Strength and power training aims to build the body’s ability to work against resistance. When you start these workouts, your body is limited by how much it can do, for example, you may only lift 30kg at first. As you build, you become able to lift 70, 100, 120, 150 and even 200kg. Your strength improves as your body adapts to the routine, making you more efficient. 

When building strength and power, there are certain agents that help your cause – healthy dieting, vitamin and mineral supplements, protein supplements, adequate sleep etc all come to mind. Adaptogens are ancient natural medicine revived. These medicines have various effects on the body. One of which is promoting strength and power. Here, we explore these adaptogens, how they aid strength and power training and what other benefits they have. 

What are Adaptogens?

Adaptogens are becoming increasingly popular in the health and fitness world, but these agents have a very ancient history. Adaptogens are non-toxic herbs that have been used for centuries in Ayurvedic (Indian traditional) medicine. These herbs help the body to adapt to physical and mental stress, relaxing the body and revitalizing it.  

Adaptogens decrease cortisol (the stress hormone) levels in the body, helping to reduce dress, improve sleep, burn fat etc.  Some common benefits of adaptogens include;

  • Increasing the body’s  adaptability to stress
  • Regulating levels of hormones like cortisol, insulin and growth hormone
  • Fighting fatigue from excessive physical exertion 
  • Maintaining homeostasis
  • Boosting the immune systems
  • Improving quality and quantity of sleep
  • Increasing energy levels and promoting stamina. 

How Adaptogens Boost Strength and Power

Various scientific researches have exhibited the ability of adaptogens to reduce stress, improve attention and fight fatigue in athletes. Soviet scientists studied the effects of Rhodiola, and adaptogen, during the cold war and found that it improved endurance and decreased recovery time in their athletes. These studies and many more demonstrate the potential benefits of adaptogens in strength and power training. 

Adaptogens help build strength and power by working at a molecular level to curb the stress response. The action is on the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis that is responsible for producing the stress hormone, cortisol. As you workout during the day, cortisol progressively builds leading to exhaustion. When you work out, the cortisol release is more rapid, and so is exhaustion, thereby limiting how much you can train. 

This is where adaptogens come in. They improve stress resistance, increasing endurance and allowing you to train longer. The more you train, the more you build strength and power, and that is basically how adaptogens help. 

Which Adaptogens are good for Enhancing Strength and Power?

Adaptogens are generally stressor fighters, and will typically help build strength. However, the following adaptogens have demonstrated proven benefits in boosting strength and power.

Avena Sativa Adaptogen

Avena Sativa

Avena sativa, also known as the common oat,  is a species of cereal grass. The matured seeds are eaten as oats, the outer seed coating is oat bran, and the leaves and stem are harvested and used as oat straw when green. 

This herb is renowned for its medicinal properties. The leaf extract is used in traditional medicine as anxiety relief, to aid digestion, to increase energy levels and as an aphrodisiac.  Avena sativa is also used in treating herpes, wrinkles, arthritis and high cholesterol. This gluten-free adaptogen is one of the most used natural ingredients for bodybuilding, building strength and power and freeing bound testosterone. Avena sativa is recommended for bodybuilders and athletes as it equips them with the required strength and energy.

Benefits of Avena Sativa

1.      Increases Testosterone Level

Avena sativa can help to increase testosterone levels in men. Avena enhances the release of luteinizing hormone, which is responsible for stimulating testosterone release. They also help free up testosterone that is gripped to other compounds in the body.

2.      Bodybuilding

Avena benefits bodybuilding. Testosterone is essential in the bodybuilding journey, and stress depletes testosterone stores. Using Avena sativa supplements increases testosterone release, which stimulates muscle growth and endurance in bodybuilding.

3.      It Increases Energy

Using Avena Sativa supplements helps to increase your endurance level and increases your energy for bodybuilding. Avena helps the body adapt to stress and reduce fatigue, helping you perform better in workouts.

Possible Side Effects

High doses of Avena sativa can cause sleepiness, restlessness, headache, and increased heart rate. People who are allergic to oats may experience hives, chest pain or tightness, swelling and rashes, difficulty breathing and itchiness.

Drug Interactions

Avena sativa does not react when used with other drugs and the central nervous system, making it safe.

Dosage

Avena sativa is available in the form of tinctures, capsules and tea. The dosage depends on the purpose and how powerful the formula is but the average dosage in capsule form is 750mg 1-3 times a day, 3-5ml as a tincture 3 times daily and drink 3 cups per day in the form of tea.

Ginkgo Biloba

Ginkgo Biloba

Ginkgo biloba is one of the oldest medicinal herbs. Gingko leaves are now commonly used or included in supplements because of their numerous benefits. Ginkgo improves blood circulation, especially to the brain, making it a potent herb for remedying memory loss and other brain-related diseases. Gingko is also a powerful antioxidant and is commonly used for relieving anxiety, improving vision and maintaining heart health. 

