Herbal Supplements

Herbal Supplements and Weight Training

For the weight trainer, there are many herbal supplements available. Some herbal supplements can provide energy benefits while others may help you burn fat.

Here's a brief run down on some of the more common herbal supplements.

Ginseng – Ginseng is an ancient herbal remedy regularly used to help individuals with resistance to a variety of different stressors, including physical and mental challenges.

In North America, ginseng is widely supported as an energy booster, which can help alleviate your fatigue and boost endurance levels.

Although there is conflicting evidence regarding ginseng's benefits, many researchers believe that ginseng might enhance the ability of muscles to extract oxygen from the blood. This benefit of ginseng should give you more stamina to complete your workouts.

Sarsaparilla – Sarsaparilla is a lesser-known herb, however, it has been used over the centuries for medicinal purposes and as an immune booster.

Sarsaparilla has also been shown to contain chemicals with properties that aid testosterone activity in the body.

Recently however, athletes have been interested in this herb because of its constituents, which are believed to have a steroid like effect by increasing muscle bulk. This steroid like effect is attributed to the increased testosterone actions in the body.

Yohimbe – Yohimbe is another herb that has been around for centuries. It contains alkaloids as well as tannins and works by blocking certain neurotransmitter receptors in nerve cells. Some believe that yohimbe has a minor effect on adrenaline, the hormone that can increase muscular strength.

Weight lifters using yohimbe report gaining lean hard muscle mass with less body fat. Yohimbe can help build strength and muscle, but beware the side effects. It is a stimulant and can cause restlessness, jitters, dizziness, headache and insomnia.

Ephedra – Another herbal weight lifting supplement is ephedra. Used for many years as a weight loss and muscle building aid, ephedra can have serious side effects.

Ephedra has been used for hundreds of years as a central nervous system stimulate and decongestant. Ephedra can dilate the bronchial muscles, increase blood pressure and is a cardiac stimulant. Users of ephedra report being more alert and focused.

Weight lifters use ephedra because of its significant stimulatory effect on cells. Ephedra improves the force of skeletal muscle contractions resulting in the ability to lift heavier and for longer.

In addition, the weight lifter's metabolism is stimulated, which can be helpful for burning fat and providing the energy requirements needed for lifting.

Although ephedra is now available in limited dosage formats, caution should be used when taking this substance.

Creatine – Again, not a herbal supplement, but creatine is vastly marketed as a natural muscle builder. Creatine is a natural derivative of an amino acid synthesized in the pancreas, liver, and kidneys.

Creatine helps speed up the transfer of energy from your cells to muscles and can therefore improve your performance. There are studies proving that creatine does improve performance, particularly for short burst activities. For a more complete discussion, see this page here.

Guarana - Guarana is a red berry from a plant grown in the Amazon valley. Often associated with energy supplements, guarana contains seven times as much caffeine in the average coffee bean.

Guarana is often sold as an ingredient in weight loss supplements and is often combined with ephedra. The combination of ephedra and guarana is thought to increase thermogenesis which stimulates the metabolism. However, extreme caution must be adhered to - This may be too much for your system.

Colostrum – Colostrum is a relatively new supplement. Colostrum is the first milk produced by female mammals after giving birth and it contains numerous proteins, vitamins, minerals and immunoglobulins. Colostrum supplements are typically bovine or goat in origin.

Scientists believe that colostrum increases plasma insulin growth factor, which promotes the passage of nutrients across the cell membrane. The theory is that this process may help stimulate muscle repair and recovery. Research in this area is relatively new, however some studies have shown improved recovery after endurance events.

Chromium – While technically not an herb, the mineral supplement chromium has been shown to help reduce body fat and increase muscle. Every body needs chromium throughout life.

Chromium helps your body use insulin, a hormone that transfers blood sugar to the cells, where it is burned as fuel. Chromium also helps the body break down protein and fat.

For weight lifters, chromium can help you maintain normal blood sugar levels. Its ability to break down fat helps the conversion of fat to muscle.

While you may experience benefits with any of these supplements, it is important to talk to your doctor before embarking on adding supplements to your routine.

There can be side effects and risks to taking natural health products and you need to discuss these with your doctor.+

All the best,


As the owner of Building Muscle 101, I am committed to providing you the best practical weight training advice. I've been training for over 24 years (and still train to this day!) and the advice and guidance I provide comes directly from my experience and knowledge.

Home > Tools and Resources HQ > Articles > Supplement Articles