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Athletic Performance

While athletic performance cannot be measured in animals, studies have provided insight into maca’s role in improving energy, including animal studies that commonly use swim tests (time to exhaustion) to measure this improvement.


At present, some human studies using black maca have been conducted in the athlete population, with similar outcomes being observed across the studies.


A 4-week, placebo-controlled, crossover study of 8 elite adolescent female handball athletes investigated the changes in isokinetic muscular performance using 2,500 mg twice daily of black maca (1). This resulted in a significant increase in:

  • Muscle endurance, as indicated by improvements in 180 degrees right extensor (p<0.05), 180 degrees left extensor (p<0.05), and 180 degrees left flexor (p<0.01) of isokinetic function of the knee. 

  • Cardiopulmonary endurance, as indicated by improvements in the 20-minute shuttle run (p<0.001). 


Similarly, a 4-week study of 10 female athletes observed a significant decrease in body mass index (BMI), inflammatory markers (CRP and CK), and muscle endurance at 180-degree extensor (improved muscle function) using 5 grams of black maca daily (2).


A significant improvement in muscle endurance and strength (p<0.05) was observed during a 4-week study of 16 university racket athletes taking 2,500 mg of black maca powder twice daily. Additionally, a significant decrease in ammonia levels (p<0.05) was also observed (3).


Forty (40) elite athletes (shooting athletes (SA), racket sports athletes (RSA), and fin swimming athletes (FSA)) participated in an 8-week intervention trial. The study aimed to investigate the effects of black maca supplementation (2,300 mg twice daily) on changes in physical strength and inflammatory markers among elite athletes. The results varied in statistical ranges based on the sport of the athlete but included:

  • Significant increase in muscle endurance, agility, muscle strength, flexibility, and power

  • Significant decrease in inflammatory markers (IL-6 and TNF-a)

  • Significant decrease in lactic acid and C-reactive protein 

 The authors propose that the mechanism of action could result from constituents (saponins, phenols, and flavonoids) and/or the arginine content of maca (4). Lower IL-6 levels were observed in men and women who were regular consumers of maca as a food source (5).


In addition, one study included eight experienced male athletes who consumed 2,000 mg per day of an unspecified color of maca. Maca extract users significantly improved 40 km cycling time performance compared to the baseline test (P=0.01) but not compared to the placebo trial after supplementation (P>0.05)(6). 


Author: Kim Ross, DCN

Reviewer: Mona Fahoum, ND

Last Updated: February 19, 2024



1. Kang S, Ahn BO, Park MH, Lim ST, Lee E. Effects of Black Maca supplement on isokinetics muscular performance of elite women’s handball players: placebo-controlled, crossover study. Food Nutr Res. 2023;67.

2. Choi JW, Kang S. Effect of Intake Black Maca on Inflammatory Factors in Female Athletics. Journal of Sport and Dance Science. 2021 Dec 31;1(2):39–47.

3. Park MH, Lim ST, Lee J, Kim BJ, Oh SB, Kang S. Effects of Resistance Exercise, Black Maca and Combined Treatment on Blood Muscle Fatigue Factors and Muscle Function in Racket Athletes. Exercise Science. 2022;31(4).

4. Lee E, Park M, Kim B, Kang S. Effect of Black Maca Supplementation on Inflammatory Markers and Physical Fitness in Male Elite Athletes. Nutrients. 2023;15(7).

5. Gonzales GF, Gasco M, Lozada-Requena I. Role of Maca (Lepidium meyenii) Consumption on Serum Interleukin-6 Levels and Health Status in Populations Living in the Peruvian Central Andes over 4000 m of Altitude. Plant Foods for Human Nutrition. 2013;68(4).

6. Stone M, Ibarra A, Roller M, Zangara A, Stevenson E. A pilot investigation into the effect of maca supplementation on physical activity and sexual desire in sportsmen. J Ethnopharmacol. 2009;126(3).

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