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Ammonia Inhalation Does Not Increase Deadlift 1-Repetition Maximum in College-Aged Male and Female Weight Lifters


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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.
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Department of Human Movement Sciences, Old Dominion University, Norfolk, Virginia
Vigil, JN, Sabatini, PL, Hill, LC, Swain, DP, and Branch, JD.
Ammonia inhalation does not increase deadlift 1-repetition
maximum in college-aged male and female weight lifters. J
Strength Cond Res 32(12): 3392–3397, 2018—Ammonia inhal-
ant use by powerlifters and weight lifters is a prevalent practice
with little research support for improved performance. The pur-
pose of this study was to investigate the effects of ammonia as
a stimulant on athletic performance during a deadlift 1-repetition
maximum (1RM) absolute strength test. Subjects (men: n=10,
mean 6SD age = 21 61 year, mass = 72.5 66.8 kg; and
women: n=10,age=2265 years, mass = 66.2 68.1 kg)
were required to have at least 2 years of resistance training
experience while lacking a history of asthma, lightheadedness,
fainting, anaphylaxis, sickle cell traits, and other respiratory dis-
orders. After a baseline 1RM test, subjects were paired by 1RM
performance and gender, then randomly assigned in a counter-
balanced treatment order to control (water) or ammonia trials
after a minimum 72-hour recovery period for another 1RM test
involving attempts at 100.0, 102.5, 105.0, and 107.5% of the
established 1RM value. Testing was then repeated after
the minimum rest period for the remaining trial. Results revealed
the expected gender main effect for absolute deadlift 1RM
(93.0 629.5 [women]; 152.0 629.5 kg [men]; p,0.001),
but no trial main effect (p= 0.874) or gender by trial interaction
effect (baseline = 93.0 615.3, 151.8 642.3 kg; water =
92.0 612.5, 150.9 637.8 kg; ammonia = 92.5 616.4,
153.4 637.9 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 deadlift 1RM in
training or competition.
KEY WORDS powerlifting, weight lifting, strength, ergogenic
Competitive powerlifting combines the maximal
mass successfully lifted in a squat, bench press,
and deadlift. Powerlifting is an international
sport with the World Powerlifting Congress re-
porting 46 affiliate member countries (27). The 2015 Inter-
national and US Powerlifting Championship events
reported more than 750 and almost 1,000 competitors,
respectively (correspondence from Robert Keller, Secre-
tary General, International Powerlifting Federation, March
9, 2016). Powerlifters, similar to athletes in other sports,
seek ergogenic aids to gain an edge over their competitors.
Several ergogenic aids used by powerlifters and other ath-
letes such as anabolic-androgenic steroids, prohormones,
human growth hormone, insulin-like growth factors, etc.
have well-documented adverse health effects and/or pro-
vide an unfair competitive advantage (5). Other ergogenic
aids appear to have little to no risk but also lack scientific
evidence for an ergogenic effect (21). Evidence for the
efficacy of any ergogenic aid used by athletes today ranges
from a large body of scientific support to only anecdotal
Although some ergogenic aids are banned in training and
competition by the World Anti-Doping Agency, 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% of all respondents used AI, 78% of users
felt AI use was ergogenic, and 80% of all respondents indi-
cated AI use was a safe practice. AI was typically used for
2–3 lifts during a competition (45% of AI users) and before
the deadlift, the last event in powerlifting competitions. AI
use by powerlifters is acknowledged by the International
Powerlifting Federation Technical rules book (12), which
states that “a lifter shall not .use ammonia within view
of the public.” Physiological effects of AI include irritation
of the nasal cavity and lungs resulting in momentary
increased inspiration, respiration rate, and alertness (12).
Perry et al. (19) reported increased middle cerebral artery
blood flow velocity and increased heart rate after AI. The
role of these physiological effects in improved powerlifting
performance remains to be elucidated.
Address correspondence to J. David Branch,
Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research
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VOLUME 32 | NUMBER 12 | DECEMBER 2018 | 3383
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Despite the high prevalence of AI use by powerlifters,
well-controlled research on the efficacy of AI use is almost
nonexistent. AI was ineffective in increasing back squat and
bench press repetitions at 85% of 1-repetition maximum
(1RM) (24) or maximal mid-thigh pull force, rate of force
development, or electromyography activity (19), but
increased Wingate test peak and mean anaerobic power
was observed after a simulated American football game
(25). To our knowledge, no studies have examined the er-
gogenic effect of AI on the 1RM of any competitive weight-
lifting event. According to an international survey of
powerlifters, 89% of AI use was associated with deadlift
1RM which is the last of 3 events in powerlifting compet-
itions (22). Therefore, the purpose of this study was to
examine the effect of AI use on deadlift 1RM in college-
aged male and female recreational weight lifters. We
hypothesized that AI would significantly improve deadlift
1RM performance.
