Having trouble lasting more than a few hours? Needing to reduce the burn while pushing the tempo? Are your peers secretly riding and racing with someone else? Is it time we forget the little blue pill and start popping two white pills? Jimmy Johnson Extenze jokes aside, is there a product that can help manage and reduce muscle burn and fatigue? I was provided a sample of the PowerBar Elite Series HIGH INTENSITY Sustained Release Beta Alanine Dietary Supplement (whoo wee, long name) to try out. I was about to start my final training block for my A-race of the season, ESI Augusta 70.3. I thought, why not?
Here are my thoughts on whether I think this stuff works, if it’s a placebo effect, or if you’re mindlessly spending your money.
I only knew of this product by what the label said. I did some quick research to make sure I wouldn’t die if I took it.
The claim: “Beta-alanine works by increasing muscle carnosine levels, buffering lactic acid that builds up during high-intensity exercise, which can reduce muscle burn and fatigue. Designed for endurance, team, and strength athletes, these beta-alanine tablets are formulated to help enhance both high-intensity training and performance.*
Instructions: Take two tablets twice daily during the first 4 weeks, and then two tablets once daily thereafter.
Results: Typically seen in about 4â€“8 weeks.
Key Features (from website): PowerBarÂ® High Intensity Sustained Release Beta Alanine dietary supplement:
A little background on my diet and fitness:
I work out twice a day typically six days a week. I do not drink soda, snack daily on mixed nuts and seeds, eat lots of lean meats, fruit recovery smoothies after hard or long workouts, occasionally eat fast food (1-2x a month), have a few beers on the weekends, and take a multi-vitamin, omega 3, and B-vitamin supplements. My point is I keep my pretty healthy and pretty “from the land”.
I started Thursday, August 11–
During the first week, I did not really notice anything. It was sort of a pain getting into the rhythm of remembering to take the pills twice a day. Going into the second week, I was working up in Burlington, Vermont for the USA Triathlon Age Group National Championships, so I had a lot of driving and work distracting me from my normal routine. However, on 8/21, I did 50 miles of constant climbing in VT. I notice a difference in my anaerobic tolerances. I was expecting myself to be dead during these climbs since Jacksonville, NC has ZERO hills, but that was not the case. I felt great. It was at this time I noticed I was pushing myself more easily. I also started to feel a little tingly at times, which I would later read, may occur. It’s a good tingly too.
After getting back from USAT Nationals, I eased back into training and found my flow again. It was during my fourth week of training I set personal bests in swimming and cycling. I never felt a strong build up of lactic acid. There were a few group rides where I pulled at 30mph. I had never done that before. It was pretty awesome. If you’re doing the math, you know the bottle has 112 tablets, which going off of the recommended dose, would be four pills/day for 4 weeks and I’d be out now. I realized this ahead of time and I cut down the dose to two pills/day around week three.
Week five was a recovery week (7 hrs) and I had to do some traveling so I missed a couple quality workouts. I was taking one pill in the morning and one at night.
Week six was a regular training week (12+ hrs) which flowed into my taper week. This was an interesting week. I didn’t have a lot of motivation to work-out and my body felt a little tired, so I took more days off than my work out plan had scheduled. More rest is better than working out during a taper. I didn’t dwell on it.
I felt like an animal the entire time. I was well prepared. My Augusta 70.3 Race Report is here (opens in a new window).
- Start using it five to six weeks out and only use it when training for your A-race. It’s expensive.
- Placebo Effect? You could be putting your money elsewhere, but even if you just benefit from the mental strength, it’s worth it. The mind is a powerful tool. I think it’s worth it for an A-race.
- Before I started this review, I wish I had taken more preliminary numbers so I could measure my improvements. However, for the things I did track, my hard effort swim times decreased (6-10 seconds) and my bike speeds increased during hard intervals (4-6 mph). I could keep pushing.
- A very important note: I embarked on a very structured training plan, which I had never done before that certainly brought the improvements I was experiencing. I know that significantly helped.
Wrapping things up:
If you read numerous internet forums, people will slam this segment of supplements. If you read “scientific research”, it says it works. However, PowerBar is a brand I really trust. I love its products and I trust its research is sound. If you have the money, I say go for it. With a combination of dedicated training and focus, PowerBar High Intensity is only going to help.
I recently read a detailed article in LAVA Magazine about First Endurance products and I was impressed. They are next on the testing block.
Have you used it? Something similar? What’s your take on this?
A collection of other links for you.
Here’s a scientific article from the PowerBar site
Here’s what Bicycling Magazine had to say.
Since I organized these links for you (and weeded out all the supplement store links), share the love and share this review if you think it’s good.