A performance enhancer, also known as an ergogenic aid, is a substance or practice that improves an individual's strength, speed, endurance or speed of recovery. Ergogenic aids may include mechanical aids, pharmacological aids, physiological aids, nutritional aids and psychological aids.
Many forms of ergogenic aids are regularly incorporated into the training of an athlete. Such methods may be as harmless as friends cheering on the sideline to boost self-esteem or weight training to increase strength when on the field. Less conventional methods include nutritional aids like high-protein diets, physiological aids like sports drinks to replace lost electrolytes and mechanical aids like weighted vests.
Several substances are banned by most major sporting organizations and/or are illegal. These include anabolic steroids, androstenedione, blood doping, DHEA, and ephedrine. In addition to allowing the user an unfair advantage, these methods may be unsafe for the athlete. Based on expert opinion, many aids have negative repercussions. Aids, such as vanadium and boron have also been used, but are typically not recommended due to possible adverse effects.
Athletes are regularly screened for such illegal methods in professional sports and the Olympics. However, use of illegal ergogenic aids also occurs at high school levels. Organizations such as the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) have also initiated extensive public outreach campaigns to educate and dissuade athletes from using steroids or blood doping.
Amphetamines, anabolic steroids, androstenediol, androstenedione, athlete nutrition, athletic performance, blood doping, caffeine, carbohydrate loading, carnitine, chromium, creatine, DHEA, dehydroepiandrosterone, ephedrine, ergogenic aids, exercise, fitness, human growth hormone, leucine, multivitamins, phosphates, protein, sports performance, steroids, yohimbine.
Note: This monograph primarily covers herb and supplement ergogenic aids. For more information about other methods, please see individual monographs.