Updated: Oct 20, 2021
There are some throwers that boast that they don’t take supplements but still throw far. It is like a badge of honor that they are “clean” and getting success by only sweat and blood while others are cutting corners. Deciding to not take supplements so as to not cut any corners is no different than saying that you are going to try and throw far while not lifting, or without wearing throwing shoes. Don’t cut yourself short! Supplements are an integral and legal part of the training system, and while it is possible to take too much of some kind or some unnecessary supplements, there are many that are extremely valuable. However, you must remember that supplements will not make you stronger or thrower further on their own, they will only help you train harder and at a higher level.
Following are the three best supplements throwers can take have research to support them. I’ll start with the best by far...
Caffeine. This one is the best. It doesn’t matter if you are a thrower, jumper, football player, wrestler, or distance runner. There is no legal supplement out there with a more powerful effect than caffeine. There is a reason 83% of Americans drink at least a cup of coffee in the morning. Caffeine gives you a strong burst of energy that lasts 45 min to an hour. It will get you pumped up to hit a huge PR, give you more pop in your throw, and focus your mind to execute better technique. I absolutely believe that taking caffeine can add 2 feet to your throw if you are a shot putter.
Most scientifically proven ergogenic aid that is legal
Very cheap and easy to take anywhere
Quick onset time ~15 minutes
Can give inexperienced athletes more jitters
May cause you to rush or tighten up in your technique
The maximum legal dose is the equivalent of 7 cups of coffee
How to take
Consume by either drinking coffee, pre-workout, or caffeine pills. There is an approximate 15 minute time period for the caffeine to be absorbed. During competitions I like to take it just before I step in the circle for my first warm up throw. Note that caffeine is absorbed more quickly through the salivary glands in your mouth, so swishing it in your mouth or chewing caffeine gum will increase the absorption time.
Creatine. Although caffeine has a great effect, most people see supplements as something you use for longer term adaptation aids. This is where creatine sits at the top. Again... creatine is not a steroid. Your body produces it naturally and it is consumed in small quantities in meat. However, supplementing creatine is proven to increase the training capacity of short bursts of work, increase force production, and develop long-term hypertrophy. I know everyone likes to try and kill creatine by saying it’s “just water weight”, but although the initial weight gain is from an increase of water in the tissue, research has found that over 2-3 months the training effect of creatine replaces that mass with dry tissue. Be aware however, that the average weight gain is 2 kilos during the first week of supplementation.
Increases your endurance on 5x5 sets
Develops greater force production on throws
Handle heavier shots more easily
Gains weight (if you need to gain weight)
Not too pricy, and one container lasts a long time
Gains weight (if you are trying to lose weight)
Requires very consistent usage
How to Take
There are a number of different loading schemes, but this one is research proven and we have found to work well. During the first 4 days, take 10 grams (two loaded scoops) 4 times per day. After that take 4 grams (one scoop) once per day. Try to take your creatine at the same time each day. You can mix it with water, juice, or your protein. Some of our athletes just dump the scoop right in their mouth, then wash it down with water. It has no taste but is a little gritty. It may be useful to cycle creatine twice per year, taking a month or two off. Some like the feeling of getting back on to break a plateau or just to feel the difference creatine makes again. However, there is no research to say that the effects of creatine will wear off if you don’t cycle it.
Whey Protein. Whey is by far the most popular supplement on the market. This is the first supplement I would say you can get by without if everything in your diet is top notch. Throwers who are training hard need 200+ grams of protein per day. This can be achieved by eating meat, dairy products, beans, etc. However, unless you are tracking everything you are eating you won’t know for sure if you are getting enough. I find whey great as a consistent source of protein to always make sure that my tissue has what it needs to fully repair after training. I should also note that your kidneys will NOT fail if you eat too much protein. If you are trying to lose weight however, it is still okay to take protein, but just make sure that it is a replacement for 250 calories elsewhere in your diet.
Great mass gainer
A consistent source of quality protein
Endless creative ways to take it
Extra calories (if you are trying to lose weight)
A little pricy if you are drinking 2+ shakes a day
How to take
For the typical thrower who is trying to keep muscle mass maxed out and weight high, a shake in the morning and post-workout is best. If you are really trying to pack on the pounds, you can take it pre-workout and before bed as well. It can be fun to be creative with how you eat your protein. It tastes great simply taking it with milk, but you can try it in a smoothy, pancakes, cookies, or oatmeal as well. If you are trying to lose or maintain weight, it is best to mix it with water.
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