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Ergogenic Aid For Fitness and Athletic Performance

What is Ergogenic Aid?

An ergogenic aid is a compound or device that helps the body produce energy, use the available energy more effectively, or recover better for athletes to perform optimally during physical training or competition. A notable example is pre-workout supplement formulas containing multiple compounds claimed to provide ergogenic benefits.

A Look at the Types of Ergogenic Aid

As mentioned, ergogenic aid can be a compound or device that improves athletic performance in some way.

First, we have the most popular group: natural compounds. These include citrulline malate, beta-alanine, creatine, sodium bicarbonate, and caffeine. Each affects the body in unique ways and supports recovery, performance, or both.

For example, beta-alanine is necessary to produce carnosine––a molecule that serves as a buffer to hydrogen ions, which accumulate during training. 

Thanks to its effects, the impact of hydrogen ions isn’t as noticeable, resulting in improved athletic performance in the 1-3-minute range. 

Performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) are also considered ergogenic acids because of their profound positive impact on muscle growth and recovery. However, given the associated health risks, legal status, and ethical implications, they aren’t recommended, and their use is typically kept a secret.

Second, there’s the group of mental ergogenic acids, which includes visualization techniques and mental imagery. For instance, by visualizing success, athletes can temporarily boost their performance and push through a difficult moment.

Third, we have mechanical ergogenic aids and physical devices that may improve performance in some way. For instance:

  • Aerodynamic helmet and suit – these can reduce drag and improve cycling performance
  • Comfortable running shoes – these can promote greater comfort and reduce the risk of nagging aches, leading to better performance in running
  • Compression garment – this can promote recovery, alleviate discomfort, and improve performance in sports (e.g., basketball or football)
  • Weightlifting belt – wrapped around the midsection, a belt can improve intra-abdominal pressure (IAP), boosting core stability and force output during heavy lifting


Many popular ergogenic acids, such as pre-workout supplements and special training gear (e.g., running shoes and lifting belts), are legal. However, some aids, such as performance-enhancing drugs, are dangerous, illegal, and banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).

2. Do ergogenic aids have side effects?

Some ergogenic aids have side effects, so it’s important to educate yourself before using or recommending them. For instance, a lifting belt can increase strength output but may also cause a spike in blood pressure.

3. Do ergogenic aids support recovery?

Some ergogenic acids, such as compression garments and some compounds (like creatine), can positively impact recovery during training and between sessions.

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