Utilization Of Ergogenics In Sport Performance


In today’s day in age, much of the population in the United States participate in mild to moderate physical activity to improve his or her physical appearance and/or health. However, many other people engage in very high-intensity physical activity in order to prepare for sports performance with respect to his or her sport. These people are known as athletes. According to Merriam-Webster, an athlete is defined as a “person who is trained or skilled in exercises, sports, or games requiring physical strength, agility, or stamina (Merriam-Webster, para 1, 2018).”

Furthermore, these athletes have astonishing goals and dreams of being Olympic champions as well as World champions, among many other goals and dreams. However, accomplishing these goals and dreams doesn’t come without a cost, and thereby requires personal perseverance in addition to the genetic endowment and proper training. Moreover, proper training plans utilize the development of physical power, mental strength, as well as the development of biomechanical angles to increase his or her mechanical edge.

Many of these strategies are becoming more increasingly available to nonelite athletes in order to help him or her perform their best athletically within his or her respective sport and thereby create a more competitive environment. Due to this, many elite athletes seek out different ways and methods to remain atop of his or her sport. One of the ways that he or she can remain supreme among his or her sport, is to utilize ergogenic aids. Ergogenic aids are defined as “agents that can enhance work output, particularly as it relates to athletic performance; taken as dietary supplements, with aim of improving performance (Farlex, para 1, 2018).” In addition, many athletes believe that utilizing ergogenic aids will improve his or her physiological performance through the utilization of mechanical edge (mechanical ergogenics), physical power (physiological ergogenic), and/or mental strength (psychological ergogenic). (Williams, 1999)

Mechanical Aid

Mechanical ergogenics is mostly used by athletes in order to provide him or her with some sort of mechanical edge through the improvement of energy efficiency. For example, professional scuba divers wear a fabric called Thinsulate. This fabric is highly insulated but at the same time thin and lightweight. This fabric allows the scuba divers to be warm in ice waters and at the same time be lightweight and maneuverable which thereby allows scuba divers to be safer by utilizing less oxygen in order to perform his or her respective task underwater (BBC, 2014). 

Furthermore, for the 2008 Olympics Speedo’s research team created the ultimate swimming suit that eventually got banned in 2010 by the International Olympic Committee for its incredible record-breaking performance. This was a full-body LZR suit that was made out of polyurethane. This suit compressed the swimmer’s body into a streamlined tube that trapped air and added buoyancy and thereby reduced drag and increased its performance in the water. According to Morrison (2012), at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, 98% of medals were won by the swimmers who wore LZR suit.

Since 2010, Speedo has been working diligently in order to create a suit that would not get banned by the International Olympic Committee, but at the same time would create similar results to that of LZR, if not better. Furthermore, Speedo created an alternate route in which it utilizes the suit, goggles, and the cap. This combination creates synergistic work among the three products and thereby reduces drag and improves the overall performance of a swimmer. However, it is yet to be determined if the new system is better than the previous LZR suit.

Different types of equipment can also be utilized as mechanical aids. For example, at the Tour de France athletes use specifically designed helmets that allow the cyclist to be more aerodynamic while maintaining structural integrity and safeness of the cyclist. Moreover, Giant introduced its new helmet in 2016 for the debut of Tour de France. This helmet had swooping shapes and two large dimples on the rear of its design. This helmet weighed less than 250 grams while utilizing Giants AeroVent technology. Strategically placed vents pull the air in and then force it out internally from the back in order to allow the cyclist to create more speed when necessary (Legan & Evans, 2016).     

Physiological Aid

One of the biggest aids that can be questioned by the governing bodies is the usage of physiological ergogenics. In particular, the use of pharmacological products that are designed to increase physical power by the enhancement of metabolic processes within the energy production in regard to the exercise. Furthermore, one of the more researched aids in the world of sports performance is creatine and whether or not there is a true benefit to using creatine in everyday training.

According to Stephen P. Bird, there are significant increases in strength, power, sprint performance, and/or work performed during multiple sets of maximal effort muscle contraction. In addition, the “improvement in exercise capacity has been attributed to increased TCr and PCr content, thus resulting in a greater resynthesis of PCr (Bird, page 124, para 2, 2003).” Overall, creatine consumption improved metabolic efficiency and/or enhanced the quality of exercise and thereby created a better training adaption in regard to performance.

