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Ammonia inhalant & stimulant use among powerlifters: Results from an international survey

Journal of Australian Strength and Conditioning
Volume 22 | Issue 5 | December 2014
Ammonia inhalant & stimulant use among powerlifters: Results from an international survey.
J. Aust. Strength Cond. 22(5)52-54. 2014 © ASCA.
Hayden J Pritchard1, Stephen R Stannard2 and Matthew J Barnes2
1Universal College of Learning, Palmerston North, New Zealand,
2Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand
The use of ergogenic aids in competitive sports is extremely common. Athletes across all sports often try to find a
supplement, drug or other product that may give them an edge over their opponents. For example, in a survey of 207
college athletes 89% of those surveyed said they had used or were currently using nutritional supplements (3).
Powerlifters are no exception; they too want something that may give them the edge over their opponents or in many
cases over their own personal best lifts.
Powerlifting is a barbell based strength sport consisting of three lifts: the squat, the bench press and the deadlift. The
largest and most prestigious powerlifting federation is the International Powerlifting Federation (IPF) (8). A competition
sanctioned by the IPF involves lifters of various weight classes completing three attempts at each discipline, with the
winner of each weight class being the lifter who has the highest combined total of their best lifts. An overall winner is
also awarded using a bodyweight adjusted calculation called the Wilks formula (8). One perceived ergogenic aid used
by powerlifters is ammonia inhalants (AI). AI use is common in powerlifting because as a sport it requires short term,
high intensity efforts that require a high degree of strength, power and speed. Other sports that require similar
characteristics also have anecdotal use of AI’s; sports such as Olympic weightlifting, American football and throwing
events in athletics (14). This is due to the nature of how AI’s influence the human body.
AI’s are also known as smelling salts, they contain ammonium carbonate usually mixed with some kind of perfume which
is sniffed in order to stimulate an individual (12). When sniffed the ammonia gas released from the mixture irritates the
nerve endings within the nose, nasal cavity and lungs. This changes the individuals breathing pattern and causes an
inhalation reflex, increasing respiratory rate and possibly alertness (14). The use of AI’s by athletes as a means of
increasing alertness or a method of “psyching up” has been known to occur for a long time (6), and AI’s are not banned
in the IPF (WADA affiliated), in fact it states in their Technical Rules Book that “A lifter shall not wrap, adjust his costume
or use ammonia within view of the public.” (8). Anecdotal reports suggest widespread use of AI amongst powerlifters
however, to our knowledge, there is currently no research documenting their actual use, or potential ergogenic affects.
Additionally, the use of “pre-workout” supplements and/or energy drinks appears common amongst strength athletes
and powerlifters. The use of “pre-workout” supplements, usually containing caffeine, amino acids, creatine and other
potentially ergogenic compounds, has been shown to have acute (4, 7, 13) and chronic (10) benefits when taken prior
to resistance exercise. Similarly, caffeine ingested prior to exercise may improve measures of muscular strength (1).
While the use of these stimulants is obviously common place in training, their use in competition is currently unclear.
The aim of this study was to determine whether the anecdotal use of stimulants by powerlifters is prevalent within the
sport, as well as whether the users of these stimulants believe them to be effective and safe. If the use of these
stimulants is prevalent in competition, then this would warrant further performance based research into their ergogenic
This was an exploratory descriptive study to establish the prevalence use of stimulants among powerlifters from around
the world. The survey incorporated ten questions relating to powerlifters and their use of stimulants, it was divided into
four parts: Use in competition, Use in training, Benefits & side effects, and best lifts. Closed questions were used for all
questions except where a short written response was allowed to explain answers relating to benefits, side effects and
on which lifts it is used. The survey was produced on an online survey website (Qualtrics, Utah, USA) with a link to the
survey activated for participants to access the survey.
The survey was targeted primarily at powerlifters affiliated with the IPF, although the survey link could potentially be
opened by any person with access to the link. The link was sent in an email to powerlifting associations around New
Zealand, Australia, Great Britain and the USA; as well as being posted on world-wide powerlifting related websites and
forums. A total of 313 male participants began the survey with 256 of these participants completing all questions. Mean
competition total for respondents was 661kg 217kg) and average body weight was 101.7kg (± 21.2kg).The survey
was submitted as a low risk notification to the Institutional Human Ethics Committee and was evaluated by peer review
and judged to be low risk. Subjects indicated consent to participate by clicking the next button after the introductory
page of the survey.
