Starting a new workout routine can be exciting as you will typically start seeing improvements in your strengths and ability relatively quickly. The only real thing holding you back from continuing your training is most likely the soreness you experience as a result of all your hard work.
Whether you are just starting out or are an experienced lifter adding more reps to your routine, soreness affects all people at all levels of athleticism. It is a common misconception that high-performing and athletic individuals don’t experience soreness. In reality, long-time athletes simply have a larger threshold for what makes them sore. Additionally, many athletes have simply come to terms with soreness and have developed a method of treating their soreness that works for them.
While soreness for some is like wearing a badge of honor, for others it can be enough to potentially hinder their normal routine. Muscle soreness is an unavoidable aspect of working out, but you are able to control the way that you manage and deal with your soreness.
With a solid recovery routine in place, you can be better prepared to support your body through muscle soreness and recovery. Below is a look at some things you can do to help sore muscles and recovery.
Good supplements for muscle building, recovery, and soreness
Muscle soreness, muscle building, and recovery all are aspects of the same process. After a workout, your muscles have sustained microtears which leads to soreness. The body reacts by going through recovery where these microtears are mended and the body delivers the necessary nutrients to these muscles. During recovery, the muscle tears are replaced with stronger fibers which lead to muscle growth.
Because all of these processes are interlinked, getting a supplement that improves any aspect of this process can help. Below are three supplements that can help your body get the absolute most out of your workout.
At some point or another, you have most likely heard of a pre-workout. Traditionally these come in the form of a powder that is mixed with water and in a solution that is meant to be had before your workout. While pre-workouts vary from company to company, they almost always contain caffeine.
The caffeine utilized in pre-workouts is the exact same caffeine that is found naturally in coffee and tea. Caffeine is an effective workout supplement because it is able to activate the sympathetic nervous system which results in increased cardiovascular work.
Getting your blood pumping and body primed through caffeine can allow you to perform better since your muscles are getting all of the energy and oxygen they need through the increased blood flow.
Being able to perform better is one of the best things you can do to help with muscle soreness. Performing better means that you can focus more on having good technique which ensures you avoid straining muscles that shouldn’t be used. Working out is about having controlled micro-tearing and caffeine can help give you an edge to focus more on form and less about being tired.
Both muscle recovery and muscle performance rely on your muscle cells to be at the top of their game. Looking at your muscle cells from a cellular health perspective, they need to be able to effectively contract and grow. While these cellular processes all are different, they all rely on the compound ATP to function. ATP is the usable form of energy within the cell and is what allows all of these processes to take place.
The mitochondria are the ATP-producing cell structure and are responsible for cellular respiration which converts oxygen and glucose into ATP. During cellular respiration, the mitochondria produce free radicals that are neutralized by antioxidants known as CoQ10 found in its membrane. Over time CoQ10 levels can diminish which can decrease the efficiency of creating ATP within the mitochondria.
MitoQ is a supplement that contains a highly bioavailable form of CoQ10 that is readily incorporated into the membrane of the mitochondria. By re-establishing the CoQ10 levels found within the mitochondria, MitoQ is able to support normal mitochondrial functioning which can have drastic impacts on the cell’s ability to perform normal functions. For muscle cells, this means that there is plenty of ATP to contract, and grow.
MitoQ is a great way to support your muscle’s cellular health and ensure your cells have the tools they need to perform and recover optimally.
Protein is a crucial macronutrient that is needed when you are looking to increase your muscle mass. Muscle cells utilize protein throughout their structure including the part that enables contraction known as the myofibril. During recovery, your body needs to replicate entire muscle cells and mend any tears. To accomplish this you need to ensure that you are supplementing enough protein so this process can be conducted.
Proteins are made up of amino acids and with 20 different amino acids, it can be difficult to ensure that you are getting an appropriate amount of each. Supplementing protein with protein powder allows you to ensure your body receives amino acids in the correct ratios needed to build muscle.
How to support your muscles during recovery
Supplements can be a huge help during recovery, but they can only help so much and do very little for actual muscle soreness. Supplements need to be paired with other actions to ensure you are getting the most out of your muscle recovery. Partaking in active recovery, getting enough rest, and training appropriately can help recovery and help reduce the sensation of soreness that many dread.
Active recovery may sound like an oxymoron, but it is a great method to help the recovery process. When you envision a rest day images of you sitting on the couch most likely pop into your head. While there is nothing wrong with relaxing on recovery days, you may be leaving an opportunity to better your recovery unutilized.
Active recovery is the process of doing low-intensity exercises that include sore muscles or muscles that you have worked out. By utilizing these muscles lightly you are able to increase blood flow and therefore increase those muscles’ access to nutrients, minerals, and more. This process can also help to alleviate muscle stiffness and soreness associated with working out.
Getting a quality night’s rest is an important aspect of many parts of your wellbeing. Mood, mental clarity, and even muscle recovery are affected by the amount and quality of sleep you are able to get.
If you have poor quality sleep, it is important to take the time and effort to make it better. Setting up a nighttime routine, waking up at the same time every day, avoiding caffeine late in the day, and making your room as dark as possible are great ways to get started on finding the best sleep solution for you.
By taking the time to get the perfect night’s sleep, you can reap the many benefits that it can bring to your overall health, wellbeing, and muscle recovery.
The best thing you can do for sore muscles is to not overtrain. When you are at the gym it is encouraged that you push yourself, but it is important to know when you have crossed the line and are pushing your body beyond its capabilities.
Overtraining can be detrimental to recovery as you are not giving your body the time it needs to repair itself and properly grow new tissue. This results in an increased chance of injury and can ultimately hinder your progress.
While a recovery day may seem like you are slowing your role, it is crucial to give your body the time to heal to see results. You only get stronger when your body has the time to rebuild microtears. Cutting the healing time short by lifting heavy weights when you should be resting will only lengthen your future recovery.
Working out can be a fun means of reducing stress while also building muscle and athleticism. Like anything, however, there are drawbacks and dealing with sore muscles is one of them. The saying no pain, no gain is ever evident when working out.
While there is no way to circumvent soreness, there are supplements and actions you can take to get more out of your recovery and support your body in the process. Supplements like MitoQ and protein help your recovery by giving your muscle cells assistance at a cellular level to have properly functioning mitochondria and the building blocks needed for repair. When paired with supporting actions like active recovery, you create conditions that are ideal for muscle repair and healing. The ability to quickly heal means less time feeling sore and more time being able to do the things that you love.
Reviewed by: Kai Man Yuen/ BSc., PGDipSci., MSc.