European Journal of Applied Physiology

, Volume 114, Issue 12, pp 2499–2508 | Cite as

High-dose inhaled terbutaline increases muscle strength and enhances maximal sprint performance in trained men

  • Morten HostrupEmail author
  • Anders Kalsen
  • Jens Bangsbo
  • Peter Hemmersbach
  • Sebastian Karlsson
  • Vibeke Backer
Original Article



The purpose of the present study was to investigate the effect of high-dose inhaled terbutaline on muscle strength, maximal sprinting, and time-trial performance in trained men.


Nine non-asthmatic males with a \(\dot{V}O_{2max}\) of 58.9 ± 3.1 ml min−1 kg−1 (mean ± SEM) participated in a double-blinded randomized crossover study. After administration of inhaled terbutaline (30 × 0.5 mg) or placebo, subjects’ maximal voluntary isometric contraction (MVC) of m.quadriceps was measured. After MVC, subjects performed a 30-s Wingate test. Sixty minutes following the Wingate test, subjects exercised for 10 min at 80 % of \(\dot{V}O_{2max}\) and completed a 100-kcal time trial. Aerobic contribution was determined during the Wingate test by indirect calorimetry. Furthermore, plasma terbutaline, lactate, glucose, and K+ were measured.


Inhalation of 15 mg terbutaline resulted in systemic concentrations of terbutaline of 23.6 ± 1.1 ng ml−1 30 min after administration, and elevated plasma lactate (P = 0.001) and glucose (P = 0.007). MVC was higher for terbutaline than placebo (738 ± 64 vs. 681 ± 68 N) (P = 0.007). In addition, Wingate peak power and mean power were 2.2 ± 0.8 (P = 0.019) and 3.3 ± 1.0 % (P = 0.009) higher for terbutaline than placebo. Net accumulation of plasma lactate was higher (P = 0.003) for terbutaline than placebo during the Wingate test, whereas \(\dot{V}O_{2}\) above baseline was unchanged by terbutaline (P = 0.882). Time-trial performance was not different between treatments (P = 0.236).


High-dose inhaled terbutaline elicits a systemic response that enhances muscle strength and sprint performance. High-dose terbutaline should therefore continue to be restricted in competitive sport.


Beta2-agonist Doping Athletes Force Pharmacology 



Analysis of the variance


Area under the curve


Maximal voluntary Contraction


Respiratory exchange ratio


Oxygen uptake


Maximal oxygen uptake


World Anti-doping Agency



The study was supported by a grant from the World Anti-doping Agency (WADA).

Conflict of interest



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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Morten Hostrup
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Anders Kalsen
    • 1
    • 2
  • Jens Bangsbo
    • 1
  • Peter Hemmersbach
    • 3
  • Sebastian Karlsson
    • 2
  • Vibeke Backer
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Nutrition, Exercise and Sports, Section of Integrated PhysiologyUniversity of CopenhagenCopenhagenDenmark
  2. 2.Respiratory Research UnitBispebjerg University HospitalCopenhagenDenmark
  3. 3.Norwegian Doping Control LaboratoryOslo University HospitalOsloNorway

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