Journal of Australian Strength and Conditioning
Volume 22 | Issue 5 | December 2014
Statistical analysis was carried out in SAS for Windows v9.3 (SAS Institute Inc., Cary, NC, USA). GENMOD was
performed to analyse the difference in responses where appropriate. Significance was set at p ≤ 0.05.
The most common training frequencies reported by lifters were 3-4 days per week (102 lifters) and 4-5 days per week
(103 lifters). Very few reported training 1-2 days per week (5 lifters) while an equal number trained 2-3 or 6+ times per
week (both 23).
When asked whether they used AI during competition, non-AI users made up the greatest proportion of respondents
(130 of 256; p < 0.0001). Of those reporting AI use during competition, 57 of 126 AI users reported using it for 2-3 lifts
during a competition compared to other attempt options (1 attempt = 15 users, 4-5 attempts = 13 users, 6-7 attempts =
19 users, 8+ attempts = 22 users; all p < 0;001). No difference was evident between the other numbers of attempts (all
p > 0.1).
Of those who used AI during competition, more lifters reported using AI during the deadlift (113 lifters) compared to the
squat (70 lifters; p < 0.001) or bench press (58 lifters; p < 0.001). No statistical difference between use in the squat and
bench press was found (p = 0.23).
The majority (79.7%) of all respondents felt that using AI was safe however 9.8% of users reported side effects from AI
use, but used it none the less. Of those using AI, 78% believed it improved their performance while the remaining users
felt there was no performance benefit to its use.
Fifty two percent of lifters said that they never use “pre-workout” supplements during competition, this was significantly
(all p < 0.0001) the greatest response compared to those who use them rarely (32 lifters), sometimes (26 lifters), often
(29 lifters) or always (36 lifters). For those using “pre-workout” supplements there was no difference between these
various frequencies (all p > 0.1). As with AI use, the majority (78%) of “pre-workout” users felt the products they use are
safe and that they help improve performance (74.7%).
More lifters (88) indicated that they never use energy drinks during competition than those consuming them rarely (32,
p = 0.001), sometimes (35; p < 0.001), often (50; p = 0.0003) or always (51; p = 0.0004). Significantly more lifters
reported using energy drinks often and always compared to rarely (p = 0.033 and p = 0.025, respectively). No other
differences in frequency of energy use were found. Energy drink users felt that these products are safe (78.9%) and
that they help improve their lifting performance (63%). Some users (36.6%) of “pre-workouts” and energy drinks reported
that they had side effects from these products however the majority did not.
The combined use of “pre-workouts” and energy drinks during competition was not popular with 176 lifters never
combining the two (p < 0.01 compared to all other frequencies). No significant difference (all p > 0.1) was seen between
the number combining the two rarely (25 lifters), sometimes (23 lifters) and always (21 lifters). A significant difference
between those combining the two rarely and often was observed (p = 0.019). Finally, a relatively even split of lifters
reported either using (126 lifters) or not using (130 lifters) other stimulants (i.e. coffee, caffeine pills etc.) during
This is the first study that has investigated AI use amongst a group of athletes. Our study has shown the anecdotal
reports of AI use are accurate, with nearly half of the surveyed powerlifters responding affirmatively to having used AI’s
in competition. Interestingly, the majority of those who used AI’s mainly do so on the deadlift (86.9%) compared to the
squat (53.8%) or bench press (44.6%). This is perhaps not surprising given the deadlift is the final lift of the competition
(8), when a lifter may be physically and mentally fatigued and feel the need for assistance. This was reflected in the
comments with lifters stating things such as “usually tiring by now, helps wake me back up”, “feel fatigued during the
end of a comp and need something to wake me up” and “end of the meet, need a boost”. Such a result indicates that
AI use may be of a greater advantage when an athlete is suffering from fatigue; however, more research is needed in
this area.
