Rhodiola Rosea vs. Ashwagandha for Bodybuilding 

Adaptogenic herbs have been coming onto the fitness scene, and for good reason. Rhodiola rosea and ashwagandha specifically can have some impressive benefits for fitness enthusiasts and bodybuilders. 

The question is, which one is better? This post breaks down the benefits of both, which are more effective for working out, and more. 

What is Rhodiola Rosea? 

Rhodiola is a medicinal plant used as a health supplement for centuries because of its adaptogen properties that help with mental and physical stress.1 It’s also known as arctic root or golden root because of where it grows natively. It can be found in herbal teas as well as both powder and capsule supplements. 

There’s a long list of the benefits of using Rhodiola, which is covered below. From helping your body recover after exercise to boosting energy levels without the jitters of other stimulating supplements, this is a well-rounded herb, to say the least. 

What is Ashwagandha? 

Also known as Indian ginseng and winter cherry, Ashwagandha is a small shrub with medicinal properties native to India and Africa. The most popular part of the plant is its roots, where the powder is extracted for use in herbal supplements. It’s also found in powder and capsule forms or tea. Similar to Rhodiola, Ashwagandha is considered an adaptogen because of its many benefits like aiding athletic performance, sleep, relaxation, and more.2 

Ashwagandha has been used for centuries all over the world but has been gaining traction for modern use in the last several years for both general wellness and bodybuilding. 

What’s the Difference Between Rhodiola and Ashwagandha? 

It might seem like these two adaptogenic herbs are essentially the same, but there are some key differences between them. 

First, there are the energy and relaxation factors–Ashwagandha is known to be relaxing, while Rhodiola is the most energizing of the two. Most people who want to ease anxiety, calm down 

for bed, or just feel a bit more mellow choose Ashwagandha. On the flip side, Rhodiola is usually the pick for an energy boost or an increase in physical stamina. 

As far as strength, Ashwagandha has been shown to increase power output, athletic performance, and endurance–on top of being a testosterone booster. Rhodiola, on the other hand, is great for optimizing cognitive function. 

How Do the Benefits of Rhodiola Rosea and Ashwagandha Compare? 

Before we get into the nitty gritty of each, just remember that comparing these two adaptogenic herbs is like comparing apples and oranges. Even though they’re both adaptogenic herbs, they work differently within the body. 

Think of it like this: 

Ashwagandha = delayed physical response to mental and physical stress Rhodiola = decreased feelings of fatigue and stress from the start 

They’re two different herbs with different benefits, especially for bodybuilders. 

Benefits of Rhodiola Rosea 

The benefits of Rhodiola are many, but the following are the most noteworthy. 

Benefits of Ashwagandha 

The benefits of ashwagandha are similar to Rhodiola, but let’s dive in deeper to see how this herb is different. 

  • Improves resistance to stress
  • Increases memory, attention span, and information-processing speed
  • Increases strength and aids muscle recovery 
  • Aids body weight management 

Will One Be More Beneficial than the Other for Bodybuilding? 

There isn’t enough evidence to support a yes or no answer, but probably–and that’s ashwagandha. 

Ashwagandha has been shown to make a significant difference in factors involved with bodybuilding goals, like weight management, stress response, cortisol levels, muscle gains, overall strength, and endurance. However, Rhodiola also has a lot of the same benefits, especially relating to stress management from working out or just life stressors. Rhodiola also is an energizer, which of course, can help you when you work out, but you can find energy from other sources. 

Given the current studies, ashwagandha seems to be promising for greater bodybuilding results. 

Can Rhodiola Rosea and Ashwagandha Be Taken Together? 

Most people can tolerate the two together, but it’s always a good idea to start with one new supplement on its own and then add another one into the mix. 

If you want to combine them both, try taking them at different times of the day to prevent overstimulation. Since Rhodiola is more energizing, it makes sense to take it in the morning or before your workout as long as it’s not too late in the day. Ashwagandha tends to be the more relaxing one of the two, so take that one at night or after your workout. 

Once you know how your body reacts to each one, you can stack them together or find a supplement that contains both. 

Bottom Line: Rhodiola Rosea vs. Ashwagandha – Which is Better? 

It ultimately depends on your goals. As a bodybuilder, you’re probably looking for more muscle gain and stamina, which Ashwagandha seems to shine at. And it can even help with weight management, especially if you struggle with high cortisol levels caused by stress or find yourself stress-eating.3

Since Ashwagandha seems to have more muscle and exercise-related benefits, you may want to experiment with it first. If you don’t see a difference in your weightlifting or fitness goals, there’s no reason you can’t also try Rhodiola. 


Adaptogenic herbs have been found to provide general health benefits as well as perks for helping you reach your bodybuilding goals. Ashwagandha and Rhodiola have both shown significant results in and out of the gym. 

Based on specific studies, Ashwagandha may be the more promising one for bodybuilders, but Rhodiola takes second place. They’re both powerful, and you may just have to experiment with both, separately or stacked together. When in doubt, refer back to this article for some quick guidance.

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Courtney Smith
Courtney Smith

Courtney is a freelance wellness writer and aspiring health and fitness coach. When she's not writing, she's trying to keep up with her two kids, squeezing in a workout, or brewing another cup of adaptogenic coffee.

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