Nutritional strategies to increase muscle buffer capacity

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Matt Jones with Graeme Close

Most sports, particularly team sports, require maximal, or near maximal sprints of short duration. Elite team sport performance is characterised by the ability to sustain high work intensities throughout a match. A high anaerobic capacity is considered a pre-requisite for world-class performance. Much attention has been paid to the conditioning and preparation of athletes on improving repeated sprint ability. Repeated-sprint ability is broadly described as the ability to perform repeated short (~3-4 s, 20-30m) sprints with only brief (~10-30 s) recovery between bouts. The importance of repeated-sprint ability within team sports has led to the development of numerous repeated-sprint ability tests over the past 25 years. Although low-intensity aerobic activities predominate in most team sports, a high anaerobic capacity is a pre-requisite for world-class performance, with brief high intensity anaerobic events being of greater significance during game play, and reflecting the more critical periods of a game, such as beating a man or breaking through a defensive line. This article looks first at the causes of fatigue during preparation for elite sport performance and then discusses how to eliminate these causes, demonstrating how nutritional supplements can increase muscle buffer capacity. Outlining best application and suggested loading strategies, the article examines the effects of combined beta-alanine and sodium bicarbonate on the performance of various high-intensity exercise protocols.

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