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SIX WEEKS OF HIGH-INTENSITY INTERVAL TRAINING

WITH AND WITHOUT b-ALANINE SUPPLEMENTATION


FOR IMPROVING CARDIOVASCULAR FITNESS IN
WOMEN
ASHLEY A. WALTER,1 ABBIE E. SMITH,2 KRISTINA L. KENDALL,2 JEFFREY R. STOUT,2
1
AND JOEL T. CRAMER
1

Biophysics Laboratory, Department of Health and Exercise Science, University of Oklahoma, Norman, Oklahoma; and
Metabolic and Body Composition Laboratory, Department of Health and Exercise Science, University of Oklahoma,
Norman, Oklahoma

ABSTRACT
Walter, AA, Smith, AE, Kendall, KL, Stout, JR, and Cramer, JT.
Six weeks of high-intensity interval training with and without
b-alanine supplementation for improving cardiovascular fitness
in women. J Strength Cond Res 24(5): 11991207, 2010
The purpose of the present study was to evaluate the effects of
cycle ergometry high-intensity interval training (HIIT) with and
without b-alanine supplementation on maximal oxygen consumption rate (V_ O2peak), cycle ergometer workload at the
ventilatory threshold (VTW), and body composition. Forty-four
women (mean 6 SD age = 21.8 6 3.7 years; height = 166.5 6
6.6 cm; body mass (BM) = 65.9 6 10.8 kg; V_ O2peak = 31.5 6
6.2 mlkg21min21) were randomly assigned to 1 of 3 groups:
b-alanine (BA, n = 14) 1.5 g + 15 g dextrose powder; placebo
(PL, n = 19) 16.5 g dextrose powder; or control (CON, n = 11).
Testing was conducted at baseline (week 0), after 3 weeks
(week 4), and after 6 weeks (week 8). V_ O2peak (mlkg21min21)
and VTW were measured with a metabolic cart during graded
exercise tests on a corival cycle ergometer, and body
composition (percent fat = % fat and fat-free mass = FFM)
were determined by air displacement plethysmography. Highintensity interval training was performed on a corival cycle
ergometer 3 times per week with 5 2-minute work intervals
and 1-minute passive recovery with undulating intensities
(90110% of the workload recorded at V_ O2peak) during each
training session. V_ O2peak increased (p # 0.05) in the BA and
PL groups at weeks 4 and 8, but did not change (p . 0.05) for
the CON group. VTW increased (p # 0.05) for all groups at
weeks 4 and 8. Body mass increased (p # 0.05) only for the BA

Address correspondence to Dr. Joel T. Cramer, jcramer@ou.edu.


24(5)/11991207
Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research
2010 National Strength and Conditioning Association

group at weeks 4 and 8, whereas %fat decreased (p # 0.05)


and FFM increased (p # 0.05) at weeks 4 and 8 for all groups
(BA, PL, and CON). Although it is unclear why b-alanine
supplementation increased BM, there was no additive effects
for increasing V_ O2peak beyond the PL. Overall, these results
suggested that HIIT may be an effective and time-efficient
method of training to improve maximal oxygen uptake.

KEY WORDS cycle ergometry, V_ O2peak, HIIT


INTRODUCTION

ifferent aerobic and anaerobic training modalities


have been shown to enhance performance, including 5- to 30-second repeated sprints (9,10,15,29),
1- to 2-minute intervals (15,39,40,51), and 2- to
4-minute intervals (34,47). Recent literature has termed this
type of training, high-intensity interval training (HIIT). Not
surprisingly, HIIT has been hypothesized to improve both
oxygen uptake and hydrogen-ion buffering capacity. Exercise-induced decreases in intramuscular pH (i.e., metabolic
acidosis) effect excitationcontraction coupling by disturbing
calcium regulation (31) and myofilament binding (17,30)
thereby causing an inability to maintain a consistent work
output. Consequently, the exercise intensity at which performance decrements rapidly ensue has been considered the
onset of fatigue (3,5,7,36) or loosely termed the anaerobic
threshold (AT). Previous studies have investigated the relationship between the ventilatory threshold (VT) and the
lactate threshold (LT), and although they represent different
metabolic mechanisms, they appear to be highly correlated
and representative of the AT (35,37,50). In fact, several
studies have reported improvements in the VT and LT
intensities after short-term (26 weeks) HIIT (15,28,35).
Intermittently exercising at intensities above the AT has also
been shown to enhance maximal oxygen uptake (V_ O2max),
with HIIT being as effective as traditional endurance training
(19,28,35). Therefore, HIIT may be an effective, time-efficient
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High-Intensity Interval Training and b-Alanine


