The Best Supplements to Support Workout Recovery
Experts preach that there are three main components to fitness—exercising, nutrition, and rest. While a novice may look at this trifecta and deem exercising the most important, seasoned athletes know that all components are equally essential to achieving results in a timely and lasting manner.
The reason is simple. Your body requires nutrients to move effectively. That’s where diet and nutrition come in. To see fitness results, you must apply time under tension to the muscles and move your body (exercise). Then, equally as important, you must remove the stimuli from your body so that it can recover, i.e., resting or workout recovery.
Why is Workout Recovery so Important?
When you exercise, the stress on your muscles causes microscopic tears. This is normal and healthy, and it is why your muscles eventually plump up and get firm. The tears indicate you need more muscle fibres to do the work expected from your body. So, using the amino acids from the protein you eat, the muscles repair and add more fibres. This process happens again and again.
If you do not rest to allow for muscle recovery, you slow your results because the body never has enough time to stop working and start repairing. You also open yourself up to conditions and injuries and like:
- muscle sprains, strains, and tears
- tendon or ligament tears
- lasting fatigue
- trouble sleeping
- mood swings, irritability, or depression
The bottom line is that you probably exercise for your health or to achieve some fitness goal. It is neither healthy nor will it help you achieve your goal faster to skip adequate muscle recovery. So, now you might be wondering how to recover from muscle soreness.
How to Recover from Muscle Soreness
The body naturally performs the muscle recovery needed after exercise when you take a rest day or two. Still, when you are suffering through that delayed onset muscle soreness, you might be desperately wondering how to recover from muscle soreness faster. Luckily, there are lots of ways to support workout recovery, including:
- proactive workout recovery
- immediate post-workout recovery
- manual muscle recovery
All of these methods can play an important role when considering how to recover from muscle soreness.
Proactive Workout Recovery
Obviously, warming your muscles up before squatting a PR is critical, but there are other ways to prepare for muscle recovery proactively. Getting ahead of your workout recovery comes down to nutrition and preparing your body to heal from the stress. This means:
- properly fueling with protein, carbohydrates, and fats
- consuming enough micronutrients so that your body is optimally functioning at a cellular level
- eating or supplementing with amino acids, collagen, greens, and multivitamins
How to Recover from Muscle Soreness Proactively with Supplements
Most of the workout recovery supplements we suggest are convenient ways to consume specific nutrients that support muscle recovery. It’s always best to get your nutrition from whole foods, but supplements can help when eating a meal isn’t convenient or possible.
Amino Acids—BCAA, EAA, or Individual Amino Acid Supplements
Protein is made of amino acids. Ensuring your body has enough protein is essential to workout recovery. You can, of course, do this with your meals and protein supplements, but you can also include amino acids in your supplement stack to support your muscle recovery. Amino acid supplements can be used pre- or post-workout and on rest days. Consistent use is what will benefit muscle recovery the most.
Amino acid supplements can be BCAA supplements (branched-chain amino acids), EAA supplements (essential amino acids), or individual amino acid supplements like glutamine or leucine.
Choosing which amino acid supplement is best for your workout recovery is a personal decision, but in general, choosing a BCAA or EAA supplement is more worthwhile. Typically, we recommend BCAA supplements to people who consume enough protein regularly and EAA supplements to those who do not typically hit their protein goals.
The Best BCAA Supplement for Recovering from Muscle Soreness
Allmax is one of the most trusted supplement companies on the market, so it’s no surprise that Aminocore BCAAs is our highest-rated BCAA supplement. Aminocore contains a 45:30:25 ratio of the three branched-chain amino acids, clinically proven to trigger protein synthesis, switching your body out of working mode and into muscle recovery mode.
The Best EAA Supplements for Recovering from Muscle Soreness
Our top-rated EAA supplement comes from TC Nutrition, another excellent Canadian supplement brand. Hydramino includes all nine essential amino acids required to form a complete protein. This product contains all nine aminos, but it also includes the optimal ratio of the BCAAs to promote workout recovery and help your body heal as quickly as possible. Hydramino also includes electrolytes that replenish thirsty cells to help you feel recovered immediately post-workout.
Collagen Supplements for Recovering from Muscle Soreness
Everyone and their mother (and their grandmother) takes collagen supplements nowadays, mainly for the noticeable changes it can give your hair, skin, and nails. However, there’s another reason that people interested in how to recover from muscle soreness should look at collagen supplements.
Including a collagen supplement can:
- improve and speed up muscle recovery
- manage and reduce exercise-related joint and muscle pain
- keep bones strong and healthy
- promote healing after injuries
You might be wondering if you need to add an additional protein supplement like collagen if you’re already taking a whey isolate and an amino acid supplement to support your workout recovery. Out of the three, collagen supplements are the only ones that provide a more bioavailable version of the nutrients than food itself. There is no research that shows consuming foods with collagen provides the same benefits as collagen supplements.
The Best Collagen Supplement for Recovering from Muscle Soreness
TC Nutrition’s innovative take on collagen peptides includes 10g of hydrolyzed bovine collagen peptides in addition to:
- 5mg biotin for additional benefits to your hair, skin, and nails
- 90mg vitamin C for 100% of the recommended daily value of this powerful antioxidant
Consistently using this product will help promote joint mobility, reduce joint pain, and promote muscle recovery while visibly enhancing beauty.
