Anaerobic work and power output during cycle ergometer exercise: Effects of bicarbonate loading

Lars McNaughton, Rob Curtin, Gary Goodman, Darren Perry, Brian Turner, Chris Showell

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Eight trained male cyclists who competed regularly in track races, were studied under control, alkalotic (NaHCO3) and placebo (CaCO3) conditions in a laboratory setting to study the effect of orally induced metabolic alkalosis on 60 s anaerobic work and power output on a bicycle ergometer. Basal, pre‐ and post‐exercise blood samples in the three conditions were analysed for pH, pCO2, pO2, bicarbonate, base excess and lactate. All blood gas measurements were within normal limits at basal levels. There were significant differences in the amount of work produced, and in the maximal power output produced by the cyclists in the experimental condition when compared to the control and placebo conditions (P <0.01). The post‐exercise pH decreased in all three conditions (P <0.05) and post‐exercise pCO2 increased significantly in the alkalosis trial (P <0.01). In the alkalotic condition, the pre‐exercise base excess and HCO‐ 3 levels were both higher (P <0.05) than the basal levels, suggesting that the bicarbonate ingestion had a significant increase in the buffering ability of the blood. Post‐exercise lactate levels were significantly higher (P <0.05) after the alkalotic trial when compared to the other two conditions, immediately post‐exercise and for the next 3 min. Post‐exercise lactate levels were higher than basal or pre‐exercise levels (P <0.001). This was true immediately post‐exercise and for the next 5 min. The results of this study suggest that NaHCO3 is an effective ergogenic aid when used for typically anaerobic exercise as used in this experiment. We feel that this ergogenic property is probably due to the accelerated efflux of H + ions from the muscle tissue due to increased extracellular bicarbonate buffering.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)151-160
JournalJournal of Sports Sciences
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1991


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