Imagine a 6 foot 4 inch football player who is a student of the game and is a natural athlete. It seems that he would pass the eyeball test to many coaches and recruiters. However, he is missing two key thing that could take him to the next level. His weight and strength are not where they need to be to become a Division 1 football star. Many athletes and parents are faced with this dilemma. The simple answer is always to take some sort of nutritional supplement to give him the boost he needs to get him to the next level. But does this really help?
A study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research in 2012 took 32 healthy male adults between the ages of 20 and 26 and put them on an eight week training regiment to test the effects of supplementation. The study found that there were noticeable improvements in aerobic power and endurance performance during weeks three through six and also body composition improvements in the same time frame. However the study did not provide the long term effects of supplementation.
In my own personal experience with supplements I have mixed conclusions. When I was in high school gaining weight was a problem. I began drinking protein shakes in the morning and immediately after workouts. I noticed small amounts of weight and strength gain for the first month or so yet the affects seemed to taper off after that. Also I would feel sick to my stomach and have bad gas. When I would cycle off supplements I would lose all the strength and weight I worked so hard to gain. As I got older and my metabolism began to slow I noticed I was able to naturally put on size and strength. This began to happen when I was a freshman in college. I began to notice I could control my size by just the food I ate and how much I worked out. I dabbled in several protein shakes and other supplements and noticed that my gains were more significant but I still couldn’t keep my gains without the supplements. I realized that even though my gains were slower without the supplements, I was able to keep my gains longer during periods of inactivity. I also had much more money in my pocket because I didn’t need the supplements.
I have found that supplements can be helpful in developing an athlete, however it is not a cure all for strength and weight woes. Mid-pubescent youth athletes can benefit from the intake of supplements, however the effects may not be as significant due to their age. Their body may not respond to the supplements in the way they would hope. Supplements should be a consideration, yet do not neglect proper nutritional habits. Each athlete is different and careful consideration of the pros and cons of supplements should be considered before taking them.
– Coach Chris Leachman
Tagged: Champion's QUEST, Chris Leachman, football training, Journal of Strength and Conditioning, Los Alamitos, National Strength and Conditioning Association, NSCA, supplements, youth nutrition, youth sports, youth training