The World Cup was all very nice, but when we think of "football," we're not thinking of the game with the round ball and a final score of 1-0. We're thinking of the game with the pointy ball and all the excitement.
This is the time of year when the pads start poppin', the adrenaline starts flowing, and the two-a-days are physically devastating enough to make grown men weep. It's the time when the next generations of Larry Fitzgeralds, Chris Johnsons and Adrian Petersons strap on their helmets and head out onto the gridiron in pursuit of their NFL dreams.
August brings with it a special kind of challenge for every football player at every level of the sport. Interior linemen need size and more size. Running backs, safeties, and linebackers need to build core strength and stamina, while keeping their weight within an optimal range set (and enforced) by the coaching staff. Wideouts and cover guys need to get lean, lean, and leaner-trimming every ounce of bodyfat in their relentless quest for game-changing bursts of speed.
Different physique goals require different diet and supplementation strategies. Of course, athletes at the elite pro level don't have to make many diet and supplementation decisions once training camp starts. Armies of physicians, dieticians and trainers micromanage every gram of nutritional content those high-profile athletes consume. Those further from the limelight-football players at the college, junior college, and high school levels-usually don't enjoy such luxuries, however. This article is for those who toil under the hot August sun without access to the "NFL industrial complex" of 24-hour nutritional management.
Before we target supplementation, a couple of common-sense reminders are in order. The first concerns hydration. It's said that the average football player can lose up to 14 liters of fluids in 24 hours. Hydrating properly before exercise and during exercise is essential to maximizing performance, ensuring proper recovery ... and staying out of the hospital.
Secondly, eating correctly is key. You can never go wrong with a good 40/40/20 protein/carbs/quality fats regimen, consumed over the course of 5-to-6 meals daily. This program of food intake ensures that your hard-working muscles are receiving a constant stream of quality nutrition throughout the day, which in turn supports recovery and prevents your muscle tissue from slipping into a catabolic state. For most athletes engaged in a typical training program, this is all you need.
However, there's nothing typical about August football training camp, better known as "hell on earth." So let's talk supplements.
Big, Strong and Fast-Playmakers at Defensive End,
Linebacker, Running Back and Safety
It's a daunting combination. Size, strength and speed. But it's the ultimate paradigm for highlight-reel players at football's glory positions. You've got be strong enough to bumrush a blocking lineman, and fast enough to patrol sideline to sideline on defense or reach the edge and fly upfield if you're a running back. To excel at the skill positions, you've got to be big enough to mix it up with the leviathans, while building core strength, stamina, and burst from a standing start.
An important key to all these goals is an ultra-rapid-action protein. Recent research tells us that almost all strength and size gains are achieved within a narrow window of time (about an hour) after intense exercise. By the time you're walking off the practice field or out of the workout room, the clock is already ticking down on whatever gains you're going to make on that day. It's little wonder then that the most dramatic strength increases observed in clinical studies have been attributed to a new generation of rapid-action muscle mass builde rs. The most powerful of these technologies is
In a study conducted at a major clinical research laboratory and presented at a high-profile conference of the prestigious American College of Sports Medicine, a
-receiving subject group achieved gains of 24% in strength/muscular endurance at the mid-study point and 32% at the end of the study, while being observed over just 28 days. The MyoZene subjects experienced gains in lean muscle, while simultaneously achieving slight reductions in body fat. These phenomenal results are clearly the holy grail for athletes looking for lean mass gains that will bolster strength while retaining the capacity for game-breaking speed.
What other supplements should you be taking? An elite creatine, clearly, for its clinically validated effects on muscle cell volumization and strength increase. An anabolic/anti-catabolic complex (such as
) to target multiple pathways of lean muscle growth. And good ultra-high-potency, wide-spectrum multi (such as
) to replace all the vital vitamins and minerals you sweat out over the course of a long training-camp day. Also helpful may be a CoQ10 supplement (such as
) to help facilitate energy production in the body.
Survival in the Trenches-Offensive and Defensive Linemen
The offensive line is a stone wall: the more imposing the stones, the smaller the gaps between the stones, the better. The defensive linemen are the wedges; tackles and ends need to tie up one (or preferably two) offensive linemen, pushing the whole wall back, so that linebackers and safeties can hit the gaps and make plays.
Offensive guards and tackles (and defensive tackles) simply can't be too big. For many athletes in this category, that means the addition of a weight-gainer protein supplement. The best weight gainers combine 40 to 50 grams of premium protein content with sizeable infusions of carbs and muscle-growth catalysts. Of course, not all weight gainers are created equal. Some combine low-quality whey concentrates with massive doses of cheap sugars. These products are a worst-case scenario for football players, for whom it should be stressed that "big" does not equal "fat."
Hence, you should look for a weight gainer that provides a wide spectrum of fast- and extended-action proteins, including whey isolates and casein. A good example of such a formula is
, which features an elite blend of whey isolate, amino-rich egg albumin, and an ultra-bioactive form of micellar casein. When sheer size is paramount, you can't go wrong with either of these potent technologies. And, to assist the digestion process, helpful when taking in a lot of calories, consider a blend of digestive enzymes, such as that found in
Stretching the Field with Speed to Burn-Wide Receivers and Defensive Backs
They say the modern game is all about speed, and speed lives at the flanks. NFL superstars like Darrelle Revis and DeSean Jackson can dominate a game while touching the ball just two or three times. Just check out the widely publicized images of the physique of Terrell Owens and you'll see the concept of "leaning out" and "ripping up" taken to its ultimate extreme. For athletes lookin g to follow in the footsteps of the ultra-fleet elite, it's all about torching fat and supporting muscle tissue. Here, too, modern supplement science has come to the rescue with a new class of supplemental protein-the fat-loss protein.
The best-and really, only-example of a scientifically validated, physique-enhancing fat-loss protein is
. This breakthrough technology contains an elite new fractionated protein complex called
, a specialized bioactive peptide matrix along with a special whey mineral complex designed to improve the ratio of lean to fat mass. In an independent, randomized, double-blind, 12-week clinical trial published in the Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism, subjects taking Prolibra,
's key active component, retained twice as much lean muscle while at the same time experienced 79% fat-loss compared to the control group at 51% fat loss. That kind of result should be music to ears of any wideout or DB looking for an edge in the race downfield.
One of the great aspects of
's unique mechanism of physiological action is that you can stack it with one of the better thermogenic supplements for a potent multi-pathway attack. The best supplements in this category-like
-provide both weight-loss support and a surge of energy to bolster workout performance. The
combo-key components of
Ultimate Definition Stack III
-has been earning raves for its unparalleled transformational power.
Before we finish here, we should note that a high-quality protein bar is an invaluable addition to your training-camp eating program. Training camps are generally so hectic-with multiple practices, workouts, film breakdown sessions, and team meetings going on-that you often find yourself eating on the run. Here at
, our high regard for
Supreme Protein bars
is well documented. They are justly celebrated for their elite-quality ingredients and truly spectacular taste, and are ideal for carrying along with you as you make your way from home to practice field to workout room. They're the perfect dietary supplement for players at all positions and levels of play.
The physical standards necessary for achieving excellence on the football field seem to rise with each passing year. The linemen get bigger, running backs and linebackers get stronger, wideouts get faster. Incorporate one of the physique-enhancement strategies above into your training-camp regimen and keep pace with the best.
in your training and in the football season to come.