- Craig Broeder, Ph.D., FACSM – Exercising Nutritionally, LLC. Lisle, IL.
- Per Lundstam – Red Bull High Performance. Santa Monica, CA
- Brad Wilkins, Ph.D. – Amp Human. Park City, UT
Amp Human, in collaboration with Exercising Nutritionally, LLC conducted a pilot study to explore the impact of PR Lotion on lower body power output during high-intensity exercise. That is, can PR Lotion help athletes produce more power (or produce more force faster)?
With the current COVID-19 health crisis, moving forward with the full study is on hold, but in the meantime, we wanted to share the preliminary results with our Amp Human community. The following overview is what we have learned so far and what we plan to do next.
The key findings that we will build upon include:
1) Athletes who used PR Lotion in a 5-Minute all-out cycle test after completing 2 Wingate exercises (cycling exercise that measures anaerobic power and anaerobic capacity) generated 6.7% more power than those who didn’t.
2) The same athletes generated considerably more ‘breakaway’ power during the initial 45 seconds of the exercise and were able to sustain the advantage throughout the full duration of the exercise.
3) The second study measured force, velocity, power, and total work while athletes performed leg extensions. Applying PR Lotion to one leg increased mean power output and peak power output during leg extension exercise in both legs, compared to athletes that were given the placebo.
4) Following the above; the most remarkable takeaway from the leg extension exercise is that the PR Lotion applied to one leg (the right leg) impacts the power output and weight lifted by both legs - meaning that PR Lotion application shows signs of a systematic effect i.e. absorption through the skin, into the bloodstream, with impact on all working muscles, vs only a localized effect.
Read the full study below.Explanation of Experiments
This initial study was a pilot project to develop the protocol, as well as ensure we were using appropriate measurements and doses of PR Lotion to answer the question effectively. To answer our scientific question, we had a small group of athletes perform two separate studies.
In the first study, we asked the athletes to perform repeated Wingate tests separated by a 10 min rest. A Wingate test is a standard test on a cycle ergometer that measures anaerobic power and anaerobic capacity. The test requires the rider to go as hard as they possibly can, producing a maximal effort for a period of 30 seconds. The goal of the repeated Wingate tests was to cause fatigue in the athletes, prior to a time trial effort of 5 min. During the time trial, the riders were asked to “race” like they were trying to ‘break-away from the pack’. Athletes were instructed to ride as hard as they could at “breakaway” power from the start, then complete the remainder of the 5 min ride like it was a time trial performance. The primary outcomes for this trial were to identify any differences in cycling power between a placebo lotion and PR Lotion.
During the second study, the athletes performed leg extensions equipped with a leg dynamometer. A leg dynamometer is a device that measures force, velocity, power, and total work (among other metrics) while the athlete is performing leg extensions at a set resistance. This machine also allows the measurement of leg extensions performed with each leg independently. Because of this, we were able to apply PR Lotion or Placebo Lotion to just one leg (right leg) on each athlete; allowing us to examine if PR Lotion acts locally or if the effect is systemic (whole-body).
For both studies, neither the athletes that performed the trials nor the researchers knew what lotion the placebo lotion was and what was PR Lotion. They were identical in every way, except PR Lotion includes sodium bicarbonate. This means that all experiments were double-blind, placebo-controlled trials.What We Are Learning
From the cycling experiments, we are learning that applying PR Lotion prior to exercise increases the average power produced during the 5-min time trial performance (Figure 1).
Although this is preliminary data on a small number of subjects, these data agree with previous PR Lotion studies during cycling. Even more exciting (and new) are the results examining ‘breakaway’ power production at the beginning of the 5-min time trial. The riders were able to produce substantially more power from the start of the trial over the first 45 seconds (Figure 2).
Combined, this means that after fatigue brought on by the repeated Wingate tests, using PR Lotion allowed the cyclists to produce more ‘breakaway’ power at the beginning of the trial and maintain the higher power output (on average) for longer.
Probably the most interesting thing we are learning from these studies is that, applying PR Lotion to the right leg only, increased mean power output and peak power output during leg extension exercise in both legs. Mean power output (Watts) in both legs was 182±87 during the placebo condition and 201±98 after application of PR Lotion to the right leg. These values are statistically different (p<0.05), even in a small number (4) of subjects. This effect of PR Lotion seemed to be primarily driven by the increased speed of contraction. Mean velocity during the leg extensions were .303±.109 m/sec in the placebo condition and .331±.110 m/sec after application of PR Lotion (p<0.01).
This means that during high power strength training activities, like functional fitness or high-intensity interval training programs, PR Lotion may improve the speed of muscle contraction allowing athletes to produce high power outputs.
In addition to the increased leg power production, we are learning that the total amount of weight lifted by each leg is higher following the application of PR Lotion (Figure 3).
We calculated the total weight lifted by multiplying the total repetitions performed by the weight (in pounds) lift with each repetition. Every subject in the trial increased the total pounds they could lift with both legs after PR Lotion application to the right leg.
The learnings that PR Lotion applied to one leg (the right leg) impacts the power output and weight lifted by both legs is remarkable. What this means is that the sodium bicarbonate in PR Lotion penetrates the skin, gets into the bloodstream and affects the whole body. These early results suggest that using PR Lotion on the lower body will increase the buffering capacity of the entire body, not just the muscles directly beneath the area of application. This is not, necessarily, a surprising result. However, if confirmed with more subjects and further research, this will be the first solid evidence demonstrating the impact of PR Lotion by enhancing systemic (whole-body) buffering capacity.
Combining what we are learning from these experiments so far; these data suggest that power from the muscles of the lower body can be significantly impacted by the application of PR Lotion. Sudden bursts of power, when needed, appear to be higher and muscle contraction velocity appears to be enhanced when using PR Lotion. Importantly, these data can extend beyond the specific experiments in this study. Any type of ‘power’ athlete, CrossFit athlete, sprinter, skier, etc. can benefit from increased speed of contraction and enhanced power output.
Where do we go from here?
First and foremost, we need to expand these studies to include more subjects. The early results and learnings are exciting, but we need to perform more experiments on more athletes to thoroughly understand how PR Lotion is impacting performance during high-intensity training activities.
Extending these results in follow-up studies, if the early findings are verified with more experiments, exploring training outcomes is an important part of our strategy. The current data suggest PR Lotion can provide chronic training benefits, where athletes are able to sustain higher-quality workouts leading to greater training adaptations.
We are excited to continue this work once the COVID-19 restrictions are over. We will soon be ramping-up experiments with more subjects in order to confirm these preliminary results, as well as continue to advance our knowledge and the science of human performance for our Amp Human community.