Experimental Approach to the Problem
For testing our hypothesis that AI would increase deadlift
1RM, we used a 2 gender 33 treatment (baseline, water,
and ammonia) design with repeated measures on treat-
ment. The primary independent variable was treatment,
with water and ammonia treatments administered in coun-
terbalanced order after the baseline treatment. Subjects
were blinded to their first assigned treatment of either
water or ammonia up to the first exposure, after which they
were aware of the treatment for subsequent deadlift 1RM
attempts in that session and the remaining treatment in the
third and final session. Therefore, the nature of the treatments
precluded true blinding throughout the entire study. During
the baseline session, absolute deadlift 1RM was measured
after a standardized warm-up which was also used in the
water and ammonia treatments. The following progressive
approach was used to achieve deadlift 1RM in the water
and ammonia treatments: 2 repetitions (reps) each at 65
and 75% of baseline 1RM; 1 rep each at 85, 90, and 95% of
baseline 1RM; then 100, 102.5, 105 and 107.5% of baseline
1RM as necessary to failure. The study design attempted to
mimic conditions during both training and competition,
including attempts to lift the heaviest load in 3 attempts.
Absolute deadlift 1RM was selected as the dependent variable
for 3 reasons. First, the effects of AI are brief, therefore it is
logical to assume that an ergogenic effect would occur within
the much shorter time window of administration immediately
before a 1RM attempt rather than before multiple high-
intensity repetitions (24). Secondly, the deadlift is generally
considered to be a safe lift for recreational weight lifters
assuming the use of proper technique. Finally, the deadlift 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.
Undergraduate exercise science majors (mean 6SD:n=10
men; n= 10 women; age range = 19–34 years) were re-
cruited from a strength and conditioning leadership course.
TABLE 1. Study protocol.*
Trial 1 Trial 2 Trial 3
recruitment and
Standardized warm-up
preceding baseline
deadlift 1RM with
subjects paired based
on 1RM and gender
and randomly
assigned to water/
ammonia or ammonia/
water treatment orders
72-h rest
Standardized warm-up
preceding deadlift
1RM under first
treatment in assigned
treatment order (water
or ammonia)
72-h rest
Standardized warm-
up preceding
deadlift 1RM under
treatment in
assigned treatment
Deadlift weight
based on
baseline 1RM
2365% 1RM 2 365% 1RM
2375% 1RM 2 375% 1RM
1385% 1RM 1 385% 1RM
1390% 1RM 1 390% 1RM
1395% 1RM 1 395% 1RM
13100% 1RM13100% 1RM
13102.5% 1RM13102.5% 1RM
13105% 1RM13105% 1RM
13107.5% 1RM13107.5% 1RM
*1RM, 1-repetition maximum.
To failure.
Ammonia Inhalation and Deadlift
Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research
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All subjects were naive to AI use and were required to have
a minimum of 2 years of resistance training experience, spe-
cifically experience with deadlift exercise. Data collection was
done in the spring of 2016 beginning at the 10th week of the
semester in order for one of the researchers to provide indi-
vidual instruction on correct weight lifting movements includ-
ing the deadlift. We used recreational athletes as subjects due
to an insufficient number of available highly trained and com-
petitive weight lifters. At the time of testing, all subjects had
received supervised instruction on performing the deadlift and
other weight lifting movements. Subjects were instructed not
to change their weight lifting routines, nutritional intake, or
hydration for the duration of the study and to refrain from any
heavy lifting outside of the study. Otherwise, there was no
control of periodization cycle training volume or intensity.
Participants with a history of asthma, lightheadedness, faint-
ing, anaphylaxis, sickle cell trait, and other respiratory disor-
ders were excluded from the study. Ammonia inhalation has
been reported to irritate the eyes and upper respiratory tracts
in humans (20) and rats (1). This study used small amounts of
inhalants 2 inches from the nose for a brief, split second inha-
lation. Subjects were only exposed a total of 6 times through-
out the study with minimal duration and depth of exposure.
