News flash: cardio supplements are a real thing.
When you hear “supplements,” you probably think about the typical bodybuilding enhancements: creatine, whey protein, pre-workout, etc.
But there are plenty of effective cardio supplements that will help you take your endurance to the next level.
This makes sense when you think about it. After all, endurance athletes make extreme demands on their body: running 50+ miles a week, biking hundreds of miles, swimming endless laps in the pool—it’s a tremendous amount of training volume.
Fortunately, cardio supplements can give you the advantage you need! Here are just a few of the benefits you can enjoy with proper supplementation:
- Boost your training and performance to break new personal records
- Increase your mental stamina and strength
- Strengthen your active muscles so they can work harder and longer
- Decrease your body’s recovery time
With all that in mind, here’s our list of the top 10 cardio supplements designed to increase stamina and strength.
Don’t worry – they’re all legal and approved for endurance competitions.
Let’s find something you’ll love!
Caffeine isn’t just for Red Bull junkies and coffee pot squatters anymore.
Studies have proven caffeine to improve performance, energy, and mental ability.
Many runners drink coffee before training, but you can get your caffeine from other sources too:
- Caffeine pills
- Caffeine powder
- Energy packets
- 5-Hour Energy shots
- Pre-workout drinks
- Energy Chews, blocs, or gels
So whether you’re hitting the trail early in the morning or you need a mid-race pick-me-up, make sure you supplement with some caffeine.
Not sure where to start? Try SmarterVitamins Keto 200mg Caffeine Pills.
Don’t make the mistake of stereotyping creatine as a supplement reserved for muscle-building meatheads!
Why do lifters use creatine? To improve their strength, power, and recovery.
Aren’t those things you’re looking for, too?
Creatine has been proven to decrease lactate during exercises and can help to improve recovery time during high-intensity interval training—think sprints and hill training.
Improved muscle strength and size will help you push yourself harder, faster, and longer.
Strong legs sure will come in hand during 7,000-feet elevation climbs during ultramarathons! And swimmers need a strong back and core to propel them quickly across the water.
Whatever you do, don’t knock creatine off your supplement list!
While there are lots of brands you could try, we like Optimum Nutrition Micronized Creatine.
“Electrolytes.” It’s a buzzword favorite for marketers and sports enthusiasts alike.
Electrolytes are minerals in the body that are essential to maintaining proper functions.
You need electrolytes to avoid muscle cramping, fatigue, dehydration, and other similarly painful problems.
You lose electrolytes through sweat—and you likely sweat a lot during endurance training.
Don’t worry, though: you can restore your electrolyte balance through several cardio supplements:
Keep up your electrolytes to keep performing at your best!
Endurance challenges deplete glycogen stores in the body.
When your glycogen stores run empty, you “hit the wall.” You’ll feel like you can’t go any further.
Fortunately, carbohydrate supplements can help you replenish glycogen and continue maximum performance throughout your race or workout.
Take note, though: some carbohydrates are easier for your body to digest and convert into ready-to-use energy. These include the following:
These simple carbs will give you the calories you need to keep powering your body forward.
Think of it this way: carbs are like the gas to your car, the heat to your stove, the power to your computer, the hammer to your nails…
You get the point.
Here’s a delicious and nutritious option: CLIF SHOT – Energy Gel – Mocha – (1.2 Ounce Packet, 24 Count)
5. Whey Protein
Whey protein can help boost your cardio performance? No way!
Yes, Whey! (see what we did there?)
Protein is necessary for your body to build, repair, and maintain lean muscle, and whey protein is perfect for rebuilding muscles after strenuous workouts.
Most endurance athletes can get their protein from whole foods like meat, milk, legumes, nuts, grains, and other foods. But whey protein is an accessible, quick source of high-quality protein.
- Whey protein powders
- Protein bars
- Protein shakes
A strong, healthy body will be ready to train and compete at optimal levels. With this in mind, don’t forget your protein! Mix it into a drink for best results.
Multivitamins aren’t just for seniors anymore.
Even if you eat “healthy,” you may struggle to consume the essential vitamins your body needs.
This is especially true for people on strict diets, like vegans or vegetarians, who often can’t get all the minerals and vitamins with whole foods alone.