Greens and Multivitamin Supplements for Recovering from Muscle Soreness
We would be remiss not to mention products that promote your overall health and wellness when discussing how to recover from muscle soreness. You can supplement with all the collagen, protein, and amino acids in the world, but if your body lacks the most basic micronutrients it requires to function, your muscles will still struggle to recover. To ensure you’re getting those vital nutrients, include a multivitamin and greens supplement.
Multivitamins have been around for a very long time and typically include most vitamins and minerals recommended by experts for daily intake. Greens supplements are rising in popularity as they are a convenient way to give your body the benefits of several servings of fruits and vegetables in a single serving. Including one or both of these basic supplements in your diet will help promote muscle recovery and proactively support your workout recovery.
The Best Greens Supplement for Recovering from Muscle Soreness
This greens supplement from Allmax includes nutrients from whole spirulina, spinach, and barley grass. The intense dose of vital nutrients improves stamina, increases energy levels, and helps promote muscle recovery after strenuous workouts. If you’ve ever asked how to recover from muscle soreness, you need CytoGreens.
The Best Multivitamin Supplement for Recovering from Muscle Soreness
Animal Pak includes a complete vitamin, mineral, antioxidant, and enzyme complex and is specifically formulated to support athletes and workout recovery. Each pack contains an amino acid complex, performance complex, antioxidant complex, and digestive enzyme complex, in addition to the traditional vitamins and minerals. In this way, Animal Pak is several nutritional supplements all in one.
Immediate Post-Workout Recovery Supplements
Now that we’ve covered the nutritional supplements you can use to support your muscle recovery, let’s talk about how to jump-start workout recovery immediately upon finishing your workout.
When you finish your workout, it’s essential to replenish the things that diminish throughout. When you’ve replenished your body, it can switch into muscle recovery mode and start to heal and recover immediately. To do this, make sure your post-workout supplements and nutrition include these three things:
Electrolytes are essential for your health and survival and work by sparking the cellular functions throughout your body. Excessive sweating diminishes your body’s electrolytes, and when this happens, you’re at risk for muscle cramps, dehydration, and more.
Your body stores carbohydrates as glycogen in your muscles, which also happens to be the main fuel source for exerting effort. After you work out, your glycogen stores are reduced or even emptied and need to be replenished before your body can switch out of a muscle catabolizing mode.
Protein is the most well-known macronutrient to replenish immediately after your workout. It is the main nutrient that helps protect your muscles from excessive breakdown from your workout and starts the muscle recovery process.
Electrolytes for Recovering from Muscle Soreness
This is an excellent supplement when you’re looking for an electrolyte supplement to support your workout recovery. This product includes electrolytes in an EAA formula, so you’re getting the muscle recovery benefits from those essential amino acids combined with the electrolytes to support your workout recovery.
Carbs for Recovering from Muscle Soreness
You can, of course, get your post-workout carbs from a meal with rice, bread, or pasta, but if you’re looking for a convenient supplement to include in your post-workout recovery drink, look no further than Carbion. This supplement includes 25g of carbohydrates to fuel your muscles. It also includes the electrolytes potassium, sodium, magnesium, and calcium. This carb supplement promotes workout recovery by restoring glycogen levels and electrolytes.
Protein for Recovering from Muscle Soreness
Lastly, if you do not include a protein supplement after your workout, you’re doing it wrong. Diesel is our most popular whey protein supplement with an incredible 26g of protein and no carbs or fat. The whey protein comes from New Zealand dairy cows, which are the happiest, most well cared for cows in the world.
Manual Muscle Recovery
After you’ve ensured your nutrients are replenished, and your body has all it needs to start workout recovery, there’s one last category to address when considering how to recover from muscle soreness: manually releasing and stretching your muscles.
Stretching for Recovering from Muscle Soreness
Never underestimate how much stretching can help with muscle recovery. Including a daily stretching routine in your fitness plan can minimize the feelings of soreness and fatigue, helping to reduce recovery time. Stretch for at least ten minutes a day or introduce a regular yoga practice into your routine.
Foam Rolling for Recovering from Muscle Soreness
Foam rolling is another manual technique you can use to support your muscle recovery. While it might feel uncomfortable to apply pressure to your aching muscles, self-myofascial release techniques are proven to:
- relieve tight and sore muscles
- reduce inflammation
- increase joint range of motion
You can find plenty of instructional videos on YouTube to help you get started.
Hot Tubbing for Recovering from Muscle Soreness
A fan favourite to help muscle recovery is taking a dip in a hot tub or a warm bath. The warm water can ease tension and reduce inflammation. Include plain Epsom salt in your bath to increase the effects even more.
Cold Water Therapy for Recovering from Muscle Soreness
Taking ice baths is the less enjoyable alternative to hot tubbing for workout recovery. If you’ve ever sat in a tub of ice and water, you’ll be happy to learn that cold water (around 24 degrees Celsius) is more comfortable and more effective than icy water for recovery. Start with about ten minutes in a cold bath and be sure to allow your muscles to warm back up before doing any physical activity.
As you can see, there are many answers when you’re desperately wondering how to recover from muscle soreness. The best approach is to take your nutrition seriously by maintaining a well-balanced diet and proactively supporting muscle recovery. Immediately following a workout, make sure to stretch and refuel your body so it can switch into repair mode. When that sneaky, miserable delayed onset muscle soreness hits, try some manual techniques like foam rolling and alternating cold and hot baths.