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By studying this chapter, you should be able to do the following:

  1. Define ergogenic aid.

  2. Explain why a “placebo” treatment in a “double-blind design” is used in research studies involving ergogenic aids.

  3. Describe, in general, the effectiveness of nutritional supplements on performance.

  4. Describe the effect of additional oxygen on performance; distinguish between hyperbaric oxygenation and that accomplished by breathing oxygen-enriched gas mixtures.

  5. Describe blood doping and its potential for improving endurance performance.

  6. Explain the mechanism by which ingested buffers might improve anaerobic performances.

  7. Explain how amphetamines might improve exercise performance.

  8. Describe the various mechanisms by which caffeine might improve performance.

  9. Describe how high-tech equipment and cycling technique can improve speed in high-speed cycling. 10. Describe the physiological and psychological effects of different types of warm-ups.


Research Design Concerns

Dietary Supplements

Aerobic Performance

  • Oxygen

  • Blood Doping

Anaerobic Performance

  • Blood Buffers


  • Amphetamines

  • Caffeine

Mechanical Ergogenic Aids

  • Cycling

Physical Warm-Up

Key Terms

autologous transfusion

blood boosting

blood doping

blood packing

double-blind research design

ergogenic aids


erythropoietin (EPO)

homologous transfusion

hyperbaric chamber

induced erythrocythemia



sham reinfusion

sham withdrawal


The preceding chapters have described exercise and dietary plans related to performance. However, no presentation of factors affecting performance would be complete without a discussion of ergogenic aids. Ergogenic aids are defined as work-producing substances or phenomena believed to increase performance (102). For this reason they are also called performance enhancing substances (PES).

Ergogenic aids include, for example, nutrients, drugs, warm-up exercises, blood doping, supplemental oxygen breathing, music, and extrinsic biomechanical aids. Although we discussed nutritional issues related to performance in Chap. 22, we will provide additional detail about the role of dietary supplements as ergogenic aids in this chapter. In addition, we will discuss ergogenic aids related to aerobic performance (supplemental oxygen inhalation and blood doping) and anaerobic performance (blood buffers), as well as various drugs (amphetamines and caffeine), high-tech equipment, and physical warm-up. Note that anabolic steroids and growth hormone were discussed in Chap. 5.

Performance enhancing substances are used broadly at all levels of competition. The prevalence of elite athletes intentionally using doping is estimated to be about 14% to 39%, but the actual percent varies greatly among sports, with up to 70% of athletes using PES in some sports (35). Not surprisingly, a greater percentage of athletes use some types of PES (e.g., dietary supplements), between 40% and nearly 100% depending on the sport, moreso than others (e.g., drugs) (95). Reasons elite athletes initially get into using PES include greater athletic success through better performance, financial gain, faster recovery, preventing nutritional deficiencies, and because they think others are using them (101).

Among college athletes, those who use PES are much more likely to drink alcohol and use elicit drugs, whether or not the latter improves or impedes ...

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