European Journal of Applied Physiology

, Volume 113, Issue 5, pp 1331–1341 | Cite as

The effects of elevated levels of sodium bicarbonate (NaHCO3) on the acute power output and time to fatigue of maximally stimulated mouse soleus and EDL muscles

  • M. F. Higgins
  • J. Tallis
  • M. J. Price
  • R. S. James
Original Article


This study examined the effects of elevated buffer capacity [~32 mM HCO3 ] through administration of sodium bicarbonate (NaHCO3) on maximally stimulated isolated mouse soleus (SOL) and extensor digitorum longus (EDL) muscles undergoing cyclical length changes at 37 °C. The elevated buffering capacity was of an equivalent level to that achieved in humans with acute oral supplementation. We evaluated the acute effects of elevated [HCO3 ] on (1) maximal acute power output (PO) and (2) time to fatigue to 60 % of maximum control PO (TLIM60), the level of decline in muscle PO observed in humans undertaking similar exercise, using the work loop technique. Acute PO was on average 7.0 ± 4.8 % greater for NaHCO3-treated EDL muscles (P < 0.001; ES = 2.0) and 3.6 ± 1.8 % greater for NaHCO3-treated SOL muscles (P < 0.001; ES = 2.3) compared to CON. Increases in PO were likely due to greater force production throughout shortening. The acute effects of NaHCO3 on EDL were significantly greater (P < 0.001; ES = 0.9) than on SOL. Treatment of EDL (P = 0.22; ES = 0.6) and SOL (P = 0.19; ES = 0.9) with NaHCO3 did not alter the pattern of fatigue. Although significant differences were not observed in whole group data, the fatigability of muscle performance was variable, suggesting that there might be inter-individual differences in response to NaHCO3 supplementation. These results present the best indication to date that NaHCO3 has direct peripheral effects on mammalian skeletal muscle resulting in increased acute power output.


Work loop Buffer capacity Skeletal muscle Force production Metabolic alkalosis Ergogenic aids 



The authors thank Mark Bodycote and Bethan Grist for technical assistance.

Conflict of interest

No conflicts of interest, financial or otherwise, are declared by the author(s).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. F. Higgins
    • 1
  • J. Tallis
    • 1
  • M. J. Price
    • 1
  • R. S. James
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Biomolecular and Sports ScienceCoventry UniversityCoventryUK

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