Recovery Is Essential To Continue Making Progress
Recovery is one of the most important parts of any fitness program. The faster that your body can recover from intense training sessions the faster you’ll make gains in the gym. Being able to recover faster will allow you to train more frequently which will lead to more muscle growth in less time. Without a proper recovery plan in place your progress can dramatically slow and could even regress.
Behind any good fitness program is a solid nutrition plan. Nutrition and sleep are the keys when it comes to being able to recover faster. Luckily with the advances in sports technology, muscle recovery supplements have come a long way and there are a few clinically proven supplements to help speed up the recovery process.
This article is going to be broken up into 3 phases of nutrition. Pre workout, intra workout, and post workout. Each phase is just as equally important as any other. We will then touch on the importance of sleep and supplements that can help increase your quality of sleep.
Pre Workout Muscle Recovery Supplements
Recovery starts before you even begin training. Before you train you want to make sure that you provide your body with the proper nutrients so you’ll be able to endure an intense training session. Below is a list of supplements that will help fuel your workouts and prevent muscle breakdown during your training session.
For an in depth view on how to choose the perfect pre workout supplement check out this article.
Whey Protein Isolate
Whey protein isolate is a good choice for a protein source pre workout because it digests fast so it’ll be ready to be used to prevent muscle breakdown during your workout,
Creatine is among the most well-researched and effective supplements. It can help with exercise performance by rapidly producing energy during intense activity. Creatine may also provide cognitive benefits but more research is needed in that area. The primary benefit of creatine is an improvement in strength and power output during resistance exercise.
Beta-alanine is a modified version of the amino acid alanine. Beta-alanine has been shown to enhance muscular endurance. Many people report being able to perform one or two additional reps in the gym when training in sets of 8–15 repetitions. Beta-alanine supplementation can also improve moderate- to high-intensity cardiovascular exercise performance, like rowing or sprinting.
L-Citrulline is one of the three dietary amino acids in the urea cycle, alongside L-arginine and L-Ornithine. Taking L-Citrulline increases plasma levels of ornithine and arginine and improves the ammonia recycling process and nitric oxide metabolism Limited research suggests that it results in reduced fatigue and improved endurance for both aerobic and anaerobic exercise.
Glutamine is one of the 20 naturally occurring amino acids in dietary protein, specifically it is a conditionally essential amino acid (being elevated to essential during periods of disease and muscle wasting typical of physical trauma). It is sold as an isolated amino acids as well as being found in high levels in dietary meats and eggs. It is found in very high levels in both whey and casein protein.
Glutamine is a very effective intestinal and immune system health compound, as these cells use glutamine as the preferred fuel source rather than glucose.
A good pre workout shake would look something like the following:
- Whey Protein Isolate (40g)
- Creatine (5g)
- Beta Alanine (3g)
- L-Citrulline (6g)
- Glutamine (5g)
There are plenty of really good pre workout supplements on the market today. Check out this article for help on how to choose the right one for you.
Intra Workout Muscle Recovery Supplements
Intra workout nutrition has become a popular topic over the last few years. There are studies that show with the right supplements you can help blunt cortisol and prevent muscle breakdown. Cortisol is a catabolic hormone that is released when your body is under stress and will eat away at your muscle tissue. You can sip on an intra workout shake to help prevent this from happening. For an in depth discussion on proper intra workout nutrition check out this article.
The purpose of an intra workout shake is to provide your muscles with a constant stream of nutrients. You will want to sip on a shake that will spike your insulin levels which will help shuttle the other recovery nutrients in your shake into your muscles. Below is a list of supplements to include in your intra workout shake that have been scientifically proven to blunt the cortisol response, spike insulin, and start the recovery process.
Highly Branched Cluster Dextrin (HBCD), also known as Cyclic Dextrin, is a carbohydrate that is made up of designer glucose polymers.
Highly Branched Cluster Dextrin is formed through the breakdown of amylopectin using enzymatic treatments into clusters, which are then formed into larger chains using additional branching enzymes.
By increasing the molecular weight, osmolality is reduced which means that this carbohydrate source will be rapidly digested while providing your body with a sustained release of energy.
This makes the use of Cluster Dextrin an excellent choice to be used around the time of your workouts.
Essential Amino Acids (EAA’s)
Essential Amino Acids (EAA) cannot be made by the body and as a result, they must come from food or other supplement sources. When proteins are digested or broken down, amino acids are left.
The human body uses amino acids to make proteins to help the body:
- Break down food
- Repair body tissue
- Perform many other body functions
- Amino acids can also be used as a source of energy by the body
The 9 Essential Amino Acids are
Since proteins are the building blocks for muscle and EAA’s are the building blocks for protein it makes sense that this would be a good choice to include in your intra workout shake. By combining intra workout carbs with EAA’s you create the insulin spike that will then shuttle the amino acids into the muscles. Since EAAs are already broken down they can be rapidly absorbed and used by the body to promote rapid muscle growth and repair.
