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How To Fuel Guide: Tennis & Pickleball


This step-by-step supplement and fueling protocol is super easy to put together; it’s just as easy to follow, allows you to focus on the job at hand (your training sessions and matches!), and is highly effective.

Before you get to the protocol, here is some essential information...

5 Simple Ways to Improve Athletic Performance Now

While there are numerous steps that you can (and should) take to optimize athletic performance, here are a couple of super easy ones. Start with this right away, and you’ll experience noticeably rapid improvement in your endurance and overall exercise performance.

1) Stay properly hydrated all day long. With approximately 60% of your body being comprised of water, it goes without saying that it’s vital to maintain optimal hydration all day. Unfortunately, a lot of people—perhaps you? —live in a state of perpetual dehydration that negatively affects athletic performance and overall health. Starting now, gradually increase your fluid intake—primarily from pure, clean water—so that the total number of ounces you’re drinking daily is equal to 0.5 to 0.6 of your body weight in pounds (e.g., a 180-lb athlete should consume 90 – 108 ounces of fluids daily, in addition to what is being consumed during exercise). During exercise, drink 16-26 ounces per hour and up to 28 ounces per hour during hot weather.

2) Fuel lean. It’s interesting to know how many calories you’re burning every hour during exercise; however, that amount isn’t a factor in terms of how many calories your body can accept in return for your fuel donation. The goal of caloric intake is to consume the least amount necessary to maintain energy levels where you want and need them to be hour after hour. For most athletes, this represents an intake of 120-180 calories per hour. Larger athletes (200+ lbs.) can consume 200 or slightly more calories. And if you find that’s not quite enough calories, that’s an easy fix—you consume a few more. Remember, it is ALWAYS easier to fix a “not enough” problem than an “uh oh, I overdid it, and now my stomach is rebelling” problem.

3) Ditch the sugar. Some fuels are comprised of a combination of simple sugars (glucose, sucrose, fructose, etc.) and complex carbohydrates (maltodextrin), formulated under the premise that your body will be able to produce more energy on a per-minute basis using multiple carbohydrate sources compared to a single carbohydrate source. Remember, though, that the subjects in those “multi-carb” studies were exercising at such low intensities—a recovery pace, at best—that they could probably consume anything without issue. Instead, choose complex carbohydrates (maltodextrin), such as Hammer Nutrition's Hammer Gel, HEED, Sustained Energy 2.0, or Perpetuem 2.0. Unlike simple sugars, complex carbohydrates provide quick-acting, longer-lasting energy and cause no stomach issues even at high-intensity efforts.

4) Don’t eat for 3 hours before your workouts, races, and competitions. By refraining from consuming any calories in the 3-hour period before your workouts, races, and competitions, you put your body in the ideal physiological state to use its finite stores of muscle glycogen most efficiently while utilizing the vast amounts of calories from body fat stores more effectively. Adopt this practice in all your workouts—even the early morning ones—and you’ll start seeing massive improvements in your endurance in a relatively short time. Note: If you must have some calories before the start of exercise, consuming something easy to digest (e.g., a serving of Hammer Gel) 5-10 minutes before the beginning—but no further out—is acceptable.

5) “Refill the tank” ASAP after all your workouts. Your body wants to reward you for your efforts in training, strengthening the immune system, rebuilding muscle tissue, and storing more minutes of readily available fuel (glycogen) in the muscles. All you have to do to enjoy all of these endurance-enhancing benefits is supply your body with the materials it needs right away—ideally within the first 30 minutes after exercise (the sooner, the better)—meaning complex carbohydrates and high-quality protein such as found in Recoverite and Organic Vegan Recoverite.

Supplement Suggestions

Liquid Endurance - This product, taken in a 3-day loading dose protocol before a hot-weather event, maximizes intercellular water levels to be called upon during activity. It is the only safe and effective way to “pre-load” the body with water.

Fully Charged - Hammer Nutrition’s pre-exercise supplement provides numerous athletic performance-enhancing benefits without resorting to stimulants or excessive amounts of caffeine. Take one dose 15-30 minutes before the start of your warmup—which should be followed shortly after that with the actual start of the match—with additional doses every 2-3 hours, if necessary (e.g., a second match that day).

Anti-Fatigue Caps - This unique supplement significantly increases endurance by neutralizing the fatigue-causing ammonia that builds up in the blood and muscles during endurance exercise. Take one dose of 2-4 capsules 15-30 minutes before the start of your warmup, with additional doses of 1-2 capsules hourly.

Fueling Suggestions

1) Success "during" starts "after"! It’s absolutely vital that you "refill the tank" after all your workouts... this is a major key for noticeably enhancing athletic performance. When you begin a workout or race/competition, your body's primary fuel for the first 60-90 minutes or so is known as muscle glycogen. The more consistent you are with ASAP post-exercise fueling—Recoverite or Organic Vegan Recoverite is ideal for that—among the many benefits you'll receive is more minutes of glycogen stored in the muscles—maxing out at somewhere between 60-90 minutes—ready to serve you in future workouts and competitions.

2) Finish all calorie consumption 3 hours before start. See #4 in the earlier article for why this is so important.

3) “Pre-emptive strike” dose of Endurolytes or Endurolytes Extreme. Taking a dose of Endurolytes or Endurolytes Extreme 15-30 minutes prior to the start of your warmup—which should be very close to the actual start of the match—will cover your electrolytic during the first hour of the match. The dose of Endurolytes can be anywhere from 1-6 capsules, with most athletes using 2-4 capsules an hour, the amount dependent on body weight and temperature conditions. If you’re competing in extremely hot-weather conditions—especially if you’re not very acclimated to those conditions—I suggest taking a pre-start dose of 1-2 Endurolytes Extreme capsules.

4) Start sipping HEED 5-10 minutes before starting, and drink regularly and moderately throughout the workout or match. Each scoop of HEED contains 110 calories. I (Steve Born) personally use 1.75 scoops of HEED an hour, which supplies 192.5 calories, an amount that works well for larger athletes like me (I’m 200 pounds). A 1.0 scoop (110 calories) per hour works well for light-weight athletes. Medium-weight athletes will find that 1.25 scoops (137.5 calories) to 1.50 scoops (165 calories) per hour is an excellent amount. 

  • NOTE: Every scoop of HEED will supply a full spectrum of electrolytes. For some athletes, 1.0 – 1.5 scoops of HEED will fulfill all their calorie, fluid, and electrolyte needs for an hour. Additional electrolytic mineral support is often required for larger athletes and/or those competing in hot/humid conditions. This can easily be resolved by taking hourly doses of 2-4 additional Endurolytes capsules or 1-2 Endurolytes Extreme Another option is adding 1-2 scoops of Endurolytes Extreme Powder to each HEED bottle.

5) ASAP after the workout/competition, it is time to “refill the tank” ASAP with Recoverite or Organic Vegan Recoverite. Refueling your body with two scoops of Recoverite or Organic Vegan Recoverite within the first 30 minutes after your workouts, races, or competitions takes advantage of the glycogen synthase enzyme when it’s most active. This allows the body to replenish and increase its glycogen stores while providing the raw materials (the amino acids from protein) to help rebuild the muscle tissue and support the immune system.

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