Nootropics are typically taken to enhance cognitive performance. However, bodybuilders, athletes and other fitness buffs are increasingly aware that nootropics can improve their physical performance while working out, too.
This guide discusses how the best nootropics for working out can produce mind-body benefits across motivation, intensity, energy, focus and more to help you get the most out of every training session.
How Can Nootropics Boost Physical Performance During Workouts?
Brain-booster supplements supply natural nootropic ingredients that can help optimize brain chemicals and cognitive functions that drive peak physical performance.
Some of the most significant research-backed nootropic benefits that may also assist with working out include:
Whether you are striving for one more rep or pushing yourself to go that extra mile, focus is the cognitive function that can help you to succeed. The ability to harness and concentrate one's mental faculties on a physical activity is what the mind-body connection is all about.
Strong focus can help to pump up intensity, extend endurance, and do everything else in the gym just a little bit better – which can add up to big muscle and fitness gains over time.
Energy is one of the main reasons athletes will seek out nootropics to enhance their gym performance.
Most athletes seeking supplemental support in this area are looking for stimulants – namely, caffeine. This is one reason why caffeine is such a popular ingredient in pre-workout supplements.
Caffeine reliably boosts alertness and perceived energy levels, both of which can help to enhance performance in any kind of workout.
- Perhaps even more promising are stim-free nootropics for working out that increase energy on a cellular level in both the brain and the body.
By boosting energy production within the cell via non-stimulatory pathways, these nootropics help to support clean energy enhancement. They promote overall energy efficiency throughout the whole body.
Beyond powering workouts, cell energy nootropics may also help with metabolic performance and healthy weight management. This makes them an even better fit for various training programs.
Stim-free energy nootropics also stack nicely with caffeinated pre-workout and intra-workout supplements.
A training session cannot even happen without the motivation and drive to get yourself to the gym, the track, the pool, or wherever your workout takes place. Because of this, motivation may be the single most important pathway in which nootropics can help people with working out.
Natural nootropics typically promote motivation by supporting the brain chemicals that are involved with regulating our inner drive. But more on that in a moment.
For now, just consider how a highly motivated mindset can cascade to improve many different aspects of working out – training consistency, intensity, power when lifting weights, and others.
Motivation may be among the most important nootropic benefits for beginners who are just starting to learn about how to stick to their fitness regimen and get the most out of their training sessions.
Any good workout will be a stressful work out. When you are engaging in intense training, it can place a tremendous amount of stress on your body and mind.
Nootropics for working out can help with stress in two key ways:
- Strengthening resistance to stress in both body and mind. Nootropic herbs called adaptogens are effective at improving mental performance because they help to limit stress's brain-fogging effect on cognition. That same strengthening effect benefits the body as well. As a result, adaptogen herbs provide a mind-body boost that can help athletes with physical strength, endurance and clear thinking under pressure.
- Neurotransmitter replenishment. When we place the body in stressful situations like high intensity training, brain chemicals are released and consumed at a faster rate. This surge in neurotransmitters partly explains feelings of euphoria, superhuman strength, and mind-body intensity that accompany a really good workout. Some nootropics for working out help to restore stress-depleted neurotransmitters.
Stress-oriented nootropics may help you achieve greater intensity in the gym, bounce back faster from punishing workouts, and get back in The Zone on a more consistent basis.
The Nootropic-Neurotransmitter Physical Training Connection
Brain chemicals play a big part in nootropics' effectiveness in the gym. Some nootropics for working out generally influence one or more of the following brain chemical systems:
The Dopaminergic System
The brain’s dopaminergic system is associated with the production of reward chemicals like dopamine. Nootropics can optimize dopaminergic connections by activating chemicals like dopamine or by implementing the generation of more chemicals. Some nootropics can also increase energy and reduce reactions to stress by getting involved in dopaminergic system processes. To be clear, motivation is manipulated by the value received from the reward.<2>
So, your willingness to work out comes from your perception of the value you receive from it. Your willingness is also affected by how much work you must put in to receive those rewards. The brain’s calculation of this cost-value equation determines its level of motivation for the task and how much stress it causes you. Nootropics can optimize these calculations.
The Serotonergic System
Comparatively, the serotonergic system is associated with serotonin -- known to control inhibitions and impulsiveness within the brain. Serotonin deficiency can cause low inhibitions that may lead to aggressiveness as well as an inability to follow through with goals.
- In other words, serotonin deficiency may negatively affect your perception of reward values, causing less motivation and more stress.
