As an athlete or bodybuilder, you require a lot from your body, which is why it's important to properly recover after each workout.
Recovery refers to the techniques and actions you take to maximize repair, such as stretching, proper nutrition, heat, ice, and compression. Taking supplements to ensure every component of the body is targeted can expedite the recovery process, which goes beyond focusing on just muscles, and into hormonal and chemical balances, your mental state, nervous system repair, and more.
It's essential to refuel within the 45 minutes to an hour after working out to provide nutrients to the muscles, increasing the chances of proper recovery. When supplementing for recovery, focus on the five following options to help you maximize recovery:
Although creatine's main role is to boost ATP levels, it helps increase the recovery rate of muscle cells since it allows you to train at a higher frequency. So, not only are you recovering faster, but the frequent training is helping you build lean muscle mass and achieve strength gains.
There have been hundreds of studies regarding creatine, one of which focused on its effect on muscle performance and overall recovery post-workout. Fourteen males were randomly assigned to two groups were one test group only took a carbohydrate supplement, and the other test group had a carbohydrate supplement with creatine. These supplements were consumed five days prior to their exercise session, as well as 14 days after.
The individuals that consumed creatine, had greater isokinetic and isometric knee extension strength during their recovery period (10% and 21% respectively) and plasma creatine kinase was lowered by 84% on average. These improvements were seen 48 hours, 72 hours, 96 hours, and 7 days after recovery within the creatine test group.1
CherryPure is a supplement that's derived from tart cherries, and is designed to provide your body with anthocyanins, which have been shown to reduce joint inflammation and help with oxidative stress.
In a study conducted on recovery, researchers focused on markers of muscle damage (through creatine kinase, muscle soreness, and isometric strength), inflammation (through uric acid and C-reactive protein), total antioxidant status, and oxidative stress levels of marathon runners. Twenty marathon runners were assessed as they either consumed tart cherry juice or a placebo for five days prior to a race, and 48 hours after.
It was found that the runners who consumed tart cherry juice, recovered faster in terms of isometric strength, inflammation was reduced and their total antioxidant status was 10% higher than the placebo group. Due to these results, this study concluded that tart cherry aids in recovery following strenuous exercise.2
One of the building blocks required to build and maintain muscle tissue and joint health, Glucosamine is naturally synthesized in the body from glutamine and glucose. Since glucosamine is very hard to find in food sources, supplementation is highly recommended especially since glucosamine is a safer alternative to anti-inflammatory drugs.
Shown to decrease inflammation and pain, glucosamine also helps keep your joints healthy by encouraging higher elasticity and strength. Glucosamine also slows down cartilage degeneration, while repairing connective tissue, which are all crucial aspects regarding the recovery process.
One study that focused on 106 male athletes suffering from an acute knee injury, aimed to see how glucosamine affected these individuals after 4 weeks. This double-blind study had participants consume either glucosamine (1500mg daily) or a placebo for 28 days.
When focusing on passive knee flexibility, the injured limb was measured through the degree of swelling, as well as a modified goniometer. When assessed on day 7, 14, and 21, no significant difference was found. However, on day 28, the glucosamine group showed significant improvement in extension and knee flexion (when compared to placebo group).3
4. Branched-Chain Amino Acids
One of the most important post-workout recovery supplements, Branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs), consist of three amino acids: isoleucine, valine, leucine. As we exercise our muscles burn our stored BCAAs, that once used up, means that the body begins burning skeletal muscle tissue in order to provide these essential amino acids so that exercise can continue. Since BCAAs are used to synthesize and repair muscle, BCAA supplements are recommended for recovery because our bodies don't naturally provide these amino acids.
Researchers suggest taking large doses before and after training, in order to increase the pool of amino acids that are available. This increases protein synthesis, aiding in performance and rapid recovery.
One study focused on twelve males who were randomly assigned to a BCAA supplement group or placebo group. They were instructed to do 100 drop-jumps consecutively. Markers of muscle damage included creatine kinase, maximal voluntary contraction, muscle soreness, vertical jump, as well as thigh and calf circumference.
It was found that the BCCA group experienced significant improvement. There was a significant reduction seen in creatine kinase efflux and muscle soreness, while maximal voluntary contraction remained greater than the placebo group. When looking at vertical jump, calf and thigh circumference, there wasn't a difference between the two groups.
The researchers concluded that BCAA supplementation reduced overall muscle damage, while accelerating recovery. The BCAAs provided greater bioavailability, improving protein synthesis which results in improved secondary muscle damage caused by strenuous exercise.4
Glutamine is an amino acid that's produced in the body, and consumed through protein in your diet. Although our bodies store glutamine, athletes and bodybuilders can deplete their glutamine stores while training. Since the body cannot produce glutamine fast enough, supplementation is highly recommended to meet the demand.
Glutamine plays a key role in muscle recovery, since it's in charge of moving nitrogen atoms to areas where they're needed. When building muscle, you need to have a nitrogen balance that's positive since nitrogen can help with tissue repair and damaged muscles. If you're deficient in glutamine, damaged tissue may struggle to rebuild.
If you're currently training, it's essential that you focus on your recovery. The recovery process is where your body makes all its improvements in what every fitness activity you are doing. When you do not let your body repair and recover, you increase your chances of injury, and reduce your ability to train. Take proactive measures and take supplements that enhance recovery.
As always if you have any question about the above article and or anything else regarding training, dieting, nutrition or supplementation please feel free to send me an email, I would be glad to help you out.
- Cooke, M., Rybalka, E., Williams, A., Cribb, P. (2009). Creatine Supplementation Enhances Muscle Force Recovery After Eccentrically-Induced Muscle Damage in Healthy Individuals. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 6, 6-13.
- Howatson, G., et al. (2009). Influence of Tart Cherry Juice on Indices of Recovery Following Marathon Running. Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports, 1-10.
- Ostojic, SM., Arsic, M., Zlatanovic, M. (2007). Glucosamine Administration in Athletes: Effects on Recovery of Acute Knee Injury. Sports Medicine, 15, 113-124.
- Howatson, G., et al. (2012). Exercise-Induced Muscle Damage Is Reduced in Resistance-Trained Males by BCCAs: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo Controlled Study.