If you’re serious about building muscle, ensuring optimal recovery from exercise is just as important as the exercise itself. There really is no point in training hard when you’re in the gym if you just sabotage your progress by neglecting recovery outside the gym.
Below are three supplements which are all reliably effective for enhancing recovery and optimizing muscle growth. Each of these are meant to be used in conjunction with (not in place of) a solid diet and adequate rest.
L-Carnitine L-Tartrate (LCLT) is Carnitine bound to Tartartic Acid, which increases the speed at which it is absorbed. This makes it an ideal form of Carnitine for pre, intra, post-workout supplementation.
Carnitine (as LCLT) has been shown to reduce tissue damage resulting from exercise. This effect has been noted throughout multiple studies and is considered to be extremely reliable between doses of 1-2g daily.
The mechanism of action at work here isthought to be the due to increased oxygenation of muscle tissue which has been noted in various L-Carnitine studies, though many of these studies measured performance enhancement, not recovery so this is currently just the leading theory.
Regardless of how it works, it works! So consider supplementation with 1-2g of Carnitine before, during, or after exercise.
OUR #1 LCLT SUPPLEMENTFIND IT HERE
PrimaForce is one of the most trusted single-ingredients supplement brands out there, making PrimaForce LCLT an effective, trustworthy option for those looking for a powder-form LCLT supplement to ad to their pre, intra, or post-workout stack. LCLT has a slightly tart flavor but is easily masked by flavored beverages and not particularly unpleasant in any way.
PrimaForce LCLT provides 325 per container for just $30. This translates to anywhere from 162-325 servings per container, depending on desired dose.
BCAAs are generally used to increase muscle protein synthesis and reduce muscle breakdown during exercise.
However, a 2012 study published in the “Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition” found that BCAA supplementation before and after exercise was able to reduce chemical indications of muscle damage and reduce soreness in healthy, resistance trained subjects.
These results were consistent with an earlier (2009) study from the “Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness” in which BCAA supplementation during exercise reduced muscle soreness, inflammation, and indications of muscle damage.
The effective range for BCAAs is generally at least 5g taken before, during, or after exercise.
There is no research indicating an optimal ratio of Leucine to Isoleucine to Valine but if building muscle is the desired effect, Leucine should be the most heavily weighted (2:1:1, 4:1:1, etc.).
OUR #1 BCAA SUPPLEMENTFIND IT HERE
Optimum is probably the single most trusted brand when it comes to protein, and we feel the same about their BCAA 5000. If you’re looking for a single ingredient, non-flavored (flavored also available) BCAA supplement, we recommend this one. If you’re looking for a more advanced Amino Acid supplement that includes BCAAs, consider the ones on this list.
Optimum BCAA 5000 provides 60 5g servings of BCAAs in a standard 2:1:1 ratio and runs around $25 per container.
Taurine is an amino acid with antioxidant properties which underlie it’s exercise recovery benefits. Like L-Carnitine L-Tartrate, Taurine has been shown to reduce chemical indications of exercise-induced tissue damage.
The same benefits have been recorded elsewhere, making Taurine a reliable exercise-recovery enhancement supplement in the eyes of science.
The effective range for Taurine is 1-2g taken before or during exercise.
OUR #1 TAURINE SUPPLEMENTFIND IT HERE
Although there are plenty of effective, transparent, trustworthy Taurine supplements, we’d recommend NutraBio over most other brands. Not because it is necessarily superior to other Taurine supplements, but because NutraBio has built a stellar reputation for quality and integrity and the same can’t be said for many other brands.
NutraBio Taurine packs 500G of Pharmaceutical Grade Taurine for just $17, making it not only one of the most trustworthy but also one of the most affordable options.
- Howatson, Glyn, et al. “Exercise-induced muscle damage is reduced in resistance-trained males by branched chain amino acids: a randomized, double-blind, placebo controlled study.” J Int Soc Sports Nutr 9.1 (2012): 20.
- Matsumoto, K., et al. “Branched-chain amino acid supplementation attenuates muscle soreness, muscle damage and inﬂammation during an intensive training program.” Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness 49 (2009): 424-31.
- Volek, Jeff S., et al. “L-Carnitine L-tartrate supplementation favorably affects markers of recovery from exercise stress.” American Journal of Physiology-Endocrinology and Metabolism 282.2 (2002): E474-E482.
- Kraemer, WILLIAM J., et al. “The effects of L-carnitine L-tartrate supplementation on hormonal responses to resistance exercise and recovery.”The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research 17.3 (2003): 455-462.
- Spiering, Barry A., et al. “Effects of L-carnitine L-tartrate supplementation on muscle oxygenation responses to resistance exercise.” The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research 22.4 (2008): 1130-1135.
- Spiering, Barry A., et al. “Responses of criterion variables to different supplemental doses of L-carnitine L-tartrate.” The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research 21.1 (2007): 259-264.
- Zhang, M., et al. “Role of taurine supplementation to prevent exercise-induced oxidative stress in healthy young men.” Amino acids 26.2 (2004): 203-207.
- Dawson Jr, R., et al. “The cytoprotective role of taurine in exercise-induced muscle injury.” Amino acids 22.4 (2002): 309-324.
Silva, Luciano A., et al. “Taurine supplementation decreases oxidative stress in skeletal muscle after eccentric exercise.” Cell biochemistry and function 29.1 (2011): 43-49.
- Eder, Klaus, et al. “Free and total carnitine concentrations in pig plasma after oral ingestion of various L-carnitine compounds.” International journal for vitamin and nutrition research 75.1 (2005): 3-9.