Ammonia inhalation does not increase dead lift one-repetition maximum in college-aged male and female weightlifters.
Ammonia inhalant (AI) use by powerlifters and weightlifters is a prevalent practice with little research support for improved performance. The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of ammonia as a stimulant on athletic performance during a dead lift one maximal repetition (1-RM) absolute strength test. Subjects (n=10 men, mean±SD age=21±1 years, mass=72.5±6.8 kg; n=10 women, age=22±5 years, mass=66.2±8.1 kg) were required to have at least two years of resistance training experience while lacking a history of asthma, lightheadedness, fainting, anaphylaxis, sickle cell traits, and other respiratory disorders. After a baseline 1-RM test, subjects were paired by 1-RM performance and gender, then randomly assigned in a counterbalanced treatment order to control (water) or ammonia trials after a minimum 72-hour recovery period for another 1-RM test involving attempts at 100.0%, 102.5%, 105.0%, and 107.5% of the established 1-RM value. Testing was then repeated after the minimum rest period for the remaining trial. Results revealed the expected gender main effect for absolute dead lift 1-RM (93.0±29.5 [women]; 152.0±29.5 kg [men] (p<0.001), but no trial main effect (p=0.874) or gender by trial interaction effect (baseline=93.0± 15.3, 151.8±42.3 kg; water=92.0±12.5, 150.9±37.8 kg; ammonia=92.5±16.4, 153.4±37.9 kg) for women and men, respectively (p=0.559). Within the limitations of this study, there is no support for the practice of ammonia inhalation to improve dead lift 1-RM in training or competition.