When it comes to health and fitness, our efforts are often focused on building strength, hitting our best time, or reaching our goal weight. We don’t often think about increasing endurance and stamina as a main goal of fitness, but in reality, it should be. Our endurance affects our workout performance, which in turn affects the results we see and the way we feel. If we want to reach our true potential, we should focus more on improving our own personal stamina inside and outside the gym.
Now, doing this is easier said than done. There is no magic pill to take, no switch to flip, to immediately improve our endurance. However, there are certainly some things we can do to help. For one, you should combine cardio exercises with your traditional strength training routine. Even if you consider yourself to be primarily a strength athlete, don’t forget to add cardio days! Beyond proper exercise habits, there are certain supplements and health products that can help you in your efforts to increase your endurance.
What are Supplements for Endurance and Stamina?
Some target common nutritional deficiencies, helping to support overall health and improve the body’s natural ability to perform well. Others seek to boost energy levels, allowing for more intense and lengthier workouts. Still others seek to support muscular performance, allowing you to perform better, for longer.
Again, there is no magic pill that will make you a marathon runner overnight, nor is there some magic supplement that will give you epic stamina. However, there are many good supplements for endurance building goals that can help give you a competitive edge. You’ll definitely still have to put in the work, but the best endurance supplements can sometimes help you reach your goals.
How Can Supplements Help?
These can help support your overall health, leading to better physical performance and endurance. They can also target specific aspects of physical performance, such as muscle contraction.
Each supplement works in a different way, and some products even use a blend of different ingredients to produce optimal results. The best supplements for endurance building will not only temporarily improve your ability to perform physically, they’ll also help you in your efforts to increase your body’s ability to perform for long periods of time.
Why Should You Consider Supplements to Help Endurance Efforts?
There are various reasons that you may want to take these products, some of which you may not have considered before.
- Endurance is key to success in fitness training – regardless of which type of physical fitness you prefer, good endurance is key to success. If you like running, being able to push out that extra mile is key to progressing along your goals. If you like weightlifting, being able to knock out that last set is key to building more muscle and hitting your goals.
- Good endurance doesn’t come easy – increasing your physical endurance is no easy task. It takes a lot of time and effort – and this is the case even with the help of supplements. However, every little bit of help is beneficial in reaching your goals, and these supplements can definitely help give you a push in the right direction.
- Nutritional deficiencies may cause low endurance – while building great endurance is difficult, sometimes it’s nearly impossible due to certain nutritional deficiencies. For instance, look at iron. Iron deficiency can lead to many health concerns, including fatigue and difficulty with physical performance. These types of deficiencies are also quite common. Luckily, most of these conditions can be remedied by changing your diet. Iron supplements rank as one of the best supplements for endurance, simply because a lack of iron in the diet often contributes to difficulty building up your stamina.
- Some supplements can give you extra energy – while the focus of top supplements for endurance is of course to improve your performance at the gym, many of these supplements can also give you a helpful energy boost in general. Having more energy can help you stay productive and efficient, both in your work life, home life, and “gym life”.
- Some supplements are also beneficial for overall health – some of the supplements we recommend for folks looking to increase their physical stamina can also benefit other aspects of your health. This is a win-win, really, as it allows you to increase your endurance and reach your fitness goals, while also promoting your general health.
10 Supplements With Endurance Benefits
Now that you have some background info on this class of supplements, it’s time to get right into it! Below, we’ll go over the details of the supplements for building endurance, breaking down each option into an easy-to-understand guide. Enjoy!
What is Iron?
Iron is a common mineral that is found in some foods, in dietary supplements, and in the human body. In our bodies, iron helps transfer oxygen from the lungs to the tissues. It’s also a key component of metabolic health, and helps to support energy levels. It’s a key component of overall health, however, iron deficiency is the most common nutritional deficiency in many countries. The symptoms of iron deficiency can include fatigue, weakness, headache, and more.
How Iron May Help Endurance
With an iron deficiency, it can be very difficult to maintain proper endurance levels. Addressing this deficiency can have a huge positive effect on your ability to perform physically.
Iron can be beneficial for many people, however, if you already get a lot from your diet you may not experience much benefit from adding an iron supplement. Good food sources of iron include meat, dairy, and dark leafy greens.
