The Comeback Kid

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In case you’re too young to remember, the supplement HMB (beta-hydroxy-beta-methylbutyrate) has been around for a long time, and let’s just say it’s had a rocky relationship with researchers and, thus, gym-goers. HMB was red hot in the 1990s, but then a few studies questioned its efficacy for fit/trained individuals, which gave it a reputation as a beginners-only supplement. But here’s the deal with the aforementioned studies: They were generally fraught with problems in research design, featuring workout programs that weren’t intense enough and/or HMB doses not high enough to promote gains.

Well, a pair of new studies should rekindle your excitement for HMB as a potent supplement that quickly builds aerobic fitness, strength and muscularity. In a recent clinical trial published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, researchers from the University of Central Florida tested the efficacy of HMB supplementation for boosting the effect of high-intensity interval training in fit and active male and female subjects. They reported that after only four weeks of training, subjects who took HMB raised their VO2 peak (a measure of aerobic fitness) levels by an average of 5 percent — a remarkable result considering the subjects had relatively high levels of aerobic fitness to begin with. 

In another study, published in the European Journal of Applied Physiology, scientists from the University of Tampa in Florida tested the effects of HMB supplementation in combination with a 12-week periodized resistance-training program in well-trained men. They reported that those who took HMB saw greater gains in overall body mass, lean body mass, strength and power, as well as bigger drops in body fat, compared to those who took a placebo. The HMB subjects also had significantly lower levels of the catabolic hormone cortisol and greater perceptions of recovery between training bouts. 

HMB Dosing: Take 3 to 6 grams two to three times per day with meals.