The Impact of Individualizing Sodium Bicarbonate Supplementation Strategies on World-Class Rowing Performance

Susan Boegman, Trent Stellingwerff, Gregory Shaw, Nick Clarke, Kenneth Graham, Rebecca Cross, Jason C. Siegler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Contemporary meta-analyses have generally demonstrated a positive effect of sodium bicarbonate (NaHCO3) supplementation on exercise performance. However, despite these claims, there is limited data on contrasting individualized and standardized timing of NaHCO3 ingestion prior to exercise to further enhance performance outcomes. Purpose: To determine whether NaHCO3 ingestion timing impacts 2,000-m rowing time-trial (TT) performance in elite-level rowers (Senior National team including Olympic/World Championships level) adhering to their own individualized pre-race strategies (e.g. nutrition, warm-up, etc.). Methods: Twenty three (n = 23) rowers across two research centers (using the exact same methods/protocols) completed three trials: NaHCO3 loading profile at rest to determine the individual's time-to-peak bicarbonate concentration [(Formula presented.)], followed by two randomized 0.3 g·kgBM−1 NaHCO3 supplementation experimental trials conducted at different time points [consensus timing (CON): TT performed 60 min post-NaHCO3 ingestion; and individualized peak (IP): TT performed at the rower's individual peak [(Formula presented.)] determined from the profiling trial post-NaHCO3 ingestion]. Results: There was a significant mean difference of +2.9 [± 0.4 mmol·L−1 (Formula presented.) for IP vs. CON (95% CI 2.0 to 3.8 mmol·L−1); p = 0.02; d = 1.08] at pre warm-up, but not immediately prior to the TT (post warm-up). Performance times were significantly different between IP (367.0 ± 10.5 s) vs. CON (369.0 ± 10.3 s); p = 0.007; d = 0.15). Conclusions: The present study demonstrated a small but significant performance effect of an individualized NaHCO3 ingestion strategy. Similarities after warm-up between pre-TT (Formula presented.) values (CON ~ + 5.5 mmol·L−1; IP ~ + 6 mmol·L−1), however, would suggest this effect was not a result of any meaningful differences in blood alkalinity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number138
JournalFrontiers in Nutrition
StatePublished - Sep 9 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • elite athletes
  • individualized nutrition
  • performance
  • sodium bicarbonate ingestion
  • time trial performance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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