Ashwagandha, a revered herb in Ayurvedic medicine, has sparked interest in the fitness and wellness community for its potential to enhance muscle strength and physical performance.
This ancient herb, known for its adaptogenic properties, is now being scrutinized through the lens of modern science to validate its effectiveness in boosting physical strength.
Emerging research suggests that Ashwagandha may not just be beneficial for stress reduction and mental well-being but could also be a key player in enhancing physical prowess, particularly in terms of muscle strength and athletic performance.
Quick Take aways
- Ashwagandha in Ayurvedic Tradition: Traditionally valued in Ayurvedic medicine, Ashwagandha is recognized for its potential to boost physical strength and performance. This ancient herb is known for enhancing the body’s resilience, directly contributing to physical robustness.
- Adaptogenic Qualities of Ashwagandha: As an adaptogen, Ashwagandha helps the body adapt to stress, mirroring the beneficial stress of exercise. This process is key to building physical strength, as it prepares the body to handle physical challenges more effectively.
- Impact on Muscle Strength: Ashwagandha is known for its ability to significantly increase muscle strength. This makes it a valuable supplement for those engaged in strength training, looking to naturally enhance their muscle-building efforts.
- Improvements in Body Strength: Supplementing with Ashwagandha has been linked to improvements in both upper and lower-body strength. This comprehensive enhancement is crucial for overall physical fitness and performance.
- Enhancement in Muscle Function: Ashwagandha has shown promising results in increasing hand grip strength, quadriceps strength, and back extensor force, indicating its role in enhancing specific muscle functions and overall physical capability.
- Boosting Overall Physical Performance: Regular intake of Ashwagandha can lead to enhanced muscle strength, contributing to improved performance in various physical activities and sports.
- Cardiorespiratory Endurance Boost: Ashwagandha’s ability to improve cardiorespiratory endurance is a key factor in athletic performance, enabling individuals to perform at higher intensities for longer periods.
- Versatility in Enhancing Physical Capabilities: Ashwagandha’s wide-ranging benefits for physical performance make it a versatile supplement, suitable for enhancing strength, endurance, and speed.
- Role in Muscle Repair and Activity: Ashwagandha supports muscle repair and enhances muscle cell activity, crucial for recovery and performance in physically demanding activities.
- Regulating Hormones for Strength: By helping regulate cortisol and boost testosterone levels, Ashwagandha directly contributes to muscle growth and recovery, essential components of physical strength.
- Ashwagandha as a Natural Strength Enhancer: Approaching Ashwagandha as a natural remedy, especially for those dealing with stress or poor sleep, can lead to significant improvements in body composition and physical strength.
Increased Muscle Strength in Young Men
A groundbreaking study by Wankhede et al., in 2015, shed light on Ashwagandha’s potential to increase muscle strength in young men. Participants who supplemented with Ashwagandha during their resistance training regimen experienced significant increases in both muscle strength and muscle size. 
This study is pivotal as it suggests that Ashwagandha supplementation could be a game-changer for those engaged in strength training, offering a natural boost to their muscle-building efforts.
The study’s findings are particularly intriguing as they highlight not just an increase in muscle strength but also an enhancement in muscle size, indicating that Ashwagandha may contribute to hypertrophy – a key goal in resistance training.
This study also encourages the notion 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.
This research opens up new possibilities for athletes and fitness enthusiasts looking for natural ways to augment their strength training outcomes.
Improved Upper and Lower-Body Strength
Further research, particularly a study by Ziegenfuss et al. in 2018, expands on Ashwagandha’s benefits in physical training.
This study focused on recreationally active men and found that Ashwagandha supplementation led to improvements in both upper and lower-body strength. Additionally, it supported a more favorable distribution of body mass, which is crucial for overall physical fitness and performance. 
The significance of this study lies in its demonstration that Ashwagandha’s benefits are not limited to a specific type of strength or muscle group. Instead, it shows a comprehensive improvement in physical strength, encompassing both the upper and lower body. This finding is particularly beneficial for athletes and individuals engaged in varied physical activities that require holistic body strength.
Enhancement in Muscle Activity
A pivotal study by Raut et al., in 2012, delved into the effects of Ashwagandha supplementation on muscle activity. The results were remarkable, showing significant increases in hand grip strength, quadriceps strength, and back extensor force.
This study is crucial as it demonstrates that Ashwagandha’s benefits extend beyond general muscle strength, impacting specific muscle groups and activities. 
The increase in hand grip strength is particularly noteworthy, as it is often considered a reliable indicator of overall muscle strength and function.
Similarly, improvements in quadriceps strength and back extensor force are significant for both everyday activities and athletic performance.
These findings suggest that Ashwagandha could be a valuable supplement for those looking to enhance specific aspects of muscle function and activity.
Improvement in Physical Performance
Recent research, including a study by Mazur et al., in 2021, has further explored Ashwagandha’s impact on physical performance.
This research indicates that Ashwagandha root extract can significantly enhance muscle strength, a key component of physical fitness. The study’s findings align with the growing body of evidence supporting Ashwagandha’s role in improving physical capabilities. 
The implications of this research are far-reaching for athletes and fitness enthusiasts. The ability of Ashwagandha to enhance muscle strength can contribute to better performance in various sports and physical activities. This makes Ashwagandha a potentially invaluable supplement for those seeking to improve their physical performance naturally.
