Elevated Arousal following Acute Ammonia Inhalation is not Associated with Increased Neuromuscular Performance



Campbell AK, Williamson CE, Macgregor LJ & Hamilton DL (2021) Elevated Arousal following Acute Ammonia Inhalation is not Associated with Increased Neuromuscular Performance. European Journal of Sport Science.

Many athletes seek to enhance their performance using legal ergogenic aids, including ammonia inhalants (AIs). AIs trigger the inhalation reflex and increase blood pressure, respiration and heart rate; but, despite their widespread use, there is little evidence for the benefits of AI on exercise performance. We aimed to determine the psychological and neuromuscular impact of acute ammonia inhalation. Fourteen non-resistance trained males completed three trials: control, experimental (AI), and sham. The order of the sham and experimental trials was randomised. Participants completed handgrip and knee extension maximal voluntary contractions (MVC), and countermovement jump (CMJ). Heart rate and alertness were recorded at rest and immediately following control, experimental or sham treatment, followed by functional performance measurements. Reaction time, electromechanical delay, rate of force development and peak force were calculated from MVCs, and peak power from CMJ. On completion of trials, perceived performance was recorded. Statistical significance was accepted at P is less than .05. Heart rate (P is less than .001), alertness (P = .009) and perceived performance (P = .036) were elevated by AIs. Markers of functional performance were unaltered by AIs. Alertness was moderately correlated with perceived performance in control (r = 0.61) and sham conditions (r = 0.54), and very-highly correlated in the experimental condition (r = 0.90). AI elevates alertness and perceived physical performance, but not peak strength, power, or neuromuscular drive. AIs may be a useful psychological stimulant to increase focus and mental preparation, however it is unlikely that this will improve functional performance in an untrained population. Our data suggest however, that ammonia inhalants may improve the perception of an individual’s performance.

Smelling salts; ergogenic aid; stimulant; alertness; performance

Output Status: Forthcoming/Available Online

European Journal of Sport Science

StatusIn Press
Publication date online31/08/2021
Date accepted by journal06/07/2021

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Dr Lewis Macgregor
Dr Lewis Macgregor

Lecturer in Physiology and Nutrition, Sport

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