Post-workout supplements are single or multi-ingredient products designed to boost muscle growth, reduce soreness, and enhance overall recovery, especially after high-intensity workouts such as weight lifting. This glossary defines frequently used terms and concepts related to post-workout supplementation.
Any physical activity whose energy requirements surpass those provided by breathing alone falls under the realm of anaerobic exercise. Prime examples are high-intensity exercises with a brief duration (generally within two minutes), such as strength training and sprinting.
A remedy that relieves pain. Most analgesics work by either decreasing pain perception or inflammation.
Referred to as the “energy currency of life,” adenosine triphosphate (ATP) is the main energy molecule used by cells in the body.
Branched Chain Amino Acid
The branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) are a collection of amino acids that have a similar structure. The three principal BCAAs – leucine, isoleucine, and valine – are vital to muscle growth and development, and are present in protein-containing foods. They are also popular post-workout supplements, although their use remains controversial.
An electrolyte is a mineral in the blood and fluids of the body that carries an electric charge and facilitates basic processes, including muscle flexion. The most common electrolytes are sodium, calcium, potassium, magnesium, chlorine, and phosphate. Sweating and dehydration can lead to loss of electrolytes.
Glycogen is the form taken by glucose when it is stored in skeletal tissue and the liver. Extensive exercise and endurance activity in particular makes use of glycogen for energy. Certain supplements are able to increase glycogen supplies or reduce how quickly it is depleted.
Sometimes called the Beverage Hydration Index (BHI), the hydration index measures a beverage’s effectiveness in replenishing body fluids. It is calculated by dividing the urine mass after drinking water by the urine mass of a drink.
Insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) is a hormone that has a similar structure to insulin and is critical for proper growth and development. Its capacity to help increase muscle growth is under investigation.
High-intensity physical activity leads to the production of the compound lactate, which is the principal indicator of muscle fatigue.
Lean Body Tissue
Lean body tissue represents the parts of the body that carry negligible amounts of fat, such as muscles, tendons, ligaments, and bones.
Mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) is a signaling pathway that regulates cell growth and metabolism. It is a key part of the muscle building process, and is associated with the branched chain amino acid leucine.
An increase in the size of individual muscle cells, which collectively increases the visible size of skeletal muscle. Muscle hypertrophy requires a specific training stimulus (e.g. resistance training) and sufficient nutrition.
Muscle Protein Breakdown (MPB)
The degradation of protein into its constituent amino acids in muscle tissue, which promotes muscle loss. Also known as muscle proteolysis, MPB can increase as a result of high-intensity exercise and lack of sufficient protein and overall nutrition.
Muscle Protein Synthesis (MPS)
The synthesis of new proteins from amino acids in muscle tissue. Muscle protein synthesis can be increased by resistance training and increased amino acid availability (consuming more protein), allowing for muscle hypertrophy.
Net Protein Balance
The relationship between MPS and MPB. Muscle tissue increases when muscle protein synthesis is higher than muscle protein breakdown; remains the same when both processes are occurring at equal rates; and decreases when muscle protein breakdown is higher than synthesis. In sedentary individuals, net protein balance tends to remain even up until the late 30s.
Nitric oxide is a compound that increases blood flow and widens blood vessels through a process known as vasodilation. Supplements that boost nitric oxide levels in the body are believed to benefit nutrient delivery to muscle and as a result improve performance, although this claim is still being investigated.
A term used to refer to amino acids that build proteins. Post-workout supplements employ proteinogenic amino acids to help build muscle.
Resistance training, or strength training, is a form of anaerobic exercise that utilizes an opposing force, such as weights or one’s own body weight, to build muscle mass and strength.
Systolic Blood Pressure
The pressure of blood against the walls of blood vessels when the heart’s ventricles are contracting. This is indicated by the top number in a standard blood pressure reading and is known to increase during vigorous exercise.