Enhanced Cardiorespiratory Endurance
Studies focusing on Ashwagandha’s impact on cardiorespiratory endurance have shown promising results. Research by Tiwari et al., in 2021, and Choudhary et al., in 2015, revealed that Ashwagandha root extract could significantly improve cardiorespiratory endurance in healthy athletic adults. 
This improvement in endurance is a crucial factor in athletic performance and overall quality of life.
The enhancement of cardiorespiratory endurance means that athletes can perform at higher intensities for longer durations, a vital aspect of many sports and physical activities. This improvement in endurance, coupled with Ashwagandha’s other benefits, positions it as a comprehensive supplement for athletes aiming to boost their overall performance and endurance capabilities.
Positive Effects on Physical Performance
The efficacy of Ashwagandha in enhancing physical performance has been further illuminated by a systematic review and Bayesian meta-analysis conducted by Bonilla et al., in 2021.
This comprehensive study delved into various physical performance variables and concluded that Ashwagandha significantly benefits healthy men and women. 
The review encompassed multiple aspects of physical performance, including strength, endurance, and speed, offering a holistic view of the herb’s impact on physical capabilities.
This meta-analysis is particularly noteworthy as it consolidates data from various studies, providing a robust and comprehensive understanding of Ashwagandha’s effects.
The findings suggest that Ashwagandha can be a versatile supplement, catering to a wide range of physical performance needs.
Whether it’s enhancing strength for weightlifting, improving endurance for long-distance running, or boosting speed for sprinters, Ashwagandha appears to offer something for every athlete.
Support in Muscle Repair and Activity
Recent research, particularly a study by Wang et al., in 2021, has shed light on Ashwagandha’s role in muscle repair and activity.
This study focused on the withanolides in Ashwagandha, compounds believed to be largely responsible for its medicinal properties. The research suggested that these withanolides could play a significant role in managing muscle repair and enhancing muscle cell differentiation. 
This finding is crucial for athletes and individuals engaged in intense physical activities, as efficient muscle repair is key to recovery and performance.
The potential of Ashwagandha to aid in muscle repair and enhance muscle cell activity opens up new avenues for its use in sports and fitness.
It suggests that Ashwagandha could not only help in reducing muscle damage post-exercise but also contribute to the muscle-building process.
This dual role makes it a particularly valuable supplement for those looking to optimize their training outcomes and ensure quick and effective recovery from muscle strain and injury.
Boosting Testosterone, lowering cortisol & boosting sleep
The herb is also gaining attention for its potential to enhance body strength, primarily through its ability to boost testosterone levels. Testosterone, a key hormone in muscle development and overall physical strength, can be significantly influenced by the adaptogenic properties of Ashwagandha.
The herb works by modulating the body’s stress response. Chronic stress leads to elevated cortisol levels, which can negatively impact testosterone production. Ashwagandha helps in reducing cortisol levels, thereby creating a more favorable environment for testosterone synthesis.
With lower cortisol levels, the body can naturally increase testosterone production, which is crucial for muscle growth, increased strength, and improved muscle recovery.
Moreover, Ashwagandha has been found to directly stimulate the endocrine system, which plays a vital role in hormonal balance, including the production of testosterone. Some studies have shown that regular supplementation with Ashwagandha can lead to significant increases in testosterone levels in men, contributing to enhanced muscle mass and strength.
In addition to boosting testosterone, Ashwagandha’s anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties aid in muscle recovery and reduce muscle damage post-exercise. This faster recovery allows for more effective and frequent training sessions, further contributing to increased muscle strength and improved physical performance.
Ashwagandha, an adaptogenic herb, introduces mild stress to cells, a process similar to the beneficial stress experienced during exercise. This similarity is part of what makes exercise an effective stress-reliever.
Ashwagandha’s impact on stress reduction is long-term, contributing to enhanced sleep quality, improved recovery, and optimized hormone levels. It also directly influences the adrenal gland, helping to regulate cortisol levels and thereby allowing for more consistent peaks in testosterone.
My recommendation is to approach Ashwagandha with the same seriousness as you would a medicine. If you’re grappling with stress, anxiety, or poor sleep, consider incorporating Ashwagandha into your routine. If your body responds positively, you may find that it catalyzes other beneficial changes, potentially leading to an improvement in body composition & strength.
Dr. Bengebara Omar, MD is Senior Medical Reviewer at PowerandBulk.com. Thanks to his experience as an emergency physician, Dr. Ben offers our site a unique expertise in any health related subject. His very particular working environment allows him to be confronted with a very wide variety of cases. Indeed, given these working circumstances, he shares with us a unique experience in the medical field (concerning pathologies and their treatment) as well as in other fields related to this environment (like the management of energy, stress, emotions and other aspects of psychology). Before fully devoting himself to the medical career, Dr. Ben was also a tennis player with several regional and national competitions at his palmares. He graduated as tennis coach in 2015. Dr. Ben is also a travel and fitness fan. He is an adept of the doctrine that a healthy lifestyle is the basis for good health, and he believes that conveying this belief to his patients is much more beneficial to them than just dealing with their physical issues. Read more about him.