training strategy for improving cardiovascular fitness and the
AT, which is particularly important considering that one of
the leading barriers to exercise is the time commitment (21).
Thus, in theory, the value of HIIT is that the total exercise
time is less than most traditional endurance-training
techniques to achieve similar fitness and performance
conditioning outcomes.
Nutritional supplementation with b-alanine alone has also
been shown to improve the VT (43,53). b-Alanine, a nonproteogenic amino acid, is 1 of the 2 constituents of carnosine
(histidine and b-alanine), and is considered the rate-limiting
step in carnosine syntheses (2,12). Harris and colleagues
(22,25) have shown that b-alanine supplementation may
improve muscle-buffering capacity by increasing carnosine
concentrations. Carnosine is a histidine-containing dipeptide
(b-alanyl-L -histidine) and is considered a physiochemical
buffer of H+ (24,25). More specifically, the pKa of carnosine is
ideal for buffering protons within the physiological pH range
(32,41). Therefore, increases in carnosine concentration
through regular supplementation with b-alanine may
improve muscle-buffering capacity and delay the onset of
fatigue during intense exercise (24,44). In fact, Parkhouse
et al. (33) suggested that anaerobic athletes may be more
efficient at buffering metabolites from high-intensity exercise
than endurance athletes or untrained individuals partly
because of higher carnosine concentrations (33). Suzuki et al.
(44) supported this hypothesis and reported a direct relationship between muscle carnosine concentrations and anaerobic
exercise performance. Therefore, it is possible that a combination of HIIT and b-alanine supplementation may result in
profound improvements in the AT that otherwise could not
have been achieved by HIIT or b-alanine alone.
Most recent studies involving HIIT or b-alanine supplementation have displayed promising results, though the
majority of the studies have been performed on men (25,42).
However, Edge et al. (14) evaluated the effects of different
training intensities on the muscle-buffering capacity in
women and reported the greatest improvements occurred
with HIIT compared with continuous, moderate-intensity
training. In addition, Stout et al. (43) reported a significant
delay in fatigue during incremental exercise after 4 weeks of
b-alanine supplementation in women. However, there have
been no previous studies to examine the combination of
b-alanine supplementation and HIIT on cardiovascular
fitness and the AT in women. Therefore, the purpose of
the present study was to evaluate the effects of cycle ergometry HIIT with and without b-alanine supplementation on
maximal oxygen consumption rate (V_ O2peak), VT, and body
composition in recreationally trained women.

treatment groups: b-alanine (BA, n = 14), placebo (PL, n =


19), or control (CON, n = 11). The BA and PL groups were
given supplements, but the CON group did not engage in
exercise training or ingest any supplements for the duration
of the study. The BA and PL groups performed the HIIT 3
times per week for 6 weeks, and subsequent testing was
conducted for all groups at weeks 4 and 8. A timeline for this
study is presented in Figure 1.
Subjects

Forty-four healthy, recreationally active (15 hours of


exercise per week) women volunteered for this investigation
in mid-August. Table 1 presents the participants characteristics by group. This study was approved by the University of
Oklahoma Institutional Review Board for the protection of
human subjects, and written informed consent was obtained
from each participant before any testing. Supplement history
was also recorded, and none of the participants had taken
any nutritional supplements within 9 weeks of their initial
testing date.
Body Composition Assessment

Body composition was assessed by a company-certified


investigator using air displacement plesmythography (BOD
POD, Life Measurements, Inc., Concord, CA). Before each
test, the device was calibrated according to the manufacturers
instructions with the chamber empty using a cylinder of

METHODS
Experimental Approach to the Problem

This study was conducted with a randomized, double-blind,


placebo-controlled, parallel design. After baseline testing
(week 0), all participants were randomly assigned to 1 of 3

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Figure 1. Study timeline.