Nootropics may help us achieve fitness goals by balancing our reactions to stress factors. They can do so, specifically, by balancing dopamine and serotonin levels to improve motivation and relieve stress. On a side note, dopamine plays a part in regulating most behavior, making it hard to isolate one system with a nootropic without influencing other systems.<2>
The Cholinergic System
The cholinergic system is connected to the neocortex and hippocampus in the brain. It is associated with motivation, mood and acetylcholine.<3> Acetylcholine is the primary brain chemical that communicates between muscles and neurons. It has shown to play a part in energy arousal and attention in the brain.<3>
Essentially, the cholinergic system communicates with the neocortex using acetylcholine to control arousal.<3> In addition, the cholinergic system can help stimulate dopamine neurons.<3> This makes the cholinergic system a target for some nootropics, which produce and/or activate its chemicals to reduce stress, increase focus, increase energy and improve long-term motivation.
Mind Lab Pro® Nootropics for Working Out
Have you ever been unable to fathom hitting the gym after a stressful, mind-numbing workday? Perhaps your performance has been weakening in the gym lately, or you just can't seem to hit your personal best for any number of reasons.
In cases like these, a quality, highly effective stack of several natural nootropics may be just what you need to get back into your best fitness form.
Mind Lab Pro®'s unique Universal Nootropic design is effective for all cognitive pursuits, and also includes some of the best nootropics for working out in one supplement.
Mind Lab Pro® nootropics that may be helpful for athletics, gym training, endurance sports and other physical pursuits include:
L-Theanine is a natural herbal nootropic that can help with focus and stress reduction. It is a known ingredient in green tea, which Monks have been using for thousands of years to induce a state of relaxed mindfulness. Relatively, it can help body builders by decreasing fatigue and increasing relaxed focus before, during and after stressful workouts.
L-Theanine works by raising up Alpha waves and boosting neurotransmitters like dopamine in the brain. This process implements wakeful relaxation, induces relaxed mental clarity, and enhances mood. Studies show that L-theanine has possible anti-anxiety and anti-stress effects as well.<4> Thus, it is good for bodybuilders, especially those using anabolic steroids that may strain the organs and create excess stimulation.
N-Acetyl L-Tyrosine is a compound of amino acids that can help reduce stress in the brain and body before, during and after workouts. It may also help you increase and maintain focus and motivation for your workout throughout stressful days. N-Acetyl-L-Tyrosine (NALT) is more effective as a workout nootropic for mental recovery than L-tyrosine by itself, however. This optimized combination of ingredients is known to help with mental recovery, specifically.
Studies show that NALT has the capacity to increase resting energy expenditure. It may also alter negative perceptions about working out. For example, if you’re feeling unmotivated because you haven’t seen results at the gym, NALT can help pull you out of the negativity and into a more positive outlook. It does so by creating harmony between brain chemicals that affect mood, memory, and mental processes. Specifically, L-Tyrosine converts to L-DOPA to increase motivation. L-DOPA is the predecessor to dopamine (that motivational, feel-good chemical).
Vitamin B6 helps the brain create and combine neurotransmitters like serotonin and norepinephrine to balance mood and heart rate. Generally, B vitamins convert food to glucose, which gets turned into energy that can be used for working out. If the body doesn’t have enough, it may lack the energy to exercise and/or complete workouts consistently. This can also affect motivation.
B6 intake is known to increase the body’s response to certain “gene expressions” that support the growth of skeletal muscle.<5> Ultimately, it can increase energy and help repair muscles, which improves exercise performance and motivation for those who are B6-deficient.
Citicoline may help improve focus and energy during strength-training. Specifically, studies show that it has the potential to boost brain energy production and enhance concentration in subjects with attention problems.<6>
Citicoline may also help improve concentration by optimizing and supporting brain chemicals associated with focus: acetylcholine, dopamine and norepinephrine. It provides protective neuro nutrients to support these brain chemicals.
Bacopa Monnieri may help with focus and energy during stressful days or stressful workouts. It’s a natural adaptogen herb known to calm the mind and enhance concentration, which can be very beneficial for strength trainers looking to optimize gains while training.
Studies show that Bacopa Monnieri also promotes cognition and helps the body deal with stress better.<7> <8> <9> Stress reduction may allow bodybuilders and strength trainers to stay more motivated, energized and concentrated for workouts to enhance performance.
Maritime Pine Bark Extract
Maritime Pine Bark may help those with blood circulation issues during workouts. It may do so by activating the release of nitric oxide, which improves blood flow to the brain and relaxes blood vessels.
Since robust blood flow is key for both brain health and workout performance, this particular ingredient may be found in both nootropic supplements and sports nutrition pre-workout supplements (including our top recommended pre-workout formula below).
In addition, Maritime Pine Bark Extract supplies active proanthocyanidins. These antioxidants help to fight physical and mental oxidative stress that occurs during training.
Rhodiola Rosea is an herbal adaptogen, meaning it may reduce mental and physical reactions to stress. It also helps sustain acetylcholine, which stimulates the muscles for performance.<10> Some studies and reviews conclude that it can enhance performance and reduce mental fatigue; however, research is somewhat inconclusive.<11>
We know that Rhodiola Rosea optimizes dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine in the brain. Essentially, it enhances the impact of each brain chemical it supports. Dopamine drives reward mechanisms and motivation. Serotonin promotes mood enhancement; and norepinephrine increases heart rate. This combination can be beneficial to strength trainers and bodybuilders looking to improve performance and muscle gains.
Mind Lab Pro® supplies some of the best nootropics for working out in a clean, safe, natural and legal supplement.
Nootropics can help the brain and body to work in harmony for peak workout performance, as well as helping us to follow through with workout goals.
- Mind Lab Pro® nootropics may help with multiple aspects of working out, making it a strong choice for natural athletic performance enhancement.
Specifically, Mind Lab Pro® can support energy, focus, stress resistance, motivation and a long list of other cognitive functions that can have a significant impact on ultimate training results.
Stack Mind Lab Pro® + Performance Lab® SPORT Pre-Workout for superior mind-body athletic performance
Mind Lab Pro® is the best nootropic supplement on the market in 2018 because it is a Universal Nootropic™ that can help all aspects of brainpower across all walks of life.
While Mind Lab Pro® is effective as a cognitive pre-workout supplement, it may work even better when combined with a superior-quality physical pre-workout supplement.
- Performance Lab® SPORT Pre-Workout by Opti-Nutra is a stimulant-free pre-workout supplement that stacks especially well with Mind Lab Pro®.
When combined, Mind Lab Pro® and Performance Lab® SPORT Pre-Workout form a potent stack for unleashing exhilarating peak mind-body performance that can power any workout to new heights.
Performance Lab® SPORT Pre-Workout augments Mind Lab Pro®'s brain support with muscle-priming nutrition for high-intensity training
Ingredients: Creatine (Creapure® pH10), Cordyceps Super™ (50% polysaccharides), L-Citrulline, L-Glutamine (Ajinomoto®), L-Carnosine (N-beta-alanyl-histidine), Himalayan Pink Salt, Maritime Pine Bark Extract (95% proanthocyanidins)
Performance Lab® SPORT Pre-Workout is designed to optimize all fitness and training regimens by enhancing muscle power, increasing blood flow to muscles, optimizing oxygen utilization and extending physical endurance.
With additional support for growth hormone and body hydration, Performance Lab® SPORT Pre-Workout helps to maintain exercise intensity while priming muscles for healthy growth and recovery.
Mind Lab Pro® and Performance Lab® SPORT Pre-Workout are both Opti-Nutra Quality.
- Love TM. Oxytocin, Motivation and the Role of Dopamine. Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 2014 Apr; 0: 49–60.
- Bailey MR et al. An Interaction between Serotonin Receptor Signaling and Dopamine Enhances Goal-Directed Vigor and Persistence in Mice. J Neurosci. 2018 Jan 24. pii: 2088-17.
- Picciotto MR et al. Acetylcholine. Neuropsychopharmacology: The Fifth Generation of Progress. 2002.
- Ogawa S et al. Effects of L-theanine on anxiety-like behavior, cerebrospinal fluid amino acid profile, and hippocampal activity in Wistar Kyoto rats. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2018 Jan;235(1):37-45
- Suidasari S et al. Dietary vitamin B6 modulates the gene expression of myokines, Nrf2-related factors, myogenin and HSP60 in the skeletal muscle of rats. Exp Ther Med. 2017 Oct;14(4):3239-3246.
- McGlade E. et al. Improved Attentional Performance Following Citicoline Administration in Healthy Adult Women. Food and Nutrition Sciences. 2012;3:769-773
- Bhattacharya SK, Ghosal S. Anxiolytic activity of a standardized extract of Bacopa monniera: an experimental study. Phytomedicine. 1998 Apr;5(2):77-82.
- Bhattacharya SK et al. Antioxidant activity of Bacopa monniera in rat frontal cortex, striatum and hippocampus. Phytother Res. 2000 May;14(3):174-9.
- Chowdhuri DK et al. Antistress effects of bacosides of Bacopa monnieri: modulation of Hsp70 expression, superoxide dismutase and cytochrome P450 activity in rat brain. Phytother Res. 2002 Nov;16(7):639-45.
- Boeree GC. Neurotransmitters. General Psychology.
- Ishaque S et al. Rhodiola rosea for physical and mental fatigue: a systematic review. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2012; 12: 70.