I’ve been easing back into HIIT workouts since my holiday lull and holy moly I’m sore! How on earth is it possible to take so many steps back when you’ve only taken a couple weeks off your fitness routine? It’s insanity I tell you! Even the easiest HIIT workout I own has been kicking my butt and I’ve had to take many an Epsom salt bath these last two weeks.
Herbs for Fitness
Aside from using a few tips and tricks for reducing post-workout muscle soreness, I’ve also been using a few herbs for fitness that have proven to be quite helpful on this wellness journey of mine.
One of my main areas of focus this year is to increase strength and endurance during my workouts. As someone who struggles with increasing muscle mass (thanks excess estrogen), herbs that help give me a bit more energy have been a really important addition to my workout routine. I want to share with you a few of my all-time favorite herbs for fitness.
My Top 10 Herbs for Fitness
Okay so this first one isn’t an herb, but it’s still relevant! Arginine is a member of a group called branch chain amino acids which are known to help decrease delayed onset muscle soreness by half. Arginine in particular helps the body with protein synthesis, fat metabolism, muscle conditioning, and serves as a precursor for nitric oxide – a potent vasodilator which helps increase blood flow, reduce muscle damage, and encourages peak performance. So in short, arginine helps build your strength, endurance, and muscle mass.
I recommend this arginine supplement.
Natural sources of Arginine include whole wheat, nuts, seeds, chicken, red meat, fish, and dairy.
Ashwagandha belongs to a group of herbs called adaptogens – herbs that help with androgen imbalance and help you react to stress in the best way possible. Curbing stress is one of the best ways to support your fitness efforts because cortisol (the stress hormone), actually prevents fat burn when it’s circulating throughout the body.
Ashwagandha also increases strength and endurance with consistent use. In fact, one study has shown that ashwagandha can increase your maximum oxygen intake (VO2 max) by up to 13% while also increasing endurance by 10%. This increase in oxygen gives your muscles more energy during a workout so that you can workout at peak performance for longer periods of time.
You can get ashwagandha here.
Cordyceps is a tiny mushroom that sprouts from the heads of caterpillars but don’t let that fact freak you out, it’s one of the best supplements for increasing lung capacity. It does this by dilating the bronchial passageways and enhancing cellular energy levels with increased ATP production – the primary source of energy.
Cordyceps also helps relieve muscle soreness, fights fatigue, and prevents muscle weakness.
You can get cordyceps here.
Eleuthero (aka Siberian Ginseng) is another tonic herb that boosts energy and increases strength. It also lowers stress, helps the body maintain balanced glycogen, and increases physical and mental performance. One study has shown that taking eleuthero daily for 8 weeks can increase your VO2 max levels by up to 12% and your endurance by 23%. It also helps the body break down lactic acid – the compound that causes muscle soreness.
If you’re someone who does a lot of HIIT, this is the herb for you. You can get it here.
Gynostemma (aka Jiaogulan)
Gynostemma, a relative of the cucumber, is another amazing herb for fitness. It helps increase one’s tolerance to fatigue and depleted oxygen levels during exercise. It strengthens the cardiac system making everyday activities like walking up and down stairs, playing with your children, and cleaning around the house less likely to make you feel out of breath.
Another interesting fact about gynostemma is its ability to stimulate the release of nitric oxide, which if you recall from earlier, helps your body reach peak performance by dilating blood vessels and increasing cardio output. The improved delivery of oxygen throughout the body gives your muscles more energy and endurance.
Beetroot has been known to cause a boost in nitric oxide production as well and is a main ingredient in one of my favorite pre-workout supplements.
You can get gynostemma here.
Maca is a wonderful adaptogen to use when you need steady and balanced energy that helps you increase endurance and muscular stamina throughout the day. Its anabolic (muscle building) properties help increase muscle mass and strength. Maca also supports quick muscle recovery, balanced hormones, and a higher tolerance for stress.
You can get maca here.
Herbs for Fitness – Honorable Mentions
There are of course a few more herbs that can help support your fitness journey so I decided to list them here.
• American Ginseng – meaning “wonder of the world” ginseng supports the metabolism of lactic acid, enhances reaction time, and supports stamina and endurance.
• Astragalus – a potent tonic herb for strengthening muscles, improving metabolic function, and for boosting immunity.
• Green Tea – supports metabolic and cardiovascular health, helps the body maintain and increase muscle mass, and boosts energy.
• Morinda Root – aka “strength builder”, morinda root is a powerful Jing tonic. It also supports mental clarity and cardio health. (can be difficult to find)
Don’t miss out on my other fitness articles below:
Detoxifying Essential Oils and How to Use Them
The Top 4 Essential Oils for Weight Loss and Metabolism
3 Reasons to Use Essential Oils for Exercise Support
3 Essential Steps You Need to Boost Metabolism
20 WAYS TO REDUCE POST-WORKOUT MUSCLE SORENESS, ACHES, AND PAINS
Freeze-Ease Workout Spray (AC in a Bottle!?)
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