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Ashwagandha Boosts Muscle And Stength - MrSupplement Article

Withania somnifera is a well-known adaptogenic herb that also goes by the name of ashwagandha or Indian ginseng. It has a history of use in Ayurvedic medicine but as far as bodybuilding goes, it is best known for its purported test-boosting effects.

A natural consequence of increased testosterone levels is more muscle and strength, which is probably why researchers from India recently set about measuring the effect of an 8 week course of ashwagandha root extract on muscle mass and strength when taken as part of a resistance training regime.

Subjects making up the study were a total of 50 young guys (aged between 18-50 years old). Incidentally, none of the subjects had much experience with resistance training, so we can’t say for sure that the same response would be seen in those used to weight training. In any case, the group was split in two, with one given a placebo and the other 600mg of ashwagandha root extract, which was divided into a morning and evening dose of 300mg.ashwagandha illustration

For readers unaware, ashwagandha is a member of the family of herbs referred to as “adaptogens”. Adaptogens are typically defined as herbs containing phytonutrients that regulate metabolism when the body is under physical or mental stress. Some other well known adaptogens are rhodiola, ginseng and schisandra.

Researchers were interested in the effect of ashwagandha on factors such as muscle strength, muscle size, testosterone, muscle recovery and body fat. In each case, subjects taking ashwagandha were found to have significantly better responses compared to placebo for each and every one of these measures. The table below provide a summary of the changes for some of the markers following the 8 week intervention.

Bench-Press

Testosterone Levels

Muscle Size

Placebo

Ashwagandha

Placebo

Ashwagandha

Placebo

Ashwagandha

↑26.4kg

↑46.0kg

↑18.0 ng/dL

↑96.2 ng/dL

5.3 cm2

8.6 cm2

 

All-in-all, this paints a pretty positive picture for the health & fitness promoting effects of ashwagandha. But it’s worth highlighting the exact type of extract they were taking, as many readers will appreciate, herbal extracts can vary widely in quality.  The particular extract used in the study carries a commercial name of KSM-66. It is concentrated to contain a minimum of 5% withanolides, which are considered to be one of the key active constituents of ashwagandha. It also happens to be organic and has been studied in a number of other clinicl studies.

The direct quote below from the study’s conclusion, makes for a pretty compelling case for the average gym junkie to give Ashwagandha supplementation a go.

“This study reports that ashwagandha supplementation is associated with significant increases in muscle mass and strength and suggests that ashwagandha supplementation may be useful in conjunction with a resistance training program.”1

1. Wankhede S, et al. Examining the effect of Withania somnifera supplementation on muscle strength and recovery: a randomized controlled trial. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. 2015; 12:43.

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