How to Take Iron
Iron comes in tablet/capsule form, so you’ll just need to follow the instructions found on the product you’re using. In general, it’s best to take iron with a meal to improve absorption. Follow proper iron dosage instructions, and you’ll be good to go!
Iron Side Effects
When taken as directed, iron does not generally cause any serious side effects. When side effects are experienced, they typically include gastrointestinal issues like stomach discomfort, nausea, diarrhea, etc. To reduce these effects, take your iron supplement with food. There may be more serious side effects associated with taking too much iron, so be sure to follow dosage instructions and speak with your doctor before taking iron supplements.
What are Cordyceps
Cordyceps are a type of fungus, and are considered to be a medicinally beneficial species of mushroom. Fascinatingly, this class of fungus only grows in certain mountainous regions, and generally grows on certain types of bugs, including caterpillars. What is actually a parasite for these mountain-dwelling critters can be quite beneficial to humans, in a variety of ways. And while cordyceps have been used for generations in certain traditional medicines, they are just starting to gain popularity in the general public and in Western medicine.
How Cordyceps May Help Endurance
Cordyceps have been used in traditional Chinese medicine for ages. Today, they are often used by runners and endurance athletes in an attempt to help endurance.
In clinical trials, cordyceps have been found to be helpful in boosting exercise performance, but really, their benefits may extend far beyond that. We look forward to the results of future clinical trials in evaluating the efficacy of cordyceps for various purposes.
How to Take Cordyceps
Cordyceps comes in capsule form, so you’ll want to take it as directed by the manufacturer (or by your doctor). As for the cordyceps dosage, most supplements contain between 500 and 1500mg per serving, and most clinical trials have looked at dosages in the 1,000-3000mg range.
Cordyceps Side Effects
Cordyceps do not typically cause side effects, so long as the supplement is taken as directed. Some people report minor issues like dry mouth, nausea, and diarrhea. With that said, there is a lack of clinical studies that have looked at the long-term health concerns of this supplement, so at this point we do not recommend taking cordyceps for extended periods of time. We also recommend you speak with your doctor before taking any supplements.
What is Eleuthero?
Eleuthero, known formally by its scientific name of eleutherococcus senticosus, and more commonly as Siberian Ginseng, is a herb that has been used in traditional medicine for generations. Eleuthero is an adaptogen compound, which essentially means that it has properties that help to combat the effects of stress on the body.
How Eleuthero May Help Endurance
As an adaptogen, eleuthero may increase the body’s work capacity during strenuous aerobic activities.
Eleuthero/Siberian Ginseng has been used for thousands of years in traditional medicine. More modern trials need to be conducted on the herb before definite conclusions can be made. With that said, some studies have also shown little to no effect from the herb, so clearly, more research is needed.
How to Take Eleuthero
Typically you’ll find eleuthero supplements in the form of root/stem extracts, packaged in capsules. Leaf extracts are also available, but they are less common. Dosages vary, with many products offering 300-1200mg.
Eleuthero Side Effects
Side effects of eleuthero are rare, but when they do occur, the most common are drowsiness, anxiety, mood changes, and muscle spasms. Speak with your doctor before taking Eleuthero.
What are Energy Gels?
Energy gels are popular fitness products that allow for a quick burst of nutrition mid-workout. They are packaged in small packs that are easy to squeeze into your mouth, making it possible to use them during exercise – whatever exercise that may be. Typically, they contain a blend of carbohydrates, amino acids and other helpful nutrients that help you keep pushing toward your goals. Some gels also contain caffeine.
How Energy Gels Help Increase Endurance
Essentially, energy gels give you extra energy during your exercise sessions, allowing you to push out that extra mile or extra set. They do this mostly by providing energy (in the form of carbohydrates) and by restoring glycogen levels. They are designed to be very easy to take, even if you use them while in the middle of your exercise.
Energy gels are a good tool to have, particularly for endurance athletes. Some that include bonus ingredients like amino acids are especially useful, but for the purpose of boosting energy levels mid-workout, most energy gels are good. They are small enough that you can just keep one in your pocket when you head out for a run or bike ride, and convenient enough to use without even stopping your exercise session.