All testing was conducted at one university. Before all testing,
the study protocol was approved by the Human Subjects
Institutional Review Board at Old Dominion University
(Norfolk, VA). All procedures conformed to the Declaration
of Helsinki as revised in 1996. Participants received a verbal
explanation of the risks and benefits of the study and also
provided written informed consent.
Subjects reported for data collection on 3 separate sessions
separated by 7 days. Baseline deadlift 1RM was measured
in the first session after a standardized warm-up {fire
hydrants (2 310 per leg); lunge stretches (2 310 seconds);
dumbbell good mornings (2 310 at 4.5 and 9.1 kg [10 and
20 lbs]); 3 35 at 45% 1RM; and 2 33at50%1RM}which
was replicated in the other 2 sessions. Equipment used in
the study included a standard Rogue Fitness (Columbus,
OH) Echo Series Bumper Plates (1.1, 2.3, 4.5, 6.8, 11.4,
15.9, 20.4, and 25.0 kg [2.5, 5, 10, 15, 25, 35, 45, and 55
lbs] options) which were secured to a 20-kg (45-lb) Rouge
Fitness (Columbus, OH) 28-MM Training Bar with spring
collars. Deadlift 1RM testing took place on a standard 2.4 3
2.4-m (8 38-ft) Olympic regulation weightlifting platform
(FW-147; ProMaxima, Houston, TX, USA), located in
the university’s student recreation center. Subjects were
allowed to use any weightlifting accessories such as Olym-
pic weight lifting shoes, belts, sleeves, etc., and were
required to use the same equipment and the same grip
and lifting technique for baseline, water, and ammonia tri-
als. The AI was Pac-Kit (South Norwalk, CT, USA) AI
medical kit refills (#9–100, 100 count). Each capsule con-
tained 0.33-ml solution of ammonia (50 mg, 15%), dena-
tured alcohol (35%), and water (50%). The control
substance was water in an identical bottle.
For sessions 2 and 3, subjects inhaled the assigned inhalant
in counterbalanced order and attempted to lift 102.5, 105,
and 107.5% of the 1RM achieved in baseline testing. Subjects
were asked to set their feet and adjust equipment (e.g.,
tighten belt, set straps, etc.) before the attempt, take in 1
maximal inhalation from the assigned bottle and perform the
lift within 15 seconds of inhalation. Water (control) or
ammonia capsules were placed in identical opaque plastic
bottles along with a coin by an individual not involved with
data collection or analysis. Immediately before administra-
tion, the bottle containing a subject’s assigned treatment was
shaken which broke the ammonia capsule by contact with
the coin. The contents of the bottle (water or ammonia)
were then inhaled through a small hole in the bottle cap.
Subjects and the researchers were blinded to the treatments.
If the subject failed an attempt, they were allowed a second
attempt at the weight with identical procedures, including
another inhalation of the prescribed inhalant. All subjects
had a timed rest interval of 3 minutes between all attempts
during this study for ideal recovery time without compro-
mising performance (15). A given subject was measured at
the same time of the day for baseline, water, and ammonia
treatments which were separated by a 72-hour interval
(Table 1). The trial-to-trial reliability of deadlift 1RM was
determined by an intraclass reliability coefficient of 0.995
across 3 separate measurements.
Statistical Analyses
Baseline descriptive variables (age, baseline height and mass,
and years of weight lifting experience) and 1RM data for
baseline, water, and ammonia trials were examined for
normality and homogeneity of variance. All variables con-
formed to Gaussian distributions according to the Shapiro-
Wilk test. Differences between men and women for descriptive
variables were examined by independent ttest. The difference
in the deadlift 1RM attempts between ammonia and water
trials was examined by dependent ttest. One-RM data and
percentage changes between baseline, water, and ammonia
treatments were analyzed by separate 2 gender 33 treatment
repeated-measures analyses of variance with Tukey post hoc
comparisons for significant main and interaction effects.
Repeated measures data conformed to sphericity assumptions
according to Mauchly’s test. All analyses were performed
using IBM SPSS (Version 21; Armonk, NY, USA). The crite-
rion for statistical significance was a= 0.05. Unless otherwise
indicated, values are reported as mean 6SD.
Ten men and 10 women completed all 3 testing sessions.
