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Muscle for life

The Definitive Guide to Muscle Recovery

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The Definitive Guide to Muscle Recovery

If you want to improve muscle growth, you want to improve muscle recovery. This guide will show you how.

 

When it comes to accelerating muscle growth, most people gravitate toward training and supplementation strategies.

They look for fancy new workouts purportedly used by bodybuilders or celebrities, or supplements that claim to increase anabolic hormones or induce muscle growth in various other ways.

Some consider dietary strategies as well, but few give much thought to muscle recovery and how it relates to muscle growth.

Well, muscle recovery has everything to do with muscle growth, and is in fact the primary limiter of how much muscle you can actually gain.  Regardless of how hard you train, if your body can’t recover properly, you won’t make any gains to speak of.

In this guide, we’re going to look at what muscle growth actually is and why recovery is such a vital part of the process, and what we can do to accelerate our muscle recovery and thus muscle growth.

Let’s get started.

How Muscle Recovery Affects Muscle Growth

Although simple, the physiological process of “muscle recovery” is actually a mystery to many people.

What exactly is happening when your muscles recover from a work out?

Well, every day, trillions of cells in your body are dying and being replaced. This is known as “cell turnover,” and it’s regulated by a complex system of proteins and hormones.

Our muscle cells are part of this process, of course, and the process by which degraded proteins are replaced is known as “protein biosynthesis,” or “protein synthesis.”

Under normal health and dietary circumstances, muscle tissue is fairly stable, and the cycle of cellular degradation and regeneration remains balanced.  That is, the average person doesn’t lose or gain muscle at an accelerated rate–his or her lean mass more or less remains level. (Well, we actually slowly lose lean mass as we age, but you get the point.)

Now, when we engage in resistance training, we damage the cells in our muscle fibers. This is the real cause of muscle soreness, not lactic acid buildup, as some people believe.

This cellular damage signals the body to begin the repair process, which requires an acceleration of the normal rate of protein synthesis. As you have probably heard, this process is regulated by anabolic hormones like testosterone, human growth hormone, insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF 1), and others.

Our body is smart, too.

It doesn’t want to just repair the muscle fiber to its previous state–it wants to adapt it to better deal with the type of stimulus that caused the damage.That is, it wants to add cells to the muscle fibers, which makes them bigger and stronger.

Thus, what we think of as just “muscle growth” is actually the result of protein synthesis rates exceeding protein breakdown rates. 

At the end of, let’s say, every 24-hour period, if your body synthesized more muscle proteins than it lost, you gained muscle. If it didn’t, you didn’t.

Now, the reason I brought all this up is to highlight the importance of muscle recovery, and how it relates to muscle growth. Improving muscle recovery boils down to increasing protein synthesis and decreasing protein breakdown, which results in a “net protein gain,” which we see as increased muscle size and strength.

So, with all that out of the way, let’s now look at some strategies for improving muscle recovery.

Total Caloric Intake and Muscle Recovery

If you provide your body with less energy (calories) than it burns, you are placing it in what is known as a “calorie deficit.”

This is how you lose fat, but it comes with a price: reduced anabolic hormone levels and impaired protein synthesis.

That’s why you generally can’t build muscle while simultaneously losing fat–the calorie restriction necessary for weight loss prevents it.

And that’s why you need to make sure you’re eating enough food every day if you want to maximize muscle recovery and muscle growth. 

How many calories should you eat every day, then?

Well, you want to ensure you’re at least eating as many calories you’re burning every day. A slight surplus, 10-20%, is advisable to maximize protein synthesis rates.

An accurate way to measure how much energy you’re burning is to use the Katch McArdle formula to determine your basal metabolic rate, and multiply it as follows:

  • By 1.2 if you exercise 1-3 hours per week.
  • By 1.35 if you exercise 4-6 hours per week.
  • By 1.5 if you exercise 7+ hours per week.

For example, I weigh 190 lbs and am about 7% body fat, and per the above formula, I burn about 2,800 calories per day.

This is what I’m currently eating every day, and it’s allowing me to make slow, steady increases in strength and size while staying lean.

Protein and Muscle Recovery

We’ve all heard that a high-protein diet is important for building muscle, and now you know why: dietary protein provides your body with the raw amino acids it needs to synthesize its own proteins.

This is why eating enough protein every day is an important part of maximizing muscle recovery.

How much is enough though?

