Strength athletes depend upon three key factors for performance-training, nutrition, and supplementation. Olympic weightlifting, powerlifting, and bodybuilding fall under strength-power sports and there are different weight categories under each sport. They adjust their training and dietary needs, weeks before the competition in an attempt to decrease body fat without compromising on muscle mass. Supplements which contain ergogenic compounds may help enhance an athlete's performance.
What are the requirements of strength athletes?
- To develop muscular power and strength
- To maintain or reach a competitive body fat percentage
- To lose weight effectively without compromising on skeletal muscles.
- To consume surplus calories for “bulking” phase
As per the protocol, in order to stay in the competition, they need to maintain the fat percentage below 15%. Supposedly, if one competitor has 15% body fat percentage and the other one has 10%, then the later one is at an advantage in terms of muscle mass.
Importance of Training Nutrition
Resistance exercise or training requires energy supply from both phosphate energy systems and glycogenolysis (the breakdown of glycogen stores for ATP supply). If the fuel is not adequate, then metabolic fatigue may be experienced which is due to a partial reduction in energy stores, impaired energy production or decline in intramuscular pH.
Timings of meals also play a vital role as the peak periods of nutrient intake are pre, during and post-training or competition. It assists in optimising performance capacity, recovery and muscle mass competition.
Nutrition plays an important role in four aspects:-
- For fuelling, as performance is dependant upon the availability of energy to carry on with sport-specific actions and strength training
- Recovery from training
- Needed for better training adaptations in-order to achieve more
- Increase in skeletal muscle for better body composition
Total energy needs may be greater than endurance athletes.
The amount of depletion in glycogen depends upon the duration, intensity and strength. There is certain variance seen in intake of body-lifters, powerlifters depending upon their body weight goals and training intensity. So, any intake between 4-7g/kg body mass is considered reasonable.
As discussed above, it is clear that for the synthesis of muscle fibres and maintenance of muscle fibres, extra protein is required to acquire the desired results. Although, the requirements are variable in research, as per the Sports Authority of India, 1.5–2.0 g protein per kg/ day is recommended for strength athletes. The source of dietary protein, the distribution of protein and time of protein is important to meet the optimum benefits.
The fat requirement can be little more than normal only if they are on the bulking phase as it helps in gaining process. The emphasis should be more on the consumption of unsaturated fats Eg avocados, olive oil etc. as there are healthier and saturated fat consumption should be less than 10%.
Sports supplements help in achieving proper strategic timing, as they provide the needed nutrients in an accurate amount, provided calorie needs are taken care off.
- Use of electrolyte-rich supplements for proper hydration.
- Protein supplements with BCCAs (Branched Chain Amino Acids)
- Carbohydrate and electrolyte-rich energy drinks
- Wellness supplements such as Multivitamins, vitamin D, fish for better health to avoid deficiencies.
In a nutshell, proper training, nutrition and use of supplements in a consistent way can help achieve bodybuilders, powerlifters to achieve their body weight goals and optimise performance.
Slater G (2011).Nutrition guidelines for strength sports: Sprinting, weightlifting, throwing events, and bodybuilding. Journal of sports science.
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