Rhodiola Increases Physical and Mental Endurance

rhodiola can increase endurance

Endurance athletes are always looking for an edge. Whether it’s a new training protocol or a new mindset, being able to push yourself to work just a little bit harder and longer can make the difference between first and second place. Proper implementation of the right pre-workout supplements is key in training endurance athletes and thanks to a study performed in Belgium, there’s another supplement to add to the mix. When taken before training, rhodiola rosea supplements were found to improve performance in endurance athletes, even with no previous use.

Belgian researchers studied 24 healthy endurance athlete students. First, a baseline for an endurance activity was established with each athlete. Then, a few days later, the students were either given rhodiola or a placebo an hour before performing the same endurance activity. After another week, they came back and performed the same training session, but the rhodiola group was given placebo and vice versa. The results proved to be significant. Rhodiola improved the work capacity of the athletes by an average of 3% and in one case, the student was able to extend the time by 9.7%. Another conclusion from the study, aside from the improvement in performance for doses one hour before training, is the finding that when the athletes consumed rhodiola consistently over a four week basis, there was no additional benefit like those found in other supplements that may require a “loading period.” This means there appears to be an acute effect when used for endurance training. It’s important to note that this fact doesn’t imply there are no outside benefits to taking rhodiola on a consistent basis, but that it’s just not effective at building up in your system.

What is Rhodiola Rosea?

Let’s look at the supplement as a whole. Rhodiola rosea is a plant found in the cooler climates of the world, particularly in the Arctic or other mountainous regions of the northern hemisphere. The plant and its roots have been used for hundreds of years by ancient civilizations such as the Vikings as a supplement to increase stamina and strength. Rhodiola use today is more widespread and is consumed via tea or, for those not living in areas where it grows naturally, in a convenient supplement form. Rhodiola contains many different polyphenols and antioxidants including rosavins, rosarin, rosin, and salidroside. These compounds, at the most simple level, help provide balance to stressors in the body and the environment. From a physiological perspective, rhodiola is said to reduce free radicals that can damage cells and cause inflammation. Psychologically, rhodiola helps reduce mental stress by optimizing the levels of “feel good” chemicals in the brain.

In general, rhodiola rosea benefits include:

  • Reduced physical fatigue
  • Improved mood
  • Lowered Stress

How Rhodiola Rosea Can Help Endurance Athletes

When the mechanisms of action in rhodiola are considered, it’s easy to see how it is an ideal supplement for endurance athletes. Preventing physical fatigue allows for more energy output in a race or during training. However, there may be a mental aspect to the supplementation as well. Improved mood and lower mental stress could help athletes overcome potential mental fatigue they may face, enabling them to crush previous records and crash through mental barriers that can hold perceived limitations of what the athlete’s abilities truly are.

Dosage

For improvements in endurance sports, a dosage the same as the dose mentioned above, a 200mg capsule one hour before training, is recommended. In fact, since the experiment was relatively basic, you can try to replicate it on your own to see the exact effects rhodiola has on you!

Overtraining: Myth or Reality?

overtraining is a myth

Is Overtraining a Myth?

One of the discussions that comes up often in online forums and blogs regarding weight lifting, exercise, and physical training is the idea of overtraining. There are people adamant on both sides of the issue, with some saying that overtraining is a myth and others saying that it is indeed reality. What is the truth about the overtraining myth? It might help to take a look at what this state actually is, how it is reached, and how to avoid it.

What is Overtraining?

Using Supplements to Support Your Muscles

Your body needs fuel to keep up with the demands of a rigorous training regimen. It also needs sleep to properly repair muscles. Without these two factors, you can easily suffer from overtraining.

  • Whey Protein: This will help your muscles repair after an intense workout.
  • Citrulline Malate: This helps buffer acid, but it’s main benefit is reducing muscle soreness.
  • Melatonin: This is an excellent sleep aid. If you have trouble falling and staying asleep, your muscles will not have an adequate opportunity to properly repair.

To answer that question, let’s look at the basic components of overtraining. Overtraining is the result of chronic fatigue, whether this is physical or mental (as in central nervous system fatigue), there is no distinction. Often times people will just try to shrug of the condition or work through it, but that is in fact the second component of overtraining, the desire to keep going, despite the growing list of problems.

Unpleasant stuff will happen once you are in this situation. It could mean the loss of strength, muscle mass, and endurance. Your appetite could be affected, motivation may plummet, and even irritability (you may find yourself get angry over nothing very easily) could arise.

On top of these possible symptoms, continuing to push yourself could cause much worse problems. Your immune system can become weakened, you could develop sleep or eating disorders, your resting heart rate could change, stomach and gastrointestinal issues could arise, even your blood pressure or respiratory patterns can become negatively impacted.

While overtraining is indeed a reality for most people, there are certain notable exceptions. There are several training systems that involve using incredibly high intensity training methods. There is even a Bulgarian method that involves training with maxes almost every day. It should go without saying that methods such as these may not be for everyone and almost certainly come with an increased risk. So, while overtraining is a reality, how you reach this state can also be an important factor.

How an Overtrained State is Reached:

There are really several factors involved in how one reaches such a state. The first factor is food. You need to be eating the proper types of food and amounts of them to support your level of training. If you do not eat enough, overtraining will almost definitely occur at some point. Of course, this lack of nourishment will be determined by a number of different factors such as vitamins, levels and rate of depletion of your glycogen stores, etc.

Another very important factor is rest. Sleep not only helps us to feel more refreshed but it helps keep the heart and blood vessels healthy, releases growth hormone, strengthens the immune system, regulates appetite, weight, and controls blood glucose levels. Not to mention that during sleep the muscles recover and grow.

Your routine itself is also critical. In other words, it should be reasonable. Doing 20 sets of curls, 20 sets of bench presses, and 25 sets of rows is not reasonable unless you have a death wish. More is not always better, sometimes it’s best to take a slow and steady approach. Your routine must allow for a reasonable amount of time to recuperate, as recovery is very important in strength training.

How to Avoid Overtraining:

Is overtraining a myth?If you feel like you are in an overtrained state, the first step is to simply recognize it. Of course, this is easier said than done in many cases. The key to knowing that you’re overtraining is the constant feeling of exhaustion and progress coming to an almost non-existent stand still. The possibility that you may be overtraining should seriously be considered if this is the case.

The easiest way to get yourself out of such a situation is by taking time off from training. This break may be difficult to do for many people, but it really allows your body to sort of reset itself. Depending on how overtrained you are, this break could be as simple as adding a recovery day or two to your schedule or as severe as a 2 to 4 week layoff. Of course this all depends on the person, so take the action that you think would be the most beneficial and make sure that you feel one hundred percent before resuming your routine.

Sources

  • http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3435910/
  • http://www.acsm.org/docs/current-comments/overtrainwithresistance.pdf
  • http://www.rice.edu/~jenky/sports/overtraining.html