Bird (2003) states that CrS can increase muscle PCr content, however not all individuals respond the same. Moreover, not all studies reported ergogenic benefits. This may be due to differences in subject responses to CrS, length of supplementation, exercise criterion evaluated, and/or amount of recovery that was observed during repeated bouts of exercise (Bird, 2003). In addition to creatine, caffeine has also been researched a lot especially when it comes to as ergogenic aid for the sports performance environment.

According to Graham (2001), caffeine doesn’t improve maximal oxygen capacity during an exercise bout, however, it can permit an athlete to train at greater power output and thereby train longer. Furthermore, caffeine has also been shown to increase speed along with power output within a stimulating environment. These effects can be found in an athlete who performs an activity that lasts as long as two hours or as short as sixty seconds. There is also limited information by which caffeine can elicit ergogenic effect, however, some theories suggest that caffeine may enhance “fat oxidation and spares muscle glycogen has very little support and is an incomplete explanation at best.

Caffeine may work, in part, by creating a more favorable intracellular ionic environment in the active muscle (Graham, para 1, 2001).” Anabolic steroids are created synthetically in order to resemble testosterone and thereby promote muscle growth. Furthermore, many athletes use this kind of steroid in order to gain an unfair advantage over his or her counterparts in his or her respective sport. According to Hartgens and Kuipers (2004), an individual who decides to use Androgenic-anabolic steroids (AAS) may see strength gains of about 5-20% of the initial strength and the increments of 2-5 kg of bodyweight. With the positives, there are also the negatives that come with using steroids. Some of the adverse effects that one can expect to see include, “disturbance of endocrine and immune function, alterations of sebaceous system and skin, changes of hemostatic system and urogenital tract (Hartgens & Kuipers, para 1, 2004).”

Mental Aid

Psychological ergogenics is devised to enhance mental strength and focus by affecting psychological processes prior to and during competition. Many athletes have their own different types of psychological aid. This may vary widely but can include things like cheering, hypnosis, imagery, meditation, and music among many others (Robergs, 2010). Furthermore, athletes of different sports use these techniques in order to counter the stress of competition while improving his or her focus in regard to the event that he or she is going to participate in.


As we can now see, there are many ways that an individual can increase his or her athletic ability. Moreover, within the guidelines of specific sports federations, the use of psychological and mechanical ergogenics are for the most part legal. However, when it comes to the physiological ergogenics like amphetamines, anabolic steroids, ephedrine, and erythropoietin (EPO) among many others, in particular, the drugs and methods by which they are utilized are illegal. This is because it provided athletes who utilize drugs with unfair advantages over his or her counterpart in his or her respective sport and/or event.

In addition to unfair advantages, these drugs also provide athletes with a lot of concern when it comes to side effects. Because of this, athletes and regular individuals should avoid drugs and any sort of supplementation that has not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). It is best that regular individuals and athletes stick to a very well-balanced diet that includes fruits, vegetables, grains, protein foods, and dairy (United States Department of Agriculture, 2018).


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Bird, S. P. (2003, December). Creatine supplement and exercise. Journal of Sports Science and Medicine2, 123-132. Retrieved from https://www.jssm.org/vol2/n4/1/v2n4-1pdf.pdf

Farlex. (2018). Ergogenic aids. In The Free Dictionary. Retrieved from https://medical- dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/ergogenic+aids

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Hartgens, F., & Kuipers, H. (2004). Effects of androgenic-anabolic steroids in athletes. Sports Med34(8), 513-514. Retrieved from Pubmed.gov.

Legan, N., & Evans, J. (2016, July 9). Four new road helmets debut at the Tour de France. In Cycling News. Retrieved from http://www.cyclingnews.com/news/four-new-road-helmets-debut-at-the-tour-de-france/

Merriam-Webster. (2018). Athlete. In Merriam-Webster. Retrieved from https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/athlete Morrison, J. (2012, July 27). How Speedo created a record-breaking swimsuit. In Scientific

American. Retrieved from https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-speedo-created-swimsuit/ Robergs, R. A. (2010). Introduction to Ergogenic Aids. In The University of New Mexico. Retrieved from http://www.unm.edu/~rrobergs/426ErgogenicAids.pdf

United States Department of Agriculture. (2018, January 26). Build a healthy eating style . In United States Department of Agriculture. Retrieved from https://www.choosemyplate.gov/MyPlate

Williams, PhD, M. H. (1999). nutritional erogogenics & sports performance. In ED Informatics. Retrieved from https://www.edinformatics.com/health_fitness/nutritional_

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