Competitive sports have existed for the whole of human history says gym equipment experts Physique Sports. From the Roman Gladiators through to the modern day, we have always had the desire to prove that we are faster, stronger, bigger or more agile than our peers. The drive of competition has necessitated innovation, and there is a constant battle to find ways to train harder, more efficiently, and more effectively.

Whatever sport you are interested in, it is clear that science has had an impact, because generation after generation we set new records. Swimming or running faster, jumping further, throwing for longer distances, or lifting more weights. It’s not that the athletes of today work harder, or are somehow more innately talented than the athletes of decades or centuries ago, but more that they have the benefit of better nutrition, greater knowledge of injury prevention and recovery, and greater knowledge of biomechanics, as well as better equipment.

Finding the Smallest Advantages

One great example of this is swimming. A study published in the Journal of Science and Sports Exercise in February 2017 found that the type of material that a swimsuit is made out of can impact the amount of drag that the suit produces by as much as 15 percent. When you are competing against Olympic level swimmers over longer distances, and all else is equal in terms of technique, that difference matters.

The same can be applied to martial arts, also. In Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, competitors weigh in wearing their gi. The International Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Federation has put strict requirements on the type of material that is allowed to be used for gis, to ensure that every athlete is wearing a gi that is suitable for gripping and pulling on, but within the restrictions that the federation has put upon uniforms gi manufacturers are looking to create the lightest possible uniforms because this means that the competitors will be able to weigh more (in theory carry more muscle), while still making the “with gi” weight. The differences between brands can be as much as 1lb, which could be a substantial advantage to the higher weight/lighter gi competitor.

Nutrition and Recovery

Nutrition is another area where science has achieved a lot. Today, we understand far more about hydration, protein requirements, what to eat when for maximum energy, and nutrient timing too. For the average recreational competitor, it is fair to say that 80 percent of the gains come from the core 20 percent of effort. Quality protein sources and plenty of vegetables makes for a good starting point for a diet. As people increase their training load and start to manipulate their weight, the other issues come into play. Budding athletes training today, however, have the opportunity to be better educated than their parents and grandparents, who may have spent fortunes on supplements that were little more than sugar pills. The things that older coaches swear by were not always beneficial, and the scientific method has brought new efficiencies to bulking, cutting, and eating for recovery.