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TABLE 1. Mean 6 SD for all participants in each treatment group.

b-Alanine
Placebo
Control

Age (y)

Height (cm)

Body mass (kg)

V_ O2peak (mlkg21min21)

14
19
11

21.5 (2.4)
21.7 (4.4)
22.2 (4.1)

164.8 (6.2)
167.0 (5.4)
167.8 (8.9)

64.8 (12.2)
67.9 (9.7)
63.7 (11.1)

31.8 (6.0)
30.5 (5.1)
32.3 (8.0)

known volume (49.558 L). The participant, wearing a swimming cap and a tight-fitting bathing suit or compression
shorts and sports bra, was weighed before being seated in the
fiberglass chamber. The device was sealed, and the participant
breathed normally for 20 seconds while body volume was
measured. The participant was then connected to a breathing
tube internal to the system to measure and correct for thoracic
gas volume. Percent body fat was calculated from the
corrected body volume using the 2-compartment equations
of Siri (38) and Brozek et al. (8). Previous testretest reliability
data for this body composition assessment in our laboratory
indicated that, for 14 young adults (24 6 3 years) measured
on separate days, the intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC)
was 0.99 with a standard error of measurement of 0.47% body
fat. Similar ICCs for the same procedure have been reported
by Fields et al. (18) (ICC = 0.98).
Graded Exercise Test Protocol

The graded exercise tests were completed on an electronically


braked cycle ergometer (Lode, Groningen, Netherlands).
Before any bike tests, participants seat height was measured
and recorded for consistency between trials. Seat height was
adjusted to ensure a 5 flexion of the knee joint at bottom of
the pedal stroke. Manufacturer-provided straps were used to
secure the feet to the pedals. After a 5-minute warm-up at
50 W, the workload increased 25 W every 2 minutes. Strong
verbal encouragement from the investigators was provided
to the participants to maintain 70 rpm, but the test was
terminated when the participant could no longer maintain
60 rpm (volitional exhaustion). Each participants rating of
perceived exertion was also recorded during every stage using
a standard Borg scale (6). A true V_ O2peak was determined if
3 of the 5 indicators according to the American College of
Sports Medicine Guidelines (52) were met.
During the graded exercise tests, respiratory gases were
collected and monitored using a metabolic cart (Parvo Medics
TrueOne 2400 Metabolic Measurement System, Sandy,
UT, USA). The metabolic cart was calibrated before each test
with room air and standard gases of known volume and
concentration for the O2 and CO2 analyzers. Flowmeter
calibration was also performed before each test. Gases were
collected using a 2-way rebreathing valve (Hans-Rudolph
Inc., Shawnee, KS, USA) and mouthpiece attached to
headgear that supported the weight of the valve and

mouthpiece. Participants wore a nose clip to ensure that


breathing occurred only through the mouth. O2 and CO2
concentrations were analyzed from sampled gasses that had
passed through a heated pneumotach and mixing chamber.
The metabolic cart software reported the values as ventilated
_ O2, respectively).
oxygen and carbon dioxide (V_ O2 and VC
_VO2peak and VT were automatically determined by the
manufacturers software that controlled and analyzed the
metabolic data. Ventilatory threshold was represented as the
workload (W) at which the VT occurred (i.e., VTW).
Training Protocol

After the baseline testing (week 0), participants were required


to visit the laboratory on 3 nonconsecutive days per week for
3 weeks to perform the HIIT. After the first 3 weeks of HIIT,
participants were retested (week 4) for body composition,
V_ O2peak, and VTW, followed by another 3 weeks of HIIT
training with an increased volume and intensity from the
initial training period. Posttesting occurred during the last
week (week 8). All HIIT was performed on the same cycle
ergometer adjusted to the same seat height that was used for
the graded exercise tests. Participants warmed up at 50 W
for 5 minutes followed by 5 sets of 2-minute exercise bouts at
a predetermined percentage of their V_ O2peak workload
using a fractal periodization scheme (Figure 2). One minute
of passive recovery was allowed between each set. Eighteen
training sessions were completed overall: 9 sessions before
midtesting (week 4) and 9 sessions after week 4, before the
posttesting (week 8). Participants consumed their respective
supplement powder mixed in 48 oz of water 30 minutes
before and immediately after each training session.
Supplementation Protocol