How to Take Energy Gels
Energy gels are designed to be taken mid-workout, as needed. They take anywhere from 3 to 15 minutes to absorb, so keep that in mind in regards to timing your dose. Beyond that, it couldn’t be simpler: just open the package and squeeze the gel into your mouth, and you’re good to go!
Energy Gel Side Effects
Energy gels are essentially food products, and do not typically cause side effects. With that said, there’s always the chance of an allergic reaction or another sort of negative reaction to an included ingredient. Also, some energy gels contain caffeine, and as you likely know caffeine can cause some side effects such as trouble sleeping, jitteriness, etc. Check the label of your energy gel for caffeine – if it does contain it, avoid using the gel at night or in the late afternoon to avoid trouble sleeping at night.
What are Pre-Workout Supplements?
Pre-workout supplements are a class of supplements designed to be taken immediately before your workout. They aim to increase energy levels, leading to better, longer workouts. Typically they will contain a blend of ingredients, including stimulants such as caffeine, plus amino acids and other performance-boosting ingredients. Pre-workouts are some of the most popular fitness supplements out there, second only to protein powders.
How Pre-Workout Supplements Help Increase Endurance
Pre-workout supplements can help you push your exercise performance to the limit. They can help to give you more energy. Pre-workout supplements are effective for a number of reasons, but one of their primary ingredients is often caffeine, which is an energy booster. Basically, these products can help you get the most out of your workouts, while also reducing the perception of effort. They can make it easier – both physically and mentally – to perform for longer periods of time.
How to Take Pre-Workout Supplements
As the name implies, pre-workout supplements should be taken before working out. They generally take 10-30 minutes to take affect, so ideally you’ll want to take them shortly before you begin your workout. For extended workout periods, some people like to take a half-dose before they begin, and slowly sip on the remaining dose throughout the workout.
Pre-workouts typically come in powdered drink mix form, but capsules are also available. If you’re using powders, you’ll want to mix them thoroughly with water and drink them shortly before you begin exercising. You can also mix them into shakes and other liquids. They are strong supplements for stamina, and are quite effective when used as directed.
Pre-Workout Supplement Side Effects
Pre-workouts can cause some side effects, mostly due to the caffeine content. Caffeine can cause jitteriness, anxiety, trouble sleeping, etc. It’s best to avoid using pre-workout supplements in the evening, as the caffeine content can make it difficult to fall asleep. Some pre-workout supplements can also cause a tingling sensation under the skin, which is a normal reaction caused by beta-alanine.
What is L-Carnitine?
L-Carnitine is an amino acid-like compound that is involved in the natural process of energy metabolism and mitochondrial protection. It can be naturally synthesized in the body (through the combination of key amino acids), and it can also be gained via foods and supplements. In supplement form, L-carnitine is often used by athletes and by dieters alike.
How L-Carnitine May Help Endurance
L-carnitine is primarily thought of as a weight loss tool, but it can also be used to help boost athletic performance. L-carnitine can help to resist fatigue.
How to Take L-Carnitine
L-carnitine is available both in powdered form and in capsules. Neither form is necessarily any better or worse than the other, so it’s mostly up to personal preference. The important thing is to follow the instructions on the product packaging, to ensure that you don’t take too much (this goes for any type of supplement).
One thing that is important to note is that L-carnitine needs to be taken with food. It does not absorb well on an empty stomach, so try to take it around mealtime for best results.
L-Carnitine Side Effects
As long as L-carnitine is taken as directed (and not on an empty stomach), it doesn’t usually cause side effects. Most of the side effects that are sometimes reported are gastrointestinal issues, such as nausea, upset stomach, etc.
What is Eurycoma?
Known formally by the scientific name eurycoma longifolia or by the common name of siberian ginseng (or tongkat ali), eurycoma is a herbal remedy that has been used in traditional medicine for centuries. Mostly used in Southeast Asia, eurycoma has been hailed there as an energy-booster and as a way to reduce the effects of physical stress on the body. In western medicine, it is less studied.
How Eurycoma May Help Endurance
Eurycoma helps regulate the natural levels of two important hormones in the body: testosterone and cortisol. Keeping these levels in balance leads to better performance, particularly in regards to athletic activities. Eurycoma needs to undergo more clinical trials before we can definitively say that it will improve your endurance.