Baseline characteristics are presented in Table 2. As ex-
pected, men were significantly heavier and had greater
(p#0.05) absolute (kg) and mass-relative (kg$kg
) deadlift
performance. There were no reported issues or injuries from
Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research
VOLUME 32 | NUMBER 12 | DECEMBER 2018 | 3385
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participation in the study outside of normal soreness and
delayed onset muscle soreness signs and symptoms. There
was no difference between ammonia and water trials in
deadlift 1RM attempts with the first attempt at 1RM mea-
sured at baseline (ammonia = 2.2 61.2 vs. water = 2.1 61.3,
p= 0.629).
Matching of subjects in pairs according to baseline
performance and gender for randomized assignment to
treatment order (water/ammonia; ammonia/water) resulted
in no order effect (p= 0.533).
The effect of treatments on absolute deadlift performance
is presented in Figure 1. As expected, there was a significant
gender main effect (F
= 20.09, p,0.0001) in favor of
men. However, there was no trial main effect (F
= 0.135,
p= 0.874) or gender-by-trial interaction effect (F
= 0.591,
p= 0.559).
As shown in Figure 2, percentage changes in absolute
deadlift strength (water vs. baseline; ammonia vs. baseline;
ammonia vs. water) were not significantly different (F
0.141, p= 0.869) with no gender main effect (F
= 0.368,
p= 0.552) or gender by percent comparison interaction
effect (F
= 0.909, p= 0.412).
AI is commonly practiced by power athletes to induce
heightened arousal and alertness, and increased respiratory
rate (16,26). AI use by powerlifters is most commonly associ-
ated with the deadlift which is the last lift in powerlifting
competitions (22). Despite the prevalence of this practice,
there is scant research on the ergogenic effects of AI. Further-
more, we are unaware of any studies of AI ergogenic effects
on maximal 1RM strength in any lifting task including the
deadlift. The key finding of this study is that AI resulted in
no significant difference in absolute deadlift 1RM after ammo-
nia inhalation compared with either a water control or base-
line measurement in male and female recreational weight
lifters. Our null findings are similar to separate studies report-
ing no increase in mid-thigh pull force, rate of force develop-
ment, or electromyographic (EMG) activity immediately, 15,
30, or 60 seconds after AI (19) and no effect of AI on back
squat and bench press repetitions at 85% of 1RM (24). To our
knowledge, the only evidence of an AI ergogenic effect was an
increase in Wingate test peak and mean power output after
a simulated game of American football (25).
This study did not examine a potential AI ergogenic
mechanism. Cross-sectional survey data support a belief
among users that AI increases psychological arousal and
decreases perceived fatigue (22). Middle cerebral artery blood
flow velocity and heart rate have been reported to increase
and peak 10 and 15 seconds, respectively, after AI (19). If any
AI ergogenic mechanism is related to these acute changes, it
is logical to surmise that the brief time window for effective-
ness would be further reduced by International Powerlifting
Federation (IPF) rules stating “a lifter shall not .use ammo-
nia within view of the public” (12).
This study has several acknowledged limitations. We did
not report mass-relative deadlift strength for baseline, water,
and ammonia conditions since body mass was measured
only before baseline measurement of 1RM. Although the
subjects had the required weightlifting experience, they
were recreational weight lifters with training goals that did
not require knowledge of deadlift 1RM. As a result, the
baseline condition was the first time that many had ever
performed a deadlift 1RM. However, the absence of
significant differences in deadlift 1RM between baseline
and water or AI conditions supports the absence of a learning
effect or any hypothesized AI treatment effect. Nevertheless,
one recommendation for future study is to replicate this
Figure 1. Effect of baseline, water, and ammonia inhalation treatments
on absolute deadlift 1-repetition maximum (1RM). Values are mean 6
SE. Two gender 33 trial design repeated measures analysis of variance.
Gender main effect (p,0.0001) with no treatment (p= 0.874) or
gender 3treatment interaction (p= 0.559) effects.
TABLE 2. Baseline characteristics of study
(n= 10)
(n= 10)
Age (y) 22 652161
Body mass (kg)z66.6 68.1 75.2 66.8
Absolute baseline
deadlift 1RM (kg)§
93.0 615.4 151.8 642.3
Relative baseline
deadlift 1RM
1.42 60.27 2.01 60.5
*1RM = 1-repetition maximum.
Values are mean 6SD.
zOne-tailed independent ttests: p= 0.007.
§p= 0.003.
kp= 0.0019.
Ammonia Inhalation and Deadlift
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study in more experienced male and female powerlifters who
represent more homogeneous populations where any AI
ergogenic effect may be more apparent.
