When trying to get faster, bigger, and stronger for football, you need to use every weapon in your arsenal. Your football strength and speed training program needs to be excellent, your diet 90% on point (at least) and your mental training and football skill building all need to be constantly improving.
For those of you who fit this description, supplements can help. There are certain supplements that can help you get faster and stronger for football…if all the other factors are in place!
I’m always hesitant to talk about supplements for football training. While there is a short list of products that can really help your football training, they are not magic bullets. And, as any coach reading this will know, we’ve all had “the conversation:”
Player: Coach what supplements can I take to get bigger?
Coach: Well, what are you eating every day?
Player: Well, I had some cheerios, a Red Bull, a burger and a snickers bar today.
So, before we get into the subject of how to use supplements to get faster and stronger for football at all, first realize that they are, as the name implies, supplements. As in, they supplement your normal eating, they don’t replace it. If you’re not eating correctly, start. Then, when you have that down, you can worry about supplements.
Second, some of the best supplements for football players are both very cheap and not very well hyped. It’s hard to justify rolling out a major ad campaign for a $5 bottle of something…that’s better saved for the $75+ bucket-o-worthless-chemicals.
When it comes to supplements to improve football ability both in the weight room and on the field, go:
Know why you’re taking what you’re taking
Here are the Top 6 Supplements to help you get faster, bigger, stronger and more explosive for football.
Five of the 6 supplements in this list are what we consider “base supplements.” They’re not exciting, but they work and they are necessary. Protein powders being the base of the base.
Can you train without taking a protein shake? Yes, of course. But, why would you? I know some guys use this as a badge of being “hard core,” whatever the hell that is…but, really, do you want to be that guy sitting in the gym eating chicken out of a Pyrex bowl, stinking the place out?
Protein is excellent for football training, especially to high school and college players because it is so easily carried around. You can quickly drink it in the halls, on the way to class or at your locker. You can try, as I did in vain, to eat actual food in class, but, most teachers get mad when you pull out giant roast beef sandwiches (no, I don’t have enough for everyone, damnit)
It’s also very cheap. While it may seem that putting out $25 – 35 up front is expensive, the truth is most protein shakes, made at home with two scoops in water, come out to around $1.77. For 50+ grams of protein and minimal carbs and fat, that’s impossible to beat.
And, its ideal post workout. You train hard so get the nutrients into your system as quickly as possible. This helps you recover faster. Recover faster – train harder – get bigger, stronger and faster on the field. Simple.
But, let’s clear one thing up…protein is just food in liquid form. No more, no less. All the bells-and-whistles and marketing hype is just that. Don’t expect to start drinking a few shakes and wake up looking like Arnold.
Start off with two shakes per day. One between breakfast and lunch and one post workout. A lot of experts are suggesting you drink 1/3 pre workout, 1/3 during, and 1/3 of your shake after lifting. This is fine as long as your stomach can handle it. In the summer, it can be tough so test it out and see how you do. Your shake does no good for you if its coming out instead of going it.
Favorites around here are IronTek’s Whey, Muscle Milk, CytoSport Gainer, and Optimum’s 100% Whey
L-Tyrosine is one of the most exciting supplements I’ve ever come across for football. It is an absolute life saver on those days where no matter what, you just can’t seem to get your brain right for the game. This isn’t a base supplement but it’s a staple around here. Most people have never even heard of this amino acid, so what’s the big deal?
Again, it’s tough to hype up a supplement that costs less than 10 bucks.
L-Tyrosine is a precursor to adrenaline and blocks the movement of Tryptophan (the stuff in Turkey that makes your fat uncles fall asleep after Thanksgiving dinner) across the brain. This gets you “up” without becoming jittery or cranked out like Ephedrine used to do.
This is huge for both training and football games. Combined with some caffeine it is an unbelievable pre-game/workout supplement…capable of waking you up, firing up the CNS and getting your brain right.
Don’t over use this stuff. Like everything else on Earth, the more you use it, the more the body adapts. In-season, save it for game day. In the weight room, save it for the big P.R. days.
About 45-mins pre lift or pre-game, take 3 – 4 L-Tyrosine caps. You can combine these with a caffeine tablet for maximum effect. You can also use one of Joe DeFranco’s “DeFranco Energy Bars,” if you need a pre-training meal, as these have a lot of quality protein and a nice dose of Tyrosine and caffeine.