Research has shown that protein should comprise approximately 30% of your daily calories. For most people, that comes out to be about 1 gram per pound of body weight.

While meal timing isn’t generally important, having protein both before and after your exercise is advisable, as it has been shown to enhance recovery, immune function, and growth and maintenance of lean body mass.

Carbohydrate and Muscle Recovery

While low-carb diets are trendy these days, they suck for those of us trying to get bigger, leaner, and stronger. (No, low-carb is not necessary for getting and staying lean.)

Why?

For two primary reasons:

Building muscle strength and size requires that we continually push our muscles harder and harder (progressive overload), and this is essentially impossible when our glycogen levels are chronically low. (which is one of the byproducts of reducing carbohydrate intake)

Furthermore, research has shown that when muscle glycogen levels are low, exercise-induced muscle breakdown is accelerated.

Why is that bad? Aren’t we trying to break down our muscles with exercise?

Yes, but remember that our body can only synthesize so many muscle proteins every day. If we cause too much damage with our exercise, our body simply won’t be able to keep up with repair, which can result in us actually losing muscle despite regular training.

One study compared high- vs. low-carbohydrate dieting and found that a subjects following the low-carb diet had increased protein degradation and reduced protein synthesis rates, resulting is less overall muscle growth.

While low-carb dieting has benefits for those with impaired glucose metabolism (diabetics or pre-diabetics, for example), it is not good for maximizing muscle growth.

So how how many carbs should you be eating every day?

A good place to start is getting 30-50% of your daily calories from carbohydrate.

It’s also worth noting that post-exercise carbohydrate intake will result in an accelerated rate of glycogen resynthesis. Shoot for about 1.5 grams of post-exercise carbohydrate per kilogram of body weight.

Sleep and Muscle Recovery

Getting enough sleep important for muscle recovery as well (not to mention general health).

How much sleep should you get, then?

Sleep needs vary from individual to individual, but according to the National Sleep Foundation, adults need 7–9 hours of sleep per night to avoid the negative effects of sleep deprivation.

There’s another factor to consider when looking at sleep and muscle recovery.

Most of us would assume our bodies repair a large amount of muscle while we sleep, but research has actually shown that muscle protein synthesis rates are quite low during this time.

Why?

Because of the limited availability of amino acids.

You see, unless we eat protein before we go to sleep, our body runs out of amino acids with which to rebuild itself and must wait until our next meal to continue the process.

Keep in mind that this doesn’t mean you lose muscle while you sleep (this is a myth), it just means that without the raw materials necessary for recovery, your muscles can’t recover. And your body gets those raw materials from absorbing nutrients (amino acids primarily) in food you eat.

Thus, it’s no surprise that research has shown that eating a slow-burning protein like casein before going to sleep helps with muscle recovery.

Supplements and Muscle Recovery

You can find a supplement for just about anything, and recovery supplements are quite popular.

Let’s look at some of the common ones and whether they work or not.

BCAAs and Muscle Recovery

BCAAs taken both before and after exercise has been shown to reduce muscle breakdown and accelerates recovery…BUT…that doesn’t mean you should necessarily buy some.

Why?

Because eating protein accomplishes the same thing, and especially a fast-asborbing protein that’s high in leucine (an amino acid that strongly initiates protein synthesis), like whey.

I only use BCAAs if I’m training fasted.

Glutamine and Muscle Recovery

Another common product sold as a muscle-building, recovery agent is the amino acid glutamine.

At first glance, it looks like supplementation with glutamine would work as promised.

Research has shown that intramuscular glutamine levels play an important role in protein synthesis and the prevention of muscle breakdown. It also improves the body’s ability to use leucine.

But here’s the kicker: there’s no research to indicate that supplementation with glutamine improves protein synthesis in healthy, well-fed adults (as opposed to humans and rats in diseased or under-fed states).

To the contrary, in fact, several studies conducted with healthy adults showed that supplementation with glutamine has no effect on protein synthesis, muscle performance, body composition, or the prevention of muscle breakdown.

Now, while supplementation with glutamine won’t help your muscles recover, it has been shown to help the body deal with the systemic stresses of regular, prolonged exercise. That is, it can help prevent overtraining.

Creatine and Muscle Recovery

Creatine is a substance found naturally in the body and in foods like red meat. It is perhaps the most researched dietary supplement in the world of sports nutrition–the subject of over 200 studies.

Among its many benefits are reduced exercise-induced muscle damage and inflammation.

Yet another reason to supplement with creatine.

Carnitine and Muscle Recovery

Carnitine is a compound that your body produces from the amino acids lysine and methionine, and it plays a vital role in the generation of cellular energy.

Research has shown that supplementation with carnitine reduces exercise-induced muscle damage and soreness, and improves muscle repair.

Here is the supplement I use and recommend for muscle recovery:

 RECHARGE Post-Workout Supplement creatine-supplement

RECHARGE is a 100% natural post-workout supplement that helps you gain muscle and strength faster, and recover better from your workouts.

Once it’s had time to accumulate in your muscles (about a week of use), the first thing you’re going to notice is increased strength and anaerobic endurance, less muscle soreness, and faster post workout muscle recovery.

And the harder you can train in your workouts and the faster you can recover from them, the more muscle and strength you’re going to build over time.

Furthermore, RECHARGE doesn’t need to be cycled, which means it’s safe for long-term use, and its effects don’t diminish over time.

It’s also naturally sweetened and flavored and contains no artificial food dyes, fillers, or other unnecessary junk.

So, if you want to be able to push harder in the gym, train more frequently, and get more out of your workouts, then you want to try RECHARGE today.

 Do you have any muscle recovery tips you’d like to share? Did you like this guide? Let me know in the comments below!

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  • ADTS

    Mike,
    Great article as usual.
    Do you have any advice on the frequency of training in regards to recovery? IE. hitting a muscle group 1x per week vs 2x per week or more.
    Thanks for all the great info on your site.
    AD

    • Lucas

      I am curious about that too, Mike. I use to train each muscular group 1 time/week. Do you know any science article which has an approach of which is better: train the same muscle 1 ou 2 times/week?

      Thanks a lot, I’m always following your job.

      • Michael Matthews

        Thanks Lucas. See my reply above!

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks! Glad you liked the article.

      Great question and this is one of those nebulous issues. It really boils down to training volume though. You can train a muscle group 2-3x per week if your training volume is lower, as we see in programs like Starting Strength and 5×5.

      If your training volume is higher though, such as in my BLS program, you simply couldn’t do all those workouts 2x per week as a natural weightlifter. You could target 1-2 weak points with extra training, but I always keep that to 6 sets and I usually work in the 6-8 rep range.

      Hope this helps!

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks! Glad you liked the article.

      Frequency of training individual muscle groups depends on workout volume and intensity.

      The BLS style workout is high intensity (heavy weight) and moderate volume, and it would be impossible for a natural weightlifter to perform all of the workouts twice per week (it would lead to overtraining very quickly).

      That said, a Starting Strength or 5×5 workout can be performed several times per week because although the workout intensity is high, the volume is low.

      I’ve personally had the best results with one heavy, moderate workout for each muscle group each week (BLS style), followed by a second shorter, lighter workout to target a weak point or two (currently shoulders).

      In that second workout, I shoot for 6 sets in the 6-8 rep range, and I only do this for 1-2 lagging parts per week.

      Hope this helps!

      • Jonas

        so youre doing it different than you actually recommend it in BLS?
        why 6-8 reps there?

        also , does it matter that i perform all the workouts on the same days every week or could i also do a 3 say split when im busy at a time if i usually did a 4 day-one, or coule i just change workout days IF (and i think thats most important) i got enough recovery??

        • Michael Matthews

          I will be discussing this in my next book as I’m following an advanced, periodized version of the BLS program. I did BLS training for about 4 years to build my foundation.

          You’re making this too complicated brother. Start with the BLS program and keep it simple before you get into too much complexity…

  • Stuart Cullinan

    Any thoughts on l-carnitine vs acetyl-carnitine? Also, do you find the water retention you get with creatine prevents you getting ‘dry’ and vascular?

    • Michael Matthews

      From the research I’ve seen acetyl-carnitine seems to work equally as well as L-carnitine.

      Nope, I don’t have any water retention issues with 5 grams of creatine per day.

  • Oliver Lopez

    In the book Nutrient Timing they speak about how one should consume High glycemic foods in order to increase insulin post workout bc that increased insulin actually promotes protein synthsies becuase insulin acts as a shuttle delivering more of those amino acids to the muscle. The study you posted seems to go agianst this, any thoughts?

    • Michael Matthews

      Yeah that’s the general advice for replenishing glycogen stores, but not for insulin purposes. Insulin doesn’t stimulate protein synthesis.

  • Keith

    Hi Mike, great article. On the subject of post workout meal and the 30/50% of daily carbs. What are examples of ideal carbs to have post workout? eg I have been using blended rolled oats with whey protein/water. Will that do a good job carb type wise?
    Thanks

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Keith! I like medium/high-GI choices with some nutritive value like sweet potato, instant oats, white potato, rice milk, bananas, and pineapple.

      And while this is a little pedantic, I don’t get all carbs from fruit as fructose is good for replenishing the liver’s glycogen stores, but not so great for replenishing the muscle’s stores (because of how it’s processed in the liver).

      Hope that helps!

      • Keith

        Thanks Mike. Appreciate the reply. 🙂

        • Michael Matthews

          YW 🙂

  • Joe Sierejko

    Hey great article, but should the formula be any different for calorie intake if you have a desk job? I do cardio every other day during break and lift weekdays, should it be any lower to not overeat?

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Joe! Nope, the formula holds if you’re meeting those weekly exercise hours. I work on a computer all day every day as well.

      No need to reduce on off days. A slight surplus on those days won’t harm anything.

  • Ethan

    Well written, Mike. I’m a nurse and rock climb/work out several days a week. I enjoy the information on the cellular level of what is happening with our bodies. Thanks, and looking forward to trying your products when they come out…

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Ethan! Glad you liked the article, and I really appreciate your support. Lemme know if I can answer any questions.

  • António Alves

    This is kind of an unrelated question to this article, and might be very stupid, but how do people setup the deadlift? When I do it, I put the olympic bar on the floor and put the weights on, which I feel is probably what nobody does…

    • Michael Matthews

      Haha good question. I load it on the floor as well because I have to do my little warm-up routine. Some people put it on the pins every time to add weight though.

      • J-Satt

        I load the bar on the floor too, and I hate that part of it 🙂

        • J-Satt

          That, and I hate loading all the plates on the leg press and unloading them!

          • Michael Matthews

            Haha.

        • Michael Matthews

          Yeah, it can be annoying.

  • Thanks for the great article, Mike! My wife and I are fixing to have a baby, and sleep deprivation is going to be unavoidable for a time. I was wondering if you had any tips or supplements that might help? I do not want to lose what I have worked hard to gain, nor do I want to store more fat. Thanks for your help and insight!

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Joel! Awesome on the baby plans. My first was born a year ago and it has been great, despite the lack of sleep (although my wife has been awesome about this).

      Anyway, don’t be too worried about it. You’re going to have to play it by ear though. If possible, maybe you can rotate with your wife so you both can catch up on sleep, and maybe you start with lifting 3x per week to see how your body does.

      What do you think?

      • That’s awesome! Congrats on your first born, and thanks for the advice! Will definitely give it a try. Take care!

        • Michael Matthews

          Thanks Joel! Cool lemme know how it goes.

  • Josey

    Hey Mike,

    Could you explain the difference between Carnitine and Taurine? Is one better than the other? I have a creatine supplement that I use as a recovery drink (mixed with rice milk and whey protein) that has glutamine and taurine in it.

    Thanks!

    • Michael Matthews

      Well both are amino acids, but they confer very different benefits. Taurine has no muscle recovery benefits that I know of. It’s good for diabetics though because it can improve eye, kidney, and nerve health, as well as glucose control.

      • After reading this article from Suppversity earlier today, I’m thinking that Taurine may indeed have muscle recovery benefits. I’m thinking about adding 3grams of Taurine to my post-workout.

        “3g Taurine Improve Post-Workout Glycogen Resynthesis”

        http://suppversity.blogspot.com/2014/12/3g-taurine-improve-post-workout.html

        Would you know which brand or form is best?

        Thanks again

        • Michael Matthews

          I like that blog. I’ll check this out. LMK if you notice a difference.

          I would see if NOW Foods sells it.

  • Tricia Gotcha

    im 105 lbs 20% BF. I calculated everything and i got 1625 cals. Should i add 10%-20% more to gain weight?

    • Michael Matthews

      Yeah, start with 1800ish per day (40% pro, 40% carb, 20% fat) and see how your body responds.

  • saul

    mike what to you think about carnivor protein?

    • Michael Matthews

      Haven’t tried it, but the one beef protein I did try was so disgusting I threw it out. I actually almost vomited when I tried to pound it down, lol.

  • Quan Tung Duong

    Thank to this article I realized I had been trying to gain muscle on a calorie-deficit diet for the past 2 months lol.
    Mike, will my fat percentage still decrease if I go for more calorie now ? I am trying to get it down to below 12%.

    • Michael Matthews

      Haha it happens. 🙂 It’s possible to lose fat and gain muscle at the same time. Check out my article here on this:

      https://www.muscleforlife.com /build-muscle-lose-fat/

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  • Jayden

    Hi Mike
    Another great article! One question I have though is regarding your recommendation on a Carnitine supp for muscle recovery. I looked it up and companies seem to advertise this product as “a substance that helps turn fat into energy”. So will this affect my bulk phase if I’m already a hard-gainer? I’m a little confused on this one.

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks! Carnitine doesn’t help with weight loss–they’re full of shit. You can read more about this here:

      https://www.muscleforlife.com /which-weight-loss-pills-actually-work/

      • Jayden

        Cool, thank you! I’ll start using this supplement 🙂

        • Michael Matthews

          YW! 🙂

          • Jayden

            Hey Mike! I accidentally ordered Arginine instead of Carnitine (don’t ask me how that happened). What do you think of Arginine? Also the bottle doesn’t really say how much of it to take. What would you recommend I take for Arginine and for Carnitine (I just ordered the latter and it’s on its way!). Thanks man!

          • Michael Matthews

            Haha oops.

            Arg is okay. It’s just unreliable in its NO-boosting mechanism. You can’t go wrong using it though.

            Take 6g before training and hope it does something. 🙂

  • Quan Tung Duong

    Hi Mike, you said:”Now, when we engage in resistance training, we damage the cells in our muscle fibers. This is the real cause of muscle soreness, not lactic acid buildup, as some people believe.”
    Does this mean if I don’t feel any soreness I’m most likely not working hard enough and unlikely to see growth ?

    • Michael Matthews

      Soreness isn’t necessarily an indicator of a good workout. Genetics, nutrition, and conditioning all play a role.

      For example, I don’t get too sore anymore regardless of what I do. My back will be a little sore after going up in deadlifts, my legs get a little sore after legs day, and sometimes my triceps get a little sore (random), but that’s it. I continue to make gains all around though.

      As long as you’re getting in your 9-12 heavy sets per workout with good form, you’re doing it right. And you should see results to prove it–your strength should go up and you should gain muscle. That said, if you’ve been training for quite some time, I recommend bumping the workouts up to 12 heavy sets. Add one extra exercise, and do 3 sets of it.

  • William Lim Jr

    Hi Mike!

    Speaking of sleep. What would you do if on a lifting day, you didn’t get enough sleep? It may be just of those times that you just couldn’t sleep through the night for some reason or those times that your schedule doesn’t allow you enough time for sleep. Would you still push through with your normal lifting, do a lighter version of your routine, just do HIIT, or just skip lifting entirely?

    Thanks!

    William

    • Michael Matthews

      Hey!

      I just hit the gym regardless. Caffeine helps. 🙂

      Mike

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  • Karina

    I accidently bumped into your website and I haven’t stopped reading and printing you articles and I just added you on FB! You are awesome. This might be a bit off topic but what do you think about Crossfit? And as per me I would like to lose some fat not necessarily weight but I guess trim. I feel that with Crossfit perhaps Im getting kinda thicker. Any thoughts on this? I am currently going 4-5 times a week and doing sprinting and swimming once a week as well. Thanks!

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Karina! I really appreciate it.

      Hehe check out my article on Crossfit here:

      https://www.muscleforlife.com /does-crossfit-work/

      And remember that losing fat is more about diet than training…

  • dny133

    Hello,

    I think i’ve read 10 muscle recovery articles on different sites untill now and i realized it was a waste of time after i read this.

    Just wanna say thank you and keep the good work.

    Daniel.

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Daniel! I appreciate it!

  • Don Flournoy

    Mike,
    I noted that in the article that you say to figure the BMR using Katch McArdle formula and then use an activity multiplier. I was wondering if there is a mistake there or if it was intentional to say that you use 1.2 for 1-3 hours of exercise per week (and the others subsequent to it)? I ask as the standard multipliers for most calculators use or start at 1.375 for 1-3 hours and 1.55 for 3-5 hours, etc…

    I am just wondering if there is a reason for the difference between your article and other formulas?

    Thanks,

    Don

    • Michael Matthews

      That’s intentional. The normal modifiers are just too high for most people. Only those with FAST metabs can make them work.

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  • pen

    Should you alter rep ranges from time to time to ensure ALL different muscle fibers will develop or forces the 4-6 rep range the body to use all it has, and hence recrutes all different types somehow? ( of course foremost FT type 2x fibers)

    • Michael Matthews

      I will be talking about periodization in my next book but the long story short is it’s best for advanced lifters that can actually move some weight in higher rep ranges.

      If you haven’t put on your first 30 pounds of muscle yet, stick to BLS style.

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  • Gavin Akins

    If glycogen synthesis is mainly important for improving our physical performance, why is it suggested to eat 1.5 g per kilogram of bodyweight in our post-exercise meal? As of right now, I’m getting about 40 grams of carbs post-workout and this would call for about 110 grams if I read that correctly.

    • Michael Matthews

      That’s right and that’s what research shows is optimal: 1 to 1.5 grams per kg of body weight in your post-workout meal.

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  • Gina Johnson

    I am very keen on bodybuilding. I am doing it for four years now. During these four years I realised that the best nutrtion you can find is here https://www.synthetek.com/
    I use almost all of their products and I see bigger results that I have expected.

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  • Mike,

    Somebody recently claimed to me that, “The body doesn’t digest properly while sleeping.not supposed to eat like 3 hrs before bed. And as far as the health of the body you are doing major damage eating before bed. The body can’t properly detoxify like it’s meant to at night and the protein will ferment in your stomach as well. Guess they forget to tell that in their precious studies.”

    While I think we can all agree that we should have a large meal right before going to sleep, isn’t it good for muscle recovery to get 30-40 grams of casien, egg, or cottage cheese protein 30-60 minutes before bed? … as described in the study you posted in this article. or is this bad because, “the protein will ferment in your stomach” Is protein even a fermentable substance, lol…

    Thanks! Sean

    • …. meant to say, ‘should NOT have a large meal right before going to sleep…’

    • Michael Matthews

      MAJOR DAMAGE? Lol. Ridiculous.

      Ignore anyone that warns you about protein “fermenting in your stomach.”

      Your body can digest just fine while you sleep.

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  • Mandeep Singh Sandhu

    Hi Mike,

    I’m trying to determine if i should add one of the many forms of L-carnitine to my stack or not. Looking at you recomendation here, you suggest it as a recovery supplement, and also include it in your “Recharge” supplement. Where as Dr. Jim Stoppani claims that it’s also beneficial to take as a fat loss supplement (which you have previously disagreed with). He mentions the supplement in these two articles (both with citations):

    http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/your-expert-guide-to-l-carnitine.html, and

    http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/ask-the-supplement-guru-carnitine.html

    Basically, I’m trying to determine if it will benefit me right now, during a clean bulk, and also for when I start my cut down the road. If you do recomend it, which form is best? I was leaning towards Acetyl L-carnitine (for the mental benefits – not sure if those benefits are supported by science or not), but I don’t know much about L-carnitine Ltartrate – not sure if this would be a better form of it to take.

    Thanks in advance.

    Cheers,

    Mandeep

    • I wouldn’t recommend L-car for fat loss. The evidence is really thin. It has solid evidence for post-workout/muscle recovery/soreness benefits though.

      ALCAR is used for brain boosting and L-car L-tar for recovery…

      • Mandeep Singh Sandhu

        Thanks for the response – it’s great that this community that you’ve created is able to connect directly with you. The interactivity really changes the dynamics of the learning process (and hey, it’s always great for business haha).
        I was reading up on the supplement on examine.com as well. and they mentioned that the beneftis of carnitine might be more pronounced for vegetarians vs.omnivores as they are usually deficient in this supplement – being a vegetarian myself, I might give it a go and see how I respond.

        http://examine.com/supplements/L-Carnitine/

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  • Karim Abouelkheir

    Hey mike
    Great article. Loved the way you explained the muscle breakdown muscle repair concepts. It helps put things in prespective. I just need to ask you what about fat. How to use them efficently for muscle recovery. What is the sweet spot of using fats in terms of the amount and timing. What sources of fat do you usually take?
    thanks alot

  • dave

    Mike,

    Any thoughts on foam rollers and whether they help with muscle recovery or even hinder it?

  • Storm

    Mike – Something I’ve wondered about re: creatine. It reduces muscle breakdown, but isn’t that part of the process we need for building new muscle?

    Additionally, I’ve aboided creatine at times because I’ve read on Examine.com that it may be a bad idea for those of us with a predisposition for male pattern baldness (which is me, argh!). Any thoughts there?

    • Yeah but we get enough breakdown in our training. Creatine helps you build muscle and strength faster. There’s no question.

      There’s a possibility that it does, yes (related to DHT).

  • Mahendra Panchal

    Hi Mike,
    As per your BLS guidelines for Glutamine, studies have shown that 100 to 200 mg of Glutamine each day is sufficient. But the manufacturer of the Glutamine powder, which I am using, says to use 5g of Glutamine each day as single serving. Is this being higher for me?

    • You’ll want more to reap glutamines immune and overtraining benefits. 1.5 to 2 grams per kilogram of bodyweight per day.

      • NewBee238

        seems bit much, say i am at 95kg –> 95*2 = 190g of glutamine ?!

        • Shit sorry 0.15 to 0.2, lol. I fixed.

          • John Doe

            Are you sure that’s right, Mike? 65kg for me = 65*.15=9.75g of glutamine / day? That’s NINE capsules.

          • Yep, that’s right.

          • Burçin Bozkır

            I read glutamic acid can translate glutamin if body needed. Do you have any idea about that. So if we take enough glutamic acid, our body can make enough glutamine for overtraining issues?

          • I’ve only looked at research using GLUTAMINE as a supplement, not glutamic acid.

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  • Ryan Johnson

    Hi Mike,

    Any definitive guides on whether or not to train sore muscles?

    Thanks!

  • Burçin Bozkır

    Hi Mike,

    For fasted training will glutamine (as pre-workout supplement) can help prevention of muscle breakdown?

    Do you suggest using for fasted training?

    Thanks.

  • David Collett

    Hi Mike,

    Have you written or seen anything on the ideal recovery times for interval training for jogging or similar?

    I am in cutting phase and building strength each week from three morning workouts; mon/wed/fri. Changing up at around 6 reps.

    Have been doing 2 minute running sessions on the treadmill with 1 minute break at the end of the workout on mon and fri.

    With the weights I know to do each main muscle group once per week and that works well, but unsure the ideal recovery time with lungs for the jogging.

    Your website is an awesome resource!

    Big thank you.

    Regards,
    David

  • Nat

    Hey there Mike

    Really awesome article. Read it thoroughly to retain a lot of useful information, which begs my question…

    According to the BMR calculator, my daily caloric intake is 2,550 (161lbs; 17% body fat; 7+ hrs of training per week between lifting and cardio). On lifting days (5 days/week), I always reach my caloric intake, and over the weekends I only consume 2,000 calories (20% deficit) for weight loss. Since I’m not at a caloric surplus (10% – 20%) on lifting days, does that mean I’m not gaining any muscles? I do, however, am able to increase my lifting weight every couple of weeks (by 5lbs on compound movements) and do the same reps (progressive overload).

    Also, I noticed that last week I gained 1lb, but this week I lost 1lb. How do I know if the 1lb that I gained was muscles/fat and/or the 1lb that I lost this week was muscle/fat?

    Looking for your input so that I can adjust my caloric intake, routine, etc. accordingly.

    Appreciate any advise you can provide and thank you.

    – Nat

    • Hey hey! Thanks!

      Yeah, you won’t be able to build any significant amount of muscle without being in a surplus.

      The weight naturally will fluctuate a bit. However, if you’re eating enough protein and gaining strength, you can assume that the weight gain will mainly be from muscle. To help track the quality of the weight gain, you should be tracking your composition:

      http://www.muscleforlife.com/body-composition/

      So, you should adjust your intake according to your goals. Are you trying to bulk, cut or maintain and make slow gains?

      • Nat

        Thanks for your response – appreciate it. My goal is to cut while making slow to moderate gains – want to lose fat (cut).

        I finished reading another of your articles from Legion and was able to get a better understanding of what my maintenance should be. According to the TDEE calculator, my maintenance should be 2,300 calories – had it wrong all along. So what I’m doing is on workout days I consume 2,600 calories (approx. 200g protein, 200 – 300g carbs, 30 – 75g fat). Over the weekends, I try to not go above 2,000 calories and still consume around 200g protein.

        What do you think? Am I going down the correct path or do I need to take more corrective action?

        – Nat

  • Tuan

    Mike,
    Why do we need to rest 7 days inbetween each muscle group workout if protein synthesis is only 1-2 days? Is protein synthesis the same is muscle recovery?

  • Sam

    I won’t be able to get BCAAs and supplements right now. Do you think I’ll be at a disadvantage when it comes to muscle growth or is it still possible to gain as much as someone who is using them.

  • Alex Hernandez

    Hey Mike,

    I’ve started the Year One program and i’m starting in fasted training (more convenient for me to avoid a pre workout). I started doing weights of 90-135 ( with proper warmup that you recommended) and feel comfortable enough to hit 4-6 reps but after the 3rd day I feel sore all over my body ,which is awesome because I feel like every muscle group is trying to grow. My question is how do you know if you pushed it too far? i stopped to let my body recover because i dont want to push muscle that are already recovering. example: I did chest the first day and i felt great but i felt sore on my arms. The next day I did deadlift, My arms felt even more sore or pain, i cant tell and my legs were sore like heck, which got me afraid because squat day came and i couldnt feel like i could do it without injuring myself and i didnt want to push already extremely sore legs. Was i wrong to stop to let my body recover as in, could have i just kept on? or did i do right by stopping to allow my body adjust to this new compound way of training?

    One more thing, whats the best way to find 1 rep max? i don’t want to injure myself or waste a day trying to find my 1 rep max nor hurt myself through over sized ego.

    Thanks in advance

    • Hey Alex, that’s awesome you’re really pushing yourself. Soreness, however, is not an indication of a good workout, or that progress is being made:

      https://legionathletics.com/sore-muscles/

      As long as you’re following the Y1C, you’ll be fine and won’t be over-exerting. The first couple weeks are the roughest 😉

      No need to actually perform the 1RM. Use this calculator:

      http://www.muscleforlife.com/one-rep-max-calculator/

      • Alex Hernandez

        Thanks for the articles. I’ve read BLS over and over and focused alot on the meal planning ( which i still need to fix a bit more) but now im finally putting everything into play and I wasn’t sure about the pain vs soreness. It makes sense, so just to understand, I should work through the soreness unless i feel like something is really wrong correct?

        Thanks for the 1RM, i finally have something to base what i should be lifting instead of guessing. I should have realized you’d have a article on it.

        I have one other question. I work midnight shift as a aircraft mechanic. I sleep during the morning and i try my best to get my full 8 hours. Will graveyard shift affect my progress in any way?

        Thanks again Mike.

        • Nice! Diet does play a critical role in getting results. Soreness you can work through. Definitely do not work through pain.

          The graveyard shift won’t affect you. It’s just like being in another time zone haha

          • Alex Hernandez

            That is definitely true. I haven’t thought of it that way. Thank you so much . I appreciate all the help from Mike and you (RogerT). I’m going to keep working hard at it. I’ll ask any more questions i may need but it should be all answered now.

          • Sounds good, Alex! Glad you’re enjoying the content and let us know how it goes!

  • How important is it to get your diet right on a daily basis? I eat my cheat meals over weekends when I’m not training which means on those days I am in a big surplus so on my training days I’m maintaining or in a deficit or else I will gain weight too fast. Does that mean I’m not getting muscle growth?

    • You do have about 50cals of wiggle-room daily. No problem if you’re eating a surplus on the weekend as long as you finish the week with a 20-25% deficit. Also, check this out:

      http://www.muscleforlife.com/cheat-meal/

      Careful with the cheat meals. You can easily wipe out a lot of the week’s deficit.

      • Why would I finish the week with a 20-25% deficit if I’m bulking and trying to gain muscle?

        • I didn’t know you were bulking. In that case you want to be in a surplus on your training days and finish the week with a 10% deficit if you want to maximize the muscle growth.

          • Yeah that ain’t happening. The weekend is the best time for a cheat meal. I can’t imagine working hard all week and not being able to take a cheat meal over the weekend. The weekend is supposed to be the time that you break the routine.

          • Well, whatever works for ya and is a routine you can keep up.

  • John Jones

    Hi guys, I’m following the 5-day bls program. But I’m starting to feel like it’s having a negative effect on my recovery, I workout mon-fri, and work long shifts on the weekend should I stick with it or change to a different bls split.

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