Bicarbonate supplementation: A strategy to stimulate mitochondrial adaptation to training?

Dr Dan Plews and Ed Maunder

Scientists have investigated many different strategies that may up-regulate adaptations to endurance training. One thing that the majority of these strategies have in common – e.g. training with low-glycogen availability, under heat stress, or at altitude – is that they make training harder. With low-glycogen availability you have less carbohydrate energy available and may well feel flat; under heat stress the powers and paces you achieve at the various intensity thresholds decrease as you get hotter, and at altitude, it is more difficult to get the necessary oxygen to the working muscles due to the thin air. Therefore, any greater adaptive pay off comes at some cost

One strategy that may not come at this “makes it harder” cost that has seen some attention in the exercise physiology literature is bicarbonate supplementation during training. Many of you may be familiar with bicarbonate in an acute performance context; as an...

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