Research Update – Arginine Supplementation and Endurance Performance

2 min read

Two studies were recently published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research that investigated the effectiveness of arginine supplementation and endurance performance. Arginine has become an extremely popular ingredient for its suggested role in stimulating nitric oxide and vasodilation. Although limited research exists to support its use, individuals still keep spending their hard earned cash on it. During my doctoral studies, our research group completed one of the first studies on the ingredient showing it to have a modest effect on maximal bench press strength and lower-body peak power [1]. Because of its suggested ability to increase blood flow, many claims are made including increased endurance, power and muscle growth. Our study showed it to have no effect over body composition changes [1] and two recent studies utilized different approaches to examine its impact over endurance. Sunderland and colleagues had 18 highly trained male cyclists complete a maximal cycling test after taking 6 grams per day for 28 days and found that the purported nutrient delivery ability of arginine to have no impact over changes in maximal oxygen consumption and the intensity at which fatigue begins to accumulate when performing aerobic exercise [2].

In addition, Greer et al. had twelve resistance trained college men maximally perform three sets each of chin-ups, reverse chin-ups and push-ups with three minutes of rest between each set. Four hours before the workout and 30 minutes after, participants ingested either 3.7 grams of arginine (6.4 grams total) or a similar amount of placebo [3]. Interestingly, the total numbers of chin-ups performed decreased significantly when the participants consumed the supplement. In addition, the total number of repetitions performed across all of the exercises decreased as well when the arginine was consumed by the participants [3].

In summary, two recently published studies used differing approaches to examine the ability of arginine to improve endurance. Regardless of the approach used, supplementation with arginine was found to have NO FAVORABLE IMPACT on endurance. In fact, performance during an acute muscular endurance workout consisting of push-ups and pull-ups was negatively impacted by arginine administration. While some individuals are consistent users of arginine and feel strongly about its effectiveness, recent scientific literature continues to suggest it may have little to no meaningful impact.


  1. Campbell, B., Roberts, M., Kerksick, C., Wilborn, C., Marcello, B., Taylor, L., Nassar, E., Leutholtz, B., Bowden, R., Rasmussen, C., Greenwood, M., and Kreider, R., Pharmacokinetics, safety, and effects on exercise performance of L-arginine alpha-ketoglutarate in trained adult men. Nutrition, 2006. 22(9): p. 872-81.
  2. Sunderland, K.L., Greer, F., and Morales, J., VO2max and ventilatory threshold of trained cyclists are not affected by 28-day L-arginine supplementation. J Strength Cond Res, 2011. 25(3): p. 833-7.
  3. Greer, B.K. and Jones, B.T., Acute arginine supplementation fails to improve muscle endurance or affect blood pressure responses to resistance training. J Strength Cond Res, 2011. 25(7): p. 1789-94.

The post Research Update – Arginine Supplementation and Endurance Performance appeared first on 1st Phorm.

Chad Kerksick PhD
Chad Kerksick PhD

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