Lactic Acid and Baking Soda

Hey I heard ingesting a combination of water and baking soda will cut down lactic acid build up during very intense work outs. Is this true? I have th fdny physical coming up on october 2nd and one part of the test is to go on a stair climber for 6 minutes at a step a second with a 40lb weight vest on. The stair climber burns up my legs normally so would ingesting this mixture be beneficial to me? What would the water to baking soda ratio be? I plan on ingesting massive amounts of carbs and water the day before and morning of the test to make sure my muscles are fully “Stocked” so to speak…hehe…thanks for the advice!!


I first read about that study back in the earl 1990’s. Naturally, I had to try it. Unfortunately, all I got out of the deal was a bit of a bloated stomach.
This seems to be one of those studies that works well with lab rats but does not transfer to human beings. At least not this human being anyway. Perhaps others may have a different story to tell you.

As far as your your six minute test on the stairclimber. You still have at least two hard training days before October 2nd. If I were you I would get a hold of a 40lb vest and get on a stairlimber and do at least three, three minute sets with a one minute rest in between. You could do this today.

On Tuesday which is the 30th I would try to up it to four minute sets, or better if you are able, without injury!
Do nothing the day before your test, other than eat lots of quality carbohydrates.

I have taken a few of these type tests in my day. Police etc. My best advice is to not psych yourself out in advance. Also, take one step at a time, mentally, when you are doing the test. What I mean by this is forget about the time you are on the climber. Just ask yourself this each time: "Could I take one more step if my life depended on it?
The answer is usually “yes”.

When it comes to tests involving the heart and lungs I have often found that people quit not because they cannot go further, but because they want the pain to stop. Tell yourself ahead of time that the only way you stop is if you fall off or passout!

It’s great to hear that good men like yourself are trying to become fire fighters.

Good Luck!

Sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) will help with lactic acid. The recommended dose is 200-300mg per kg of body weight. The down side is possibility of explosive diarrhea; you have about a 50/50 shot of getting it. If you do go this route, take the baking soda in divided doses every 20 minutes beginning three hours before the event, and ending one hour before the start. Test it out BEFORE you try it during the test! A better option is sodium phosphate. There are no major side effects and it works just as well. Twin Lab makes Phos Fuel. You take 4 grams per day for 3 days prior to performance.

I’m on my way to work so I don’t have time to hit the carb loading thing but on the baking soda topic: If you ingest enough baking soda to have an effect on blood pH your explosive diareha might impede your test performance more than any miniscule gains you’d get from the higher pH.


body has a perfect buffering system. Gut will take care of the baking soda.

There has ben one study that found recovery was improved by 10% between sets when the individual ingested a single dose of sodium bicarbonate (in a bolus).

The authors were so kind as to point out this may be an impractical ergogenic aid due to implications, such as bloating, which will negatively impact performance.
All they really found was that RECOVERY between sets was improved. They didnt find any increase in actual PERFORMANCE during the set.

Also, beware of excessive carbohydrate intake within a few hours of the test. If you spike serotonin lvels too much too close to the test, you’ll feel lethargic and your performance will be reduced.
I would bulk on carbs the 2 days before, and go a little lighter on the carbs within 4 hours of the test. I would also take R-ala to help store the carbs as glycogen in the muscle.

What is your training like? You should obviously be training on the stairclimber. Leg workouts should use movements that will transfer the best to the test, such as lunges and step-ups.
It might be a good idea to focus exclusively on short term endurance for the legs, as strength training may interfere with endurance gains.

HCO3- will just be buffered by your blood, and will do little to affect your blood pH. Especially, if you’re going to do this hours before working out or doing your test. There may be a moderate increase in blood pH for a short period immediately after ingestion, but thankfully a healthy body does a great job of keeping blood pH between 7.2 and 7.6.

I’m in agreement with most that bicarbonate can buffer the lactic acid in your system if taken at the right time. As noted though, your bum may not thank you for it.

You should take into consideration that your body will burn the most accessable fuel source. If you’re carb loaded you’ll burn carbs most rapidly which will provide you with “fast” fuel. The problem with this is that while your muscle breaks down muscle glycogen quickly it can’t enter oxidative metabolism as rapidly at the start of exercise. This means basically that any extra glycogen broken down will result in LACTIC ACID. If you’re desperately trying to prevent this you should consume a lower carb fat-rich diet. I’d test it out to see which is best BEFORE your big test.

High fat = more fat burning and less lactic acid, but possible performance decreases.

High carb = rapid carb burning and more lactic acid, but possible pain and corresponding performance decreases.

Best of luck.

I tried taking this before. I didn’t really get the bloated stomach, but rather, I think I took too much, and got severe shits. I mean they were so severe, I went and it felt like I was peeing out of my ass. As soon as it was done and I washed my hands, I had to run back in and go some more. This happened for 2 straight days.

A bit of baking soda…a bit…is good before a killer leg workout. Not for performance but it makes my stomach feel better. :slight_smile: