Definition: "An ergogenic aid is any substance or phenomenon that enhances performance "

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Give volleyball players HMB for seven weeks…

... And they gain muscle mass, lose fat and become stronger and faster. But how three grams of HMB daily can have such a dramatic effect on volleyball players is not yet clear to the nutritionists at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

The subjects that the researchers used for their experiment were 14 male and 14 female teenagers aged between 13 and 18, all of whom were members of the Israeli national youth volleyball team.

They lived in a boarding school, where they ate and slept together, and trained for 20 hours a week. Their programme consisted of interval training, endurance and strength training.

The seven-week experiment coincided with the start of the competitive season.

The HMB supplementation boosted the lean body mass and reduced the fat percentage; the body composition of the placebo group subjects hardly changed at all. The weight with which the subjects in the HMB group could do max 6 reps on the bench press and leg press rose dramatically.

Give volleyball players HMB for seven weeks…

Give volleyball players HMB for seven weeks…

Give volleyball players HMB for seven weeks…

HMB didn't improve vertical jump power, nor did it have an effect on maximal oxygen uptake, but it did increase the anaerobic capacity. HMB boosted the power – or speed – that the subjects were capable of developing on an ergometer.

The researchers have nothing to say about the way in which HMB works. From their literature study they had expected HMB to boost the concentration of anabolic hormones like growth hormone, IGF-1 and testosterone, or to reduce the concentration of catabolic factors like cortisol or the inflammatory factors interleukin-6 and -1. But none of these effects were observed.

"HMB supplementation in elite, male and female adolescent volleyball players was associated with a greater increase in muscle mass, muscle strength, and anaerobic properties with no effect on vertical jump and on aerobic capacity during the initial phases of the training season", the researchers conclude.

"These changes were not accompanied by basal circulating hormonal and inflammatory mediators' change. Further studies are needed to determine the effect of HMB supplementation during longer and other training periods and in different sports types."

Eur J Appl Physiol. 2011 Sep;111(9):2261-9.

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