Gym, Exercise, Fitness And Ayurvedic Bodybuilding Herbal Supplements

Ayurvedic bodybuilding and muscle toning supplements were famous during the time the Ayurvedic classical textbooks were written many centuries ago!

Exercise benefits

As per Ashtanga Sangraha Sutrasthana 5th chapter,
That which brings tiredness to the body is called Vyayama.
Regular exercise brings lightness to the body and keeps the body healthy and active throughout the day.
It improves digestive power.
It burns fat and makes the body strong and sturdy.

gym drink

Who should do only limited exercise?
Those who have Vata and Pitta predominant body constitution, who are too young or too old, and those suffering from indigestion  – they better avoid or do less of exercises.

What kind of food is good for gym and exercise?
SnigdhaBhojana – unctuous food articles – Ghee, carbohydrate and protein-rich food articles. This is because, gym and exercise tend to aggravate Vata, to mitigate which, the above food is advised.

Exercise according to season

Which are the seasons best for Vyayama?
During winter and spring, one can do the full range of exercises. During the rest of the periods, it can be done with care and within a limit. This is because Ayurveda explains  – Bala (strength) of an individual will be maximum in winter and spring.

How long should one do Vyayama or exercise:
Up to half of one’s original strength. Till one starts breathing heavily, and till sweat appears over the forehead, arms and thighs, one is advised to do exercise.

Excessive exercise harms

What are the harms of over-exercising?
Ayurveda says, Over- exercising leads to depletion in body tissues, hunger imbalance, depleted desire and depleted body growth.

It is also quite commonly seen that the over exercise and gym practices leads to an abnormal hunger level, leading to obesity, and many cardiac and respiratory problems, a feeling of excessive tiredness, fatigue etc.

Which is the best time for gym?
Ayurveda explains morning as the best time for exercise.  The routine as prescribed by Ayurveda is – to get up at 5 AM, to attend to daily rituals, and then to exercise.

During morning hours, since all the organs are at rest and are ready to get pumping, it is more sensible to go for the gym in the morning. That does not mean that one should not do exercise in the evening but one gets easily tired out and feels sleepy if exercised in evening hours.

Ayurvedic supplements

Ayurvedic herbal supplements to increase muscle tone:
Ashwagandhadi Lehya
is the main product that Ayurveda prescribes for improved muscle tone and fitness. It is also called as Ajaswagandhadi Leham. It is available in both veg and non veg forms.
Details of vegetarian Aswagandhadhi lehyam
Details of non veg Ajaswagandhadi lehyam

But one disadvantage with both the of the above is, both contain sugar, which is not ideal for people trying to lose fat. For them, A combination of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) and Shilajit makes sense.
AVP Aswajit capsule contains both the above ingredients. It can be taken for a period of 1- 2 months, based on your doctor’s advice.

Between Ashwagandha, Shilajit, Gokshura and Amla, which is best for gym goers?
First of all, consult a doctor directly for choosing the right supplement for you. Here are a few general guidelines –

1. If you want power and stamina, I would vote for Shilajit. Read more about Shilajit benefits
2. For good physique, mental balance and to have a stress free brain and body, I would vote for Ashwagandha. Read more about Ashwagandha
3. To have well-cut body muscles, without much water retained in muscles and body, I would vote for Gokshura. Read more about Gokshura – Tribulus
4. For an overall healthy and rejuvenated body (not necessarily good muscles) and less body fat consider Amla. Read more about Amla
5. Other general options – Moringa leaf, wheat grass – for general stamina.


Can Ashwagandha Increase Muscle Bulk? Can it be used as gym supplement?  
Dr JV Hebbar
Ashwagandha can definitely be used as a gym supplement. It can be consumed along with a gym shake that you might use in the gym.
When we look into the indications of Ashwagandha, there are references for it to improve muscle strength.
अश्वगन्धाऽनिलश्लेष्मश्वित्रशोथक्षयापहा |
बल्या रसायनी तिक्ता कषायोष्णाऽतिशुक्रला ||१६२||
aśvagandhā’nilaśleṣmaśvitraśothakṣayāpahā |
balyā rasāyanī tiktā kaṣāyoṣṇā’tiśukralā ||162|| Bhavaprakasha Nighantu anila śleṣma  – Balances Vata and kapha Dosha
śvitra – useful in leucoderma
śotha – anti-inflammatory, brings down muscle inflammation very quickly. Heals the muscles fast and thus can enable you to spend more time in gym without getting tired
kṣayāpahā  – useful in muscle and body weakness, tissue loss
balyā  – improves strength
rasāyanī  – anti aging
tiktā  – bitter
kaṣāyoṣṇa – astringent, hot
atiśukralā – aphrodisiac. So it is useful to improve muscle strength, energy and stamina. 

