All About Ergogenic Aids

Ergogenic Aids are performance enhancers which gives mental or physical edge while competing or exercising. The word Ergogenic means “work producing” or “tending to increase work”. They can either improve performance or remove subjective limitations which may limit performance. In simple words, Ergogenic aids are the different ways to improve or enhance performance. There are a variety of both safe & harmful and legal & illegal aids.

Types of Ergogenic Aids

Ergogenic aids are divided into following categories:

  1. Mechanical

Mechanical aids are the tools which helps athletes in focussing or targeting a specific area of their fitness. They increase efficiency.

Examples are:

  • Sports clothing & footwear like swim suits, racing shoes, etc.
  • Heart rate monitors
  • Altitude Training
  • Aqua Training
  • Weights
  • Elastic Cords
  • Nasal Breathing strips etc.
  1. Pharmacological

Pharmacological aids are the drugs used by athletes to increase physical power & mental strength. They can be legal & illegal both, so be very cautious while opting any of these aids. Few examples are:

  • Legal – Creatine, Caffeine, HMB, Chromium, Carnitine, etc.
  • Illegal - Growth Hormone, anabolic Steroids, Amphetamines, Ephedrine, DHEA, etc.
  1. Physiological

Physiological aids are the substances which increase natural physiological processes in the body to increase physical power. They can be legal & illegal both.

  • Legal – Acupuncture, massage, physiotherapy, sauna etc.
  • Illegal – Blood doping, EPO (Erythropoietin) etc.
  1. Psychological

Psychological aids improve the state of mind of an athlete which in turn can improve performance.

  • Cheering
  • Meditation
  • Music
  • Hypnosis
  • T’ai Chi etc.
  1. Nutritional

Nutritional aids are the nutrients which are legal to use & they either work as stimulants or as short term replenishments for energy or recovery.

  • Carb Loading
  • Caffeine
  • Creatine
  • Sports Drink
  • Sodium Bicarbonate etc.

Among swimmers of all age groups, use of ergogenic dietary supplements is widespread. Some of these supplements are good & legal & can be used to improve performance but at the same time there is a long list of supplements which are dangerous & have been banned for all or some specific sports.

According to Australian Institute of Sports (AIS), supplements are classified into 4 groups:

GROUP A: Approved Supplements

GROUP B: Supplements under consideration

GROUP C: Supplements that have no clear proof of beneficial effects

GROUP D: Banned supplements

WADA (World Anti Doping Agency)

World anti doping code is given by WADA which governs all aspects of anti-doping practices. The code provides 5 international standards:

  1. Testing
  2. Protection of Privacy and Personal Information
  3. Laboratories
  4. Therapeutic Use Exemption
  5. The Prohibited List

**Prohibited List is published on October 1st every year & it becomes effective from January 1st.

So, in short, let’s have a look at the final list of approved & banned or prohibited substances & methods.


The list below is not exhaustive but we have tried to cover majority of the products:

  • Multivitamin
  • Creatine
  • Carnitine
  • HMB (Hydroxymethylbutyrate)
  • CLA (Conjugated Linoleic Acid)
  • Chromium
  • Branched Chain Amino Acids
  • Protein Powders
  • MCT (Medium Chain Triglycerides)
  • Beta Alanine
  • Pyruvate
  • Caffeine (According to FINA urinary concentration of caffeine should not exceed 12 micrograms / millilitre)


  • Anabolic Androgenic Steroids
  • DHEA (Dehydroepiandrosterone) and Androstenedione
  • Diuretics
  • Blood Doping (It is the process of increasing red blood cells to carry more oxygen to the muscles & lungs. Done through blood transfusion or drugs)
  • Ephedrine
  • Amphetamine
  • Human Growth Hormone
  • Masking Agents
  • Gene Doping (use of genetically modified cells)
  • Narcotics
  • Cannabinoids
  • Glucocorticosteroids

To conclude, before using any substance or method in order to enhance performance, do proper research & consult a good certified Sports Nutritionist. Use products which have been proven safe, legal, healthy & permitted. Do not consider these aids as the silver bullet to win any competition.

To gain a more competitive edge, focus on training, dedication, proper diet hydration & correct techniques than on any ergogenic aids for boosting performance.

Author: Rashmi Cherian

Registered Dietitian (License No 61/08), Certified Sports & Exercise Nutritionist

Founder Wellness Vows


Copyright @ 2017 SwimIndia

SwimIndia does not guarantee results of any sort, before making any changes to your diet plans, please consult an expert

0 Comment