Effects of sodium bicarbonate on exercise performance and recovery

Investigating whether sodium bicarbonate can help aid an athlete's performance and recovery, particularly in the world of combat sports.

Researching the use of use of sodium bicarbonate in combat sports, including boxing.


  • Lewis Gough
  • Steven Rimmer
  • Andy Sparks
  • Lars McNaughton

Research background

This was a project that come of interest based on Steve’s background in combat sports. We quickly realised that the use of sodium bicarbonate was not either widely researched or used by competitive boxers. We therefore wanted to understand if this supplements could help with exercise performance and recovery. The participant cohort we managed to recruit were also of a high standard, competing internationally.

This was a joint project between BCU, Derby University and Edge Hill University.

Research aims

We were hoping to raise awareness of the potential use of this supplement within boxing. This is a large target market for use of supplements given the demands of their sport.

How has the research been carried out?

 We essentially put the boxers through two bouts of exercise, and they ingested the supplement between the two bouts to see how this influenced the second bout. We collected a number of metabolic markers to try to understand how the supplement worked, too.

Research outcomes

We found that the supplement did promote recovery and improved the subsequent bout of exercise. This has had impact in the applied world already, and we now liaise with multiple combat athletes looking to optimise their strategies.