Preventing Post-Workout Muscle Soreness
Hard and intense workouts are the best. Completing several hundred kettlebell swings followed by several hill sprints really makes me feel like I’ve accomplished a lot. The results they produce are great too. There’s nothing like a hard workout for getting stronger, burning calories, losing fat, and building muscle.
There is a common problem that most of us often experience after a hard workout. It’s so debilitating that it can make training hard enough to get results difficult. This problem is excessive post-workout muscle soreness.
The soreness can begin anywhere from 24 to 48 hours after your workout and lasts for at least 2-3 days. It can be so bad that it hurts to sit and walk. Contemplating a break can be the beginning of the end to working out for some. Fortunately, there are nutritional supplements that can safely reduce the amount of soreness you experience.
This article reviews 5 nutritional supplements that can significantly decrease post workout muscle soreness after a workout. We’re talking going from a 10 to a 3 in terms of pain and movement.
Every supplement on the list has clinical research supporting its effectiveness. I’ve also personally taken them to ensure they do really work. I still take them before and after my workouts to this day.
After reading the article you will know which supplements are best for you, the specific products to buy, and the appropriate dosage to use.
Five Supplements That Reduce Post Workout Muscle Soreness
1. Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs)
This one of my favorite workout supplements. Taking them before and after I work out practically eliminates any soreness even when I’m training really hard 7 days a week. The fact they also provide several additional benefits makes them indispensable.
How Much Do You Need?
Studies show that taking about 10 grams pre and post-workout helps you experience less muscle soreness. This is a pretty easy, and convenient dosage to get if you use a quality supplement. It usually amounts to 2 scoops of BCAA powder.
BCAA Supplements I Like For Post-Workout Muscle Soreness
– This is my favorite BCAA tablet or capsule supplement. Each serving has 6 grams of branch chain aminos, more than any other product of its kind.
– Contains 5 grams of BCAAs per serving. Since it only contains BCAAs it’s great if you just want a simple formula or are going to use it to create your own pre and post-workout drink. It’s available in blue raspberry, plain, and watermelon flavors.
– One of the original pre and post-workout BCAA drinks. Each serving has 7 grams of BCAAs. It also contains citrulline, electrolytes, and l-glutamine. Drinking a serving before and after you workout will give you 14 grams of branch chain aminos. It mixes easily in water and comes in several flavors. Since it contains no calories or carbohydrates its okay to use even if you are following a weight loss or low carbohydrate diet.
There are many other reasons to take a branch chain amino acid supplement. The top 4 are listed below.
- Branch chain amino acids can help you exercise harder.
- Taking them may help you build more muscle.
- Getting more BCAAs in your diet may help you get rid of excess belly fat.
- They can boost your mood and increase mental energy after a tough workout.
Give them a try before your next workout. I think you’ll find the results to be pretty impressive. You should experience some benefit the first time. Remember that you will need at least 10 grams to see results. If you weigh more than 200 pounds a higher dose may be required.
This amino acid has been around as a supplement for a long time. It’s found in small amounts in many foods including red meat and eggs. Studies show that l-carnitine helps decrease muscle soreness after intense workouts. By intense I mean workouts that include 4 sets of 15 reps of barbell squats and leg presses with little rest between them.
This type of workout is enough to make anyone really sore for days. Fortunately for the subjects in the study taking 2 grams of l-carnitine they didn’t feel so much pain. This amount was enough to significantly reduce feelings of soreness and reduce muscle damage.
How I Supplement With L-Carnitine
I personally get my daily 2 gram dose of l-carnitine from Gaspari Anavite. It’s a sports multivitamin that I’ve been using for a couple of years. I really like the fact that it contains the type of carnitine used in the research I reference above (l-carnitine tartrate). You’ll also see it listed on the label as Carnipure. That I don’t have to take another supplement to get an effective dose is also a huge plus.
When You Can Expect To See Results
Expect to experience results after taking it daily for about 3 weeks. I noticed significantly less soreness after I had been taking it for about this amount of time. Whichever product you choose, make sure you are taking 2 grams a day.
Other Benefits Of l-Carnitine
In addition to decreasing post-workout soreness, taking an l-carnitine supplement may increase your endurance during workouts and help you lose fat a little faster. Studies find it’s good for your heart health as well.