Energy drinks and ‘pre-workout’ supplements predominantly contain caffeine and, in the case of “pre-workouts” may
additionally contain differing doses of amphetamine analogues and other stimulatory ingredients, depending on the
country and product. Gregory and Fitch (5) suggest that stimulants, including caffeine and amphetamines, are perhaps
the most commonly and under recognised supplements used in sports; the popularity of energy drinks and “pre-workout”
supplements reported here supports this claim.
The strong belief that the stimulants under investigation here are safe is based on limited research and the safety of
these products, both acutely and chronically, is an area that warrants further research. However, in the case of AI’s
there is currently only one negative incident is reported in the literature (6), but caution is advised by others (12, 14).
Both energy drinks and ‘pre-workouts’ act largely through their caffeine content. Beverages of these kinds have been
shown to cause some improvements in performance with minimal side effects (2, 4, 9); while others are more cautious
Journal of Australian Strength and Conditioning
Volume 22 | Issue 5 | December 2014
and warn of the various complications high doses of caffeine and similar central nervous system stimulants can have
on the cardiovascular system, and nervous system (5)
Irrespective of a lack of scientific evidence into AI’s efficacy as an ergogenic aid, nearly all of those who use AI’s believed
it improved their performance. A similar trend was also seen with energy drink and ‘pre-workout’ users, who believed
these products to be effective in enhancing their performance. Without further, specific testing it is unclear whether these
effects are significant or even real, as the benefits of supplement use is often shrouded in the use of celebrity athletes
for marketing purposes and exaggeration that may raise the expectation of the user to unrealistic levels (11).
Together the lack of information on the benefits and risks of stimulant use in maximal strength sports, especially AI’s,
justifies further research.
The use of AIs, energy drinks and “pre-workout” supplements during powerlifting competition is commonplace with the
majority of users believing there are performance benefits to be had through their use. Therefore, even in the absence
of substantive scientific evidence, powerlifters looking to enhance their performance on the platform may find ergogenic
benefits through the use of these stimulants; individuals should assess the appropriateness and effectiveness of these
products on their own performance as individual results may vary.
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6. Herrick, R.T. & Herrick, S. Allergic reaction to aromatic ammonia
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M.S., Ho, J.K., Volek, J.S., Anderson, J.M. & Maresh, C.M. Effects
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... C onsidering the importance of physiological arousal before competition (37,52), it stands to reason that many athletes look to various supplements and ergogenic aids to help immediately improve performance (30,41). Therefore, the daily use of nutritional supplements and ergogenic aids has become an everyday necessity for many athletes (7,11,13,30). ...
... Furthermore, within an international survey of powerlifters competing in the International Powerlifting Federation (IPF), 130 of 256 lifters reported inhalation of AIs during competition. Accordingly, the most used were AIs inhalation before deadlifts (compared with back squat [BS] and bench press [BP]), which is the last discipline of powerlifting competitions (41). Moreover, lifters reported feelings of reduced tiredness and fatigue after inhalation of AIs, and, hence, it may lead to enhance mental concentration which can be crucial during the last lifts of powerlifting competition (41). ...
... Accordingly, the most used were AIs inhalation before deadlifts (compared with back squat [BS] and bench press [BP]), which is the last discipline of powerlifting competitions (41). Moreover, lifters reported feelings of reduced tiredness and fatigue after inhalation of AIs, and, hence, it may lead to enhance mental concentration which can be crucial during the last lifts of powerlifting competition (41). Athletes also state that inhaling AIs helps to create an alert state of mind, which supports succeeding in challenging tasks or at improving performance with less effort. ...
Ammonium inhalants (AIs) are used to improve athletic performance, but their use has preceded the research process. Oftentimes, strength-based athletes use AIs to postpone acute fatigue or increase arousal. Despite the widespread use of AIs, the amount of research examining its physiological effects, efficacy, and safety is low compared with other ergogenic aids that have been extensively researched. Therefore, the purpose of this review is to provide sports science researchers, strength and conditioning professionals, medical professionals, and other practitioners with the most up to date information about the benefits, risks, and physiological effects of AIs. To date, there is a lack of evidence to support anecdotal claims of increased cognitive arousal and greater strength performance. However, there may be a short-term effect of AIs on the cardiorespiratory system (possibly increasing breathing rate and heart rate approximately 15–30 seconds), but further research is needed to support these findings and to determine how the short-term cardiorespiratory effects may affect other physiological and performance measures. Finally, although evidence does not indicate that AIs are dangerous in healthy populations, sport and health professionals should be aware of the potential risks of AIs to prevent any unlikely, but possible, difficulties.
