Creatine is perhaps the most well-studied performance-enhancing supplement. Countless studies have shown a positive increase in muscle strength, muscle endurance, and muscle mass when taking creatine.
Emerging data also shows that the brain loves creatine too! From improving cognitive memory and executive function to depression and mood, it seems creatine is… well… a no brainer.
At Apex Cool Labs, we often take an afternoon creatine break. I mix mine with electrolytes, while Ariel prefers his creatine with a dash of coffee, coconut milk, and honey. To each their own…
It was over a creatine break (and thanks to a prompt from Austin Einhorn) that we got to thinking about how palm cooling compares to creatine in terms of muscle strength and muscle endurance. So we dug through some research to get a sense.
Creatine Study 1: The effect of creatine monohydrate ingestion on anaerobic power indices, muscular strength and body composition, Acta Physiol Scand 1995, 153, 207-209.
This study examined 8 experienced weight-trained males. For 28 days, half received creatine and half received a placebo. Prior to supplementation, the group performed a 1 rep max (RM) bench press, as well as, maximum bench press reps at 70% of their max. When the tests were repeated after 28 days, the creatine group increased its 1RM by 6% and its max reps at 70% by 26%.
Creatine Study 2: Effects of creatine supplementation and resistance training on muscle strength and weightlifting performance, J Strength Cond Res. 2003 Nov;17(4):822-31.
Here the authors reviewed 22 studies. They found that, on average, muscle strength increased 12% more with creatine versus placebos, and weightlifting performance (or maximum reps at a sub max weight) increased 14% more with creatine versus without.
Their conclusion: while highly variable, it’s clear that creatine is effective in combination with resistance training.
Palm Cooling Research
Let’s look at palm cooling. While far less research on palm cooling has been conducted to date, one of the more referenced studies examined both 1RM and maximum reps at 50% of 1RM.
Palm Cooling Study: Work volume and strength training responses to resistive exercise improve with periodic heat extraction from the palm. J Strength Cond Res. 2012 Sep;26(9):2558-69.
Over five sessions, participants did 6 sets of max rep bench press at 50% of their 1RM. One group used the palm cooling protocol, while the other group did not. The palm cooling group showed a 37% increase in work volume and the non-cooling group saw a 13% increase. In other words, the palm cooling group increased work volume 24% more than the non-cooling group.
For max strength, the researchers studied participants who had plateaued their bench press. They completed a bench press pyramid twice per week for 6 weeks and saw a 22% increase in strength.
Palm Cooling & Creatine Benefits for Lifting
It’s clear that palm cooling is on par with, and potentially more impactful than creatine. In different ways, they both enable us to perform more work and ultimately get greater results from the work we are putting into our fitness.
To be abundantly clear, we use both! Our point is that creatine and palm cooling are incredible tools to add to your strength training toolbox.
Not only do both provide muscle strength and muscle endurance benefits, creatine is accepted as safe, legal, and results in no to minimal negative side effects. Similarly, palm cooling is also a safe, legal, and side effect-free training protocol that gives you a massive boost.
As we like to say, if you’re doing the work, if you’ve dialed in your nutrition, and you’ve prioritized recovery… but you’re not palm cooling… you are leaving points on the table.