A typical intra workout shake would contain:
- Cluster Dextrin (30 – 50g)
- EAA’s – 10 – 15g
Post Workout Muscle Recovery Supplements
Another critical window of recovery opportunity is 45 – 90 minutes after training completes. This is known as the post workout anabolic window. Your muscles have taken a beating and are begging for nutrients.
This is a great time for a solid post workout shake. The post workout shakes job is to provide your muscles with the nutrients they crave to help with the recovery process. Again this is a good time to spike insulin levels and provide the body with an ample amount of fast digesting protein. Insulin will shuttle the nutrients in your bloodstream to areas of the body that need them. Since you’ve just completed an intense training session those muscles will receive priority and the nutrients will be delivered to those muscles. Below is a list of supplements that are ideal for post workout shakes.
Whey Protein Isolate
Whey protein isolate is ideal for post workout shakes because it is one of the fastest digesting proteins available and one of the most refined. This means that it is mostly made up of protein and has little to no carbs and fat. We want to be able to digest and absorb protein as fast as possible post workout.
Cluster Dextrin Or Another Fast Digesting Carbohydrate
Including a fast digesting carb in your post workout shake is a great way to spike insulin which will shuttle the whey protein isolate to where it needs to go.
A typical post workout shake would look something like this:
- Almond Milk or Water (10oz)
- Whey Protein Isolate (40-50g)
- Cluster Dextrin (40-50g)
Sleep is probably the most important factor when it comes to the recovery process. Our bodies build and repair while we sleep. If you aren’t getting at least 6 hours of quality sleep a night you could cause significant issues with your recovery process. If you’re having trouble sleeping at night some of these supplements might be able to help you get some more restful, quality sleep.
Melatonin is a neurohormone secreted by the pineal gland in the brain and it is well known for causing and regulating sleep. Light suppresses melatonin synthesis. The primary use of melatonin as a supplement is to normalize abnormal sleep patterns.
I would caution you to start off with 5mg and to take it about an hour before you would normally go to sleep. Taking it any later can cause drowsiness the next day when you wake up.
L-Theanine, for the most part, is a relaxing but not sedating amino acid that is synergistic with stimulants such as caffeine as it can ‘take the edge off’. It is effective by itself in the standard supplemental dosages as well, and although it can be attained via a diet high in green tea ingestion that is the only dietary source of L-Theanine.
While L-Theanine might not cause you to get “tired” it can help you to feel a lot more relaxed which can help you fall asleep easier. Anyone who suffers from anxiety knows that it’s incredibly hard to fall asleep if your mind is constantly racing. L-Theanine can help reduce anxiety and stress which can lead to better sleep.
Cannabidiol (CBD), a non-psychoactive component of the cannabis plant. It is found in flowers, seeds, and the stalk of cannabis plants that include marijuana and hemp. Cannabidiol is among the more than 400 compounds that are found in cannabis sativa.
One investigation found that, compared with a placebo, a CBD dosage of 160 milligrams (mg) increased sleep duration. The researchers also concluded that the placebo, 5 mg of the insomnia drug nitrazepam, and 40, 80, and 160 mg of CBD helped the participants fall asleep.
Levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, typically peak in the morning, but people with insomnia may have high cortisol levels at night. Independent of insomnia, having high cortisol levels at night is associated with an increased number of nighttime awakenings.
In one study on the effects of CBD, researchers found that cortisol levels decreased more significantly when participants took 300 or 600 mg of CBD oil. These results suggest that CBD affects the release of cortisol, possibly acting as a sedative.
The acronym SARM stands for Selective Androgen Receptor Modulator. SARMs are a class of therapeutic compounds that have similar anabolic properties to anabolic steroids, but with way less androgenic properties. Androgenic properties are what give men masculine traits.
SARMs are selective which means that unlike steroids that bind to many androgen receptors throughout the body, they only bind to select tissues. This helps to prevent unwanted side effects that are caused by anabolic steroids like liver damage, and prostate enlargement.
When taking SARMs you get the anabolic effects such as accelerated growth of muscle, bone, and red blood cells, and enhanced neural conduction without the androgenic effects that lead to enhanced male characteristics such as deepening of the voice, accelerated hair growth, and others.
For more information on how SARMS can help you achieve faster recovery and quicker gains click here.
Steroids / HGH
I feel like this article wouldn’t be complete without briefly touching on the topic of steroids and HGH. Steroids and HGH are designed to speed up the muscle recovery process. There is no supplement on the market that could ever come close to the recovery power of HGH and steroids. The use of these compounds is out of scope for this article but I thought it was worth mentioning.
Recovery is an extremely important part of any fitness program. The faster you can recover the faster you will make gains in the gym. If your recovery is lacking your progress will slow and could even regress. Common signs that you aren’t recovering fast enough is extended muscle soreness, fatigue, not being able to get a good pump, decrease in strength, and just an overall not so good feeling. If used properly, this tips outlined in this article will help fuel your workouts and promote faster recovery leading to more gains in less time. Best of luck on your fitness journey!