Equipment use was standardized within but not between
subjects. Only one-third of the subjects used a weight-belt,
which has been shown to improve lifting posture and stabi-
lize the trunk by increasing intra-abdominal pressure (13)
and rectus abdominis RMG activity (9,17) while decreasing
external oblique EMG activity (9). One subject used power-
lifting straps which has been reported to retard the develop-
ment of grip strength, an important contributor to successful
barbell movements (23). Differences in lifting technique (e.g.,
stances, grips, grip widths, etc.) within the standard of reach-
ing full torso, hip, and knee extension while lifting the barbell
from the floor could have affected any AI-related ergogenic
effect on deadlift performance. Greater between-subject
standardization in equipment use and technique would be
expected in more experienced male and female powerlifters.
There was no tracking of the menstrual cycle in female
subjects. Menstrual cycle phase has been reported to have no
effect on maximal voluntary isometric contraction of knee
extensors and flexors (18); first dorsal interosseus muscle (8),
or isokinetic strength (10). On the other hand, greater knee
extensor peak torque and isometric contractions of knee
flexors have been reported at ovulation compared with luteal
or follicular phases (3) and greater isometric lifting strength
in the luteal phase than the follicular phase (6). Although
any menstrual cycle-related fluctuations in muscle force pro-
duction represents a maturation threat to internal validity in
this study, female powerlifters compete in scheduled events
without regard for menstrual cycle phase, a fact which sup-
ports the external validity of our study.
Another limitation to our study is the likelihood that true
double-blinding did not occur throughout the entire pro-
tocol. It is possible that not all subjects were blinded after
their first exposure to water or ammonia. Ammonia is
a respiratory irritant, therefore a subject’s reaction (or lack
thereof) to ammonia or water undermine a completely
blinded condition.
Previous studies have reported placebo effects associated
with anabolic-androgenic steroid use of 9.5 (2) and 3.8% (14)
in male weight lifters. In their review, Beedie and Foad (4)
reported placebo effects ranging from 21.0 to 50.7% of base-
line performance, with effects that were either statistically or
clinically significant in all but one or 12 studies. The mean
performances for ammonia, water, and baseline conditions
are within a range of only 1.75 kg and not significantly dif-
ferent, which suggests no placebo effect.
Although ammonia is toxic in higher doses, AIs are used
for the treatment of fainting. The single-dose ammonia
concentration used in this study was the same as found in
first aid kit capsules and is generally but not unanimously (7)
considered as safe. Although the risk of adverse events
related to AI use by athletes is low, a case study reported
an allergic reaction after a single dose of aromatic AI in
a female powerlifter who regularly used nonaromatic AI
(11). More frequent or even single low-dose exposure may
cause pulmonary congestion and skin irritation in susceptible
individuals (7).
In conclusion, AI use by powerlifters is acknowledged by
the International Powerlifting Federation (12). AI use is prev-
alent among competitive powerlifters, usually before the dead-
lift (22). We are aware of no prior study to test the effects of AI
on 1RM for any weight lifting movement. The prevalence of
AI use by competitive powerlifters suggests a possible ergo-
genic effect of AI use on deadlift 1RM. However, within the
previously discussed limitations of this study, there was no
significant increase in deadlift performance after AI use.
Although AI use is prevalent among certain strength and
power athletes, the ergogenic effects of its use on weightlift-
ing performance has received little research attention. This
study reported no improvement in deadlift 1RM after AI.
Based on this finding, there is no rationale to recommended
AI use to strength and power athletes for improved deadlift
The authors extend deep appreciation to the subjects who
participated in this study. They report no conflicts of
interest. The results of this study do not constitute
endorsement by the authors or the National Strength and
Conditioning Association.
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Ammonia Inhalation and Deadlift
Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research
Copyright © National Strength and Conditioning Association Unauthorized reproduction of this article is prohibited.
... In addition, because of the lack of peer-reviewed articles, a manual search from the reference list of all retained articles was performed until April 2020. Despite these efforts and generous search criteria, the search procedure only resulted in a total of 4 peer-reviewed studies (3,39,43,55). Therefore, to increase the breadth of this review, we also included 6 conference abstracts (2,32,33,44,49,59) and 1 master's thesis (17). ...
