Sodium bicarbonate and sodium citrate: ergogenic aids?

J Strength Cond Res. 2005 Feb;19(1):213-24. doi: 10.1519/13733.1.


Numerous studies have used exogenous administration of sodium bicarbonate (NaHCO(3)) and sodium citrate (Na-citrate) in an attempt to enhance human performance. After ingestion of NaHCO(3) and Na-citrate, two observations have been made: (a) There was great individual variability in the ergogenic benefit reached, which can be attributed to the level of physical conditioning of the subjects and to their tolerance of the buffer substance; and (b) the subjects who had ingested NaHCO(3) and Na-citrate show higher levels of pH, bicarbonate, and lactate ions concentrations in their exercising blood than do the subjects who had ingested the placebo. A majority of the studies have suggested that the ingestion of both substances provides an ergogenic effect due to the establishment and maintenance of an elevated pH level during exercise. However, the exact mechanism by which the ergogenic effects occur has not been demonstrated conclusively. Sodium bicarbonate and Na-citrate seem to be effective in activities with a sufficient duration to generate a difference in the hydrogen ion gradient, characterized by a very high intensity and involving large muscular groups. However, in activities of equally high intensity, but with longer duration, the results obtained have been conflicting and inconclusive.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Citrates / pharmacology*
  • Doping in Sports / ethics
  • Humans
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Ions / blood
  • Lactic Acid / blood
  • Oxygen Consumption / drug effects
  • Physical Exertion / drug effects
  • Sodium Bicarbonate / blood
  • Sodium Bicarbonate / pharmacology*
  • Sodium Citrate
  • Sports / physiology*


  • Citrates
  • Ions
  • Sodium Citrate
  • Lactic Acid
  • Sodium Bicarbonate