How to Take Eurycoma
Eurycoma comes in capsule form, usually containing the powdered root or stem of the herb. It’s best taken with food, and dosages are usually in the 200-300mg range. Follow the dosage instructions on the product you choose for best results.
Eurycoma Side Effects
Eurycoma does not usually cause side effects, so long as it’s taken as directed. Some people do experience minor gastrointestinal discomfort. You should take the supplement with food to reduce the risk of side effects.
What is Rhodiola?
Known formally by its latin name of rhodiola rosea, rhodiola is a herb used in traditional Chinese and Scandinavian medicine as a way to improve physical and mental vitality. In modern medicine, some clinical trials have concluded that rhodiola has appeared to show effects in reducing fatigue in prolonged stressful situations.
How Rhodiola May Help Endurance
Rhodiola has been used for generations by Chinese and Scandinavian herbalists as a way to improve vitality. Today, it’s often used by athletes for endurance purposes.
Rhodiola is an interesting herb. In traditional medicine, it’s been used for thousands of years, but it’s just starting to become popular in Western medicine. We expect this to be one of the herbs that is studied greatly over the next few decades.
How to Take Rhodiola
Rhodiola comes in capsules, so it’s simple to take – just follow the instructions on the product you’re using! Most products include around 500mg per dose, although some evidence suggests that smaller doses can be effective, as well. It’s best to take this supplement with food.
Rhodiola Side Effects
Rhodiola side effects are rare, and generally mild when they do happen. The most common is dry mouth, which can be avoided by increasing fluid intake when you’re using the supplement. Some people have reported dizziness and trouble sleeping.
What is L-Arginine?
L-arginine is an amino acid that is used for a wide variety of functions within the body. It helps injuries, regulates waste, supports the immune system, and more. It also plays an important role in the production of nitric oxide, which in turn helps increase blood flow and may have a positive effect on exercise performance.
How L-Arginine May Help Endurance
L-arginine serves many purposes in the human body. It’s considered semi-essential, and although the body can produce it on its own, we generally do not have optimal levels of arginine in our system.
How to Take L-Arginine
L-arginine typically comes in pill form, although powders are also available. For best results, follow the directions on the product you’re using. L-arginine doesn’t need to be taken with food, but generally supplements do absorb better when taken with a meal.
L-Arginine Side Effects
When taken in recommended amounts and no more, L-arginine generally does not cause side effects. It can interfere with certain preexisting conditions, however. You should speak to your doctor before beginning this supplement, especially if you have low blood pressure, asthma, herpes or cirrhosis.
What is Quercetin?
Quercetin is a natural compound and antioxidant that is a key component of many superfoods. Some might say that it’s what makes superfoods “super”! Quercetin has been linked to increased endurance. Possessing strong antioxidant properties, quercetin is also useful for detoxifying the body and helping protect against cell damage.
How Quercetin May Help Endurance
Essentially, quercetin is a powerful antioxidant that is found naturally in foods such as kale, red wine, green tea, and others. In supplement form, the compound is isolated and put into capsules for convenience.
Quercetin is found naturally in many foods that are already considered to be very healthy, such as apples, kale, citrus, cranberries, red wine, green tea, and others. Now, some evidence has suggested that one of the key reasons that these foods are so healthy is because of their high quercetin content! By taking it in supplement form, you can get a concentrated dose to receive all the benefits of quercetin, without having to make major changes to your diet.
How to Take Quercetin
Quercetin comes in capsules, and it’s best to follow the instructions given by the manufacturer. There is no official recommended daily amount for this compound, but supplements tend to offer around 500mg per dose. It’s possible to experience benefits from taking smaller doses, but again, since the FDA does not have official recommendations for this compound, it’s best to stick to the dosage recommendations listed by the supplement manufacturer.
Quercetin Side Effects
Quercetin is food-derived, and generally does not cause side effects when taken as directed. Do note that there have not been many long-term studies looking at extended use of the compound (more than 3 months), so there’s not much evidence to support a lack of long-term side effects. If taken at high doses, quercetin can cause headaches and tingling skin in some people.