... Improvements in strength and power performance have been associated with other aromatic compounds. For instance, low concentration ammonia salts (smelling salts) are commonly used by weightlifters to enhance performance [9], despite an equivalence of findings within the literature [9][10][11]. Ingestion of capsaicin, the botanical compound responsible for chilli's heat, has also been shown to improve resistance exercise performance [12]. ...
... Improvements in strength and power performance have been associated with other aromatic compounds. For instance, low concentration ammonia salts (smelling salts) are commonly used by weightlifters to enhance performance [9], despite an equivalence of findings within the literature [9][10][11]. Ingestion of capsaicin, the botanical compound responsible for chilli's heat, has also been shown to improve resistance exercise performance [12]. ...
... Given the established use of aromatic compounds in resistance training, especially prior to maximal efforts [9,16], and the beneficial effects seen with the ingestion of capsaicin prior to strength and short-duration endurance performance [12,17], if menthol were to improve strength or power performance, it would likely be readily accepted by recreational or resistance trained athletes. The presence of ergogenic effects in this instance are unlikely, given that menthol antagonist capsaicin has been shown to improve strength and short-duration aerobic performance [12,17], with an accompanying plausible mechanistic explanation [18]. ...
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This study aimed to assess the effects of repeated menthol mouth swilling upon strength and power performance. Nineteen (10 male) participants completed familiarisation and experimental trials of repeated menthol mouth swilling (0.1% concentration) or control (no swill) in a randomised crossover design. Participants performed an isometric mid-thigh pull (IMTP; peak and mean force; N), vertical jump (peak; cm) and six second sprint (peak and mean power; W) under each condition. Participants completed three efforts per exercise task interspersed with three-minute recoveries. Mean best values were analysed via a two-way mixed repeated measures ANOVA, and differences reported as effect sizes ± 95% confidence intervals, with accompanying descriptors and p values. Differences in peak IMTP values were unclear between familiarisation and experimental trials, and between menthol and control conditions. Mean IMTP force differed between familiarisation and control (0.51; −0.15 to 1.14; p = 0.001) and familiarisation and menthol conditions (0.50; −0.15 to 1.14; p = 0.002) by a small degree, but were unclear between control and menthol conditions. Unclear differences were also noted on vertical jump performance compared to familiarisation and between experimental conditions, with repeated six second peak and average power performance also showing unclear effects across all comparisons. We conclude that repeated menthol mouth swilling does not improve strength or power performance.
... Although some ergogenic aids are banned in training and competition by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), others, including ammonia inhalant (AI) use, are not banned and are used in competition by powerlifters (16,26). In their international survey of powerlifters, Pritchard et al. (22) revealed that 49 percent of all respondents used AI, 78 percent of users felt AI use was ergogenic, and 80 percent of all respondents indicated AI use was a safe practice. AI was typically used for 2 to 3 lifts during a competition (45 percent of AI users) and prior to the dead lift, the last event in powerlifting competitions. ...
... To our knowledge, no studies have examined the ergogenic effect of AI on the 1-RM of any competitive weight lifting event. According to an international survey of powerlifters, 89 percent of AI use was associated with dead lift 1-RM which is the last of three events in powerlifting competitions (22). Therefore, the purpose of this study was to examine the effect of AI use on dead lift 1-RM in college-aged male and female recreational weightlifters. ...
... Secondly, the dead lift is generally considered to be a safe lift for the recreational weightlifters assuming the use of proper technique. Finally, the dead lift is the last lift in powerlifting competitions and the lift most associated with AI inhalation among powerlifters (22). The study protocol is presented in Table 1. ...
