Working out is intentionally tough on your body. The process is designed to tear down your old muscle tissue and make it grow back stronger. This means that you need to do a few things other than just exercise to get the most benefit from your workouts. Both internally and externally, putting a few extra tools in your gym bag will help you get great results and not feel like you went ten rounds with Mike Tyson the day after your workout. Here are five of the best aides for muscle recovery.
Coenzyme Q10 is a natural element produced by our bodies. It is found extensively in the mitochondria, which any fifth grader can tell you are the powerhouse of the cells. Adding a supplement with CoQ10 can potentially help your muscles recover faster, and build back stronger. CoQ10 is still being studied, so for now some caution could be wise in how much you take. A blended supplement that puts it in balance with other nutrients is a great way to incorporate it without overloading your body.
Creatine Monohydrate is the most popular supplement for gym rats, for a reason. It is found naturally in muscle fibers, and helps them produce energy from your carbohydrate and fat stores. Your body produces it from amino acids, so you can bypass supplementation if you eat large amounts of meat and have adequate testosterone levels in the body. Creatine supplementation can take the unknowns off the table, and help your muscles tire more slowly and recover more quickly. It also has a slew of neurological advantages as well.
If you have ever gotten a stitch in your side running, you are familiar with the impact of lactic acid buildup on your muscles. That lactic acid is a natural byproduct of metabolic function, but hard core exercise causes it to build up faster than it can be flushed away. Intense massage after your workout can help to work that lactic acid out of your muscles, allowing them to heal faster and with less pain. The high speed percussion of a massage gun also can interrupt pain signals in the nerve endings, causing you less discomfort and muscle spasms post workout.
Let’s face facts: when you hurt, you don’t want to work out. Part of muscle recovery is consistency in your workouts, to keep that new muscle tissue from atrophying between exercise. If you are not working out regularly, the muscle gains will not be regular either. Anti-inflammatory meds like ibuprofen and acetaminophen might make things hurt a little bit less, and preventing inflammation is key to recovery, but if you are working out four or five times a week, all that medicine can be hard on your kidneys and liver.
Topical analgesics let you apply some pain relief specifically to the muscle that hurts, and get on with your day. These treatments tend to be more natural and easier on your body to process, so they don’t impact your internal organs the way some more traditional treatments might. You can even find topicals in a roll on option that allows you to apply after workout without making your hands numb and smelly.
This seems obvious, but hydration is the single most important element of muscle recovery. Without adequate water, none of those supplements can reach the muscles. Water helps flush out the lactic acid and other toxins, and aids in the metabolic function of your muscles. The single rule for exercise that every expert on the planet seems to agree on is hydration.
There are too many supplements to name in a brief article, but by adding these five items to your gym bag, you can dramatically improve your workouts, regardless of intensity. From that base, you can try other supplements to get your perfect mix. The most important thing is to get your workouts in consistently, regardless of how you supplement.