pr lotion with single packets of pr lotion on a blue background
Lifestyle

Your New Pre-Workout Is Exercise-Boosting Baking Soda Lotion

Just don't try to, you know, bake with it.
By Will Price
May 15, 2024

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In this world in which men ice their balls for fear of sperm count reduction or take 30-plus supplements to extend their healthspan,  it can be hard to take a company’s claims as truth. For example, Live Momentous sells a body lotion that allegedly maximizes training effort, increases muscle power, and helps you recover fast. Again, this is a body lotion. Only in this case, there might be a little science behind it. 

PR Lotion costs $35 a bottle and is only one of many products that make us scratch our heads, but there’s no knowing without trying, so try we did. Does PR Lotion do anything? If so, is it worth the spend? Here’s what to know.

Amp Human PR Lotion

Pros
  • Can increase workout output
  • Lotion bicarb > fluid bicarb
Cons
  • Rationing
  • Texture and "scent"

What Is PR Lotion?

Think of PR Lotion as a lotion form of baking soda. Yes, baking soda. 

The product is largely sodium bicarbonate—the fancy name for baking soda—which has been studied and picked apart for decades by exercise scientists. Traditionally, an athlete would consume sodium bicarb as a fluid or in pill form at some point before their workout—mostly used by cyclists and runners in its heyday. The science of how it’s meant to work is somewhat straightforward: your blood acidifies as you work out, baking soda is alkaline and counteracts acidification, thus you are hypothetically able to push harder. 

Though it sounds somewhat ridiculous, there is a robust collection of research on the effects of sodium bicarbonate for exercise performance (1); despite that, unfortunately, it’s difficult to glean what exactly are the best uses for it, and how much it really can boost an exercise. 

Longevity expert Peter Attia breaks down the current research into PR Lotion specifically in a blog post, but the short version is this: there is likely a small boost to be had by using sodium bicarbonate before intense exercise, but it’s not known just how much it might help. 

Train Like an Adult

What’s Good About PR Lotion?

Can increase workout output

PR Lotion certainly can increase workout capacity, but no one tell you how much—if it’ll help you at all. 

Perhaps the most exhaustive literature review (1) on the subject of sodium bicarb’s effect on exercise duration  was published in 2019 by a trio of European doctors that found effectiveness “cannot be clarified if supplementation with [sodium bicarb] results in performance enhancement or simply balancing deficits (buffering capacity) between athletes.” Translation: it may provide small boosts for some people whose blood makeup could use balancing, but it’s not going to supercharge everyone’s 10K time. 

As far as my own testing goes, it’s difficult to say. Per the instructions, I applied the lotion to soon-to-be-worked muscle groups before exercise. I tried it first with a few medium-distance (5-mile) jogs. My usual time wasn’t significantly better or worse, but I did feel my quads and calves—where the lotion was applied—were slightly less burnt than normal, and my soreness in the days following each run was noticeably less debilitating. 

My PR Lotion weightlifting tests were less effective. I didn’t crank out additional reps or sets, and I didn’t notice a significant reduction in muscle soreness in the days following.

Lotion bicarb > fluid bicarb

What’s most unique about PR Lotion is that you don’t have to ingest it to use it. To absolutely no one’s surprise, stomaching baking soda feels like shit, so a means for getting it in your bloodstream without stomach aches (or worse) is preferable. Without question, that’s what PR Lotion is great at. Please do not eat the lotion! 

Rubbing PR lotion on a leg
It’s a little more difficult to apply PR Lotion evenly when you have leg hair, but it is doable. This model has it easy.

What’s Not Good About PR Lotion?

Rationing

The regular-looking lotion bottle of PR Lotion doesn’t tell you this, but there is a recommended dosage when it comes to sodium bicarbonate for fitness. Generally, you want about 20 to 25g of the stuff. PR Lotion even sells individual packets at 20g a pop. Squirting lotion from the bottle, however, provides no means for measuring this out, and I’m not about to get a scale out for lotion. 

Texture and “scent”

It smells like baking soda and feels a little tacky. On one hand, this is fine—part of my lizard brain thinks it’s better, even, because it’s the brand telling you that you’ve bought a performance product and not something that belongs at Bed, Bath & Beyond. Yet I can’t shake the feeling that the texture couldn’t have been improved in some way to avoid the latent stickiness my hands are imbued with for an hour post-application. 

The Bottom Line

PR Lotion won’t hurt you in any way, and can be used by even recreational strength or endurance athletes. That said, it is probably most effective for competitive athletics—Ironman, bike races, marathons, etc.—where every second shaved off means placing higher, or beating a personal best. At about $3 per exercise, it’s just not feasible for a normal weekday workout.

References