Acute citrulline-malate supplementation improves maximal strength and anaerobic power in female, masters athletes tennis players

Eur J Sport Sci. 2016 Nov;16(8):1095-103. doi: 10.1080/17461391.2016.1158321. Epub 2016 Mar 28.


Citrulline-malate (CM) is a precursor to nitric-oxide (NO) in the NO synthase (NOS) pathway and is suggested to increase exercise performance in younger individuals. With age, NO production decreases and augmented NO production may provide beneficial effects on sports performance among masters athletes (MAs).

Purpose: To examine the effects of acute CM supplementation on grip strength, vertical power, and anaerobic cycling performance in female, MA tennis players.

Methods: Seventeen female MA (51 ± 9 years) completed two double-blind, randomized trials consuming CM (12 g dextrose + 8 g CM) and placebo (PLA) (12 g dextrose). One hour after consumption, subjects completed grip strength, vertical power, and Wingate anaerobic cycling assessments in respective order. Maximal and average grip strength, peak and average vertical power, anaerobic capacity, peak power, explosive power, and ability to sustain anaerobic power were calculated from the tests.

Results: When consuming CM, participants exhibited greater maximal (p = .042) and average (p = .045) grip strength compared to PLA. No differences existed between trials for peak (p = .51) or average (p = .51) vertical power. For the Wingate, peak power (p < .001) and explosive power (p < .001) were significantly greater when consuming CM compared to PLA. For the ability to sustain power, a significant effect (p < .001) was observed for time within trials, but no significant differences were observed between trials regarding supplement consumed.

Conclusions: These data suggest that consuming CM before competition has the potential to improve tennis match-play performance in masters tennis athletes. However, this study utilized a controlled laboratory environment and research evaluating direct application to on-court performance is warranted.

Keywords: Ergogenic aid; Wingate; aging; amino-acid; nitric-oxide; sport performance.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aging
  • Athletes
  • Athletic Performance / physiology*
  • Bicycling
  • Citrulline / administration & dosage
  • Citrulline / analogs & derivatives*
  • Citrulline / pharmacology
  • Female
  • Hand Strength
  • Humans
  • Malates / administration & dosage
  • Malates / pharmacology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscle Strength / drug effects*
  • Nitric Oxide / metabolism
  • Performance-Enhancing Substances / administration & dosage
  • Performance-Enhancing Substances / pharmacology*
  • Tennis / physiology*


  • Malates
  • Performance-Enhancing Substances
  • Citrulline
  • Nitric Oxide
  • citrulline malate