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Effects of pre-exercise alkalosis on the decrease in \(\dot{V}O_{2}\) at the end of all-out exercise



This study determined the effects of pre-exercise sodium bicarbonate ingestion (ALK) on changes in oxygen uptake (\(\dot{V}O_{2}\)) at the end of a supramaximal exercise test (SXT).


Eleven well-trained cyclists completed a 70-s all-out cycling effort, in double-blind trials, after oral ingestion of either 0.3 g kg−1 of sodium bicarbonate (NaHCO3) or 0.2 g kg−1 body mass of calcium carbonate (PLA). Blood samples were taken to assess changes in acid–base balance before the start of the supramaximal exercise, and 0, 5 and 8 min after the exercise; ventilatory parameters were also measured at rest and during the SXT.


At the end of the PLA trial, which induced mild acidosis (blood pH = 7.20), subjects presented a significant decrease in \(\dot{V}O_{2}\) (P < 0.05), which was related to the amplitude of the decrease in minute ventilation (\(\dot{V}_{E}\)) during the SXT (r = 0.70, P < 0.01, n = 11). Pre-exercise metabolic alkalosis significantly prevented the exercise-induced decrease in \(\dot{V}O_{2}\) in eleven well-trained participants (PLA: 12.5 ± 2.1 % and ALK: 4.9 ± 0.9 %, P < 0.05) and the decrease in mean power output was significantly less pronounced in ALK (P < 0.05). Changes in the \(\dot{V}O_{2}\) decrease between PLA and ALK trials were positively related to changes in the \(\dot{V}_{E}\) decrease (r = 0.74, P < 0.001), but not to changes in power output (P > 0.05).


Pre-exercise alkalosis counteracted the \(\dot{V}O_{2}\) decrease related to mild acidosis, potentially as a result of changes in \(\dot{V}_{E}\) and in muscle acid–base status during the all-out supramaximal exercise.

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Fig. 4



Alkalosis trial due to pre-exercise sodium bicarbonate ingestion


Base excess


Breathing frequency

CaCO3 :

Calcium carbonate


Fatigue index

H+ :



Heart rate

HRmax :

Maximal HR


Graded exercise test

[HCO3 ]b :

Blood bicarbonate concentration

[La]b :

Blood lactate concentration


Maximal aerobic power

NaHCO3 :

Sodium bicarbonate


Mean power for the entire test


Mean power during the first 20 s of the test


Mean power during the last 50 s of the test

P5end :

Mean power during the last 5 s of the test


Power output midway between the MAP and the maximal theoretical power produced at the corresponding pedaling rate


End-tidal O2 tension


End-tidal CO2 tension


Placebo trial due to pre-exercise calcium carbonate ingestion

Pmax :

Maximal power output


60 min post-ingestion of the supplementation or placebo


Immediately before the 70-s supramaximal exercise


Immediately after the 70-s supramaximal exercise


5 min of the recovery after the supramaximal exercise test


8 min of the recovery after the supramaximal exercise test

SaO2 :

Arterial oxygen saturation


Supramaximal exercise test

\(\dot{V}CO_{2}\) :

Carbon dioxide production

\(\dot{V}_{E}\) :

Minute ventilation

\(\dot{V}O_{2}\) :

Oxygen uptake

\(\dot{V}O_{2}\) max :

Maximal oxygen uptake

\(\dot{V}O_{2}\) end :

Oxygen uptake at the end of the test in the last 5 s

\(\dot{V}_{E}\) end :

Minute ventilation at the end of the test in the last 5 s

\(\dot{V}O_{2}\) peak :

Peak oxygen uptake

\(\dot{V}_{E}\) peak :

Peak minute ventilation

V T :

Tidal volume


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The authors thank the athletes for their time and efforts, and are grateful to the French Ministry of Health, Youth and Sport for their financial support. They also thank Doctor Christian Palierne for his medical assistance, and Pierrick Arnal, Julien Siracusa, and Thibault Herluison for their technical assistance. The authors are grateful to the French Ministry of Health, Youth and Sport for their financial support (Grant 11-i-40).

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Correspondence to Claire Thomas.

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Communicated by Carsten Lundby.

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Thomas, C., Delfour-Peyrethon, R., Bishop, D.J. et al. Effects of pre-exercise alkalosis on the decrease in \(\dot{V}O_{2}\) at the end of all-out exercise. Eur J Appl Physiol 116, 85–95 (2016).

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  • Oxygen uptake
  • Minute ventilation
  • Acid–base status
  • High-intensity exercise
  • Fatigue
  • Sodium bicarbonate