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β-Hydroxy-β-methylbutyrate free acid reduces markers of exercise-induced muscle damage and improves recovery in resistance-trained men

  • Jacob M. Wilson (a1), Ryan P. Lowery (a1), Jordan M. Joy (a1), Joe A. Walters (a1), Shawn M. Baier (a2), John C. Fuller (a2), Jeffrey R. Stout (a3), Layne E. Norton (a1) (a4), Eric M. Sikorski (a5), Stephanie M. C. Wilson (a6), Nevine M. Duncan (a1), Nelo E. Zanchi (a1) and John Rathmacher (a2) (a7)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 03 January 2013

The purpose of the present study was to determine the effects of short-term supplementation with the free acid form of β-hydroxy-β-methylbutyrate (HMB-FA) on indices of muscle damage, protein breakdown, recovery and hormone status following a high-volume resistance training session in trained athletes. A total of twenty resistance-trained males were recruited to participate in a high-volume resistance training session centred on full squats, bench presses and dead lifts. Subjects were randomly assigned to receive either 3 g/d of HMB-FA or a placebo. Immediately before the exercise session and 48 h post-exercise, serum creatine kinase (CK), urinary 3-methylhistadine (3-MH), testosterone, cortisol and perceived recovery status (PRS) scale measurements were taken. The results showed that CK increased to a greater extent in the placebo (329 %) than in the HMB-FA group (104 %) (P= 0·004, d= 1·6). There was also a significant change for PRS, which decreased to a greater extent in the placebo (9·1 (sem 0·4) to 4·6 (sem 0·5)) than in the HMB-FA group (9·1 (sem 0·3) to 6·3 (sem 0·3)) (P= 0·005, d= − 0·48). Muscle protein breakdown, measured by 3-MH analysis, numerically decreased with HMB-FA supplementation and approached significance (P= 0·08, d= 0·12). There were no acute changes in plasma total or free testosterone, cortisol or C-reactive protein. In conclusion, these results suggest that an HMB-FA supplement given to trained athletes before exercise can blunt increases in muscle damage and prevent declines in perceived readiness to train following a high-volume, muscle-damaging resistance-training session.

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