As someone who does resistance training, for more than just the fun of it, one sometimes finds oneself looking for ways to improve one’s 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. (1)
It increases the pH in the blood, and extends the time before exercise-induced acidosis can occur. It prolongs the burn. (2) 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 have to do with exercise performance?
It improves high intensity performance involving large muscular groups, like deadlift, squat, bench, muscle ups, sprints for e.g. (8)
This study also shows that it enabled resistance trained individuals who ingested sodium bicarbonate to perform significantly more reps than individuals who didn’t. (9) I can attest.
It not only assists with light load, but also with heavier load, such as 80% of 1RM, on both upper and lower body exercises. (10)
Supplementing with sodium bicarbonate has a preventive action on anaerobic exercise-induced acidosis. Preventing acidosis in this way significantly decreased the growth hormone response of exercise, as well as increased prolactin. (11, 12) If you are planning on using sodium bicarbonate pre-workout, you should use a prolactin antagonist, such as zinc, vitamin B6, etc… More on lowering prolactin here…
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 of these alone. (12)
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 also has a positive influence on exercise performance. (13) The minimum dose would be 12g for a 80kg guy. I only took a tsp and it worked great for me. More than that and I become really nauseous.
It’s advised to ingest the sodium bicarbonate about 1 hour before training to reduce any possible risk of stomach upset or nausea. (14)
Sodium bicarbonate is usually used by people how believe produce too much acid. However, don’t confuse high stomach acid with low stomach acid. I 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 on stomach acid production.
Just don’t use sodium bicarbonate before a meal as it will cause inadequate stomach acid release and thus improper digestion of your food.