If you use creatine because you want to build more strength and muscle mass, you might want to consider combining it with HMB. A Polish-American study from 2001 suggests that HMB and creatine reinforce each other’s effect on maximal strength and lean body mass. HMB is a controversial supplement. Most studies that show the effectiveness of HMB were either sponsored by the manufacturer or were done by scientists who developed and patented the substance.
The same is probably true for this study, which was published over a decade ago in Nutrition. Although scientists at Warsaw Agricultural University in Poland performed the study, it was done under the leadership of none other than Steve Nissen from Iowa State University.
Nissen is a nutritionist. He and his colleagues discovered the muscle strengthening effects of HMB decades ago and set up MTI, the company that applied for patents to use HMB as a supplement, and that launched HMB on to the market in the 1990s.
Opinions on HMB are divided in the sports world. Most users are convinced that HMB does have some effect, but not as much as the supplements industry claims. In fact, most positive stories come from users who use 2-3 times the recommended dosage.
For the Polish study, 40 reasonably active but not over-trained male students aged between 19 and 23 took a placebo, 3 g HMB, creatine or creatine plus 3 g HMB daily. The people in the creatine group and the creatine+HMB group started with 20 g creatine/day for a week, followed by 2 weeks of 10 g creatine/day. The experiment lasted 3 weeks.
The students did weight training 3-4 times a week. They did basic exercises, including the bench-press, power-clean, neck-press, curls, triceps-extension, squats and crunches.
After the three weeks the placebo group had gained 0.9 kg lean body mass, the creatine group 1.8 kg, the HMB group 1.2 kg and the creatine+HMB group 2.4 kg. The first table below shows the results. The second table shows that the maximal weight the four groups were able to use for the exercises increased in total by 20, 57, 59 and 72 kg respectively.
The figure above shows the combined effects of the three supplementation regimes on maximal strength and lean body mass. The effect of the combination of HMB and creatine on lean body mass is particularly striking.
The researchers discovered that HMB reduces the concentration of creatine kinase in the subjects’ blood. Creatine on its own doesn’t do that. The researchers also found less nitrogen in the urine of the HMB users. Both variables are indicators that HMB has an anticatabolic effect.