Thursday, April 9, 2015

Regular Ca-HMB Boosts Strength and Performance in Elite Athletes - Increased Performance Gains on High Volume Routines Confirm: HMB Excels On Insane Workouts

In my comparison of leucine and HMB I have hinted at the unique anti-catabolic affects of HMB, already. Now, the accumulating evidence appears to suggest that the prevention of muscle damage is in fact the main pathway by which HMB exerts its ergogenic effects.
Free acid (or free form) HMB is one of the supplements I get the most questions about. It is yet by no means one of the best-researched supplements and another good example of how good write-ups sell supplements. Somehow it all reminds me of the not so good "old days", when HMB was still believed to be "as potent as a weak anabolic" until everyone had trialled it and realized that there were no steroid-like gains...

Well, enough of the ranting. Let's get to the actual reason I am talking about HMB. Scientists from the Federal University of Parana report in their latest paper that the good old calcium-bound form of HMB works. That wouldn't be important in view of the fact that there are at least two dozens of studies if it were not for the fact that the ~4 studies and the corresponding advertisement machinery for free acid HMB had been enough to make every bro believe that Ca-HMB didn't work, while free form HMB,... well, you know "is as potent as a weak anabolic steroid" ;-)
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In said study, the researchers investigated the effects of 12-Weeks of Supplementation with β-Hydroxy-β-Methylbutyrate-Ca  (HMB-Ca) on athletic performance. In their prospective, randomized, doubleblind, placebo-controlled study Ferreira et al analysed the effects of HMB-Ca (37.5 mg/kg per day of the "regular" recently derided version of HMB also known as "Ca-HMB" or "Calcium-bound HMB") on body composition, athletic performance, and inflammatory mediators in 20 elite canoeists (age, 18.7 ± 1.49 yrs; body weight, 78.9 ± 3.3 kg).
Figure 1: Pre-post changes in strength parameters in the HMB and placebo group (Fereirra. 2015).
The athletes were supplemented and followed for a period of 12 wks during strength training. The results indicated that a dose of HMB-Ca could potentiate an increase in lean body mass (the exact values are not mentioned in the FT, which is strange, but the strength values developed significantly faster (see Figure 1) and the scientists claim there were increases in lean mass in the abstract; eventually both groups lost weight, though, so if there were lean mass increases there must have been a similar loss of body fat as in the Wilson study) commensurate with strength gains associated with endurance training in competitive athletes who lifted thrice per day for 6 hrs/week (1 to 3 sets of 2 to 8 repetitions at intensities ranging from 80 to 95% of 1 RM) on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday and performed an additional 10 hrs/wk of sprint-specific training and technical assistance with the boat.
Figure 2: In view of the training load, it is not surprising that all related parameter increased significantly in the placebo group; against that background it's yet all-the-more surprising that they decreased with Ca-HMB (Fereirra. 2015).
As Fereirra et al. point out, "[t]he mechanism by which this occurs is still unknown, but the results indicate that supplementation might decrease the damage to skeletal muscle when stressed before training with a significant difference in serum creatinine (P<0.05)" (Ferreira. 2015) - quite an interesting explanation that should remind you of one of the previously hinted at ~4 free acid HMB studies... which  one? Well, the one by Wilson et al. which used an overreaching regimen to produce extremely outstanding results (read up on the study). A study with a similarly insane (=high) training volume and trained subjects as the study at hand in which the elite athletes performed two daily sessions for a total of 11 training sessions per week.
It's a pitty there's no DEXA data that would allow us to quantify the changes in body composition, because other changes are not less astonishing than they were in the Wilson study.
With HMB you got to hit it hard! Considering the fact that the study at hand provides further evidence that HMB works (at least partly) by reducing the training induced actual muscle damage and thus speeding up the supercompensation response, I would like to remind you what I said about the previously mentioned Wilson study, already: HMB appears to excel, when you're training at the verge of doing so much that your progress is threatened by the way you train.

Plus: With the study at hand, we have (as I also suspected) the evidence that it doesn't have to be "free acid" or "free form" HMB to see results. The 2-3g of regular HMB that were spread equally on three doses (morning, afternoon, and evening) worked as well | Comment on Facebook!
  • Ferreira, Heros Ribeiro, et al. "Effects of 12-Weeks of Supplementation with β-Hydroxy-β-Methylbutrate-Ca (HMB-Ca) on Athletic Performance." Journal of Exercise Physiology 18.2 (2015).
  • Wilson, Gabriel J., et al. "The effects of 12 weeks of beta-hydroxy-beta-methylbutyrate free acid supplementation on muscle mass, strength, and power in resistance-trained individuals: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study." European Journal of Applied Physiology (2014)