Pre-exercise glycerol hydration improves cycling endurance time

Int J Sports Med. 1996 Jan;17(1):27-33. doi: 10.1055/s-2007-972804.


The effects of glycerol ingestion (GEH) on hydration and subsequent cycle ergometer submaximal load exercise were examined in well conditioned subjects. We hypothesized that GEH would reduce physiologic strain and increase endurance. The purpose of Study I (n = 11) was to determine if pre-exercise GEH (1.2 gm/kg glycerol in 26 ml/kg solution) compared to pre-exercise placebo hydration (PH) (26 ml/kg of aspartame flavored water) lowered heart rate (HR), lowered rectal temperature (Tc), and prolonged endurance time (ET) during submaximal load cycle ergometry. The purpose of Study II (n = 7) was to determine if the same pre-exercise regimen followed by carbohydrate oral replacement solution (ORS) during exercise also lowered HR, Tc, and prolonged ET. Both studies were double-blind, randomized, crossover trials, performed at an ambient temperature of 23.5-24.5 degrees C, and humidity of 25-27%. Mean HR was lower by 2.8 +/- 0.4 beats/min (p = 0.05) after GEH in Study I and by 4.4 +/- 1.1 beats/min (p = 0.01) in Study II. Endurance time was prolonged after GEH in Study I (93.8 +/- 14 min vs. 77.4 +/- 9 min, p = 0.049) and in Study II (123.4 +/- 17 min vs. 99.0 +/- 11 min, p = 0.03). Rectal temperature did not differ between hydration regimens in both Study I and Study II. Thus, pre-exercise glycerol-enhanced hyperhydration lowers HR and prolongs ET even when combined with ORS during exercise. The regimens tested in this study could potentially be adapted for endurance activities.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Bicycling / physiology*
  • Body Temperature / drug effects
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Female
  • Glycerol / pharmacology*
  • Heart Rate / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Physical Endurance / physiology*
  • Rehydration Solutions*


  • Rehydration Solutions
  • Glycerol