This is even proved with modern research as well. An 8 week randomized prospective, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical study, 57 young male subjects (18–50 years old) with little experience in resistance training were randomized into treatment. Subjects in the treatment group consumed 300 mg of ashwagandha root extract twice daily, while the control group consumed placebos.
Muscle strength size, body composition, serum testosterone and muscle recovery were measured.
The group treated with Ashwagandha significantly had greater increase in muscle strength, size increase in the arms, chest and legs. They also had significantly greater reduction of exercise-induced muscle damage. So, muscle healing, nourishing and building happens with Ashwagandha supplementation.(1)

How to take it?
Ashwagandha powder – 1 teaspoon or 1 tablet – once a day is a healthy adult dose for a period of 2- 3 months of time. Milk, ghee or water are good adjuvants. It can even be boiled with half a cup of milk and consumed. But a healthy diet is also important to go along with it.  
To improve muscle bulk, 
you would need magnesium which helps in muscle relaxation and healing, 
Iron to improve blood pumping 
zinc to improve testosterone and thus help in muscle building and of course protein. 
Black gram has all these components and can be ideal to include in your diet for muscle building, gym and yoga. 
You could also mix a teaspoon of ashwagandha to any black gram dish that you prepare. 
I have given this as just one example, including whole grains, fruits, vegetables, seeds, dry fruits and pulses will make the diet wholesome and will provide all the nutrients that your body needs. 

Whey protein

Can Whey protein be taken along with Ayurvedic supplements?
Generally yes. But it is best to take Ayurvedic supplement first and then take the whey protein.
Excess of protein is bad for health. So, consult a doctor.
People taking whey protein need more digestive strength. So, for them, digestion improving spices are more suited.

General rule for taking any Ayurvedic supplement for gym and fitness:
Do not take the same supplement for a long period of time.
Always consult your doctor before taking any supplement.
Usual norm of taking is – take supplements for 2 months, give a gap of one month and then continue again.
Watch for any unusual side effects that you may develop over a period of time and notify it to your doctor.

Protein diet – diarrhoea

Chickpea, green peas, etc are rich sources of protein. But if you start taking them suddenly, it may lead to stomach disturbances. Such stomach complaints are also seen in the case of intake of protein supplements. It is best to add a pinch of asafoetida, cardamom, black pepper etc spices to these protein dishes. Having papaya regularly also helps in easy digestion of proteins.
Payapa is used since hundreds of years in Ayurveda. Read Papaya benefits
It contains Papain, a phytochemical which acts as proteolytic. It helps in easy breaking down of protein molecules into smaller digestion friendly ones. (1)

17 comments on “Gym, Exercise, Fitness And Ayurvedic Bodybuilding Herbal Supplements

  • alain Demeestere

    15/07/2010 - 9:22 pm

    Dear Dr Hebbar

    What about Tribulus Terrestris (Gokshura). Could you explain the benefits of this plant? Fruit and Whole Plant

    Your blog is very informative.
    Many thanks

    Reply to comment
    • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu)

      09/12/2011 - 12:46 pm

      It is a small plant, usually spreads on the ground, having thorny fruits. It is one among Dashamoola (group of ten roots). Tribulus is known for aphrodisiac action. It also acts as mild diuretic and is used in kidney, bladder and gall bladder stones.

      Reply to comment
  • Bartosz

    29/12/2010 - 12:43 am

    I find your tips very usefull. Could you explain diet recomendations for intensive workout. I do 5days a week 2hrs exercise. my prakruti is PK. living in north Europe, so wheather is cold and wet, and changes often. Thank you.

    Reply to comment
  • shiva

    14/05/2011 - 2:21 pm

    i would like to know about gokshura in bodybuilding.

    Reply to comment
    • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu)

      14/05/2011 - 10:43 pm

      Gokshura (Tribulus terrestris) is an Ayurvedic herb used since many centuries. There are different clinical trials proving its influence to stimulate testosterone production. But strong evidence is yet to be established. Another interesting fact about Gokshura is, it is an excellent diuretic and helps to give shape to the muscles.
      There are many tribulus supplements in the market but the best way to use it is to get the raw herb, make into decoction and to drink it.

      Reply to comment
  • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu)

    17/05/2011 - 2:46 pm

    You can get raw Gokshura in any raw herb selling shops. at least in India, there are plenty. I can not suggest you stores in this platform, as any kind of affiliate business is not allowed here.

    Reply to comment
  • naveen

    04/10/2011 - 6:01 pm

    hello sir,
    i ve taken dabur ashwagandhadhi lehyam and i have it 2 sppon in the morning and evening. would this be enough as a body building supplement since am keen in building musles and started going ti gym.
    with regards,

    Reply to comment
  • JK

    07/02/2012 - 11:05 am

    Just for information.. Is there any suppliment to be taken for diabetic body builders… ashwagandhadhi lehyam and Gokshura safe..

    Reply to comment
    • JK

      08/02/2012 - 3:46 pm

      Any Ayurvedic body building ( muscle building) suppliment for Diabetics…

      Reply to comment
      • JK

        08/02/2012 - 5:00 pm

        Is ashwagandha safe for diabetics

        Reply to comment
      • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu)

        10/02/2012 - 3:27 pm

        Plain Ashwagandha capsule is a good choice. But consulting your Ayurvedic doctor in person is a good idea.

        Reply to comment
  • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu)

    09/03/2012 - 7:44 pm

    Looks just fine. No issues.

    Reply to comment
  • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu)

    15/05/2012 - 12:33 pm

    Dear sir,
    You can buy Aswagandhadi Lehyam from the following link –
    Aswagandhadi Lehyam (500 gms)

    Reply to comment
  • kushal

    21/05/2012 - 10:56 pm

    I am very thin , can u pls suggest me the best ayurvedic supplement to gain weight & height. could you pls help me out with this?

    Reply to comment
  • Shivam Dayal

    18/01/2019 - 3:57 pm

    What are the ayurvedic properties of whey protein powder like its Veerya, guna, vipaka , rasa etc.

    Reply to comment

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