This article was written by EFM co-founder and owner of Garage Strength, Dane Miller. Read to the bottom for a link to Garage Strength and more on training with Dane.
We get a lot of athletes that come through our doors. We have people who have been to the Olympics, men who have been in the NFL, and women who want to run faster, be more coordinated and perform better in the competitive environment. All of these athletes have the same question: what supplements need to be taken to improve and enhance performance?
Initially, it is not that simple of an answer. There are a couple of different factors and questions that come into play. To start, what sport is the athlete is playing? From that perspective, the sport being played has a big impact on what specific supplements need to be taken. It isn’t as easy as athletes needing to take X, Y, and Z. Done.
It always comes back to the different elements behind the chosen sport, what are the keys behind the sport, and how can those key elements be developed through strength training, plyometrics, resistance-based training, core work, and through any other method that can be of assistance. In turn, what supplements will actually help those elements develop and be cultivated over time. And then, what specific supplements will help the desired types of adaptations. It always comes back to what specific things are being done for performance which will have a key impact on the supplements that need to be taken.
Caffeine and beta-alanine have been shown to have a great impact on endurance sports, endurance athletes more than those supplements have for Olympic weightlifters or powerlifters.
So when we talk about endurance-based athletes, caffeine and beta-alanine are phenomenal for sports performance. Try to take about 3 to 6 milligrams of caffeine per kilo of bodyweight--a 100-kilo person can take about 300 milligrams. This is about two to three cups of coffee. This will help endurance, cognitive ability, and pain tolerance.
For beta-alanine, 4 to 6 grams of beta-alanine will be a good lactic acid buffer. It will pay off tremendously. When we are talking about long-duration sports, utilize caffeine and beta-alanine. Athletes will still find benefits from using creatine, whey protein, and collagen, but it is most important to utilize caffeine and beta-alanine.
Another key factor to consider is when the focus is on being extremely explosive. Think power-based athletes, strength athletes, or any sport that demands the athlete to just put out a ton of force or power--think shot putters, high jumpers, gymnasts (in certain aspects), and Olympic weightlifters.
We recommend always putting a focus on taking creatine-monohydrate. Take about .1 gram of creatine per kilo of bodyweight. A 100-kilo athlete should take 10 grams. This will help saturate the muscles, help produce a ton of force and power output, will help be more explosive, and will help with cognitive function while allowing the body to maintain lean muscle mass.
Sports with a ton of rapid rates of coordination, always go with creatine monohydrate.
Now, what if the focus is just on bodybuilding?
This is interesting because athletes do need to focus on joint integrity, joint stability, and mobility, but bodybuilding demands a ton of protein being digested, especially if multiple sessions are being performed a day. This demands at least 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight. However, top-end bodybuilders are trying to get 1.25 grams or even 1.5 grams of protein per pound of body weight.
With straight-up bodybuilding, it is important that the protein intake is high. This points towards casein and whey. Whey protein is a key supplement to maintaining lean muscle mass and enhancing muscle protein synthesis. Taking a whey protein maybe thirty minutes prior to training and then have another shake post-workout really helps to get that much protein. It is hard to get that much protein from just straight food sources. That’s why using casein and whey helps a lot in increasing muscle protein synthesis.
Unilateral And Mobility Focus
Taking 30-40 grams of collagen every single day with vitamin C is something that helps a ton with joint integrity and joint stability. It also helps a bundle with recovery.
So early on when improving mobility and doing unilateral work through greater ranges of motion, athletes may have more pain because they are working through ranges of motion they are not used to. Taking collagen with vitamin C it becomes a little bit easier to recover from the newfound range. This will help the body feel better and keep the mind positive about improving overall joint integrity.
Contact Sport Athletes
Wrestlers, football players, field hockey players, and a slew of others, the previous supplements mentioned going a long way. However, contact sports cause head trauma within the chosen sport to some extent.
When we talk about head trauma, to whatever extent, krill oil can be important for cognitive function, protecting the brain, and helping the person be aware of what is going on. Krill oil is very much an anti-inflammatory that may help an athlete deal with the contact, the stress, deal with the inflammation that the body and head are handling.
We also will tell contact sport athletes to take creatine because it helps prevent concussions. We will still recommend taking whey protein because of all the strength training that takes place.
On a bonus note, complete non-sequitur, get in the sauna. It is something that can supplement training on a regular basis. It is truly beneficial and is extremely healthy. It helps with the eccentric volume of the heart to help handle recovery and improve an athlete’s cardio base health, improving the volume and allow better recovery from session to session.
Creatine is great for explosive-based sports. It benefits a ton of other sports as well. Bodybuilders and athletes under a lot of stress in the weight room, take whey protein. Endurance-based athletes will see great benefits from caffeine and beta-alanine. Athletes trying to improve mobility and their unilateral strength need to be using collagen every single day. Finally, athletes involved in contact sports need to utilize that krill oil.