Overcoming fatigue would be one way to improve your bodybuilding gains. During intense exercise such as weight training, the production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) is the result of the rapid breakdown of glucose or glycogen. Scientists refer to this as anaerobic glycolysis. Such rapid degradation of glucose causes the formation of lactic acid, and this drop in pH due to lactic-acid accumulation is one factor out of many that may cause fatigue. Sodium citrate might delay the onset of fatigue by acting as a buffer to lactic acid.
In humans, the effect of alkalosis (making your blood or muscle tissue less acidic, or more basic) has been examined with regard to exercise performance. The use of sodium bicarbonate (baking soda, or NaHCO3) as an alkalinizing agent has shown either no effect or an improvement in exercise capacity. Generally, the types of sports in which alkalinizing agents will help are those that are the most anaerobic, such as sprinting or weightlifting.
Sodium citrate is another alkalinizing agent that has only recently been studied with regard to its ergogenic effects. In one study, eight subjects performed intense cycling exercise at 120% of their V02 peak (sprint cycling) after oral ingestion of a placebo or sodium citrate (0.5 gram per 2.2 pounds of bodyweight, or about 45 grams for a 200-pound person). Time to exhaustion increased by 15% in the group that received sodium citrate (258 seconds for the placebo vs. 297 seconds for the sodium-citrate group).
The improvement in performance after ingesting sodium citrate is similar to that reported in studies using sodium bicarbonate. Many scientists believe that alkalinizing agents are best used for those events or exercises that last 1-7 minutes. Now certainly, no single bodybuilding exercise lasts precisely one minute. But if you do high-volume training, supersets or circuit training, in which you move from one exercise to another with little rest, then part of the ensuing fatigue is due to the buildup of lactic acid.
Using sodium citrate or bicarbonate could offset some of the increased acidity and therefore augment exercise performance. Oddly, this ergogenic aid isn't widely used by those who pump iron. The required dose of at least half a gram for every 2 pounds in bodyweight may seem rather high, but then again, bodybuilders usually don't shy away from supplements just because the doses are enough to choke a horse.
Sodium citrate improves exercise performance during high-intensity work. If you apply this to your gym training, this substance may help you work harder and longer without the detrimental effects of fatigue. And this could translate into an increase in muscle protein synthesis and a larger, more muscular physique.