Although supplements are extremely popular in the bodybuilding world, few recreational athletes are yet to take advantage and use them to their full potential.
While there is mounting evidence and research supporting their use in the fitness industry and bodybuilding, most supplement research begins with athletes in sport-based settings.
For any advanced athletes reading this, remember, a 5% improvement from supplements could be the difference between first or last place. In high end sport, the margin between the winner and loser is normally within only a 1 or 2 % range. Therefore, the power of these research-proven supplements should not be under-appreciated.
Here’s a list of the best supplements for a variety of short and long duration sports.
Beta Alanine is possibly one of the world’s leading supplements for any athlete, especially for those performing exercises or activities between 1 and 10 minutes.
It works by boosting your muscles’ carnosine levels, which can help reduce fatigue and enhance performance. When exercising, you are likely to be familiar with the “burning” sensation we receive from our muscles. This is caused by an increase in metabolites or waste products, such as hydrogen ions.
After some time, this accumulation causes the muscle to become acidic, which reduces its ability to contract or produce force. As you well know in the gym or during a competition, when that burn occurs your performance takes a rapid drop. Luckily, the boost in carnosine can fight off this process and reduce the buildup, helping you push one step further before fatigue kicks in.
As mentioned, beta alanine has uses in most sports except for steady state endurance exercise. Even in mixed team sports that may last for 1 hour or more, it can help with each individual bout. For example, sprints in football, soccer, rugby etc., or, 1 - 3 minute rounds in boxing or combat sport.
In one study they tested high intense sprints for cycling, which can have relevance for any sprint type activity and not just biking. They found that it improved time to exhaustion by 16% over the placebo (non-supplement group) (Hill et al., 2007).
For a specific sport, they tested beta alanine in college football players and found it helped reduce fatigue and improved several aspects of fitness testing, including bench press performance (Hoffman et al., 2008).
Along with Beta Alanine, Creatine is one of the most powerful supplements for athletes. Although its ability for boosting muscle growth is well known, it can clearly enhance high intensity and short duration exercise.
As it works to provide extra ATP energy, its main use remains in very sharp short bursts such as 1 - 15 second sprints. However, its use is supported by other research showing it can boost performance up to 60 seconds or several minutes.
Firstly, one meta-analysis, (a type of research which reviews all the current studies and trials), summarized it can provide a 1 - 15% performance benefit. As mentioned at the start, a small 1 - 15% improvement may not seem like much but, for a well-trained athlete, 15% improvements could take years or even decades to attain (Kreider et al., 2003).
Another study tested it in highly-trained soccer players, who perform multiple short sprints within a game, much like other sports such as football, tennis, basketball etc. In this study, they found each sprint was consistently faster for the athletes using creatine.
Finally, other research has shown improvements in explosive power and jump ability which, again, has application into most sports imaginable (Mujika et al., 2000).
Other Beneficial Supplements
While I’ve covered the main 2 supplements, there are still some key players that can help any athlete take their game a step further.
Here’s a brief overview of each:
Add in PRE-KAGED
As you can see, there’s a ton of options and brilliant supplements for the athlete. While it may be hard to pick just one (as they are all so great), you can just opt for a complete blend such as PRE-KAGED.
When working with elite level athletes, I will personally recommend PRE-KAGED for a very easy and done-for-you work out solution, which includes every single ingredient discussed above. Best of all, PRE-KAGED is third-party tested, safe and completely legal, backed by Informed Choice approval and more.
You can learn more on PRE-KAGED HERE
Kern, B. D., & Robinson, T. L. (2011). Effects of β-alanine supplementation on performance and body composition in collegiate wrestlers and football players. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 25(7), 1804-1815.
Hill, C. A., Harris, R. C., Kim, H. J., Harris, B. D., Sale, C., Boobis, L. H., ... & Wise, J. A. (2007). Influence of β-alanine supplementation on skeletal muscle carnosine concentrations and high intensity cycling capacity. Amino acids, 32(2), 225-233.
Hobson, R. M., Saunders, B., Ball, G., Harris, R. C., & Sale, C. (2012). Effects of β-alanine supplementation on exercise performance: a meta-analysis. Amino acids, 43(1), 25-37.
Ganio, M. S., Klau, J. F., Casa, D. J., Armstrong, L. E., & Maresh, C. M. (2009). Effect of caffeine on sport-specific endurance performance: a systematic review. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 23(1), 315-324.
Hoffman, J. R., Ratamess, N. A., Faigenbaum, A. D., Ross, R., Kang, J., Stout, J. R., & Wise, J. A. (2008). Short-duration β-alanine supplementation increases training volume and reduces subjective feelings of fatigue in college football players. Nutrition research, 28(1), 31-35.
Takahashi, S., Nakashima, Y., & Toda, K. I. (2009). Carnosine facilitates nitric oxide production in endothelial f-2 cells. Biological and Pharmaceutical Bulletin, 32(11), 1836-1839.
Wiseman, H., & Halliwell, B. (1996). Damage to DNA by reactive oxygen and nitrogen species: role in inflammatory disease and progression to cancer. Biochemical Journal, 313(Pt 1), 17.
Kreider, R. B. (2003). Effects of creatine supplementation on performance and training adaptations. Molecular and cellular biochemistry, 244(1-2), 89-94.
Mujika, I., Padilla, S. A. B. I. N. O., Ibanez, J. A. V. I. E. R., Izquierdo, M. I. K. E. L., & Gorostiaga, E. S. T. E. B. A. N. (2000). Creatine supplementation and sprint performance in soccer players. Medicine and science in sports and exercise, 32(2), 518-525.
Pryor, J. L., Craig, S. A., & Swensen, T. (2012). Effect of betaine supplementation on cycling sprint performance. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 9(1), 1.
Blomstrand, E., Hassmen, P., Ekblom, B., & Newsholme, E. A. (1991). Administration of branched-chain amino acids during sustained exercise—effects on performance and on plasma concentration of some amino acids. European journal of applied physiology and occupational physiology, 63(2), 83-88.
Davis, J. M., Alderson, N. L., & Welsh, R. S. (2000). Serotonin and central nervous system fatigue: nutritional considerations. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 72(2), 573s-578s.
Takeda, K., Machida, M., Kohara, A., Omi, N., & Takemasa, T. (2011). Effects of citrulline supplementation on fatigue and exercise performance in mice. Journal of nutritional science and vitaminology, 57(3), 246-250.