Tyler Hamilton describes a moment when the doping testers arrived at his house for a surprise check. He was running hot and spent the day hunkered down in his home, lying flat on the floor, waiting for them to leave.
The World Doping Organization is relentless. Of all the sports out there, cycling is likely the most well-regulated system for doping prevention. They back this up with extreme penalties for the cyclists who take performance-enhancing drugs.
As a result, we are seeing a sport that is cleaner than almost any other professional game currently being played.
At DavesCheapBikes.com, we will never advocate the use of performance-enhancing drugs. However, there are many supplements on the market which provide a nice boost to the dedicated athlete.
Let's get right into it.
Supplement #1 Sleep
You are about to write me off, aren't you?
Just wait until you hear how much it helps!
In 2011, a study was done on collegiate basketball players. Their performance was measured over several weeks with their normal sleep habits. And then, the researchers pushed them to sleep 10 hours a night for several weeks.
Some coaches spend a student's entire career trying to get him to improve his shots by that much.
When you sleep, your body repairs your muscles, releases growth hormones and consolidates memory. If you have a night where you sleep less than 8 hours, then all of the working out and training from the day before has a lower impact on your performance.
If you want to improve your game, sleep more.
If you want to improve your quality of sleep, check out this melatonin-based supplement. Use this supplement in conjunction with an hour of no electronics before bedtime and some rituals to help the mind unwind and relax to ensure that your brain is maintaining a natural circadian rhythm and sleeping deeply.
Supplement #2 Hydration
I promise, I'll get to some supplements you can buy and I'll give you a link to some of my favorite ones.
But water is critical.
On this point, I want to emphasize the importance of filtered water. There are so many heavy metals and chemicals that enter our water system. Even micro-plastics -- little pieces of lint that wash off of our polyester clothing and end up in the water supply -- are becoming a worrisome issue.
Even worse, many of these chemicals aren't being closely tracked or studied. Will they hurt you? It's one of those things you don't want to risk.
The quantity of water is vital. Start every morning with 32 ounces. And then drink in preparation for the next day's activities.
For example, the day before a race, I will generally consume 16 ounces of Gatorade and 128 ounces of water. I started it on a whim and noticed that I was consistently setting personal records on races where I performed this ritual the day before.
The deleterious effects of a lack of water are well-documented. A 2% drop in body weight from dehydration is all it takes to start affecting your performance.
It doesn't take much, to lose 2%
Become well-hydrated the day before and stay hydrated throughout your event. You'll have a measurable edge over your competition.
Supplement #3 Beet Root Powder
Beet Root Powder is a fun, new, supplement that focuses directly on the systems that synthesize ATP.
Beetroot contains dietary nitrate, which has been demonstrated to help the muscles use oxygen better during intense exercise routines.
The trick is to "pre-load" for six days and then maintain. You need time for your body to process this supplement and get it stored in the muscles, and then you'll want to continue with daily supplementation.
You are only looking at a .5-1% increase, but combine it with the two tips given above, and you are well on your way to being better than most athletes.
Supplement #4 Beta - Alanine
We all know that lactic acid burn that sets in when we are climbing an endless hill, trailing some of the best legs in the sport.
When it comes to hills, there is always someone better than you and someone who will do their best to kick your butt and put you in agony.
Beta-Alanine s going to be your weapon in these situations.
Bet-Alanine increases the level of carnosine in your blood, which acts as a pH buffer. This has been measured to delay acidosis and enable athletes to push harder, for longer, without dealing with that debilitating burn.
Based on the study performed in 2009, the dosage would be around 5 grams per day, and allow a 4 week long loading phase.
Supplement #5 Caffeine
Caffeine helps you in two major ways. First of all, it improves lipid and fat oxidization. This means that in a mostly carbohydrate and glycogen-based sport, caffeine helps your body liberate and use fat-based fuels.
It also helps stimulate the system, prevents cAMP uptake and improves the communication of your nervous system.
In trial after trial, Caffeine is one stimulate that repeatedly demonstrates a benefit.
Now, to get the most benefit, you need a significant amount. Four hundred milligrams per day is considered safe, and in some of these studies, they are giving the athletes 300 mg of caffeine.
So, measure carefully, and don't overdose.
These performance enhancers for cyclists may not be as exciting as you had hoped. However, when used together, the combined effect is measurable and gives you a noticeable advantage.
Even better, you'll find that most athletes have one or two supplements that they love. Very rarely will you see athletes who use them all.
Do that, and you'll have the undisputed advantage.