It doesn't matter how many supplements you take, what brand they are, from USN to MuscleTech to PhD Nutrition. At the end of the day your body NEEDS to recover. Your muscles NEED to repair themselves and grow after a tough gym work out. What's the point in taking your time, isolating muscle groups, gently pushing up the weights at the gym to see all of those gains lost on something so basic as recovery time!
WHY IS RECOVERY IMPORTANT?
It's as simple as this. When you hit the gym hard, your muscle fibres get broken down. Pushing those bars and lifting those dumbbells puts pressure on all of the muscle groups you're exercising and those very same muscles will need time to repair and grow.
The theory is that continuous muscle fibre break down will lead to those fibres 're-growing' but with additional muscle tissue, the body effectively protecting the muscles for future gym sessions. Of course. muscle fibres don't grow in minutes, they take days, weeks and months. So recovery between gym sessions and over a week long period, is very important!
Any mention of recovery deserves a mention of the key ingredient....protein! Munching your way through high quality protein sources through-out the day, ensures that damaged muscle fibres from hardcore gym sessions are fed enough of those wonderful things called amino acids! The 'building blocks' of muscle fibre, amino acids are highly important and come as part of the package when you eat the right type of protein rich foods. A minimum of 1g of protein for every pound is recommended. You can up this by another 1g if you're really hitting some PB's at the gym and you're in competition mode.
Remember that although protein is one of the key ingredients to great muscle recovery, you'll also need to eat from the right sources at the right time of the day. For breakfast, egg whites and eggs are the go to food along with some whey isolate. These are known as fast digesting foods and supplements, and they have a very high 'bioavailability' score, which is vital when considering fasting for 8 hours during your sleep. To stimulate recovery, your muscles requires amino acids first thing in the morning.
Through the day, foods such as chicken are always a popular choice among bodybuilders. That's because chicken is a slow digesting food, where the amino acids are released more slowly over a few hours, rather than a few minutes. If a solid meal isn't on the cards, then a multi-blend, timed release protein is vital to ensure your muscles are drip fed for a minimum of 3 hours to maximise recovery!
Before bed time, you'll need a slow digesting multi-blend protein, combine this with a casein based food such as cottage cheese. The fat from the cheese helps to prolong protein digestion, giving your muscles additional hours of amino acid feed.
Although this is another feeding time during the day, it is incredibly important and many people choose to over look it. Remember those campaigns on radio and in magazines that pushed and bombarded us with the importance of eating a good breakfast before work? Well your post-workout shake is just as important!
After a seriously good workout, your muscle fibres are broken, the muscles you've just trained are now loaded with blood and this creates what is called the 'anabolic window'. There is never a better time than now to shove nutrients down the neck of your muscles. You're aiming for a 2:1 ration of ultra fast digesting carbs with an equally fast digesting protein. An example of this would be taking in 50g of sugar carbs from pineapple and 25g of protein from whey isolate. The sugar from the pineapple helps to stimulate the insulin spike, promoting the shuttling of protein right in to the muscle cells. If you fail to do this after a workout, consider those last 60 minutes of pain wasted.
In terms of muscle growth, you simply train to create this window of opportunity. This is the last piece of the jigsaw of an effective workout.
If your muscles feel sore it's usually one of two things 1) poor nutrition plan or 2) over training.
The common approach of 'more is better' is often ill judged. There is a climax point for your muscles, where any more training will simply cause damage. If your diet is good and your still aching 6 or 7 days after your workout, it's probably because your taking your muscles a step too far during your workout.
Don't be scared of cutting back a little on the time spent in the gym, remembering to maximise your recovery and growth time.
An example of this is if you spend 1 hour, 5 days a week, cut that back to 4 days. If you spend 1 hour, 4 days a week, challenge yourself to work harder for each of those sessions and get the workout routine finished a little earlier, say with 15 minutes to spare on your watch.
If you're aching and feeling that you haven't recovered properly, there's no point in heading back to the gym to exercise and push those muscles again. You'll cause damage to the muscle fibres. Remember: Without recovery there is no growth!
Above this it's mentioned that whey isolate and multi-blend timed release protein can have a positive effect on recovery time. So, here are some of the products that are most commonly used in a bodybuilders recovery routine: -
In terms of whey isolate, PhD Pharma Whey HT+ is a great supplement. It contains components that maximise nutrition uptake and on top of this, it tastes great and blends easily.
For multi-blend, timed release formula, look no further than Gaspari Myofusion. When used properly, you will instantly feel as though your muscles are being fed through-out the day, which is the way it should be.
Kinetica L-Glutamine – an amino acid that is responsible for promoting rapid muscle recovery through several pathways. L Glutamine helps to increase the rate of protein synthesis in muscle cells, vital because that then enables muscle to utilise higher amounts of protein.
L-Glutamine is also a fantastic anti-catabolic agent (anti-proteolytic). In layman's terms that means where your body would otherwise look to break down your very hard earned muscle tissue, it will not because of the anti-catabolic nature of the L-Glutamine in your system.
CNP BCAAs – (Branch Chain Amino Acids) another staple supplement for anybody looking to maximise recovery! Containing leucine, iso-leucine and valine all of which are essential amino acids this supplement is able to really ramp up the recovery process.
BCAAs are known for their ability to stimulate protein synthesis, and considering they account approximately for 1/3 of your muscle tissue, this gives an idea of just how anabolic these essential amino acids are.
PhD BCAAs are a great suggestion from a reputable UK brand!
Recovery Formula – to maximise recovery you want to use a recovery supplement. This supplement needs to contain a fast digesting protein and carbohydrate, preferably in a 2:1 ratio with the carbohydrates being the higher number of the two. Ingredients like antioxidants and vitamins are all vital as they help neutralise the ‘free radicals’ in the blood which can waste precious recovery time!
CNP Pro-Recover is the suggestion for recovery formula. Great product, great brand!