So you’ve finished a gruelling workout, eaten your nutritionally balanced meal and made sure you’ve given your muscle groups enough time for recovery. That’s all there is to it, right?
Wrong. When you’re regularly pushing your body to extremes, breaking down muscle fibres and hoping they’ll bounce back stronger than ever, most bodies need a little extra help. That’s where supplements come in.
But what should you use? And when? And how? The best information will come from experts who can break down your body type, composition and nutritional requirements. Any good supplement supplier (like Fitness Market) will have staff that know their stuff, and can answer any questions you have about building muscle and muscle recovery.
1. Protein Powder
Your muscles need protein to help rebuild and recover. Protein powder will generally be available in two main types: whey and casein. While you need both, whey is particularly useful when it comes to recovery. Whey powder is absorbed and digested much faster than casein, meaning it is ideal as part of your post-workout snack. A protein supplement also stimulates protein synthesis, kick-starting your recovery.
2. Branch Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs)
BCAAs are the real gem of muscle recovery. They include leucine, isoleucine and valine, and these amino acids are considered an essential part of supplementation as your body is unable to manufacture them. They stimulate protein synthesis as well as slowing the rate of protein breakdown. While some amino acids need to be processed by the liver before your body receives them, BCAAs can be absorbed directly by the muscles, meaning they start working quickly. One of the key points for muscle recovery and BCAAs is the way they stimulate the production of glycogen within muscle tissue which then replenishes spent stores.
Studies have shown that glutamine supplementation can minimise the breakdown of muscle and improve protein metabolism. Glutamine is the most common amino acid in your body, and intense training depletes your stores. When this happens, you will notice a decrease in strength, stamina and recovery – it is thought it can be up to six days for it to fully restore. For anyone completing hard workouts more than once a week, this means that stores are continually getting decreased without providing opportunity for restoration. Since this is one of the key players in protein synthesis, it is one which is worth keeping on top of.
Glutamine also tends to increase the ability to secrete Human Growth Hormone, which is one of hormones responsible for helping your body to metabolise fat efficiently and enable new muscle growth. So for people looking to cut body fat and increase lean muscle mass, this is a supplement that may aid in those goals.
It’s easy to fall prey to gimmicks and fads when it comes to supplementation, but there are some recommendations that rarely change. These three building blocks will see you on your way to a faster recovery after each session, letting you smash goals left, right and centre.
Do you use any of these supplements? What’s your favourite for bouncing back quickly after a massive workout?