Recovery Supplements: A Must?
After an hour of slamming ridiculously heavy medicine balls against a wall, even kings need time to recover. Immediately after, and up to 2-3 days after your workout, DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) kicks in. This is where it hurts to sit down, walk, open jam jars or anything else remotely ordinary. However your muscles aren’t the only part of your body that gets heavily taxed. Your CNS (Central Nervous System) is responsible for all of your muscle activity and nerve responses, and too much exercise without the right recovering can cause your CNS to malfunction. With sore muscles and a fried CNS, you will be a walking zombie and unavailable for the next few days.
We all know this feeling, but is the cure for this to visit our freaky supplement store owner and gulp down whatever pills he stuffs toward us? Well, no. Unless you are a serious (aka you actually enter competitions and your life revolves around it) competitor, you won’t need anything too major. The supplements that will give you the most bang for your buck are EAAs.
Essential Amino Acids
The building block of muscle and are proven to help repair muscle, tendons and bones, they boost the immune system, and help improve your metabolism - all GREAT things for you! Most EAAs will also contain BCAAs which reduce muscle wastage while exercising, aid with fat loss, increase lean muscle mass and are also used to treat many illnesses that can result from a protein deficiency. A lot of supplements don’t do what they claim to, however EAAs (which contain BCAAs) have been studied for decades and have been used successfully by hundreds of thousands of athletes, fitness models and competitors. Although the following are not necessarily supplements, these strategies will help your recovery hugely and enable you to get more gym time and less down time with injuries/soreness.
Tune Up Your Diet
Stop Thinking You Will, And Actually Do It
Everybody can do with improvement to their diet. More lean meats, more vegetables, fruits, nuts and legumes, dairy products and the occasional treat day. Everything else should be just about wiped out. Drink more water than you think you need, and don’t carry a pathetic 300ml water bottle - get a decent sized one.
If you bust your backside at the box, it needs time to repair itself. Sleep is the only time when our body can actively repair itself, so the less you get, the less recovery you get. Make your sleep a priority and shoot for at least 8 hours. The trick is to go to bed early and get up early - but you already know that huh?
After your workout, you are glycogen depleted, your muscles are begging for nutrients and you feel like eating chocolate bars. The best thing to help your recovery is to have a Post Workout Shake. Any combination of milk or ice with bananas, peanut butter, whey powder, berries, nuts, oats, yogurt or a hundred other healthy, protein filled foods will do the trick. PWO shakes break down the nutrients so they are more easily digested.
No explanation needed except for this: if you are working out with weights or otherwise breaking muscle down, protein powder is just beneath quality food on the workout food pyramid. Whey powder is the choice for most athletes, and take it in a PWO shake.
Fish Oil/Omega Oils
Omega 3 oils are a gold standard supplement - ask anybody who knows what they are talking about when it comes to nutrition and exercise. Fat loss and muscle gain have both been researched heavily in connection with Omega 3 oils, and the results scream success. Your overall health and longevity will be improved drastically as most diets today don’t see nearly enough Omega 3 oils and it will help your attention span and mental game too.
Extensive research by guys like Tim Ferriss have shown that how you shower or bathe can have a big impact on your recovery. An ice bath for example has near tranquilizer effects on you, which will ensure that you have a deep sleep, however most of us don’t have a truck full of ice at the back door.
A popular method of decreasing DOMS, increasing muscle repair and relaxing the body is to take alternate burst of hot and cold in the shower. A 10 minute cycle of 2 minutes hot, then two minutes cold and repeating will help you recover better and sleep deeper. Try this for yourself - it is free and a bit of a challenge if you live somewhere polar. Use supplements if you have the money and want better results. If you are budgeting, try to scrape up the money for some good food first, protein powder second, fish oil third, and anything else later.