Increase Your Threshold

You work hard in the gym and on the field, giving it your all, when all of a sudden…you experience it. It stops you dead in your tracks and decreases your performance. "It" is lactic acid, more commonly known as "muscle burn". If you could somehow decrease lactic acid levels, surely you'd be able to go for one more rep or one more play. Luckily there's Carnosine to the rescue.

Carnosine is a dipeptide made up of the amino acids Beta-Alanine and Histidine. Research shows that an increase in intramuscular Carnosine levels can increase the buffering capacity of a muscle by up to 20%. By increasing the lactate threshold this will result in delayed muscular fatigue.

Carnosine ingestion results in its breakdown into Beta-Alanine and Histidine, only to be rebuilt back into Carnosine. Ingesting Beta-Alanine and Histidine instead of pure Carnosine is a much more efficient process of maximizing Carnosine concentrations in muscle tissue.

While Carnosine is comprised of both Beta-Alanine and Histidine, it is Beta-Alanine that is the rate limiting precursor, which means Carnosine levels are mainly affected by the amount of available Beta-Alanine. In essence, when Beta-Alanine concentrations are low, Carnosine levels will be low, and the chance of muscular fatigue during activity will be high. Therefore, supplementing with Beta-Alanine has been shown in research to increase Carnosine concentration in muscles, delaying fatigue during activity as well as producing considerable improvements in muscular work capacity and performance.

While Histidine doesn't affect Carnosine concentrations in the same way that Beta-Alanine does, it is shown to have acid-buffering capabilities when combined with Beta-Alanine. To increase intramuscular Carnosine levels to the maximum, an ideal "anti-fatigue formula" would be the combination of Beta-Alanine and Histidine. Phosphate ingestion (such as sodium phosphate) is shown to be crucial to the transport of Beta-Alanine and Histidine into the intracellular space, so the inclusion of phosphates will likely also lead to an increase in intramuscular Carnosine concentrations when combined with these two amino acids.

Threshold by Optimum Nutrition contains Beta-Alanine and Histidine as well as phosphates and is shown to increase performance, both in the gym and on the field. If you're serious about improving your physique and your performance, you need to increase your Threshold.


Ben Hartman
ON Reps & Sets Athlete
Nationally Certified Personal Trainer

The author is a compensated ON Sets and Reps Athlete, however, the views, opinions, and comments expressed here are those exclusively of the author and do not necessarily represent those of Optimum Nutrition.
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