After the week 0 testing, participants were randomly assigned


to either the b-alanine (BA) or placebo (PL) group. The
supplements were administered 4 times per day for 21 days.
The BA group took a flavored powder blend of 1.5 g b-alanine
and 15 g dextrose in 48 oz of water, whereas the PL group
consumed an identically flavored powder with 16.5 g
dextrose. On training days, participants consumed 2 doses
in the laboratory: 30 minutes before and immediately after
each training session. The remaining 2 doses were taken
outside the laboratory later that day at the participants
leisure. On nontraining days, participants were asked to mix
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and consume their supplements on their own 4 times per day.
For the first 3 weeks, 4 packets of the mixture were consumed
(loading) After the midtesting (week 4), only 2 servings of the
supplements (BA or PL) were consumed per day during the
final 3 weeks (maintenance).
Dietary Analysis

Subjects were instructed to continue their normal dietary


and physical activity routines throughout the duration of
this study. Three-day dietary recalls were administered and
evaluated for macronutrient intake during the testing weeks
(weeks 0, 4, and 8). Participants were asked to record the
specific food-type, amount, and time of consumption for 2
nonconsecutive weekdays and a weekend day. Diet Analysis
Plus (DA+Version 7.0, Thompson Learning 2005) was used to
determine total kilocalorie intake (kcal) and total grams of
protein and percentage of kcals from protein.
Statistical Analyses
Figure 2. Training schedule: (A) weeks 13 and (B) weeks 56. The
number in parentheses represents the number of sets performed at the
respective workload during each session.

Eight separate 2-way (3 3 3) mixed factorial analyses of


variance (ANOVAs) (time [week 0 vs. week 4 vs. week 8] 3
treatment [BA vs. PL vs. CON]) with repeated measures on
the time factor were used to analyze body mass (BM), %fat,

TABLE 2. Mean 6 SE values for body mass, percent fat, fat-free mass, maximal oxygen consumption, power output at
ventilatory threshold, total calories, grams protein, and kcals from protein, at baseline (week 0), mid (week 4), and post
(week 8) supplementation and training for all the groups (BA, PL, and CON).
Treatment group
Body mass (kg)
Percent fat (%)
Fat-free mass (kg)
V_ O2peak (mlkg21min21)
VTw (W)
Total calories (kcal)
Protein (g)
Protein (%)

Week

b-Alanine (n = 14)

0
4
8
0
4
8
0
4
8
0
4
8
0
4
8
0
4
8
0
4
8
0
4
8

64.8 (3.3)
65.8 (3.3)*
66.3 (3.3)*
30.7 (1.5)
30.0 (1.5)*
30.6 (1.6)*
42.1 (3.5)
45.5 (1.5)
45.4 (1.5)*
31.8 (1.4)
36.1 (1.2)*
37.4 (1.2)*
92.9 (4.1)
110.7 (6.3)*
112.5 (5.1)*
1,657.2 (151.7)
1,392.3 (71.8)
1,470.5 (175.1)
65.4 (5.4)
57.2 (10.6)
55.6 (6.6)
16.2 (0.9)
16.5 (3.3)
15.8 (1.3)

*Difference from week 0.


Difference from week 4.

