Exercise does not make you stronger.

Let me repeat that: Exercise does not make you stronger.

Recovering from exercise makes you stronger.

If you could look through a microscope at your muscle fibers after a heavy CrossFit session, it would look like a bomb went off. They get broken down. You are tearing your muscle fibers. They are suffering major trauma. Exercise is nothing more than controlled stress on your system.

But the human body is a magnificent thing. It adapts to stress not only by repairing itself, but by making itself better through those repairs. When those fibers repair, they either grow thicker, longer or more of them. (This is known as hypertrophy).

The process by which you recover begins immediately, though it could take weeks or even months to become apparent. It’s that immediate process that gets a boost with the proper nutrition. Specifically, protein is a key ingredient.

At the same time, the main form of energy you use and burn in your workouts is carbohydrate, specifically in the form of glucose and glycogen. This is the kindling on your fire. It lights fast and burns off quick. And getting that back will help keep your fire burning for the rest of your day and help keep you fueled for the next workout. Immediate addition of carbs also helps prevent a rise in the stress hormone cortisol.

If you’ve been to the gym in the last week or so, you know we have started providing nutritional supplements: protein powder, recovery mix, collagen and Rx bars.

Post Work-out Energy and Muscle Recovery – Our Recovery mix is intended to be consumed immediately after working out. Just mix a scoop with some water in a shaker bottle and drink it as you’re high-fiving the rest of the class. The 20g of glycogen and 10g of protein are going to immediately go to work in helping to put kindling back on your fire and build your muscles back up. The whey protein is sourced from grass-fed cows.

Grass-Fed Whey Protein – If you are trying to limit your carbohydrate intake or you tend to lack quality protein in your diet, this may be a preferred choice. This is 20g of protein with 5g of Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs – a subset of proteins that can’t be produced by your body but must be consumed). This can be taken immediately after a workout or anytime during the day.

Collagen – Another source of (different) BCAAs, collagen is like the scaffolding in your body…it holds you together. Collagen can help with joint damage and pain as we age. It also aids in the muscle-building process and is a factor in maintaining elasticity in your skin, stronger nails and healthier hair.

Rx Bars – These are not meant for post-workout as much as pre-workout. Many of you, especially in the afternoon classes, come in starving because you haven’t eaten since lunch or even before. Rx Bars are founded by a CrossFitter and are made with simple, natural clean ingredients.

One final note on all this: can’t you get all this stuff through a good diet? Yes, and you should. There is a reason we refer to these as supplements. They should not make up the bulk of your diet. You should eat natural, whole foods and quality sources of protein. But timing is a factor when it comes to performance, and I have never seen anyone bring a plate of chicken and rice to the gym and eat it right after working out. I mean, I guess you could, but…ew.