As someone who does resistance training, for more than just the fun of it, you sometimes find yourself looking for ways to improve your performance…
Like with the use of natural ergogenic substances.
A somewhat unknown “ergogenic aid” which enhances the performance of exercise, is bicarbonate of soda (aka sodium bicarbonate or baking soda).
How does it work?
It promotes greater glycogen and phosphocreatine utilization, meaning better energy and more power output during exercise. (R)
It increases the pH in the blood, and extends the time before exercise-induced acidosis can occur. It prolongs the burn. (R) I definitely felt I could do a few more reps each set and that I recovered faster during my sets and that I didn’t become nauseous as soon as I usually do on leg day.
What does it do?
It improves high intensity performance involving large muscular groups, like deadlift, squat, bench, muscle ups, sprints for e.g. (R)
This study also shows that it enabled resistance trained individuals who ingested sodium bicarbonate to perform significantly more reps than individuals who didn’t. (R) Which I personally can attest to.
It not only assists with light load, but also with heavier load, such as 80% of 1RM, on both upper and lower body exercises. (R)
Supplementing with sodium bicarbonate has a preventive action on anaerobic exercise-induced acidosis. Preventing acidosis in this way significantly decreases the growth hormone response of exercise, as well as increases prolactin. (R, R) If you are planning on using sodium bicarbonate pre-workout I would highly advise using a prolactin antagonist such as zinc, vitamin B6, etc.
If you really want to boost your growth hormone pre-workout, take 500mg niacinamide.
Combining creatine monohydrate and sodium bicarbonate increases peak and mean power and decreases fatigue, more than when supplementing with just one or the other. (R)
So these two super charge each other.
How to take it
In the majority of these studies, they use a dose of 0.3g/kg. But up to as little as 0.15g/kg is also shown to have a positive influence on exercise performance. (R) The minimum dose would be 12g for a 80kg guy. I only took a teaspoon and it worked great for me. More than that and I become really nauseous and end up getting disaster pants.
It’s advised to ingest the sodium bicarbonate about 1 hour before training to reduce any possible risk of stomach upset or nausea. (R)
Sodium bicarbonate is usually used by people who think they produce too much stomach acid. However, low stomach acid is often confused with and mistaken for high stomach acid. If you have constipation, bloating burping or flatulence, you most like have low stomach acid instead of high stomach acid. In such a case, vinegar, lemon juice, betain HCL or pepsin can be used to aid with stomach acid production.
Don’t take sodium bicarbonate before a meal as it will cause inadequate stomach acid release and thus improper digestion of your food. It’s best to take it at least 1 hour before or after a meal and not any sooner.