Sodium bicarbonate supplementation improves hypertrophy-type resistance exercise performance

Abstract

The aim of the present study was to examine the effects of sodium bicarbonate (NaHCO3) administration on lower-body, hypertrophy-type resistance exercise (HRE). Using a double-blind randomized counterbalanced design, 12 resistance-trained male participants (mean ± SD; age = 20.3 ± 2 years, mass = 88.3 ± 13.2 kg, height = 1.80 ± 0.07 m) ingested 0.3 g kg−1 of NaHCO3 or placebo 60 min before initiation of an HRE regimen. The protocol employed multiple exercises: squat, leg press, and knee extension, utilizing four sets each, with 10–12 repetition-maximum loads and short rest periods between sets. Exercise performance was determined by total repetitions generated during each exercise, total accumulated repetitions, and a performance test involving a fifth set of knee extensions to failure. Arterialized capillary blood was collected via fingertip puncture at four time points and analyzed for pH, [HCO3 ], base excess (BE), and lactate [Lac]. NaHCO3 supplementation induced a significant alkaline state (pH: NaHCO3: 7.49 ± 0.02, placebo: 7.42 ± 0.02, P < 0.05; [HCO3 ]: NaHCO3: 31.50 ± 2.59, placebo: 25.38 ± 1.78 mEq L−1, P < 0.05; BE: NaHCO3: 7.92 ± 2.57, placebo: 1.08 ± 2.11 mEq L−1, P < 0.05). NaHCO3 administration resulted in significantly more total repetitions than placebo (NaHCO3: 139.8 ± 13.2, placebo: 134.4 ± 13.5), as well as significantly greater blood [Lac] after the exercise protocol (NaHCO3: 17.92 ± 2.08, placebo: 15.55 ± 2.50 mM, P < 0.05). These findings demonstrate ergogenic efficacy for NaHCO3 during HRE and warrant further investigation into chronic training applications.

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Acknowledgments

Funding was not received for this work from the National Institutions of Health, Wellcome Trust, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, or others. The authors declare no conflict of interest. The results of the present study do not constitute endorsement by Springer. Benjamin Carr, Michael Webster, Joseph Boyd, Geoffrey Hudson, and Timothy Scheett declare no conflicts of interest.

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Correspondence to Benjamin M. Carr.

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Communicated by William J. Kraemer.

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Carr, B.M., Webster, M.J., Boyd, J.C. et al. Sodium bicarbonate supplementation improves hypertrophy-type resistance exercise performance. Eur J Appl Physiol 113, 743–752 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00421-012-2484-8

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Keywords

  • Ergogenic aid
  • Weight lifting
  • Acid–base balance
  • Alkalosis
  • Fatigue