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Open Access Research article

β-alanine supplementation improves isometric endurance of the knee extensor muscles

Craig Sale1*, Chester A Hill2, James Ponte3 and Roger C Harris4

Author Affiliations

1 Biomedical, Life and Health Sciences Research Centre, Nottingham Trent University, Clifton Lane, Nottingham, NG11 8NS, UK

2 Southern Cycle Coaching, Fareham, Hampshire, UK

3 University of Chichester, Chichester, West Sussex, PO19 6PE, UK

4 Junipa Ltd, Newmarket, Suffolk, UK

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Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition 2012, 9:26  doi:10.1186/1550-2783-9-26

Published: 14 June 2012

Abstract

Background

We examined the effect of four weeks of β-alanine supplementation on isometric endurance of the knee extensors at 45% maximal voluntary isometric contraction (MVIC).

Methods

Thirteen males (age 23 ± 6 y; height 1.80 ± 0.05 m; body mass 81.0 ± 10.5 kg), matched for pre-supplementation isometric endurance, were allocated to either a placebo (n = 6) or β-alanine (n = 7; 6.4 g·d-1 over 4 weeks) supplementation group. Participants completed an isometric knee extension test (IKET) to fatigue, at an intensity of 45% MVIC, before and after supplementation. In addition, two habituation tests were completed in the week prior to the pre-supplementation test and a further practice test was completed in the week prior to the post-supplementation test. MVIC force, IKET hold-time, and impulse generated were recorded.

Results

IKET hold-time increased by 9.7 ± 9.4 s (13.2%) and impulse by 3.7 ± 1.3 kN·s-1 (13.9%) following β-alanine supplementation. These changes were significantly greater than those in the placebo group (IKET: t(11) = 2.9, p ≤0.05; impulse: t(11) = 3.1, p ≤ 0.05). There were no significant changes in MVIC force in either group.

Conclusion

Four weeks of β-alanine supplementation at 6.4 g·d-1 improved endurance capacity of the knee extensors at 45% MVIC, which most likely results from improved pH regulation within the muscle cell as a result of elevated muscle carnosine levels.

Keywords:
β-alanine; Carnosine; Isometric endurance; Intramuscular buffering