Effect of watermelon supplementation on exercise performance, muscle oxygenation, and vessel diameter in resistance-trained men

Adam M. Gonzalez, Hofstra University
Anthony G. Pinzone, Hofstra University
Shaina E. Lipes, Hofstra University
Gerald T. Mangine, Kennesaw State University


Introduction: Watermelon shows promise as an ergogenic aid due to its high concentration of l-citrulline, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Purpose: The purpose of this study was to examine the effect of watermelon supplementation on exercise performance, muscle oxygenation, and vessel diameter. Methods: In a crossover design fashion, 15 resistance-trained men (22.4 ± 2.9 years; 177.5 ± 7.1 cm; 82.7 ± 11.2 kg) were randomly assigned to supplement with either watermelon juice concentrate (WM; 2.2 g·day−1l-citrulline) or placebo (PL) for 7 days prior to completing an experimental trial consisting of an isometric mid-thigh pull test and acute bench press protocol. Participants completed two sets of two repetitions at 75% 1 repetition maximum (1-RM) with maximum ballistic intent followed by five repetition-maximum (RM) sets at the same load. Barbell velocity and power were measured via linear position transducer during the first two sets, while volume load and muscle oxygenation were quantified during RM sets. Brachial artery diameter and subjective perception measures were assessed at baseline and immediately pre- and post-exercise. Results: Except for a greater percent change in skeletal muscle oxygenation during WM compared to PL on average and across sets (mean difference = + 4.1%, p = 0.033, BF10 = 2.2–54.5), separate traditional and Bayesian analyses of variance with repeated measures, as well as paired-samples t tests for calculated summary measures, revealed no evidence favoring conditional differences in any measure of performance, perception, or muscle oxygenation. Conclusion: Short-term watermelon supplementation does not appear to enhance isometric force production, bench press performance, blood vessel diameter, or muscle oxygenation parameters compared to PL in resistance-trained men.