HMB is a supplement claimed to increase recovery from training, increase muscle size, and build strength. Many people have found that this supplement is not worth its keep as far as price for benefits goes, but still others continue to use HMB in hopes of naturally increasing muscle gains. Studies evaluating the effectiveness of HMB as a sports supplement have shown mixed outcomes. A paper published in 2009 in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research analyzes nine studies to finally reach a conclusion about the effectiveness of HMB for increasing strength and altering body composition.
Between the nine studies, there were a total of 394 subjects. Subjects were between the ages of 21 and 25 years old. Some subjects were trained, and some had no training experience prior to participation in the study. The studies analyzed ranged from 3-7 weeks in length
The only strength gains observed with HMB over non-supplementation were in previously untrained subjects in lower body only. The lower body strength gains in untrained subjects were small, but still large enough to show a clear difference from non-supplementation. There were no significant gains in upper body strength of untrained subjects and no significant strength gains at all in trained subjects. Neither trained nor untrained subjects showed any significant difference in body fat or muscle mass.
There is some evidence supporting HMB as an ergogenic aid, but it looks like on average HMB simply fails to deliver results. Anecdotally, some people have claimed decent results with very high doses, but at this point supplementation can become quite expensive and there are better options for the same or a lower price. HMB has been fading out of the supplement industry for quite some time now as it seems to be included in formulas less and less. This is just another nail in the coffin showing that HMB never really did much to begin with!
Rowlands DS, & Thomson JS. (2009). Effects of beta-hydroxy-beta-methylbutyrate supplementation during resistance training on strength, body composition, and muscle damage in trained and untrained young men: a meta-analysis. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research / National Strength & Conditioning Association. 23(3), 836-46.
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