Nootropics for Athletes

Nootropics for Athletes

As a runner or athlete, you’ve probably experienced the point in a training session where you have to overcome a mental barrier to keep going.

Your body hasn’t necessarily given up, but there’s something inside you telling you that a rest would be nice. You then have a discussion with yourself about why you should keep going and push past this point (you may also have another discussion about how you need to stop talking to yourself).

I’m just going to lie down right here and die, mmmkay?
(CC BY-SA 3.0)

With the right focus and mental tenacity, you’re able to overcome the hurdle and carry on, but mental fatigue can creep up at any time.  

This is especially true of students with heavy course loads and adults with demanding jobs. Nothing drains your resolve to keep going (or possibly starting exercising at all) like a mind-numbing study session or an excessively long work day.

With the right supplements, however, you can break these barriers with ease.

There are hundreds of supplements on the market that can make runners bigger, stronger or even faster, but what about your brain?

People wanting to increase mental performance at school or work have used Nootropics, a class of supplements specifically for cognition, for years. There’s a place for nootropics in the athlete’s arsenal as well.

The right supplements can get you motivated before your run or training session and keep you focused throughout giving you the edge you need to break through your mental barriers and crush previous performance records.

Nootropics for Athletes


Though not always seen as a nootropic, caffeine from coffee or tea and caffeine supplements are very effective at boosting cognitive performance. 

Both anecdotal and scientific reports show that caffeine can boost alertness, concentration and energy. This combination of concentration and physical energy is what keeps you going when you would normally be tired or ready to just stop. 

Caffeine can also help burn fat! For athletes, the recommended pre-workout dosage can vary depending on your tolerance and size. In general , taking 100-200mg (about the same caffeine in a cup of coffee) an hour before your workout will do the trick.

Cissus Quadrangularis Extract

Don’t punk out like this guy. Protect your joints.
(CC BY-SA 3.0)

Normally referred to as simply “cissus”, this supplement has anti-inflammatory properties and is used for joint pain.

As an athlete, pain can be mentally draining. Even with the right motivation, nothing kills a good training session faster than sore knees or shoulders.

Stopping joint pain is a good way to keep you focused on the task at hand and keep you from getting dragged into a negative mindset while working out.  The recommended dosage of cissus quadrangularis extract is 150mg twice per day (300mg/day total).


Similar to cissus, magnesium helps prevent focus-killing pain. “Feel the burn!” is a common saying in the gym and actually feeling the burn is pretty common too.

However, it’s not amusing at all.

This crippling burn felt during a workout is buildup of lactic acid in the muscles. The most unfortunate thing about lactic acid buildup is that it can stop you short, even when you have the strength and energy to keep going.

Magnesium is an essential mineral for the body and depleted levels can cause lactic acid buildup, fatigue and cramps, so supplementing with magnesium is especially critical for athletes. 

Proper magnesium levels will keep you energized during your workout, help prevent soreness post workout and even help your metabolism. 

You can get magnesium through various foods, but adding a high quality magnesium supplement is an good way to make sure you’re topping off your magnesium tank. Recommended dosage is 250mg-500mg/day.

Again, the importance of mental performance for athletes can’t be overstated and unless you have nothing to distract you before your daily training, chances are you’re at risk for the mental fatigue that can hold you back from reaching your goals.

These three supplements are safe, inexpensive ways to give yourself the edge to overcome mental barriers.