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Ammonia inhalant (AI) use by powerlifters and weightlifters is a prevalent practice with little research support for improved performance. The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of ammonia as a stimulant on athletic performance during a dead lift one maximal repetition (1-RM) absolute strength test. Subjects (n=10 men, mean±SD age=21±1 years, mass=72.5±6.8 kg; n=10 women, age=22±5 years, mass=66.2±8.1 kg) were required to have at least two years of resistance training experience while lacking a history of asthma, lightheadedness, fainting, anaphylaxis, sickle cell traits, and other respiratory disorders. After a baseline 1-RM test, subjects were paired by 1-RM performance and gender, then randomly assigned in a counterbalanced treatment order to control (water) or ammonia trials after a minimum 72-hour recovery period for another 1-RM test involving attempts at 100.0%, 102.5%, 105.0%, and 107.5% of the established 1-RM value. Testing was then repeated after the minimum rest period for the remaining trial. Results revealed the expected gender main effect for absolute dead lift 1-RM (93.0±29.5 [women]; 152.0±29.5 kg [men] (p<0.001), but no trial main effect (p=0.874) or gender by trial interaction effect (baseline=93.0± 15.3, 151.8±42.3 kg; water=92.0±12.5, 150.9±37.8 kg; ammonia=92.5±16.4, 153.4±37.9 kg) for women and men, respectively (p=0.559). Within the limitations of this study, there is no support for the practice of ammonia inhalation to improve dead lift 1-RM in training or competition.
... Of these factors, only nutrition status and psychological arousal are directly controllable on the day of competition; other aspects of preparation are more variable and must be appropriately addressed in the period prior to competition through training. Given the likely importance of arousal state on performance (Tod et al. 2003), it is unsurprising that strength athletes seek to optimise levels through the use of various nutritional stimulants (Maughan et al. 2007;Pritchard et al. 2014). The short term nature of the strength sports, however, where each maximal effort may be separated by extended rest periods, means that the use of common stimulants, such as caffeine and pre-workout supplements, may not offer the ideal strategy due to the rate of metabolism and unpredictable timing of efforts during competition. ...
... The short term nature of the strength sports, however, where each maximal effort may be separated by extended rest periods, means that the use of common stimulants, such as caffeine and pre-workout supplements, may not offer the ideal strategy due to the rate of metabolism and unpredictable timing of efforts during competition. Never the less, caffeine and other pre-workout stimulants appear to be popular during both training and competition amongst athletes (Del Coso et al. 2011;Pritchard et al. 2014). If timing can be optimised, then benefits in strength performance may be accomplished (Gonzalez et al. 2011;Warren et al. 2010). ...
... A recent survey of 256 international powerlifters competing in the International Powerlifting Federation (IPF) found that 50 % of lifters reported using ammonia inhalants during competition. According to these ammonia users, inhalation reduces feelings of fatigue, tiredness and, therefore, may increase psychological arousal which is particularly important in the later stages of competition; reported ammonia use was highest with the deadlift which is the last lift of a powerlifting competition (International Powerlifting Federation 2012;Pritchard et al. 2014). Anecdotally, comparable levels of ammonia use are likely to occur in the other strength sports where a similar increase in arousal may offer an ergogenic benefit. ...
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Purpose: Ammonia is used as a stimulant in strength based sports to increase arousal and offset fatigue however little is known about its physiological and performance effects. The purpose of this study was twofold (1) establish the physiological response to acute ammonia inhalation (2) determine whether the timing of the physiological response corresponds with a performance enhancement, if any. Methods: Fifteen healthy males completed two trials. Trial one investigated the beat-to-beat middle cerebral artery blood flow velocity (MCAv), heart rate (HR) and mean arterial pressure (MAP) response to ammonia inhalation. During trial two, participants performed a maximal single mid-thigh pull (MTP) at various time points following ammonia inhalation in a randomised order: MTPs were conducted immediately, 15, 30 and 60 s following ammonia inhalation. A MTP with no ammonia inhalation served as the control. During this trial maximal MTP force, rate of force development (RFD) and electromyography (EMG) activity were recorded. Results: MCAvmean increased and peaked on average by 6 cm s(-1) (P < 0.001), 9.4 ± 5.5 s following ammonia inhalation. Similarly, HR was increased by 6 ± 11 beats per minute 15 s following ammonia inhalation (P < 0.001). MAP remained unchanged following inhalation (P = 0.51). The use and timing of ammonia inhalation had no effect on maximal force, RFD or EMG (all P > 0.2) compared to control. Conclusions: MCAv was elevated despite no increase in MAP occurring; this is indicative of a cerebrovascular vasodilation. Despite the marked cerebrovascular and cardiovascular response to ammonia inhalation no ergogenic effect was observed during the MTP, irrespective of the timing of administration.
