Effects of β-hydroxy-β-methylbutyrate free acid and cold water immersion on post-exercise markers of muscle damage

Amino Acids. 2014 Jun;46(6):1501-11. doi: 10.1007/s00726-014-1722-2. Epub 2014 Mar 18.


The aim of the current study was to examine the effects of cold water immersion (CWI) with and without the free acid form of β-hydroxy-β-methylbutyrate (HMB-FA) on markers of muscle damage following acute lower body resistance exercise. Forty recreationally resistance-trained men (22.3 ± 2.4 years) were randomly divided into one of the four groups: (1) Placebo (PL); (2) HMB-FA; (3) HMB-FA-CWI; (4) PL-CWI. HMB-FA groups ingested 3 g day(-1) and CWI groups submersed their lower body into 10-12 °C water for 10-min post-exercise. No differences between groups were observed for CK; however, PL-CWI had significantly greater elevations in myoglobin 30-min post-exercise compared to HMB-FA (p = 0.009) and PL (p = 0.005), and HMB-FA-CWI was significantly greater than HMB-FA (p = 0.046) and PL (p = 0.028). No differences between groups were observed for IL-6 and IL-10, although CRP was significantly greater 24-h post-exercise for PL-CWI compared to HMB-FA-CWI (p = 0.02) and HMB-FA (p = 0.046). Only HMB-FA-CWI showed significantly (p = 0.02) greater improvements in average power per repetition. CWI appeared to elevate myoglobin compared to other groups, while HMB-FA may have attenuated the increase in CRP when combined with CWI. Nevertheless, HMB-FA or CWI treatments did not appear to provide benefit over PL for recovery. Instead, the combination of CWI and HMB-FA improved performance recovery compared to other groups.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • C-Reactive Protein / metabolism
  • Cold Temperature*
  • Exercise / physiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Muscle, Skeletal / injuries*
  • Myoglobin / metabolism
  • Valerates / blood
  • Valerates / pharmacology*
  • Water
  • Young Adult


  • Myoglobin
  • Valerates
  • Water
  • beta-hydroxyisovaleric acid
  • C-Reactive Protein