Many students are a member of a gym, or at least are involved in sports, and therefore most likely take advantage of sports supplements and partake in the latest and greatest routines in order to improve their game, or even just feel better about their appearance.
This all seems fine and dandy, but a lot of people fail to properly look into the harmful effects of both dodgy routines and unhealthy supplements, here are some of the do’s and don’t’s.
Gym supplements have become somewhat of a craze among sports enthusiasts, but do they work and more importantly are they necessary?
During high physical strain exercise such as weightlifting, muscles become damaged. They tear and protein is needed to repair those muscles.
Protein supplements give the body the foundation to build new fibres and to increase body mass quickly.
Experts say that whey protein is the most effective protein supplement, however, those who suffer from lactose intolerance will not be able to benefit from it.
Whey, as in ‘way’ is one of the proteins found in milk. It is easily digested and quickly put to use in the body because it is low in fat, unlike naturally high protein foods such as an egg or yoghurt which will stay longer in the stomach. The best time to take protein is in the thirty minute window after exercise.
DIT Women’s Novice Rowing Captain Izzy O’Mahony explained why she takes protein supplements rather than high protein foods in order to recover from intense training “there is less preparation involved and it is vital to recover as quickly as possible”.
She expressed her annoyance at the common assumption that taking protein is only for men:
“Taking protein supplements is an important step in the recovery process,” she explains.
All professional sporting bodies outline the need for extreme caution when taking gym supplements. The Irish Sports Council have many times spoken against the use of supplements particularly in young athletes warning that it could cause long-term implications. They state that “a correct dietary and nutritional regime will provide all the potential benefits of sports supplements”.
Creatine is another popular supplement which is naturally produced in the liver with the three amino acids glycine, arginine and methionine.
Its function is to supply energy. ATP (Adenosine triphosphate) is the energy used for almost all cellular functions, creatine increases ATP production which enhances performance and reduces fatigue in short, high intensity exercise.
A study highlighted that in 33 commercial creatine supplements, 50% contained contaminants including heavy metals. The levels of these metals exceeded the maximum limit recommended by the European Food Safety Authority in 2004.
There is a lack of research into the long-term effects of the majority of gym supplements.
The Irish Sports Council have commissioned twenty fact sheets that help to explain different sports supplements and these are available on their website.
And the heated debate will continue as to when an athlete has reached a point where they should take supplements and which ones should they take. Perhaps The Irish Nutritional and Dietetic Institute provides the best way to view these supplements.
“Good eating and drinking practices along with talent, training, conditioning, motivation, dedication, adequate sleep and recovery are essential for optimal sports performance. Without these basic elements, no amount of sports supplements will turn you into a champion”.
Dodgy work-out routines can cause long-lasting pains that will affect you for the rest of your life, so it’s really important to get it right from the onset and just keep good practice.
Never hold onto the treadmill, regardless of whether you’re running or walking. That poor habbit affects your natural posture and can lead to some bad muscle strain.
One thing that tends to really hurt those new to weight lifting is that they start benching weights that they think that they can handle, but a few reps in they begin to get fatigued, and they end up dropping the bench press resulting in a broken collarbone at the very least.
Back extensions are one of the many exercises that result in injury even with perfect formation.
What you do is you isolate your lower body so you can develop your back muscles by using weights, but because your back is not designed for this excessive amount of strain, you damage your vertebrae and lower back.
Bruce Lee used to do back extensions and that’s why he had to take painkillers for many years.
Skullcrushers is another very dangerous work-out where you hold a barbell over your head with weights and bring it towards your head as if you’re hitting yourself in the head with it, hence the name ‘skull crushers’.
It’s not so much a pushing motion, but more so extending it beyond its capacity. It’s used for sculpting, rather than strengthening. It’s really easy to pull your triceps doing this, meaning you can’t even move your arm.
An important factor in avoiding injury in every single routine you do, even those considered ‘safe’, is your form. You need to look into each individual routine to find out exactly how you should stand, the way you should go about the movements, and how long you should do it for.
Extended exercise/not resting the muscles/repetition of the same routine can damage your muscles, so you need to be very careful when you start a new work-out for the first time.