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Placebo (n = 19)
67.9
67.8
67.6
29.3
28.7
28.1
47.6
48.0
48.3
30.5
33.6
35.4
107.9
125.0
131.6
2,134.8
1,802.6
1,902.0
75.6
61.1
76.9
14.7
14.1
16.5

(2.2)
(2.2)
(2.2)
(1.3)
(1.3)*
(1.3)*
(1.1)
(1.2)
(1.2)*
(1.4)
(1.1)*
(1.3)*
(6.4)
(6.6)*
(7.4)*
(194.6)
(178.7)
(424.2)
(8.7)
(5.9)
(11.3)
(1.4)
(1.6)
(1.5)

Control (n = 11)
63.7
63.7
64.0
28.3
27.9
27.4
45.1
45.4
46.1
32.3
33.6
33.9
104.5
102.3
113.6
2,219.2
2,041.1
1,628.3
81.6
75.0
62.7
14.5
15.5
15.0

(3.4)
(3.2)
(3.3)
(2.0)
(2.2)*
(2.0)*
(1.7)
(1.6)
(1.8)*
(2.4)
(2.6)
(2.6)
(8.1)
(10.4)*
(13.2)*
(292.3)
(289.3)
(220.6)
(12.8)
(8.4)
(10.9)
(1.1)
(1.1)
(1.1)

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Figure 3. Individual responses to treatment for (A) body mass (kg), (B) V_ O2peak (mlkg21min21), and (C) VTW (W) for the b-alanine (dark gray wedge), placebo
(light gray wedge), and control (gray wedge) groups at week 0 ( ), week 4 (n), and week 8 (:).

FFM, V_ O2peak, VTW, total kcal intake, and grams of protein,


and percentage of kcals from protein. Follow-up analyses
included dependent-sample t-tests and 1-way ANOVAs.
Before all statistical analyses, the alpha level was set to p #
0.05 to determine statistical significance. Data were analyzed
using SPSS for Windows version 14.0 (SPSS Inc., Chicago,
IL, USA).

Body Mass

There was a 2-way interaction (time 3 treatment) for BM


(p # 0.01, effect size (ES) = 0.27; Figure 4). Body mass
increased for the BA group from weeks 0 to 4 (p # 0.01, ES =
0.08), weeks 4 to 8 (p # 0.05, ES = 0.04), and weeks 0 to 8
(p # 0.01, ES = 0.12). However, there were no changes in BM
for the PL or CON groups. There were no differences among
the groups (BA, PL, or CON) at week 0 (p . 0.05, ES = 0.03),
week 4 (p . 0.05, ES = 0.03), or week 8 (p . 0.05, ES = 0.02).

RESULTS

Percent Fat

Table 2 provides the means and SEs for BM, %fat, FFM,
V_ O2peak, VTW, total kcal intake, and total grams of protein
and percentage of kcals from protein at baseline (week 0),
mid (week 4), and post (week 8) treatment for all groups (PL,
BA, and CON). Individual response scores relative to
treatment are displayed in Figures 3AC for BM, V_ O2peak,
and VTW, respectively.

There was no 2-way interaction (p . 0.05, ES = 0.07), no


main effect for treatment (p . 0.05, ES = 0.03), but there
was a main effect for time (p # 0.01, ES = 0.01). Percent fat
decreased from weeks 0 to 4 (p # 0.05, ES = 0.10) and weeks
0 to 8 (p # 0.05, ES = 0.13) for all groups (BA, PL, and CON).
There were no changes in %fat from weeks 4 to 8 (p . 0.05,
ES = 0.03).
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mass increased from weeks 0 to 8 (p # 0.05, ES = 0.28) for all
groups (BA, PL, and CON). There were no changes in FFM
from weeks 0 to 4 (p . 0.05, ES = 0.19) or weeks 4 to 8 (p .
0.05, ES = 0.04).
Maximal Oxygen Consumption Rate

Figure 4. Body mass (kg) for the b-alanine, placebo, and control groups at
week 0 (black), week 4 (gray), and week 8 (white). Columns represent
mean + SE. Significant differences by time are indicated.