3. Citrulline Malate
Don’t be surprised if you see watermelon juice being touted as the next great sports drink. That’s because it contains citrulline malate. This is another amino acid that helps reduce post-workout muscle soreness. It may additionally help your performance in other ways. I also write about them at the end of this section.
Studies find that taking about 2 grams (16 ounces of watermelon juice) of citrulline before you exercise significantly reduces workout related muscle soreness. It also helps to diminish muscle damage caused by your workout.
Since watermelon juice is tough to find and juicing your own is a hassle, the best way to take citrulline is as a nutritional supplement. Fortunately, many sports nutrition companies include it in their products and sell it individually.
Listed below are nutritional supplements that contain at least 1 gram of citrulline per serving. Using any of them makes it easy to get the 2 or more grams you need to see results.
– Contains 2 grams per scoop. Drink before you train. It contains many other ingredients like branch chain aminos, caffeine, and creatine, to give you lots of energy and help you get bigger pumps that last longer.
– Contains 2 grams of citrulline per scoop. Plain powder mixes easily in water. I add this to my BCAA powder pre-workout
In addition to helping decrease painful, post-workout muscle soreness citrulline has several other benefits to help you get more from every workout.
Do more work.
A study finds that it helps you get more reps in during exercises like the bench press. The more work you can do every workout, the faster you’ll reach your goals.
Decrease lactic acid.
This byproduct of intense exercise is what causes your muscles to burn when you’re training hard. The less your body makes, the harder and longer you can exercise.
Increase nitric oxide levels.
By helping your body produce more NO during a workout, you may be able to train harder and get bigger ‘pumps’ that last longer. Some researchers believe this may also help you recover faster post-workout.
The best time to take citrulline is before and if necessary after you train. As I mentioned before, you want to make sure you take at least 2 grams. According to the scientific literature, it may take about 2 weeks to see results.
4. Fish Oil
The omega 3 fats that give fish oil so many health related benefits are also good for making your muscles less sore after an intense workout. Studies show that taking fish oil every day for at least 2 weeks can help you experience less pain and reduce muscle damage after an intense workout. Researchers find that fish oils ability to decrease inflammation is what makes it good at reducing exercise induced muscle soreness.
How Much Fish Oil Do You Need To Take?
The dosage that appears to be effective is 3 grams a day. Based on clinical research you probably need to take it for 3 weeks before you’ll see results.
Please note that the 3 gram recommendation isn’t the total amount of fish oil needed but the amount of EPA and DHA found effective by researchers. You can easily determine how much your fish oil supplement has per serving by adding the EPA and DHA dosage listed on its ‘Supplement Facts’ label. The more concentrated the supplement, the greater the amount it will have in every serving.
How I Get My Daily Dose
One of my favorite fish oil supplements is Controlled Labs Oximega. Each serving has 1200 mg (1.2 grams) of EPA and DHA. This concentrated dosage makes it possible to get 3 grams of EPA and DHA in just 5 softgels. I also like that it Oximega contains a fish oil that’s tested for impurities and has an orange flavor.
Additional Benefits Of Fish Oil
Taking a fish oil supplement can help you reach your weight loss or muscle building goals faster too. Results from one study show that taking it every day for 6 weeks help you do both at the same time, without changing your workout or diet.
5. Carbohydrate and Protein Rich Post-Workout Shakes
This is probably one of the most consumed types of workout supplements. Drinking a supplement with about 30-50 grams of carbohydrates and 15-30 grams of protein helps decrease muscle soreness and reduce exercise-induced damage.
You’re likely to experience better results if you drink your shake immediately post-workout. It’s also a good idea to choose a supplement that contains ingredients that digest quickly like whey protein. MHP Dark Matter fits the bill perfectly. So does a meal replacement shake like BSN Syntha 6.
You can also make your own post-workout shake by mixing whey protein powder with about 8 ounces of fruit juice. I’ve experienced great results by mixing a scoop of Gaspari Isofusion with 8 ounces of water and an equal amount of tart cherry juice. In addition to providing a little bit of muscle fueling carbs post-workout, cherry juice is also shown to reduce muscle soreness.
You now know about 5 nutritional supplements that will decrease soreness and improve your workouts. You can try them individually or use them together for maximum benefit.
I personally recommend taking BCAAs and fish oil as they have the most benefits for your workouts and overall health.
What other supplements help you decrease post workout muscle soreness?