A simple multivitamin can help fill the nutritional gaps in this diet and “promote overall wellness.”
Sodium is one of the most important electrolytes and one that many endurance athletes fail to balance.
When it’s warm outside, you sweat a lot. And when you sweat, you lose lots of salt—up to 3,000 mg in a single hour!
Sodium is essential to regulating your body’s fluid levels and helping keep you on your feet.
But no, you don’t need to carry the salt shaker in your pocket. There are some better ways to get salt back in your body. Try any of these options:
- Sports drinks like Gatorade
- Saltstick Tabs
- Salty foods (black olives, pretzels, salted almonds)
Beta-alanine is an amino acid proven to enhance muscular endurance and high-intensity capacity while reducing fatigue.
This cardio supplement offers incredible endurance-boosting benefits.
Wondering where to find beta-alanine? These are all sure-fire options:
- Beta-alanine supplements
- You can also find sufficient doses of beta-alanine in pre-workout mixes, such as Optimum Nutrition Beta-Alanine, Unflavored, 7.15 Ounce
To consistently put your body through endurance challenges, you’ll need to fuel yourself properly.
Luckily, smart supplementing can give you the healthy energy you need to take your training to the next level. Most pre-workout blends contain some mixture of amino acids, creatine, caffeine, beta-alanine, which can help your body power through a tough sweat session.
If you don’t already take a pre-workout you love, consider starting with something like Do Vitamins – PurePump Natural Pre Workout.
BCAAs stands for branched-chain amino acids.
When you’re exercising extreme amounts (like running 40-50 miles a week, swimming every day, or biking hundreds of miles), you put enormous stress on your body.
Initially, you lose tons of fat and develop lean muscle, but eventually your muscle mass beings to suffer.
The leaner you become, the more your body will turn to muscle stores for energy. This is why most endurance athletes look so dang skinny!
But that’s where BCAAs come in!
BCAAs help you retain your muscle mass even when you’re in the midst of a caloric deficit. This is especially important when you regularly perform fasted cardio or participate in ultramarathons or marathons.
To prevent your body from converting your muscles into energy, take some BCAAs before you work out!
Not only do BCAAs prevent muscle breakdown, but they can also improve your workout intensity and help you exercise longer and harder.
Running Supplements for Endurance | Do They Work?
Take a look at these science-backed benefits of running supplements for endurance athletes:
- Caffeine, found in many endurance supplements, has been proven to boost mental alertness, improve mood, and even boost the desire to run hard.
- BCAAs have been proven to improve physical performance by reducing the fatigue you feel during exercise. Some studies found BCAAs to reduce fatigue by as much as 15%. That could make a huge impact for a long-distance runner!
- Participants who took BCAAs rated muscle soreness 33% lower than those taking a placebo. In another test, those given BCAAs performed 20% better when given the same strength-training tests 24–48 hours later, suggesting reduced recovery time.
- Studies show that those who take pre-workout supplements report higher scores for energy and concentration.
- Whey protein has been proven to reduce inflammation, a common ailment among endurance athletes. Whey protein can also help with fat loss (specifically fat, not weight. An important note for runners looking to lower their body fat, not necessarily their total weight).
There are plenty more reasons, but I think the data speaks for itself. Running supplements for endurance athletes can improve performance!
Should You Take Pre-Workout for Cardio?
First, let’s take a look at what pre-workout does.
Pre-workout is designed to boost athletic performance:
- Pre-workouts helps to increase energy and endurance by stimulating adrenaline release.
- Some pre-workout supplements improve blood flow, leading to bigger muscle pumps and nutrient delivery.
- Pre-workouts increase production of ATP, improving your strength and workload.
- Many pre-workouts contain stimulants, like caffeine and taurine, proven to increase mental alertness and focus.
Looking at this list of benefits, are there any you think would improve your performance?
If you’re interested in starting supplementation, we recommend experimenting with pre-workout for cardio in a few training sessions. That will give you an idea of what you like, and you can go from there.
Our team at The Fitness Tribe often collaborates together to produce content. Many times the content is not written by a single author, instead it is usually a team effort.