NaHCO3 HIITs Interval Training: +34% Time to Exhaustion, +91% Total Work & Significantly More Lean Mass With 200mg/kg Baking Soda and High Intensity Interval Training!

Image 1: It is unlikey that you would not benefit from sodium bicarbonate supplementation,... well, unless you are a tinman like The Sprinter by Jessy Meyer ;-)
"Our daily baking soda give us today", ... just in case you are now shaking your head asking yourselves, whether I have a major contract with any sodium bicarbonate manufacturer, let me get this straight: I have not! But the white powder with the salty taste (it is not 1/2, not even 1/10 as bad as sodium-chloride = table salt) is simply an amazing(-ly cheap) and way underrated ergogenic. Whether this is due to the fact that you can hardly squeeze money out of gullible customers (and non-SuppVersity readers ;-) like you can with the "next creatine" of which you have sprinkled an insignificant amount into your latest and greatest proproprietary blend, or whether it is simply the potential of gastrointestinal side effects is anyone's guess, though...

"Subjects were began the training [...]" - what?

I will also leave it up to you, whether or not you feel that the insufficient language skills of the five scientists from the Islamic Azad University in Iran, the  University of Picardie, Jules Verne in France the Universiti Teknologi MARA in Malaysia, who published the results of a trial that was designed to invesitage effects 42 days on 0.2g/kg body weight sodium bicarbonate +15g dextrose (bicarbonate; note in week 3-6 the dosage was reduced to 0.1g/kg) or 16.5g plain dextrose (placebo) had on the VO2-uptake, the ventilatory threshold, and the time to fatigue of 36 "recreationally active college men" (age 22y; BMI 24.6kg/m²; 1-5h per weeks training before the intervention) after 6 weeks of high intensity interval training (HIIT: 5-6 bouts of 2:1 high-to-low intervals), takes away from the credibility of their data (Picardie. 2011).
Figure 1: Relative values of maximum oxygen uptake (VO2Max) and time to exhaustion before in the middle and right after 6-weeks on 200mg/kg (weeks 3-6: 100mg/kg) sodium bicarbonate + 3x per week 4-7 high intensity intervals (data calculated based on Picardie. 2011)
Assuming that you share my opinion that linguistic insufficiencies should not be an issue, when it comes to solid science, you will probably share my excitement about the rapid increase in total time to exhaustion:
  • +28% in the bicarbonate group after 3-weeks and +34% after 6 weeks;
  • +8% and +10% in the placebo group
And while the increase in time to exhaustion is not really "news", at least as far as increases in acute exercise performance from sodium bicarbonate consumption immediately before a race are concerned, it is quite intriguing to see how "granny's universal household-weapon" exponentiates the already pronounced effects of a standardized high intensity interval training with the following characteristics:
  • 3x per week high intensity interval training
  • 4-7 intervals, with a built in progression from week 1-6 (starting with 4, ending with 7)
  • 2min all-out (90-115% VO2max), 1min pedaling casually
  • conducted on an electronically braked cycle ergometer 
In this context, it is also worth mentioning that contrary to many other trials, the subjects consumed the bicarbonate supplement in 4 (200mg/kg phase in the first 3 weeks) and 2 (100mg/kg phase in the last 3 weeks) servings of which two were consumed 30min prior and immediately after the HIIT sessions. This fundamental difference could not only explain that none of the subjects complained about gastrointestinal distress, it also reflects my personal experience that taken in multiple doses across the day (and away from food, as it will interfere with digestion) sodium bicarbonate can be a very effect tool to keep your blood bicarbonate high and thusly the workout induced acidity at bay.

More endurance, more power, and... more muscle!

The latter, i.e. the (over-)acidity of the muscle does not only hamper the energy transfer and the ability of the muscles to contract, it could also explain the following for most of you probably very welcome side effect the bicarbonate supplementation had on the 18 subjects in the respective group:
[...] the present study also identified a significant change in lean body mass for the SB [sodium bicarbonate] supplementing group after three weeks, with no change in the placebo group.
Image 2: If you want to build tree-trunk legs on a spinning bike you better make sure there is enough bicarbonate in your veins, otherwise you should be glad if you are not even "spinning away"  the sticks you already have
The scientists ascribe these (unfortunately the values which were assessed using a BodPod(R) are not quantitatively specified) increases in lean mass to on the proteolytic (= increasing muscle breakdown) and effects of intramuscular acidosis (Caso. 2005), of which Balmer et al. were able to show that it also hampers the exercise induced increase in protein synthesis (Balmer. 1995).

And just in case neither the improved (high intensity) endurance performance, nor the muscle gains or the +22% increase in total work vs. placebo during a series of standardized cycling tests should be enough to invest the few bucks into a huge bag of sodium bicarbonate, maybe one of my previous blogposts on this issue will make you pull the trigger ;-)
Disclaimer:The information provided on this website is for informational purposes only. It is by no means intended as professional medical advice. Do not use any of the agents or freely available dietary supplements mentioned on this website without further consultation with your medical practitioner.