What Is Ashwagandha Good For Lifting? Benefits for Strength Training
If you're someone who loves to hit the gym regularly, then you surely know the importance of supplements in enhancing your strength and muscle mass. And Ashwagandha is one such supplement that has piqued the interest of fitness enthusiasts for its potential benefits for strength training. In this article, we'll take a closer look at what Ashwagandha is and explore its benefits for lifting.
The History of Ashwagandha and Its Use in Traditional Medicine
Ashwagandha is an ancient medicinal herb that has been used for centuries in Ayurvedic medicine to treat several health conditions. Its scientific name is Withania somnifera, and it's also known as Indian ginseng or winter cherry. The plant is native to India, the Middle East, and parts of Africa, and is known for its ability to reduce stress, anxiety, and improve overall health and wellbeing.
Ashwagandha has also been found to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, making it a popular supplement for those with chronic conditions such as arthritis and diabetes. Additionally, recent studies have shown that ashwagandha may have potential benefits for brain function, including improving memory and cognitive abilities.
The Science Behind Ashwagandha's Benefits for Strength Training
The active compounds found in Ashwagandha are called withanolides, which have been shown to have a positive impact on muscle growth and strength. Ashwagandha is believed to increase testosterone levels in men, which helps in building muscle mass and boosting strength. Additionally, it's also known to reduce muscle inflammation, which often occurs after intense workouts, leading to quicker recovery times.
Another benefit of Ashwagandha for strength training is its ability to improve endurance. Studies have shown that taking Ashwagandha supplements can increase the amount of time athletes can exercise before reaching exhaustion. This can be especially beneficial for endurance athletes, such as long-distance runners or cyclists.
Furthermore, Ashwagandha has been found to have a positive impact on mental health, which can indirectly benefit strength training. Stress and anxiety can have a negative impact on physical performance, and Ashwagandha has been shown to reduce stress levels and improve mood. By reducing stress and anxiety, athletes may be able to perform better during workouts and recover more effectively afterwards.
How Ashwagandha Can Help You Build Muscle Mass
Ashwagandha has been found to improve muscle mass and overall strength by increasing the levels of testosterone and reducing muscle inflammation. A study conducted on young men who took Ashwagandha supplements while engaging in strength training showed increased muscle mass and strength compared to those who didn't take supplements. Ashwagandha has also been found to reduce muscle damage caused by resistance training, leading to better muscle recovery.
In addition to its muscle-building benefits, Ashwagandha has also been found to have a positive impact on mental health. It has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety levels, which can be beneficial for those who are trying to build muscle. High levels of stress can lead to increased cortisol levels, which can hinder muscle growth. By reducing stress levels, Ashwagandha can help promote muscle growth and recovery.
The Effect of Ashwagandha on Endurance and Performance
In addition to its benefits for strength training, Ashwagandha has also been shown to improve endurance and performance. A study conducted on cyclists found that those who took Ashwagandha had a significant improvement in their endurance levels compared to those who didn't. Ashwagandha is also known to reduce exercise-induced fatigue, allowing athletes to train for longer periods without feeling exhausted.
How Ashwagandha Helps Reduce Stress and Cortisol Levels During Exercise
Stress and high cortisol levels can have a negative impact on muscle growth and overall health. Ashwagandha has been found to reduce stress and anxiety levels by regulating cortisol levels in the body. During exercise, cortisol levels tend to spike, which can lead to muscle breakdown and hinder muscle growth. By reducing cortisol levels, Ashwagandha helps in building muscle mass and maintaining overall health.
In addition to reducing cortisol levels during exercise, Ashwagandha has also been found to improve endurance and performance. A study conducted on elite cyclists found that those who took Ashwagandha had improved endurance and oxygen uptake compared to those who took a placebo. This is because Ashwagandha helps in increasing the production of nitric oxide, which improves blood flow and oxygen delivery to the muscles. Therefore, Ashwagandha can be a beneficial supplement for athletes and fitness enthusiasts looking to improve their performance and endurance.
Ashwagandha's Role in Reducing Inflammation and Muscle Damage
Intense workouts can often lead to muscle inflammation and damage, which can hinder muscle recovery and growth. Ashwagandha has anti-inflammatory properties that help in reducing muscle inflammation and damage caused by resistance training. In a study conducted on young men taking Ashwagandha supplements while engaging in resistance training, a significant reduction in muscle inflammation was observed compared to those who didn't take supplements.
In addition to reducing muscle inflammation and damage, Ashwagandha has also been found to improve muscle strength and endurance. A study conducted on healthy adults showed that those who took Ashwagandha supplements had a significant increase in muscle strength and endurance compared to those who didn't take supplements.
Furthermore, Ashwagandha has been found to have a positive effect on the immune system. It has been shown to increase the production of white blood cells, which are responsible for fighting off infections and diseases. This makes Ashwagandha a great supplement for athletes who are more susceptible to infections due to their intense training regimes.
The Best Forms of Ashwagandha Supplements for Strength Training
Ashwagandha supplements come in various forms such as capsules, powders, and teas. When choosing a supplement for strength training, it's recommended to opt for a high-quality ashwagandha extract that's standardized to contain a high level of active compounds called withanolides. Additionally, it's important to follow the recommended dosage as excessive use can lead to adverse side effects.
It's worth noting that ashwagandha supplements may also have benefits beyond strength training. Studies have shown that ashwagandha may help reduce stress and anxiety, improve brain function, and even lower cholesterol and blood sugar levels. However, more research is needed to fully understand the potential benefits of ashwagandha supplements.
How to Incorporate Ashwagandha into Your Pre-Workout Routine
To make the most out of Ashwagandha supplements for strength training, it's recommended to consume them pre-workout. You can mix Ashwagandha powder with water or a protein shake and consume it 30 minutes before your workout to reap the benefits. Alternatively, you can also opt for Ashwagandha capsules, which can be taken with water before your workout.
Combining Ashwagandha with Other Supplements for Optimal Results
Ashwagandha supplements can be paired with other supplements to enhance their benefits for strength training. For example, taking Ashwagandha with creatine monohydrate has been shown to improve muscle mass, strength, and endurance. Similarly, taking Ashwagandha with protein supplements can lead to better muscle recovery and growth.
In addition to creatine and protein supplements, Ashwagandha can also be combined with omega-3 fatty acids for improved cognitive function. Studies have shown that the combination of Ashwagandha and omega-3s can enhance memory, attention, and overall brain function. This combination may be particularly beneficial for individuals with age-related cognitive decline or those looking to improve their mental performance.
Potential Side Effects and Precautions When Using Ashwagandha
While Ashwagandha is generally safe for consumption, excessive use can lead to adverse side effects such as nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting. Additionally, Ashwagandha supplements should be avoided by pregnant or breastfeeding women, people with autoimmune diseases, and those who are taking medications for anxiety or depression.
In conclusion, Ashwagandha is an excellent supplement for strength training that can help in improving muscle mass, strength, endurance, and overall health. However, it's important to opt for high-quality supplements, follow the recommended dosage, and exercise caution when consuming Ashwagandha supplements.
It's worth noting that Ashwagandha may interact with certain medications, including immunosuppressants, thyroid hormone, and blood sugar-lowering drugs. Therefore, it's essential to consult with a healthcare professional before taking Ashwagandha supplements if you're on any medication.
Furthermore, while Ashwagandha is generally considered safe, it's always best to start with a low dose and gradually increase it over time. This approach can help you avoid any potential side effects and ensure that your body can tolerate the supplement.