It can be argued that muscle recovery is as important as actually working out. Tiny tears occur in the muscles whenever you push them beyond their normal levels. These micro-tears are what lead to muscle growth.
Your body requires specific nutrients after intense training to aid in muscle recovery and repair. Without proper post-workout supplementation, you might require days of rest before you’re able to go back to the gym. Additionally, you’ll see faster results if your muscles are properly fueled after each workout.
Without adequate muscle recovery, you won’t see much gains when it comes to muscle mass. You’ll likely experience a decrease in strength as well, which can make it difficult to finish your workouts.
Luckily for you, muscle recovery supplements can help repair and rebuild muscles damaged by intense training. The best muscle recovery supplements supply the nourishment your muscles need to heal and grow following a strenuous workout. The risk of injury is also reduced when you make muscle recovery a priority.
This article will discuss the 9 top muscle recovery supplements and explain how they can help you recover from a strenuous workout. These products are a must for anyone who is struggling to get to the gym because of soreness or muscle fatigue, and will help ensure you’re making steady progress.
The TOP 9 Best Muscle Recovery Supplements
We’ve done extensive research to find the best muscle recovery supplements that provide a quick recovery and minimize soreness between workouts. These 9 top products offer a variety of benefits that will positively affect your recovery and workout performance.
1. BCAAs (Branched-Chain Amino Acids)
BCAAs, or Branched-chain amino acids, are essential amino acids that can only be obtained by a customized diet or supplementation. They help to reduce muscle damage from exercise and are crucial for muscle recovery and growth.
BCAAs can be very helpful in reducing workout fatigue, speeding up recovery post-workout, and promoting protein synthesis to increase lean muscle mass. Due to their ability to support optimal performance and fast recovery, BCAA supplements are great for athletes, fitness buffs, and anyone looking to achieve peak performance.
BCAA supplements offer many benefits to recovery, including:
- Promote muscle growth
- Decrease muscle soreness
- Prevent muscle breakdown
- Improve muscle recovery
- Reduce post-workout fatigue
Many of the most effective BCAA and recovery products for athletes have two times the amount of leucine compared to isoleucine and valine. This ratio of 2:1 is favored since Leucine appears to be the most effective at stimulating protein synthesis, and minimizing the breakdown of muscle.
2. Whey Protein Powder
Bodybuilding and protein go together like chocolate and peanut butter. Protein is probably the most widely recognized supplement for muscle recovery. Protein powders are a popular type of muscle recovery supplement and they provide the body with the essential building blocks necessary to repair and rebuild muscle.
After a hard workout, your body will produce tears in the muscles which become part of the recovery process. This is completely normal but it requires the right nutrition. Because your muscles are primarily made up of protein, getting protein in your diet is essential. Whey protein is one food source that quickly provides the necessary amino acids.
Recovery involves the creation of new muscle fibers which are then incorporated into existing muscle fibers as a method of repair. Protein shakes taken after working out can give your muscles a jump-start by providing them with the nutrients they need.
Whey protein powder is naturally packed with all nine essential amino acids that make up the building blocks of protein in your body. It can be used effectively as a pre- or post-workout shake depending on your preferences. It’s appears to work best as a muscle recovery supplement if used periodically during the post-workout phase: immediately following exercise, then 6 hours later, and finally 24 hours later.
Only consuming whey either immediately before or after a workout doesn’t appear to produce the same effectiveness.
One of the most well-known of all muscle recovery supplements has to be creatine monohydrate. Creatine is a powerful muscle supplement that has been proven to increase ATP production, muscle size, and strength.
By directly increasing ATP production in the muscles, creatine generates more energy during exercise and speeds up the process of muscular regeneration afterward.
Creatine helps to trigger an increase in glycogen storage, allowing you to improve your athletic performance and get more done in the gym. It also helps with preventing injuries and with recovery.
Creatine plays a key role in muscle recovery following a workout. Researchers found that creatine monohydrate taken after a workout-related injury caused muscle tissue to heal faster than those who didn’t take the supplement. Other research showed that creatine taken post-workout combined with simple carbohydrates like dextrose can substantially decrease muscle damage and speed up recovery.
L-glutamine is frequently taken by athletes and bodybuilders to aid in muscle growth and repair. L-glutamine has been shown to increase the rate of protein synthesis within cells . This is the process where your cells use protein for building things like muscle tissue and skin.
