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The Amp Human PR Lotion is a bicarb-based rub that you apply directly to the skin. It's claimed to boost your performance and reduce muscle soreness. Bicarb has been scientifically proven to improve cycling power and PR Lotion is a quick and effective way of reaping these benefits without the usual associated gastrointestinal issues. It's not cheap at about £2.33 per helping, but if you've done everything else and are looking for those last few gains then it's well worth a go.
When reviewing products, I always try to have an open mind and no preconceived notions of whether it's going to be any good or not. With the PR Lotion, I couldn't help but feel that it had the potential to be snake oil with some rather large claims and marketing jargon such as it being the 'pro's secret weapon'. However, having used it for the second half of the race season, it has impressed me, with too many good power numbers to just be a coincidence.
Amp says that PR Lotion is 'designed to maximize your training and recovery by unlocking bicarb, a natural electrolyte that improves muscle function and helps you combat fatigue during hard workouts'. You can read more about the science behind AMP Lotion here.
I've delved into this a bit deeper and there are plenty of studies to suggest that taking around 0.3g per kg 60-180 minutes before high-intensity exercise can enhance performance by decreasing the acidity of working muscles by buffering its production. In fact, professional athletes have been using this legal supplement since the 1970s.
The Amp Human claims are:
This isn't my first time experimenting with sodium bicarbonate during training. While at university, I participated in a research project quantifying the benefits of using bicarb during endurance cycling and the results showed that while there was an advantage to be had, for many people the resulting stomach issues and untimely toilet trips meant it simply wasn't worth it. It should also be noted that this study and many others have found that the benefits of bicarb have high variability, which is to say that different individuals will experience different results.
The PR lotion of course avoids any stomach issues by bypassing the gut entirely. This is a thick cream that you apply directly to the skin on different muscles depending on the sport. For cycling, Amp recommends application to the 'full leg, glutes and lower back'.
You can buy the lotion in a few different forms, from this 300g bottle which is said to contain 10-15 applications, to 20g 'on-the-go' travel packets, which would be good if you are flying to a race overseas, for example.
As expected, only using the lotion on my lower muscles, I got nearer the upper number of applications from the bottle – 14, to be precise.
Application is as easy as you would expect: take a generous dollop and rub it into the designated areas, though I must confess I didn't always apply it to my lower back when already skin suited up. The lotion rubs in fine, but make sure you're somewhere where you can thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water before riding. On one occasion I applied the lotion shortly before starting a race, wiped my hands off on a towel and then proceeded to slime up my shifter hoods as I began sweating.
The answer to this question is... well, yes and no. I've had three months to try to quantify the benefits and the answer is: some.
I've tried to be as scientific as reasonably possible and have completed back-to-back turbo sessions with and without PR Lotion, as well as using it on and off during a seven-race series, while trying to reduce as many variables as possible.
Personally, I think Amp Human's claims of 16 per cent more power and being able to complete 25 per cent more max high-intensity intervals is a little ambitious. What I can say is that while using it I seemed less susceptible to cramping during race simulation rides, and consistently produced more power at the end of races and identical turbo interval sessions. We're talking in the region of five per cent rather than the claimed figures, but perceptible and impressive nonetheless.
At £34.95 per 300g this works out at about £2.33 per 'helping', which for me immediately discounts it as a training tool – especially when you could very carefully try ingesting bicarb for a lot less. If you've already tried this method and suffered stomach issues, then I think PR Lotion is well worth a go if you're serious about race day performance. People spend a whole heap more on wheels, aero equipment and kit for nothing like a five per cent performance boost.
Overall, the PR Lotion seems expensive for what it is, but if you also experience an increase in power then it becomes a cost-effective method of enhancing your performance, only a little more per serving than an SiS Beta Fuel gel.
Very good way to enjoy the benefits of bicarb without having to rush to the loo
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Amp Human PR Lotion
Size tested: 300g
Tell us what the product is for and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
AMP Human says: "PR Lotion is designed to maximize your training and recovery by unlocking bicarb"
I found that it did work to an extent but, for me, not to the levels claimed – but this is known to vary from person to person. It's best for athletes who are willing to give something a go in the name of race day gains.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Each bottle supports 10-15 workouts
Certified clean sport compliant under the Informed Sport and Informed Choice programs.
Active ingredients: Menthol 0.5%
Main ingredients: Sodium Bicarbonate, water
Store between 20-25 Celcius
For me: not quite what was claimed but significant and impressive nonetheless.
No stomach issues – obviously.
A hard one to compare; it's expensive for bicarb but cheap for unlocking additional power. Whether it's worth the money will depend a lot on a) whether you've already expended other avenues of increasing power and b) the individual effect it has on you.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
It performed well; the effect of bicarb has a high variability but I experienced roughly 5% increase in interval power when using the lotion at the end of repeated interval sessions.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The repeated power gains, although they weren't as high as promised.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The residue it leaves; it doesn't rub completely into the skin.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
We haven't tested many similar products; it's much more expensive than store-bought bicarb but has clear benefits.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
The benefits of bicarb will vary from person to person, but on the whole it is generally regarded as beneficial to cycling performance. The reason why many people don't use it is that it can cause stomach issues – a problem that PR Lotion solves. It's expensive compared to baking soda, but I found that it was actually quite a cost-effective way of boosting performance.
About the tester
I usually ride: Specialized venge pro 2019 My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Under 5 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo cross, commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, mtb,
Jamie has been riding bikes since a tender age but really caught the bug for racing and reviewing whilst studying towards a master's in Mechanical engineering at Swansea University. Having graduated, he decided he really quite liked working with bikes and is now a full-time addition to the road.cc team. When not writing about tech news or working on the Youtube channel, you can still find him racing local crits trying to cling on to his cat 2 licence...and missing every break going...