There was a 2-way interaction (time 3 treatment) for


V_ O2peak (p # 0.01, ES = 0.25; Figure 5A). V_ O2peak increased
for the BA and PL groups from weeks 0 to 4 (p # 0.01, ES =
0.61 and p # 0.01, ES = 0.71, respectively), weeks 4 to 8 (p #
0.05, ES = 0.08 and p # 0.01, ES = 0.23), and weeks 0 to 8
(p # 0.01, ES = 1.03 and p # 0.01, ES = 0.74). However, there
was no change for the CON group at any time point (p .
0.05, ES = 0.21). There were no differences among the
groups (BA, PL, or CON) at week 0 (p . 0.05, ES = 0.27),
week 4 (p . 0.05, ES = 0.92), or week 8 (p . 0.05, ES = 1.18).
Power Output at Ventilatory Threshold

Fat-Free Mass

There was no 2-way interaction for FFM (p . 0.05, ES =


0.07), no main effect for treatment (p . 0.05, ES = 0.09), but
there was a main effect for time (p # 0.05, ES = 0.09). Fat-free

There was no 2-way interaction (p . 0.05, ES = 0.05) for


VTW (Figure 5B) and no main effect for treatment (p . 0.05,
ES = 0.10), but there was a main effect for time (p # 0.01,
ES = 0.17). VTW increased from weeks 0 to 4 (p # 0.05, ES =
0.51) and weeks 0 to 8 (p # 0.01, ES = 0.57) for all groups
(BA, PL, and CON). There
were no changes in VTW
from weeks 4 to 8 (p . 0.05,
ES = 0.21).
Dietary Analysis

There were no 2-way interactions (p . 0.05) for total kcal,


grams of protein, or percent of
kcals from protein (Table 2), no
main effects for treatment (p .
0.05), and no main effects for
time (p . 0.05). There were no
differences among the groups
(BA, PL, or CON) at week 0
(p . 0.05, ES = 0.21), week 4
(p . 0.05, ES = 0.18), or week 8
(p . 0.05, ES = 0.15).

DISCUSSION

Figure 5. (A) Maximal oxygen consumption rate (mlkg21min21) and (B) power output at VT (W) for the b-alanine,
placebo, and control groups at week 0 (black), week 4 (gray), and week 8 (white). Columns represent mean + SE.
Significant differences by time and treatment are indicated.

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The main results of the present


study were that 36 weeks of
HIIT on a cycle ergometer
elicited 418 and 516% increases in V_ O2peak for the BA
and PL groups, respectively,
with no changes in the CON
group. Body mass increased by
12% in the BA group, but did
not change for the PL or CON
groups, and the changes in
%fat, FFM, and VTW occurred
over time for all 3 groups (BA,

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PL, and CON). Overall, these findings were consistent with
the 422% increases in V_ O2peak reported after 36 weeks
of cycle ergometry HIIT in men (20,27,40) and women (13)
after NaHCO3 (13), creatine 20,27), or b-alanine (40)
supplementation. However, the unique aspect of the present
study was that these results were the first to examine the
effects of HIIT and b-alanine supplementation on cardiovascular adaptations in women.
Several previous studies have examined the positive
training-induced adaptations with HIIT on a cycle ergometer
(10,14,15,16,19,34,47). Edge et al. (14,15) studied the effects
of 5 weeks of either HIIT or moderate-intensity cycle
ergometry training in recreationally active women, and
reported that both training regiments elicited similar
increases in V_ O2peak and LT. Talanian et al. (47) supported
these findings and showed that only 7 sessions of cycle
_ 2peak in moderately-active
ergometry HIIT improved Vo
women. Other studies have examined HIIT on trained
cyclists and reported 4 9% increases in V_ O2max after 3
different HIIT protocols (28). Creer et al. (10) reported 5%
increases in V_ O2max for both the HIIT and control groups
after 4 weeks, however, training outside of the study was not
monitored and the control group experienced higher training
volumes than the HIIT group, which may explain the lack
of differences observed between the 2 training regiments.
Overall, the results of the present study extended the
previous findings (10,14,15,28,47) and suggested that HIIT
training on a cycle ergometer can be used as a time-efficient
training method for improving cardiovascular fitness in
novice and trained individualscompared with the more
traditional long slow distance training techniques.
b-Alanine supplementation has also been shown to
improve cycle ergometry performance (26,39,42,43,49,53).
It has been demonstrated that b-alanine supplementation
increases muscle carnosine concentrations (25,26,46). Elevated muscle carnosine may improve the H+ buffering
capacity, which in turn, may delay the fatigue process during
intense exercise (4,23,44). Stout et al. (43) reported increases
in VT after 28 days of b-alanine supplementation in women
when compared with a placebo. Hill et al. (26) reported
increases in cycling time to exhaustion after 4 and 10 weeks
of b-alanine supplementation and found higher intramuscular carnosine concentrations. Van Thienen et al. (49)
examined whether b-alanine would benefit trained cyclists
during a sprint at the end of a 110-minute endurance trial and
a 10 minute time trial, which was intended to simulate the
end of a race. The authors found that 8 weeks of b-alanine
supplementation resulted in 11% higher peak power output
and 5% higher mean power than the placebo during a 30second sprint. However, it should be noted that none of the
aforementioned studies (26,43,49) included exercise training
in the research designs, which is important because 2 studies
have demonstrated that exercise training alone (HIIT or
resistance training) can increase skeletal muscle carnosine
concentrations (45,48). Therefore, it is possible that the HIIT

