consume creatine. Studies show no change in functionality of the liver & kidneys in healthy subjects supplemented with creatine compared to those without supplementation (Kim et al. 2011).

A superfluous amount of creatine (i.e. over the recommended amount) may cause those who have pre-existing renal disease or those at risk for renal dysfunction to be at a higher risk of experiencing related issues (Kim et al. 2011). Controlled creatine intake is imperative along with proper knowledge of potential high-risk factors to one’s health and well-being. Vandenberghe et al (1997) states that long-term creatine intake is beneficial to performance during resistance training. Young women (n=19) were tested for 10 weeks and performed resistance training for 3hrs a week. The women were divided into two groups, a placebo group and creatine group. After 10 weeks of training an intake of 20g/day increased phosphocreatine concentration by 6%. Furthermore, Muscle PCr (Phosphocreatine) and strength, intermittent exercise capacity, and fat-free mass subsequently remained at a higher level in the creatine group. This study was able to conclude that long-term creatine supplementation enhances the progress of muscle strength during resistance training in sedentary females. (Vandenberghe et al, 1997).

My Personal Experience: Just as doctors recommend we need more vitamin C or higher calcium intake, it can be suggested that if you want to become stronger, an increase in creatine consumption will help you reach your goals. As a collegiate baseball player, I want to be the best athlete I can become. As such, I lift 4-5 days a week. Each day I strive to exceed my performance from the prior one, paying attention to proper form and avoiding unnecessary training gaps. Although progress begins and grows in the gym, proper supplementation is also essential to improving athletic performance. I have been using creatine before & after each workout and I personally have noticed improvements in my performance. I have shown improvement in my bench press, back & front squat, and RDL since taking creatine versus before. I have seen significant improvement in my bench press, where I was stuck at 205lbs for a long while; I have now reached 220lbs two months after I began incorporating creatine.

Conclusion on Creatine: Despite my positive experience with creatine, I still hesitate to quickly agree with the famous claim of “boosting exercise performance.” It may contribute, but its contribution is towards the progress of muscle strength. Upon looking at research, I have concluded that I am not an individual at-risk from creatine intake; however, I am glad that I am educated and aware of which individuals should refrain from this supplement. As my plans included a CSCS certification, I find it more important than ever to be aware of not only what I put into my own body, but also what I recommend that others put into theirs. Incorporating supplements into one’s training can help improve performance, but only with proper product knowledge and adherence to a training program that offers both safety and growth opportunity. I will continue to include creatine in my training. Should I choose to venture out and consider new additions into my plan, I will be sure to know the science behind the product and its potential effects on my health and well-being.


Kim, Hyo Jeong, Chang Keun Kim, A. Carpentier, and Jacques R. Poortmans. “Studies on the Safety of Creatine Supplementation.” Amino Acids 40.5 (2011): 1409-418. Web.

Vandenberghe, K et al. “Long-term creatine intake is beneficial to muscle performance during resistance training”. Journal of Applied Physiology Vol. 83. 1997.


1justinprevialJustin McPhail – Prevail Intern

B.S. Candidate (Kinesiology) – Westmont College

Justin was born in Huntington Beach, California and moved to Long Valley, New Jersey when he was eight years old. Justin will graduate with a B.S in Kinesiology in May 2018. Justin currently plays baseball Westmont College under head Coach Robert Ruiz.

Justin became interested in Kinesiology because of his involvement in baseball. He loves the idea of working with athletes and helping them to become faster and stronger and reach their full potential.

Justin plans to get his CSCS and attend graduate school after Westmont.

Prevail Conditioning