The effect of HMB supplementation on body composition, fitness, hormonal and inflammatory mediators in elite adolescent volleyball players: a prospective randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study

Eur J Appl Physiol. 2011 Sep;111(9):2261-9. doi: 10.1007/s00421-011-1855-x. Epub 2011 Feb 16.


The use of ergogenic nutritional supplements is becoming inseparable from competitive sports. β-Hydroxy-β-Methylbutyric acid (HMB) has recently been suggested to promote fat-free mass (FFM) and strength gains during resistance training in adults. In this prospective randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study, we studied the effect of HMB (3 g/day) supplementation on body composition, muscle strength, anaerobic and aerobic capacity, anabolic/catabolic hormones and inflammatory mediators in elite, national team level adolescent volleyball players (13.5-18 years, 14 males, 14 females, Tanner stage 4-5) during the first 7 weeks of the training season. HMB led to a significant greater increase in FFM by skinfold thickness (56.4 ± 10.2 to 56.3 ± 8.6 vs. 59.3 ± 11.3 to 61.6 ± 11.3 kg in the control and HMB group, respectively, p < 0.001). HMB led to a significant greater increase in both dominant and non-dominant knee flexion isokinetic force/FFM, measured at fast (180°/sec) and slow (60°/sec) angle speeds, but had no significant effect on knee extension and elbow flexion and extension. HMB led to a significant greater increase in peak and mean anaerobic power determined by the Wingate anaerobic test (peak power: 15.5 ± 1.6 to 16.2 ± 1.2 vs. 15.4 ± 1.6 to 17.2 ± 1.2 watts/FFM, mean power: 10.6 ± 0.9 to 10.8 ± 1.1 vs. 10.7 ± 0.8 to 11.8 ± 1.0 watts/FFM in control and HMB group, respectively, p < 0.01), with no effect on fatigue index. HMB had no significant effect on aerobic fitness or on anabolic (growth hormone, IGF-I, testosterone), catabolic (cortisol) and inflammatory mediators (IL-6 and IL-1 receptor antagonist). HMB supplementation was associated with greater increases in muscle mass, muscle strength and anaerobic properties with no effect on aerobic capacity suggesting some advantage for its use in elite adolescent volleyball players during the initial phases of the training season. These effects were not accompanied by hormonal and inflammatory mediator changes.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Athletes
  • Body Composition / drug effects*
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Exercise Test
  • Female
  • Hormones / blood*
  • Humans
  • Inflammation Mediators / blood*
  • Male
  • Muscle Strength / drug effects
  • Muscle Strength / physiology
  • Physical Fitness* / physiology
  • Placebos
  • Valerates / administration & dosage
  • Valerates / pharmacology*
  • Volleyball / physiology*


  • Hormones
  • Inflammation Mediators
  • Placebos
  • Valerates
  • beta-hydroxyisovaleric acid