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in the present study may have increased the muscle carnosine


concentrations in both the BA and PL groups such that any
additional effects of the b-alanine supplementation may not
have been detectible in the V_ O2peak scores. Furthermore,
VTW increased for all 3 groups (BA, PL, and CON), which
suggested that neither the b-alanine supplementation nor the
HIIT training impacted VTW. However, the fact that BM
increased in the BA group only, provides tentative evidence
that the b-alanine supplementation may have elicited some
physiological changes. Future studies should consider
examining the combined effects of HIIT and b-alanine
supplementation on a wide variety of outcome measures,
including anaerobic strength and power output measures in
addition to the aerobically-based measures assessed in the
present study (V_ O2peak and VTW).
Although intramuscular carnosine was not directly measured, it is assumed that it increased with 3 weeks of
loading and 3 weeks of maintenance in view of results of
previous studies conducted with the same dosing strategies.(11,22,25,26) However, Baguet et al. (1) recently
reported that there may be high responders and low
responders to supplementation resulting in variable increases in intramuscular carnosine concentration. Of 8
subjects, only 3 were considered high responders, defined
as .30% increase postsupplementation. (1) If less than half
of a subject pool are high responders, little to no effect
would be seen especially when in conjunction with HIIT.
This could explain why there was no observable difference
between the PL and BA groups in the present study.
A particularly unique finding of the present study was the
12% increases in BM observed in the BA group. No previous
studies have reported significant changes in BM (20.4
to 1.7%) after b-alanine supplementation (26,40,43,49).
Although not statistically significant, the fact that the average
BM increase in the CON group in the present study was 0.5%
may warrant caution when interpreting the practical significance of this observation. Nevertheless, future studies are
necessary to investigate and carefully delineate the mechanisms for b-alanine-induced increases in BM.

PRACTICAL APPLICATIONS
Cardiovascular fitness (V_ O2peak) increased in the BA and PL
groups after 6 weeks of cycle ergometry HIIT. At the most
practical level, HIIT on a cycle ergometer can be a timeefficient method for increasing cardiovascular fitness compared with the traditional long, slow distance training. The
lack of difference observed between the BA and PL groups
V_ O2peak after training and supplementation may be
explained by a training-induced increase in intramuscular
carnosine content that may have masked the increases in
muscle carnosine that are known to occur after b-alanine
supplementation (45). Edge et al. (14) suggested that training
intensity may be a strong factor when addressing changes
in muscle buffering capacity because of an increase in intramuscular carnosine concentrations as long as the training
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High-Intensity Interval Training and b-Alanine


intensity is above the LT. The current studys training
intensity varied from 90 to 110% V_ O2peak, when the average
VT was 68 and 64% of the V_ O2peak for the BA and PL
groups, respectively. Although not directly measured, it is
likely that the HIIT in this study was completed well above
the LT during the 6-week training period. Therefore, it is
possible that the b-alanine supplementation had very little
additive effects beyond the HIIT-induced adaptations.

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