Researchers have found that ashwagandha, an herb used in traditional Ayurvedic medicine, may help weight lifters boost their strength and muscle mass. The study was published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition and included 57 men, aged 18 to 50, who had little resistance training experience. Researchers randomly divided the men into two groups: for eight weeks, the first group received 300 mg of ashwagandha root extract twice daily while the second group received a placebo. Throughout the trial, both groups participated in a resistance training program targeting the major muscle groups in the upper and lower body. The researchers evaluated the men’s muscle strength using bench press and leg extension exercises at the beginning and end of the study. They also measured muscle size and muscle recovery time. At the end of the study, researchers found that, on average:
Upper body strength increased more in the ashwagandha group: the amount of weight they could bench press increased by 46 kg (about 101 lbs), while the placebo group only increased their bench press capacity by 26.4 kg (about 58 lbs).
Lower body strength also increased more in the ashwagandha group: the amount of weight they could lift during the leg extension exercise increased by 14.5 kg (about 32 lbs), while the placebo group only increased their leg extension capacity by 9.8 kg (about 22 lbs).
Muscle size increased more in the ashwagandha group: their arm muscles were 8.6 cm larger and their chest muscles were 3.3 cm larger at the end of the study, while in the placebo group, these measurements only increased by 5.3 cm and 1.4 cm, respectively.
The ashwagandha group improved their muscle recovery time more than the placebo group: post-workout blood levels of a protein associated with muscle damage decreased more in the ashwagandha group, indicating quicker muscle recovery.
This study’s findings suggest that ashwagandha root may pump up results for weight-lifters. However, it’s important to note that this was a relatively short study that focused specifically on untrained men. More research is needed to understand if ashwagandha root can be helpful for other groups of people who want to build strength and muscle mass, and whether the root is safe and effective with long-term use. So far, researchers have found that ashwagandha root is well-tolerated and causes minimal side-effects. Talk with your doctor if you’re interested in adding ashwagandha root (or any new supplement) to your health regimen.
Source: Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition