Ashwagandha can help your body handle stress, support cognitive health, and support sexual health in men and women; but did you know that it also has benefits for exercise and can help your workout reach new heights?
Ashwagandha is a plant used in Indian Ayurvedic medicine also known as Indian Winter Cherry. Its scientific name is Withania somnifera and it contains chemical constituents called withaferins and withanolides. As an adaptogen, Ashwagandha is normally used for exhaustion, stress, and nerves, but a study performed with a specific extract, KSM-66® Ashwagandha, has revealed that Ashwagandha can enhance your cardiorespiratory fitness!
What exactly does that mean? Cardiorespiratory fitness means that it can help you efficiently use oxygen and is a serious benefit to athletes for their endurance capacity. The study used a group of test subjects from 12-15 years and measured their maximum oxygen consumption, which is a good marker for long-term cardiovascular and aerobic fitness.
They found that there was a significant increase in maximum oxygen consumption compared to the placebo group who did not receive Ashwagandha. By the end of an 8 week and 12 week period, the group that received Ashwagandha had significant increases in the amount of oxygen they were able to consume, meaning that Ashwagandha had increased their cardiorespiratory fitness.
Another study found that Ashwagandha can cause an increase in muscle mass, strength, and helps muscles recover faster! This study used KSM-66® Ashwagandha and gave it to 50 participants between 28 and 30 years old. They chose exercises such as barbell squats, seated leg curls, leg extensions, barbell chest press, machine chest press, dumbbell biceps curl, seated machine row, one-arm dumbbell row, and straight-arm pull down. They asked the participants to repeat this 15 times throughout 8 weeks and measure muscle size, body fat percentage, and serum creatine kinase (a blood marker of muscle soreness and muscle recovery).
This study found that Ashwagandha substantially increased the recovery from the exercises during the resistance training protocol versus the placebo group. Muscle size increased significantly in the Ashwagandha group versus the placebo, and body fat percentages decreased more in the Ashwagandha group.
Ashwagandha has been proven to increase muscle size, decrease body fat percentage, and help your muscles recover faster, and we explored how it does those things, but how does Ashwagandha also help the maximum oxygen consumption and help you have better cardiorespiratory fitness?
Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) is the building blocks of energy that the mitochondria in the cells. Ashwagandha influences the magnesium-dependent ATP enzyme activity. Endurance capacity is related to the mitochondria in the muscle tissue. Another way that Ashwagandha helps cardiorespiratory fitness is in the way it increases red blood cells, which means that a larger amount of red blood cells can transport more oxygen to the muscles and enhances the aerobic muscle capacity.
Ashwagandha can boost your workout to new heights with its ability to enhance how efficiently your muscles work, their oxygenation, increase muscle size, decrease the time it takes to have muscles recover, and boost your red blood cell production. It’s likely that very few athletes know how much this simple plant can make for their workouts, but now you’ll know how to explain how ashwagandha can help your workout!