This article was written at the start of the COVID-19 crisis. It was a time where much of the world’s population was on house arrest and athletes who had dedicated time to building strength were looking for ways to maintain it without proper training facilities.
HMB is a sports supplement that made a name for itself in the late 90s after initial studies showed that it increased strength and muscle with training.
A few years later and HMB faded from the athletic scene, with many assuming this was because it simply didn’t work.
The truth was quite different (I know because I was involved as a scientist)
Soon after it had flooded the sports market, evidence started to appear showing that HMB may also reduce muscle wasting in disease conditions like AIDS and Cancer... and potentially ageing.
Where sport is one thing, the medical market is another and the patents on HMB were quickly snapped up by pharmaceutical giant Abbott Labs. The focus on the athlete was simply forgotten.
Over the last decade we (Blonyx) have been working to rebuild HMB’s reputation in sports nutrition. It’s research profile is excellent and it’s shown to enhance performance in strength, power and endurance athletes.
One unique characteristic of HMB, however, is its ability to preserve muscle and this has other sporting applications.
Using HMB to keep the muscle you have
In 2013 a study conducted at the University of Arkansas showed that taking HMB resulted in significantly less muscle loss after 10d of bed rest (1). Now the subjects were all older individuals but I don’t see any reason why this won’t also apply to younger athletes who are forced to train at a lower intensity than normal. Anyone who has broken their arm can contest to muscle loss being a thing at any age.
To add, studies on how HMB works have labelled it an “anti-catabolic” meaning it slows down the breakdown of muscle protein (2). It has been shown to do this in the young as well as the old (3)
Using HMB when you when you get injured
Another situation where training intensity can be hampered is when injured… but here there is even more reason to take HMB.
Preserving as much muscle (and strength) as possible will reduce injury recovery time - That’s one thing - But as HMB is also shown to enhance strength development with training it could speed your rehabilitation time that way too (4).
HMB may work even better if you're older
As you get older your muscles naturally contain less HMB. This is me speculating here, but it could also be one of the reasons why you start to lose muscle as you age. One thing that is quite evident in the research is that HMB seems to have more of an impact on older athletes and older people in general (3).
Another thing about ageing: You get injured more and you tend to experience more muscle damage and soreness from training. As a 40+ individual who considers himself to be an athlete still, this is my reality.
I started researching HMB as a young athlete looking for a way to enhance my soccer game, but now that I am of that age, I am even more intrigued by it’s value. It’s the supplement ingredient I am most proud to sell because I know the positive impact it has on people’s athletic lives.