... Most research has reported that inhaling AIs results in what can be described as a "psyching-up" or "pick me up" effect (31,52,53). It is likely that this effect is the result of altered fundamental breathing patterns as the stimulated respiration muscles operate faster, increasing the respiratory rate, and possibly resulting in a higher level of vigilance (31,42,55). However, to prove these claims, the current literature contains an inadequate amount of empirical evidence (39). ...
... In accordance with the presented results from various performance tasks, it may be suggested there are no ergogenic effects of AI inhalation on maximal muscular strength (3,39,43,55). Moreover, no effects were observed on muscular endurance performance (43) or in various explosive strength performances using either slow (2,3,33,44) or fast stretch-shortening cycles (2). ...
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.
... AIs are a common example of a stimulant-based ergogenic aid used within competitive sport; yet, despite their popularity, there has been little research into their effect on sporting performance. Greater anaerobic power has been observed with AI use in a fatigued state (Secrest, Jones, & Faries, 2015), but they have been shown not to impact lower limb or full body static strength (Bartolomei et al., 2018;Perry, Pritchard, & Barnes, 2016), dynamic strength (Richmond, Potts, & Sherman, 2014;Vigil, Sabatini, Hill, Swain, & David Branch, 2018), or number of repetitions to fatigue (Richmond et al., 2014). However, no previous study has assessed the influence of AIs on isolated upper body strength only. ...
... These findings support previous studies which have attempted to investigate the effects of AIs on functional performance such as maximal strength and power output. Resistance trained individuals (>2 y training experience) have previously demonstrated no improvement in isometric or dynamic contractions of submaximal or maximal intensity, following AI inhalation (Bartolomei et al., 2018;Perry et al., 2016;Richmond et al., 2014;Vigil et al., 2018). These previous studies assessed strength using closed-chain exercises involving multiple muscle groups; in such cases participant familiarity with the exercise test is critical, even among well-trained individuals (Dias et al., 2005). ...
Many athletes seek to enhance their performance using legal ergogenic aids, including ammonia inhalants (AIs). AIs trigger the inhalation reflex and increase blood pressure, respiration and heart rate; but, despite their widespread use, there is little evidence for the benefits of AI on exercise performance. We aimed to determine the psychological and neuromuscular impact of acute ammonia inhalation. Fourteen non-resistance trained males completed three trials: control, experimental (AI), and sham. The order of the sham and experimental trials was randomized. Participants completed handgrip and knee extension maximal voluntary contractions (MVC), and countermovement jump (CMJ). Heart rate and alertness were recorded at rest and immediately following control, experimental or sham treatment, followed by functional performance measurements. Reaction time, electromechanical delay, rate of force development and peak force were calculated from MVCs, and peak power from CMJ. On completion of trials, perceived performance was recorded. Statistical significance was accepted at P<0.05. Heart rate (P<0.001), alertness (P=0.009) and perceived performance (P=0.036) were elevated by AIs. Markers of functional performance were unaltered by AIs. Alertness was moderately correlated with perceived performance in control (r=0.61) and sham conditions (r=0.54), and very-highly correlated in the experimental condition (r=0.90). AI elevates alertness and perceived physical performance, but not peak strength, power, or neuromuscular drive. AIs may be a useful psychological stimulant to increase focus and mental preparation, however it is unlikely that this will improve functional performance in an untrained population. Our data suggest however, that ammonia inhalants may improve the perception of an individual's performance.
... Recently, many studies have been conducted to explain the relationship between actual performance and olfactory inhalation treatment, including both general and handgrip strength improvements, Sargent jumps, and cardiovascular enhancements, as well as isometric mid-thigh pull velocity augmentation [19,[28][29][30][31]. However, there is still a lack of approaches considering the optimal level of anxiety and arousal in sports situations or performance in demonstrations of skill. ...
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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.
... 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]. ...
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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.
Purpose: Ammonia inhalants (NH3) are anecdotally used in competition by athletes for their purported stimulant effects. However, evidence on the efficacy of NH3 is conflicting, and little to no studies to date have investigated its effect on repeated exercise. The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of NH3 on psychophysiological responses and performance during repeated high-intensity exercise. Methods: In a counterbalanced crossover design, physically active females completed two repeated high-intensity sprint trials with a different treatment: Control (CON; water) or Ammonia Inhalants (NH3; 0.33 cc). For each trial, participants completed 3 × 15s Wingate anaerobic tests (WAnT) separated by 2 min of active recovery. Prior to each WAnT, participants took a single 3-s inhale of the corresponding treatment. After the succession of each WAnT, heart rate (HR) and rate of perceived exertion (RPE) were documented. Subjective feelings of alertness and “psyched up” energy were measured using a visual analog scale. Trials were separated by at least 48 hr. Results: The results indicate that over the WAnTs, mean power (p = .017) and peak power (p = .006) were significantly higher with NH3 compared to CON despite a lack of changes in fatigue index (p = .928). HR (p = .101) and RPE (p = .897) were not different with varying treatments. Perceived alertness (p = .010) and psyched-up energy (p = .002) were significantly higher with NH3 versus CON. Conclusion: These findings provide empirical support for the use of NH3 to improve repeated high-intensity exercise performance in females that may be underpinned by alterations in subjective alertness and energy.