... The goal of such 'psyching-up' practices is to increase physical and mental activation, together with focusing attention and theses are employed more commonly as the perception of required effort is increased. For example, the use of ammonia inhalants (designed to irritate the respiratory tract and 'stimulate' the lifter) is greater prior to third attempts (Pritchard et al., 2014). Also, these strategies are likely to be employed more prior to the deadlift, where the load cannot be 'felt' prior to lifting (Pritchard et al., 2014). ...
... For example, the use of ammonia inhalants (designed to irritate the respiratory tract and 'stimulate' the lifter) is greater prior to third attempts (Pritchard et al., 2014). Also, these strategies are likely to be employed more prior to the deadlift, where the load cannot be 'felt' prior to lifting (Pritchard et al., 2014). Whilst the use of ammonia inhalants is not banned by the IPF (IPF, 2016), it is important to note that their safety or efficacy has been evaluated empirically. ...
... The stimulus response through the olfactory nerve, one of the body's five senses, has been reported as a component of the nervous system that responds immediately without going through a sensory process, unlike other sensory organs [15,16]. To improve their performance, powerlifters, American footballers, and ice-hockey players use ammonia salt inhalants during or just before sporting events [17,18]. It has already been suggested through previous studies that various scents of olfactory stimulation affect cognitive, behavioral, emotional, and physiological variables [19]. ...
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Some athletes utilize olfactory inhalation treatments using ammonia salt and aromatic oils to attain their peak performance or for physical and psychological relaxation. However, there is still a lack of clear evidence on olfactory inhalation treatment and scent types via precise experiments, and there is no research regarding fine motor control performance in activities such as golf putting. Thus, the purpose of this study was to examine the effects of various olfactory inhalations (lavender, citrus, and ammonia) on professional golfers’ 3-meter putting performance (percentage of success), postural stability (CoP area), and heart rate (HR). In order to examine the effects of olfactory treatment on actual automated task performance, ten professional golfers were recruited for the putting task experiment. During the putting task, a biometric shirt was utilized to record the HR changes, and a force plate was used to measure changes in the CoP area. The results were as follows. First, the olfactory inhalation treatment inhibited the putting performance (no inhalation: 68.75%; lavender: 51.25%; citrus: 40.00%; ammonia: 52.50%); however, no statistically significant difference was found (p = 0.115). Second, the olfactory inhalation treatment inhibited postural stability while putting; it had a partially statistically significant lower value (address: p = 0.000; downswing: p = 0.035; total putting section: p = 0.047). Third, the olfactory inhalation treatment decreased the HR during putting; however, there was no statistically significant difference between groups (address: p = 0.838; putting: p = 0.878; total: p = 0.666). This study implies that olfactory inhalation affects putting performance, postural stability, and HR. The effect size results for the olfactory treatment in the CoP area during the putting task (address: η2 = 0.524; downswing: η2 = 0.349; total putting section: η2 = 0.298) suggest that arousal regulation through olfactory inhalation may have negative effects on dynamic postural stability in static tasks such as golf putting, showing the direction of its useful application for athletes in sports.
... It is reported that many athletes competing in powerlifting and weightlifting use ammonia salt inhalants (AI) before or during the competition (15). Ammonia salts are often inhaled immediately before competition to increase the athlete's focus and aid in "psyching-up" (11). ...
The aim of the present study was to investigate the influence of ammonia inhalants on lower body power and maximal isometric strength in trained men. Twenty experienced resistance trained men (age = 26.7 ± 3.7 y; body weight = 80.59 ± 9.0 kg; body height = 179.5 ± 5.7 cm) were tested for counter movement jump power (CMJP), maximal force and rate of force development (pRFD20) expressed during an isometric mid-thigh pull (IMTP). Assessments were performed using either an ammonia salt inhalants (AI), a placebo (PL) or no inhalants (N). One-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) with repeated measures was used to compare strength and power performance between the different trials. A significant (p < 0.01) increase in pRFD20 was detected following the use of AI. No significant effects of trial were noted for CMJP and IMTP maximal force (p = 0.251 and p = 0.075, respectively). Results of the present study showed a potential ergogenic effect of AI on rate of force development (i.e, explosive force output), with a trend towards an improvement in maximal force production. The mechanism of action may be related to the stimulatory action of AI often reported by athletes as a "psyching-up" effect. The positive effect of AI on the rate of force development may represent an advantage in sports requiring high rates of force production.
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The effect of a pre-workout energy supplement on acute multijoint resistance exercise was examined in eight resistancetrained college-age men. Subjects were randomly provided either a placebo (P) or a supplement (S: containing caffeine, taurine, glucuronolactone, creatine, β-alanine, and the amino acids; leucine, isoleucine, valine, glutamine and arginine) 10 minutes prior to resistance exercise. Subjects performed 4 sets of no more than 10 repetitions of either barbell squat or bench press at 80% of their pre-determined 1 repetition-maximum (1RM) with 90 seconds of rest between sets. Dietary intake 24 hours prior to each of the two training trials was kept constant. Results indicate that consuming the pre-workout energy drink 10 minutes prior to resistance exercise enhances performance by significantly increasing the number of repetitions successfully performed (p = 0.022) in S (26.3 ± 9.2) compared to P (23.5 ± 9.4). In addition, the average peak and mean power performance for all four sets was significantly greater in S compared to P (p < 0.001 and p < 0.001, respectively). No differences were observed between trials in subjective feelings of energy during either pre (p = 0.660) or post (p = 0.179) meaures. Similary, no differences between groups, in either pre or post assessments, were observed in subjective feelings of focus (p = 0.465 and p = 0.063, respectively), or fatigue (p = 0.204 and p = 0.518, respectively). Results suggest that acute ingestion of a highenergy supplement 10 minutes prior to the onset of a multi-joint resistance training session can augment training volume and increase power performance during the workout.
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This study determined the effects of 28 days of heavy resistance exercise combined with the nutritional supplement, NO-Shotgun(R), on body composition, muscle strength and mass, markers of satellite cell activation, and clinical safety markers. Eighteen non-resistance-trained males participated in a resistance training program (3 x 10-RM) 4 times/wk for 28 days while also ingesting 27 g/day of placebo (PL) or NO-Shotgun(R) (NO) 30 min prior to exercise. Data were analyzed with separate 2 x 2 ANOVA and t-tests (p < 0.05). Total body mass was increased in both groups (p = 0.001), but without any significant increases in total body water (p = 0.77). No significant changes occurred with fat mass (p = 0.62); however fat-free mass did increase with training (p = 0.001), and NO was significantly greater than PL (p = 0.001). Bench press strength for NO was significantly greater than PL (p = 0.003). Myofibrillar protein increased with training (p = 0.001), with NO being significantly greater than PL (p = 0.019). Serum IGF-1 (p = 0.046) and HGF (p = 0.06) were significantly increased with training and for NO HGF was greater than PL (p = 0.002). Muscle phosphorylated c-met was increased with training for both groups (p = 0.019). Total DNA was increased in both groups (p = 0.006), while NO was significantly greater than PL (p = 0.038). For DNA/protein, PL was decreased and NO was not changed (p = 0.014). All of the myogenic regulatory factors were increased with training; however, NO was shown to be significantly greater than PL for Myo-D (p = 0.008) and MRF-4 (p = 0.022). No significant differences were located for any of the whole blood and serum clinical chemistry markers (p > 0.05). When combined with heavy resistance training for 28 days, NO-Shotgun(R) is not associated with any negative side effects, nor does it abnormally impact any of the clinical chemistry markers. Rather, NO-Shotgun(R) effectively increases muscle strength and mass, myofibrillar protein content, and increases the content of markers indicative of satellite cell activation.
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A survey was conducted to examine the source of information and usage of nutritional supplements in 115 male and 88 female varsity athletes at a Division I university. The survey asked each athlete to define supplement, and report supplement use and type, source of information, and reasons for use. Supplement use frequencies were determined, and comparisons were made between gender and sport. Eighty-nine percent of the subjects had or were currently using nutritional supplements. Many athletes did not consider sports drinks and calorie replacement products as supplements. Females were more likely to take calcium and multivitamins, and males had significant intake for ginseng, amino acids, glutamine, hydroxy-methyl-buterate (HMB), weight gainers, whey protein, and Juven. The most frequently used supplements overall were energy drinks (73%), calorie replacement products of all types (61.4%), multivitamin (47.3%), creatine (37.2%), and vitamin C (32.4%). There was also significant supplement use noted per sport. Females were more likely to obtain information from family members regarding supplementation, and males from a store nutritionist, fellow athletes, friends, or a coach. Female athletes were more likely to take supplements for their health or because of an inadequate diet, while men reported taking supplements to improve speed and agility, strength and power, or for weight/muscle gain.
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The purpose of this study was to determine the influence of a comprehensive multi-component nutritional supplement on performance, hormonal, and metabolic responses to an acute bout of resistance exercise. Nine healthy subjects ingested either Muscle Fuel (MF) or a matched placebo (PL) for 7 days. Subjects then reported to the laboratory, ingested the corresponding supplement, and performed two consecutive days of heavy resistance exercise testing with associated blood draws. MF supplementation improved vertical jump (VJ) power output and the number of repetitions performed at 80% of one repetition maximum (1RM). Additionally, MF supplementation potentiated growth hormone (GH), testosterone, and insulin-like growth factor-1 responses to exercise. Concentrations of circulating myoglobin and creatine kinase (CK) were attenuated immediately following resistance exercise during the MF trial, indicating that MF partially mediated some form of exercise-induced muscle tissue damage. In summary MF enhanced performance and hormonal responses associated with an acute bout of resistance exercise. These responses indicate that MF supplementation augments the quality of an acute bout of resistance exercise thereby increasing the endocrine signaling and recovery following heavy resistance exercise.
Caffeine is the most widely used drug in the world, commonly ingested in coffee, tea, soda, and energy drinks. Its ability to enhance muscular work has been apparent since the early 1900s. Caffeine typically increases endurance performance; however, efficacy of caffeine ingestion for short-term high-intensity exercise is equivocal, which may be explained by discrepancies in exercise protocols, dosing, and subjects' training status and habitual caffeine intake found across studies. The primary aim of this review is to critically examine studies that have tested caffeine's ability to augment performance during exercise dependent on nonoxidative metabolism such as sprinting, team sports, and resistance training. A review of the literature revealed 29 studies that measured alterations in short-term performance after caffeine ingestion. Each study was critically analyzed using the Physiotherapy Evidence Database (PEDro) scale. The mean PEDro score was 7.76 +/- 0.87. Eleven of 17 studies revealed significant improvements in team sports exercise and power-based sports with caffeine ingestion, yet these effects were more common in elite athletes who do not regularly ingest caffeine. Six of 11 studies revealed significant benefits of caffeine for resistance training. Some studies show decreased performance with caffeine ingestion when repeated bouts are completed. The exact mechanism explaining the ergogenic effect of caffeine for short-term exercise is unknown.
There exists increasing concern that the Dietary Supplements Health and Education Act (“DSHEA”) has proven ineffective and perhaps counterproductive. Most illustratively, consider a recent and remarkably candid remark from Tommy Thompson, then Secretary of Health and Human Services: “I really think Congress should take a look at the food supplement law again. It doesn't make any sense to me .” A health law that makes no sense to the Secretary of Health of Health and Human Services should certainly draw the attention of academics and policy-makers alike. Much of the debate concerning DSHEA regards the disparity in legislative treatment between dietary supplements, foods, and pharmaceutical drugs. Specifically, while pharmaceutical drugs must undergo years of costly pre-market testing, most dietary supplements—like most foods—can immediately enter the market, and only after repeated instances of adverse reactions can the Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) remove them.