Basketball not only requires speed, skill and technique it also necessitates endurance and power. Training for these attributes can be rewarding as well as draining so proper effective practice and conditioning is a must if you want to up your game and perform better.
Enter supplements. Not only will some choice supplementation give you an edge on the court, but it will also let you push all that much harder off the court during practice and strength and conditioning.
Of course there is no replacement for proper eating habits as they apply to your goals, but everyone can benefit from a little help from some specific supplements. Below is a short list of some key supplements you can use in your arsenal to take your game to the next level.
BCAAs: Branched chain amino acids (BCAA) are the most crucial amino acids when it comes to increasing growth, repair and general health and performance. BCAAs comprise of leucine, isoleucine and valine, the most important group of the 9 essential amino acids. They enable your muscles to increase protein synthesis to help repair and build trained muscle.
When you need it: To enhance performance and prevent muscle breakdown during those grueling practices on the court and in the gym take 2 to 3 grams before and after training.
Vitamin B complex: A vitamin B complex can be of great help especially during those times of intense and prolonged practice seasons. Responsible for many physical benefits including assisting in sustaining and regulating energy levels and having an important role in metabolism, these vital micronutrients are essential for performance.
When you need it: A good B supplement will include any or all of the following: B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B5 (pantothenic acid), B6 (pyridoxine), B7 (biotin), B9 (folic acid) and B12 (cyanocobalamin). These are best taken in the morning with a meal to give you benefits for your intense training later in the day.
Glucosamine: If you are like any other athlete you subject your joints to heavy loads during strength phases and repetitive moves during practice that can have a significant impact and could cause damage. Glucosamine (sulfate) works by helping the uptake of sulfur by cartilage tissue to help strengthen joints. If you are allergic to shellfish, however, be sure to seek out a vegetarian version.
When you need it: Glucosamine is safe to take daily as its effects are cumulative and will have a chronic benefit so take the manufacturer’s recommended dosage.
Caffeine: Caffeine can be a valuable tool for the athlete wanting to take not only his performance on the court to the next level, but also his performance during training and conditioning. Caffeine has a vasodilator effect for blood flow to muscles making it an effective ergogenic aid to help transport vital recovery nutrients (amino acids, glycogen and other supplements) for performance and recuperative purposes. The muscles get what they need when they need it – ASAP!
When you need it: It goes without saying that prior to training would be ideal, but equally important is the form of caffeine. Many studies have confirmed that the supplement form may be more beneficial than the simple cup or two of coffee. A dose of 100 to 200mg of caffeine is the normal recommended dose for most manufacturers.
Vitamin C: A mostly overlooked and underdog of the supplement world is vitamin C. Normally looked to for preventing and fighting the common cold, this potentially powerful supplement can have profound effects regarding immune function related to general recovery from training, repair and growth of muscle tissue and the prevention of sickness and fatigue keeping you in the game all season.
When you need it: A good protocol would be to take 500mg in the morning with a meal and another 500mg at night with your last meal. Again, it will not have an acute effect like some other supplements but it will be beneficial for immune function and recuperation.
Fish oil: Fish oil is not only beneficial for the fitness fanatics out there but also can be of great value to the athlete on the court. The countless benefits of these essential fatty acids (EFAs) include heart health, joint health, weight management, improved circulation, increased brain function, energy production, support the nervous system and much more. With all of these benefits fish oil can have a significant effect on performance and recovery.
When you need it: Fish oil is safe to take on a daily basis so normally 2 to 4 grams 2 or 3 times per day is best for most athletes.
When and How Much
|BCAAs||500 mg of leucine 250 mg of isoleucine and 250 mg of valine post workout|
|Vitamin B Complex||Find a good B-complex product with all of the essential doses included from the manufacturer|
|Glucosamine||1 gram per day with a meal|
|Caffeine||100-200mg pre workout|
|Vitamin C||500 mg morning and night with meals|
|Fish Oil||2-4 grams 2-3 times per day preferably with meals|
Can’t I get fish oil from fish instead of supplement form?
Absolutely! However, the whole idea behind supplements is twofold. One is adding additional nutrients to an existing diet and two, getting in vital nutrients when it seems otherwise impractical. It can be a bit impractical to eat fish several times per day not to mention prepping, packing and carrying it wherever you go. A quality fish oil supplement is a great way to circumvent the logistical frustration and get in those essential fats. This of course is not to say you can ditch eating and benefitting from eating fish, it is just a convenient option for those that have a tough time eating enough fish or on a diet.
When it comes to caffeine couldn’t I just brew a cup or two of joe before training?
Yes, but there again crops up the advantage of convenience. If you find yourself at home before training or in any other situation where it is practical to get your caffeine the old fashioned way, then by all means go for it. If you are like the rest of the 99% of the population out there going to the gym straight from work then a supplement form of caffeine is a perfect fix. Another advantage of the pill form is that you know exactly the amount you are taking each and every time. Simply take the recommended dosage with the rest of your per workout supplements.
I see that my whey protein product has BCAAs included in each serving. Why would I need to take extra BCAAs on top of it?
In many studies BCAAs have been shown to aid in muscle mass growth and strength versus not supplementing at all or with just carbohydrates. The extra BCAAs can be very advantageous in that the body uses these vital amino acids the most during muscle repair. Recent research has shown that leucine specifically has significant anabolic effects over the valine and isoleucine. So, getting in an extra punch of BCAAs will go a long way in your physique goals.
I have been taking a glucosamine product for a little over a week and have felt no positive effects from it. What gives?
The effects of glucosamine are not acute in nature. Glucosamine helps repair the cartilage in joints over a long period of time – think months not days or weeks. Also, it is not an acute painkiller as well. It is a long-term solution for troubled joints. Normally some over-the-counter meds such as NSAIDS or acetaminophen can aid in short-term pain relief. Of course consult your doctor or pharmacist for your specific needs. Glucosamine is more of a rehabilitation solution to stronger joints.