Benefit of Ginkgo Biloba

  • Improve anxiety symptoms.
  • Helps to treat Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Reduces symptoms relating to premenstrual syndrome (PMS).
  • Relieves schizophrenia.
  • Helps to prevent and treat stroke.
  • Helps improve the symptoms of dizziness (vertigo) and balance disorder.

Possible Side Effects

Ginkgo biloba is generally safe to use, but some people may experience side effects like headache, dizziness, stomach upset, and allergic skin reactions. It can also increase arrhythmia risk. 

Ginkgo Biloba is not safe for pregnant women as it can cause excessive bleeding during delivery. Ginkgo Biloba is also contraindicated in lactating mothers, people with bleeding disorders, infertility, seizure, and diabetes, as it can worsen the case.

Drug Interactions

Gingko interacts with many medications; such as those that promote bleeding (eg warfarin and ibuprofen), grapefruit juice, medications changed by the liver, medications for seizures, and antidiabetes. Always speak to your doctor about your medications before starting Gingko.

Dosage

The dose of Ginkgo may differ according to the product and the condition it is used for. Gingko for strength and power should be used in doses of 60-240mg daily for 6 months.

Yerba Mate

Yerba Mate

Yerba mate (Ilex paraguariensis) is a herb native to South America. The leaves and twigs of this plant are often prepared as tea, with potent medicinal properties. Yerba mate contains caffeine which stimulates the blood vessels, heart, brain and other tissues. Yerba Mate tea is often used by athletes to improve memory, cognitive ability, enhance performance, reduce fatigue and headaches, and for a variety of other purposes. Yerba mate’s potency as a strength and power adaptogen is due to its high caffeine content.

Benefits of Yerba Mate

  • It boosts energy and increases mental alertness
  • Helps with weight loss
  • Yerba mate protects your overall health
  • It helps to build strong bones with or without workouts

Possible Side Effects

Yerba mate tea is generally safe to use, especially in the first 3 months. Possible side effects include stomach upset, increased heart rate and insomnia. Excessive Yerba mate intake may also increase cancer risk. 

Yerba mate is not safe for pregnant women, lactating mothers, children, and people with alcohol use disorders, anxiety disorders or heart conditions.

Dosage

Yerba mate tea is recommended at doses of 330ml 3 times daily. This dosage should be continued for up to 60 days for strength and power effects. Yerba mate leaf extract also comes as a powder taken in doses of 1.5g daily.

 

blue vervian

Blue Vervain

Blue Vervain (Verbena Officinalis) is a perennial herb with numerous medicinal benefits. This plant possesses anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, analgesic, and antispasmodic properties, and is commonly used to relieve pain, treat anxiety, insomnia, infections, prevent kidney stones, etc. 

Blue vervain is available as capsules, tinctures, extracts, astringents, teas, dried herbs, and powders.

Dosage and side effects

There are no exact dosage specifications for blue vervain. The dose is typically determined by the product being used. Blue vervain capsules are typically given at doses of 150-1000mg. 

Blue vervain is generally safe but may cause indigestion and bloating. Children, pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers, people with kidney disease and other serious medical conditions should avoid blue vervain. Consult your doctor before using it with other drugs.

adaptogen wood betony

Wood Betony          

Wood betony is a herb native to Europe, Western Asia, and Northern Africa. It is commonly used in traditional medicine to treat asthma, diarrhea, heartburn, bladder pain, kidney stones, nerve pain and several other health conditions. 

Wood betony contains several antioxidants that remedy oxidative stress and remedy cell damage. Wood betony supplements revitalize athletes, allowing them to perform better and for longer. 

Dosage and side effects

The dosage is dependent on age, health and other conditions. Wood betony tea may be taken at a dose of 5g per 100ml of water 3 times daily. The dosage for wood betony supplements is usually indicated on their label. 

Wood betony is non-toxic and safe for use in most people. However, some people might experience stomach upsets, especially when they consume it in large quantities. Wood betony is unsafe for pregnant and breastfeeding women, people with low blood pressure and should be avoided 2 weeks before surgery. You should avoid using wood betony with medications for blood pressure.

Take home

Your body will naturally adapt to your exercise routines and your strength will increase over time. If however, you’re one that likes to push themselves beyond human boundaries, then you need an added push for strength and power. 

The adaptogens listed, including Avena sativa, Ginkgo Biloba, yerba mates, blue vervain and wood betony, work on a cellular level to improve your stress resistance and endurance during workouts. Other adaptogen supplements like matcha green tea have similar effects on the body. These adaptogens allow you to go the extra mile, resulting in faster strength and power boosts. 

However, ensure to speak with your doctor before commencing any adaptogen supplement to avoid potential interactions that could occur if you take other medications. 

References

Adaptogenic herbs: Benefits and effectiveness

Avena Sativa- Health-mall

Gingko Biloba: Uses, effects and more

Vervain (Verbena): Benefits, uses and side effects

Yerba Mates: Uses, effects and more

Betony: Uses, effects and more