Since the dawn of athletic competition, athletes have looked for tools that they could use to help propel them to greater lengths, faster speeds and all around better performance coupled with quicker recovery. Nowadays, however, illegal substances and aids are very easy to detect and for that reason are not used as widely as it was previously thought that they were. An alternative to illegal aids are legal aids (or Ergogenic aids). These are mainly any tool or means that can be used to improve the performance of an athlete without resorting to any illegal methods. Ergogenic aids are divided into the following categories: mechanical, pharmacological, physiological, nutritional, and psychological.
Mechanical Ergogenic Aids
Any kind of tool that can be used to help an athlete train a specific targeted area of their fitness can be described as a mechanical ergogenic aid. The list below, while not exhaustive, nevertheless goes a long way towards covering all of the more common and major mechanical aids used by athletes in their training.
Altitude Training: Training used by an athlete to allow their body to resist the effects of quick changes in altitude.
Heart Rate Monitors: Tools used by athletes to allow themselves to monitor their heart rate in order to effectively discern which percentage interval they are training at.
Video Recorders: Capturing one on video can be extremely useful as it allows an athlete to examine their technique in order to find mistakes and other facets that they need to work on.
Weights: Used in strength training in order to develop, shape and tone muscle mass.
Elastic Cords: Used in either pulling the cord or resisting the compression of the cord. The former technique is used to develop speed and agility while the latter technique is used to develop strength (note that the pulling force of the elastic acts very similar to weight resistance).
Weighted Vests: Walking around with an extremely heavy weight will, by its simple nature, build up a person’s strength and endurance over time. It has the added bonus of the person not needing to do any specific exercises on top of wearing the vest.
These are any non-banned substances used by athletes in order to help them develop physically. The most common pharmacological aid is the vitamin supplements that many athletes use in order to get a well-rounded diet with all of the essential nutrients being provided to them.
These are any activities that have been designed to relax, stretch or work various parts of an athlete’s body. Some of the more common ones are listed below.
Acupuncture: This ancient art originated in the Orient and is used for a wide variety of purposes. Many athletes have used acupuncture in order to control nagging injuries or simply help their body relax after a very tough session.
Physiotherapy: For athletes that injure a muscle or have a specific part of their body that is prone to irritation and pain, regular sessions of physiotherapy with a licensed therapist might be the solution to getting it under control.
Massage: Intended to relax tense muscles, sports massage is a viable option for athletes that find themselves very tired and tense after workouts and participation in sporting events.
These are various foods and drink substances that are legal to use and can be used to aid an athlete in some way or form. They usually work as stimulants or as short term replenishment of things the body goes through quickly (such as various electrolytic ions). Three examples of nutritional aids are: caffeine, creatine, and sports drinks such as Gatorade.
While not particularly tangible in any respect, psychological aids nevertheless are intended to assist the athlete by assisting them with their state of mind. Examples of psychological aids include, but are not limited to: cheering, hypnosis, music and relaxation activities such as T’ai Chi.