IN THIS POST:
: : What is the king of recovery?
: : How to help alleviate sore muscles
: : When should I eat my carbs?
: : How to get a better night's sleep
I recently had a friend call me and ask what the best supplement is for recovery. He asked because he just got back to training after a long hiatus and he and his friend who he worked out with were extremely sore. This friend is a former client and I know he can really get after it and move a lot of weight. So, like most of us, when we get back to the gym we want to crush it and potentially do more than we probably should have - which he did.
I DID tell him there is a supplement that is one of my go-to's for muscle recovery. But that was third on my list. So what were #'s 1 and 2?
Sleep is King!
#1 on my list for muscle recovery is SLEEP! Many of us love to train really hard. But how much effort do you actually put into recovery? It sounds like an oxymoron - put effort into recovery? But the point I'm making is make recovery a priority. It goes a long way, not just in muscle recovery but in our overall health. And the absolute king of recovery is sleep.
My friend laughed when I told him this because he said that he had told his friend I would say something along those lines. I'm glad he remembers some of the things I taught him! I typically tell people 7-9 hours of sleep is ideal as we all are unique individuals. Some of us require more and some of us require less. Also, the stress we put on our bodies for that day or period of days will help determine how much sleep we may need. In my friend's case, he needed more after a shock to the system like he got.
I also informed him that your body's optimal time to produce growth hormone is between the hours of 10pm and 2am. So for physical recovery getting to bed at or as close to 10pm is critical for that muscle recovery and growth. Don't get to bed that early and your physical recovery may very well be shunted. The CNS likes to recover from 2am to 6am. That's why many of you who don't do much physical exercise or labor can get away with less sleep and still succeed at your job - because it requires very little by means of physical exertion and is more a neural demanding job. Still, you may feel tired as your physical properties haven't had the necessary recuperation time.
So get your sleep!
PWO Nutrition is HUGE
Number 2 in my book for aiding muscle soreness is that first meal after your workout - your post workout (PWO) nutrition. I've seen studies saying anywhere from 10 minutes to 30 minutes is the window you want to AT LEAST get some protein in your system. The amount will vary by the workout and size of the individual but somewhere between 20-50grams is a great start. Harder workout? Bigger body? Go to the high end of that scale. Small body and easier workout? Maybe on the low end of that scale. So for a 110lb female who just did an arm workout the lower end may be right where you should be and vice versa for a 250lb man who just crushed giant sets on leg day.
Regarding PWO carbohydrates, that could be a seriously long discussion but here are a few thoughts: If you were my client and your goal is fat loss I would recommend a protein-only PWO shake with no carbs. One hour from then I would then throw in your PWO carbs with another shot of protein...
***Protein is critical for muscle gain AND fat loss for many reasons we won't discuss on this post. I want you to consume your lean body mass in grams of protein daily. So if you're 200lbs at 10% body fat that means you have 20 lbs of fat and 180lbs of lean body mass so I want you to eat 180g of protein per day. A good portion of that can be consumed in these two "meals" immediately following a workout and 60 minutes after.
...If your goal is fat loss I think it to be the "gold standard" to give your body another hour of depleted muscle glycogen before throwing carbs back in to the picture. If you are trying to put on muscle add those carbs in immediately PWO. Since we're talking muscle recovery here, throwing in those PWO carbs immediately after a workout is a good thing to consider. Is it a bad thing and will it hinder fat loss if you have some carbs immediately PWO? No. But to me that is the "gold standard".
Anaerobic exercise increases insulin sensitivity as well as up regulates the enzymes that help to process carbohydrates. It also causes GLUT4 translocation. This alternate GLUT4 expression allows a higher uptake of glucose into the muscle cells.
*This is one main reason why carbohydrates should be prioritized in your day AFTER your workout. Your body will gobble them up and want to place them into the muscle cells rather than storing them away as fat.
So for recovery purposes make sure you eat your protein and carbs PWO!
My Go-To Supplement For Recovery
And my #3 is a supplement and that supplement is magnesium. Magnesium is responsible for over 300 biochemical reactions in the body. It does so many things postively for the human body I feel everyone should have it in their cabinet and in their supplementation rotation. Regarding recovery, one thing it does is increase protein synthesis. More protein in the cell means more recovery. Magnesium also decreases inflammation. And during a workout you definitely create a lot of damage and inflammation in your muscle tissue. Taking magnesium will help lower inflammation and thus aid in recovery and could help prevent soreness. Improved insulin sensitivity is another huge benefit of taking magnesium. Remember we mentioned above that improved insulin sensitivity will get more glucose into the cells of the muscle? This is what we all should want! So take magnesium to aid in insulin sensitivity.
There are many different types of magnesium out there. For supplements I start with practitioner range. If it's not practitioner range I probably won't buy it ... although there are a few exceptions. NEVER buy magnesium oxide ... unless you want to dash off to the bathroom with the runs. It's not bioavailable and usually does more harm than good. Buy a magnesium that is bonded to an amino acid - known as a chelate - look for types like "magnesium fumurate", "magnesium orotate" and others. These are much more bioavailable. For muscles SPECIFICALLY try magnesium glycinate. This type focuses on musculoskeletal aid as well as liver support.
A nice, relaxing way to get magnesium is to take an epsom salt bath. Epsom salt is a transdermal magnesium - magnesium that can be absorbed through the skin. This can really help you wind down before bedtime as magnesium is easily absorbed through the skin. While most recommendations are lower than what I would recommend I use 2-4lbs of epsom salt per bath and will soak for 20-30 minutes. Magnesium itself will tell you when you've reached the amount you need as it can give you diarrhea in too large a dose. And since we all need different dosages start low and work your way into the amount you need. For most of us that is between 400-500mg per day.
Well I hope this helps! Keep working hard and crushing it in the gym ... but make sure to focus on, and plan, your recovery!
**To catch a video of me talking on these three points check out my youtube video here: