The amino acid arginine is known for its cardiovascular benefits, but a lesser-known benefit is its ability to aid muscle recovery and function during and after workouts. Arginine is thought to assist in muscle recovery by boosting the body’s production of human growth hormone, by improving blood flow to the muscles, and by improving circulation, which eliminates muscle metabolism waste products more quickly. Arginine may also increase the production of creatine, which offers an extra source of energy for muscle cells during strenuous work.
Arginine’s benefits for muscle recovery are scientifically proven. A study by the Virginia Polytechnic Institute observed the effects of arginine on 12 male weight lifters. The weight lifters had never used anabolic steroids and lifted weights from three to six times per week. During one portion of the study the weight lifters consumed a low calorie diet in an attempt to reduce body fat and preserve lean muscle mass. 6 of the weight lifters took arginine twice per day, and 6 took a placebo pill. The 6 who took arginine showed increased levels of human growth hormone production compared to the placebo group, proving that the amino acid can increase the production of human growth hormone in the body.
Human growth hormone helps muscle recovery by improving protein synthesis and the metabolism involved in muscle production. Human growth hormone also has other beneficial effects on the body such as building and maintaining strong bones, improving heart and kidney health and function, and many others. The body’s production of human growth hormone decreases as a person ages, and researchers believe that this decrease results in increased fat accumulation as well as decreased muscle mass.
Many professional and amateur weight lifters are aware of the muscle recovery benefits of arginine, so they include it in their regular supplement routines. It is one of the only natural nutrients that is shown to increase the production of human growth hormone naturally. Arginine is an essential supplement for those who want to improve their muscle recovery after weight training. Its other positive effects on the body are a welcomed extra benefit of taking it on a regular basis.