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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.
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Ammonia Inhalants (AIs) have been suspected to enhance athletic performance through an increased awareness and subsequent increase in physical strength. The purpose of this study was to examine the impact of AIs on strength performance. Twenty-five college-aged males with at least 3 yrs of resistance training experience performed as many repetitions as possible with the back squat and bench press at 85% of one repetition maximum (1RM) after inhaling either AIs or placebo (Vick's® VapoRub®, VVR). There were no significant differences between the number of repetitions performed in the back squat (P = 0.403) or the bench press (P = 0.422) after inhaling the AIs compared to the VVR. While no differences in performance were observed, many individuals may still continue to use AIs. Therefore, if an individual has no pre-existing medical conditions and feels that AIs improve performance, there appears to be no contraindications to using low doses.
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The use of ammonia inhalants, energy drinks and “pre-workout” supplements during powerlifting competition is common place 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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Great interest is currently shown for the contribution of nutrition to optimize training and athletic performance, and a considerable debate exists about the potential ergogenic value of several dietary supplements. However, most of the products used by athletes do not provide sufficient scientific evidence regarding their efficacy in enhancing physical performance as well as their specificity of action and safety. For this reason, sport nutrition professionals need skills in evaluating the scientific value of papers and advertisements on ergogenic aids and supplements in order to support athletes in their choice. In the present chapter, the efficacy of some of the most popular supplements used by athletes and sport practitioners will be discussed. Particular attention will be devoted to amino acids and derivatives, caffeine and caffeinated energy drinks, and some antioxidants.
Fifteen male varsity athletes were informed that some of them would be selected to receive an anabolic steroid (Dianabol). Instead, six selected subjects were given placebo pills. Taking the placebo apparently supplied the psychological inducement to increase strength gains above and beyond reasonable progression. Greater training gains were made during the placebo period in three out of four weight lifting exercises. The gains were statitsically significant when comparing the two regression lines for the pre-placebo and placebo periods. (C)1972The American College of Sports Medicine
To evaluate the effects of abdominal belts on lifting performance, muscle activation, intra-abdominal pressure and intra-muscular pressure of the erector spinae muscles. Simultaneous measurement of intra-abdominal pressure, intra-muscular pressure of the erector spinae muscles was performed during the Valsalva maneuver and some isometric lift exertions. While several hypotheses have been suggested regarding the biomechanics of belts and performance has been found to increase when lifting with belts, very little is known about the modulating effects on trunk stiffness. At present, there is no reason to believe that spine tolerance to loads increases with belts. An abdominal belt designed for weightlifting was used. Intra-abdominal pressure, intra-muscular pressure of the erector spinae muscles and myoelectric activities of trunk muscles (erector spinae, rectus abdominis and external oblique) were measured simultaneously during the Valsalva maneuver as well as three types of isometric lifting exertions (arm, leg and torso lift). A paired t-test was used to analyze for statistical differences between the two conditions (without-belt and with-belt) in intra-abdominal pressure, intra-muscular pressure of the erector spinae muscles and in the integrated EMG of the trunk muscles. Intra-muscular pressure of the erector spinae muscles increased significantly by wearing the abdominal belt during Valsalva maneuvers and during maximum isometric lifting exertions, while maximum isometric lifting capacity and peak intra-abdominal pressure were not affected. Integrated EMG of rectus abdominis increased significantly by wearing the abdominal belt during Valsalva maneuvers (after full inspiration) and during isometric leg lifting. Wearing abdominal belts raises intra-muscular pressure of the erector spinae muscles and appears to stiffen the trunk. Assuming that increased intra-muscular pressure of the erector spinae muscles stabilizes the lumbar spine, wearing abdominal belts may contribute to the stabilization during lifting exertions.