The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of short-term Golden Root Extract (GRE; Rhodiola rosea) supplementation on blood lactate, catecholamines, and performance during repeated bench press exercise. Resistance-trained males (n = 10) participated in this study. In a double-blinded, crossover, counterbalanced study design, participants supplemented with either 1500 mg/day of GRE or placebo (PL; gluten-free cornstarch) for 3 days prior to experimentation. An additional 500 mg dose was ingested 30 min prior to exercise testing. During each exercise trial, participants completed 2 repetitions of bench press at 75% of one-repetition maximum (1RM) as explosively as possible. A linear position transducer was used to measure mean concentric velocity. After 5 min of rest, participants completed 3 sets × repetitions to failure (RTF) at 75% 1RM separated by 2 min of rest between each set. A capillary blood sample was obtained pre- (PRE) and immediately post- (POST) exercise to measure blood concentrations lactate (LA), epinephrine (EPI), and norepinephrine (NE). Mean concentric velocity was significantly higher with GRE when compared to PL (p = 0.046). However, total RTF were significantly lower with GRE versus PL (p < 0.001). Regardless of treatment, LA was significantly higher Post versus Pre (p < 0.001), but GRE resulted in greater Post values compared to PL (p = 0.049). EPI and NE increased in both conditions Pre to Post (p < 0.001). However, Pre NE was significantly higher with GRE versus PL (p = 0.008). Findings indicate that short-term GRE supplementation increases mean bench press velocity but decreases bench press repetition volume. Furthermore, GRE resulted in higher NE levels and blood lactate following exercise. Thus, supplementing with GRE may enhance explosive resistance training performance but may also impair upper body strength-endurance.
Keywords: adaptogen; bench press; epinephrine; lactate; norepinephrine; velocity.