As a result, l-glutamine supplementation can increase muscle growth when it’s combined with protein and exercise. L-glutamine may also be beneficial for post-workout recovery. This means that you could need fewer breaks or rest days between workouts.
For example, in one study l-glutamine consumption was associated with faster muscle recovery and less muscle soreness following quadriceps exercises.
L-glutamine’s role in muscle recovery can also be explained by its ability to transport nitrogen through the blood and deliver it to the muscles. The body uses nitrogen to build muscle and is found in high-protein foods. The body is optimally-placed to build muscle if it has a healthy nitrogen balance. However, it is quite difficult for the body to build new muscle if it’s deficient in nitrogen. This is why l-glutamine is so important after a workout.
Magnesium aids in muscle recovery by supporting healthy muscle function. It works by helping the muscles better relax after contracting during a hard workout. You have a higher chance of experiencing muscle cramps if your magnesium levels are low.
Studies suggest that around half of all Americans don’t get enough magnesium. And among women, this percentage is even greater, at around 75%. A magnesium supplement support.
Studies show that having adequate magnesium levels may even enhance exercise performance by improving power and strength. Other benefits may also include improvements in extension, flexion, jumping and rotation.
Curcumin (the primary active component found in turmeric) is also available as a standalone supplement. It is a powerful antioxidant and provides anti-inflammatory effects for the body.
A recent research review examined data from multiple studies involving 237 participants. It concluded that 150-1,500 mg of curcumin supplementation per day decreases muscle pain, reduces creatine kinase levels (an enzyme that signals muscle damage), and enhances muscle performance.
Curcumin supplementation can aid in recovery by decreasing muscle damage, as well as keeping inflammation under control. Although curcumin occurs naturally in turmeric, it does not contain the amounts necessary to reap the benefits of its recovery properties. Curcumin supplements may be taken before, during or after exercise.
7. Fish Oil
The omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA are found in fish oil supplements, and are well-known for their anti-inflammatory and heart health benefits.
Fish oil supplements may be helpful for recovery by reducing muscle soreness. They may also improve physical measurements such range of motion and maximum contraction. The most effective dose to achieve this benefit is currently uncertain, however.
For example, one study found that 6g of fish oil per day was more effective than 2-4 g doses. On the other hand, other studies showed significant improvements when using 1-2 g daily doses .
8. Tart Cherries
Generally speaking, there are two basic types of cherries: sweet or tart. Sweet cherries are what’s normally eaten fresh, while tart cherries are frequently made into juice or used in supplements.
Tart cherries are high in antioxidants, which help to minimize muscle damage and boost recovery by increasing blood flow. The increased blood flow provides the muscles with oxygen and nutrients needed for recovery. A number of studies have shown that tart cherry supplementation can help with recovery by reducing pain and muscle soreness, preserving strength, boosting the body’s antioxidant capacity, and decreasing inflammation.
One study, for example, examined the effects of consuming 30 mL of tart cherry concentrate added to water on elite male sprinters, 5 days before and 3 days after an intense training session. The tart cherry concentrate resulted in faster recovery, reduced muscle soreness, and lower inflammation than those who took a placebo.
Tart cherries concentrate, juice, or supplements can all be taken within the days preceding, the day of, or the days after strenuous physical activity to enhance recovery. The best dosage depends on what form is taken (juice, concentrate, or supplement), and the intensity of and length of the exercise.
9. Citrulline malate
When citrulline (an amino acid) is combined with malate (an organic salt), the result is citrulline malate. Citrulline gets converted in the body into arginine, which boosts blood flow and potentially aids in recovery. Some of citrulline malate’s benefits include:
- Vasodilation for improved blood flow
- Reduction of muscle fatigue by removing ammonium from your system
- Clears out lactic acid from muscles that are overworked
A study of over 40 men showed that one supplemental dose of citrulline Malate resulted in more than a 50% increase in barbell bench press reps with reduced fatigue.  In a smaller study, 15 resistance-trained women that supplemented short-term with citrulline malate increased performance in bench presses and lower-body exercise. 
Studies show that citrulline malate may impact performance and recovery – but in trained athletes, not those engaging in light or moderate exercise. Studies have shown that citrulline malate can also be taken before working out, with a recommended dose of 8-12 g.