Trivia question: What compound, at a dose of roughly 50 to 100 milligrams, might cause dyspepsia (also known as indigestion’I just like the sound of dyspepsia), abnormal vision, increased nitric oxide release and increased exercise capacity and make you rock-hard where it counts? If you answered arginine alpha-ketoglutarate (AKG) then you’re a complete nitwit.
The real answer is sildenafil, more commonly known as Viagra. Besides giving you enhanced blood flow in the nether regions, it’s a friggin’ ergogenic aid! Now, I’m not talking about being able to do the bump-and-grind for longer periods. For that you need to do more core training as well as load up on creatine (for increased power output).
Seriously, though, a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine looked at the effects of sildenafil on exercise capacity. A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled crossover study was done at the base camp on Mount Everest. The researchers studied 14 healthy mountaineers and trekkers who received 50 milligrams or a placebo of oral sildenafil.
What did they find?
At low altitude, acute hypoxia reduced arterial oxygen saturation to 72.0 percent at rest and 60.8 percent at maximum exercise capacity. Sildenafil significantly increased arterial oxygen saturation during exercise’meaning more oxygen got to red blood cells. That’s obviously important when you’re breathing more heavily than an adolescent boy who’s just made a prank call to Carmen Electra.
Sildenafil also increased maximum workload and maximum cardiac output. It had no effect on arterial oxygen saturation at rest or during exercise. At high altitude sildenafil worsened existing headaches in two individuals’a phenomenon many have experienced when taking sildenafil in the comfort of a hotel room.
Bottom line: Sildenafil, or Viagra, will enhance exercise capacity at high altitude. It may even be worth trying for those who participate in prolonged strenuous endurance work such as the Tour de France. According to researchers, ‘Sildenafil is the first drug shown to increase exercise capacity during severe hypoxia both at sea level and at high altitude.’
Just an FYI for you sildenafil lovers: When you take it, it’s rapidly absorbed, with maximal plasma concentrations attained within 30 to 120 minutes (median 60 minutes) of oral dosing in the fasted state. When Viagra is taken with a high-fat meal, the rate of absorption is reduced and delayed. My suggestion: If you’re with Mrs. Right Now, don’t eat a high-fat meal. If you’re on a mercy date, eat enough fat to make a moose pass out. IM