ZMA might be the most underrated supplement in the world when it comes to recovering from training. Studies have shown that athletes, especially football players, are deficient in magnesium. The harder you train, the more the minerals are burned up.
This can lead to poor sleep quality and achy joints.
By taking ZMA (Zinc, Magnesium and vitamin B6) you get a much more restful, deep sleep. This alone makes it almost anabolic in nature. Studies have shown that simply by supplementing with ZMA you can increase your testosterone levels.
You spend a ton of time training, lifting, running, practicing football – you have to balance that with an equal amount of recovery and there’s nothing better for recovery than sleep.
Biotest’s ZMA is probably the best out there, you should definitely go with that to start.
This one is tricky. If you’re under 18, I’d stay away from this one. I realize most high schoolers drink coffee and those femme latte-crap drinks, but, something about putting caffeine in pill form causes problems. Plus, you’re young, you should be wired through the roof anyway.
For the more mature football player, caffeine tablets can be a life saver. They get you focused, get the nervous system fired up, and wake you up. This is especially helpful after a long day of classes, work, or playing PS3.
Most guys just drink coffee but this can be problematic. Most convenience stores water down their brew to the point that you’re essentially drinking acidic, brown water. Even places like Startbucks and Dunkin Donuts can be inconsistent in how much caffeine per cup you’re getting.
Best bet is to but a bottle of caffeine tablets. They’re super cheap and safe. One tab is equal to a cup of coffee. And, all you need is one. They are much more potent than actually drinking your caffeine.
Take one tablet 45-minutes prior to a big workout, practice or game. Again, save it for the big ones…if you keep hammering away, it’ll lose it’s effectiveness. You should take a week off of caffeine every 8-weeks or so. That means completely; no tablets, no coffee, no diet soda. If you are really suffering during that week then you’ve been over-relying on the stuff.
If you really want to have a huge day, combine one caffeine tablet with 3 – 4 L-Tyrosine tabs. If you can, drink this down and take a very short nap (15-minutes). As you wake up, the cocktail will start kicking in and by the time you hit the gym or the field you’ll be ready to kill.
5. Fish Oil
This is another base supplement and something about it just bores the hell out of most football players.
Who cares about heart health? Don’t you know high school football players are Unbreakable like Bruce Willis?
Even if we put the heart-health benefits aside, Fish Oil is still extremely useful for football because of it’s anti-inflammatory properties. Every time you lift, every time you practice, and especially when you play a game, you are creating inflammation. The longer you stay this way, the longer you’re sore, tight, and unable to train at 100%. The quicker you squash inflammation, the faster you can get back to training or the field at full strength. This alone is invaluable.
Back when I played in High School, I was much stronger than anyone, setting school records by my junior year. Everyone would break my chops and ask what special supplements I was taking, steroids I was jabbing in my butt, or some special creatine water I’d drink. Truth is, and this is disappointing to most people, that I got that way because I was absolutely obsessed with recovery. I’d go crazy to sleep extra, eat right and kill inflammation as quickly as possible. Because of this, I could train more than everyone.
Think about that next time you have an extra 20-bills in your pocket. Are you going to buy some faux testosterone pill and pee out your money or are you going to do the smart thing, make the boring choice and get some Fish Oil so you can recover faster and train harder than everyone?
6. Multi Vitamin & Mineral
Another boring, base supplement that is absolutely indispensable. If you want to perform at the highest possible level, every cell in your system has to be functioning properly. Taking a good multi vitamin & mineral can help ensure that your body is replacing the nutrients that your burning up in your training. And, despite what most know-it-alls will tell you, you do need extra vitamins and minerals. Maybe the average American fat-ass who sits on the couch playing video games doesn’t need them, but, a football player does.
Even if you eat a ton of different protein foods and “eat the rainbow” in vegetables, there’s no way you’re getting in all the minerals you need. The fact that most football players are woefully deficient in magnesium, zinc and copper should tell you why you need to supplement.
But, you have to get a good product. Taking Centrum will get you no where. A good multi product will require you to take 2 – 3 pills per day to get the full dose. Take one with breakfast, one pre-workout, and one at night. This ensures that you get a nice, steady flow of nutrients and you replace anything you lose quickly.