If there’s one herbal supplement that most everyone has heard of it’s probably ginseng. Ginseng has been used for centuries as a tonic, stimulant and aphrodisiac, but it also boosts your cardiovascular, immune and nervous systems, as well as possibly enhancing your ability to build strength and endurance by increasing the function of your adrenal glands during weight training. It also helps the body adapt to stresses, both physical and emotional, and a host of research backs up its abilities. Even the World Health Organization supports the use of ginseng for enhancing mental and physical capacities in cases of weakness, exhaustion, tiredness and loss of concentration.
In a study supporting the effectiveness of ginsenosides, which is the primary active ingredients found in ginseng, researchers suggest that ginseng can give you more energy, particularly during intense weight lifting, circuit training, or high intensity interval training. Researchers gave male and female subjects 675 milligrams of Chinese ginseng or a placebo before breakfast and dinner for 30 days. They then measured subjects’ time to exhaustion in a stationary cycle test in which the resistance was gradually increased until subjects couldn’t pedal anymore. After taking ginseng for 30 days, subjects could cycle for four minutes longer than those taking the placebo. This suggests that using ginseng can help you get more reps with a given weight before reaching failure, which will translate into more muscle growth.
Taking 500-1,000 milligrams of Chinese ginseng before breakfast and dinner would be a good dose to receive the benefits of increased endurance during intense physical exercise. Look for ginseng supplements that are standardized for at least two percent ginsenosides. There are about 10 different ginsenosides in ginseng, with each providing different benefits.