You don't build muscle during your workout, you build it while you're resting. This is why it's crucial to make sure you're providing your muscles with the help they need to recover.
During your workout you are performing repetitious movements that cause your muscles to contract. Repeated muscle contractions cause microscopic tears of your muscle fibers. After your workout, your body begins to repair those damaged muscle fibers and creates new muscle strands. The new muscle strands are created thicker and in more number than the old strands, resulting in muscle growth. This is because your body is instinctively preparing itself to endure that same workout again.
1. Fish Oil
The Omega-3's in fish oil will help you recover your muscles by reducing the inflammation caused by your intense workout. Your body does not produce omega-3's naturally. Instead, to reap the muscle recovery benefits, you must consume them in large doses and regularly. This makes fish oil pills the easiest, most diet friendly, and cost effective solution. Omega-3's can be found in natural food sources like cold water fish of which trout and salmon are among, eggs, milk, peanut butter, and nuts.
You should be consuming 1g of protein for every pound you weigh daily. Protein is the building block of your muscle and without it you will not grow or maintain your muscle. So you can just kiss that firm and lean physique goodbye. Now that you know how much protein you should be consuming, let's discuss where to get it. High protein foods like chicken, turkey, and egg whites are the most common sources for meat eaters. Egg whites, cottage cheese, and quinoa are great sources for vegetarians. While lentils, black beans, and tofu are front runners for vegans.
In order to eat 1g of protein for every pound you weigh you may be needing to consume 140g-200g of protein every day. That adds up quickly, and can decimate your wallet. For cost savings, and flexibility, try mixing in protein powders. A quality protein powder or bar can have a whopping 25g-36g of protein, little to no sugar, and low fat per serving. Here are some top rated protein powders with at least 30g-40g per serving.
Protein bars are a great high protein snack for on-the-go. The industry leading brand is Quest with their wide variety of incredibly tasting protein bar flavors like cookie dough, apple pie, and cinnamon roll. They do an amazing job of making supplements not taste like supplements. I recently asked Quest Nutrition via twitter for some high protein mozzarella sticks; I'm still waiting to hear back on those.
After intense workouts your immune system takes a beating, which can potentially put you at risk for developing infections and illnesses. Glutamine helps your recovery in two ways. First, it has been shown to improve your T helper and T suppressor cells for a stronger immune system post workout. Also, it can help your body replenish its glucose stores depleted during your workout, which in turn helps speed up your recovery.
In addition to these three supplements, more keys to improved muscle recovery are rest days and pre and post workout meals. Pre and post workout meals work to give your body enough energy to perform your strenuous workout, and then enough energy to repair itself. Rest days are crucial for muscle recovery and growth in that they insure your recovery phase is uninterrupted. Remember, muscle grows when you're resting. So start by making sure to mix up your workout split to allow about 2-3 days between working each muscle group and one full rest day.