We are all familiar with the burning muscle pain that comes after leg day or after a grueling high-intensity interval training session. Good nutrition, healthy sleep, and a well-designed exercise program can help you cope with the dire symptoms of delayed muscle pain syndrome (DOMS).
Below, I’ll share a few supplements that can help you minimize DOMS and increase your workout performance over time! After all, the faster you recover from exercise, the sooner you can return to normal levels of exercise.
BRANCHED SIDE-CHAIN AMINO ACIDS (BCAA)
There’s a reason BCAAs are found in just about every post-workout supplement: They really work! The amino acids leucine, isoleucine, and valine are important for building muscle and minimizing muscle breakdown.
The goal of strength training is to provoke tension and tearing of muscle fibers so that they can grow and become larger and stronger. However, this process can wreak havoc on the proteins that make up muscle fibers and make even the simplest activities like getting out of bed a living hell.
BCAAs are effective in accelerating recovery by helping to reduce delayed muscle pain and shorten the rest time between workouts. A 5-gram serving is a versatile dose of BCAAs that can be taken before, during, after training, or any other time of the day. It is recommended to choose BCAAs with a 2: 1: 1 amino acid ratio (leucine: isoleucine: valine).
Fish oil is one of the most versatile supplements in the sports nutrition market. It helps improve overall health in a variety of ways, from promoting heart health to weight control. Fish oil will not disappoint in terms of accelerating recovery.
EPA and DHA, two essential fatty acids found in fish oil, have powerful anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce muscle soreness after exercise. In studies, athletes who took a fish oil supplement reported less pain, reduced muscle swelling, and a greater range of motion, in contrast to subjects who took a placebo instead of fish oil. These improvements are attributed to the ability of fish oil to strengthen cell membranes while helping to reduce oxidative stress associated with intense exercise.
Scientists at the American Heart Association recommend taking 1 gram of fish oil daily to promote cardiovascular health. As a remedy to reduce muscle soreness, fish oil should be taken in a double dose of 2 grams (a combination of EPA and DHA) per day.
More commonly known as a fat burner, L-Carnitine may also be an important supplement for effective post-workout recovery. L-Carnitine helps optimize muscle repair by helping to reduce muscle ammonia build-up and increase blood flow during and after exercise.
In one recent study, strength athletes who took 2 grams of L-carnitine daily for 3 weeks experienced significantly lower levels of physical stress markers, less muscle damage, and less muscle soreness after doing moderate-intensity squats.
A follow-up study confirmed this finding, showing that middle-aged men and women who took L-carnitine experienced significantly less pain and muscle damage after performing a multi-rep set of barbell squats.