Improved recovery is key to maintaining a strenuous exercise program.

April 11,2017

By Emily Pankow, Ph.D.ACSM EP-C

Train Hard Today - Train Hard Tomorrow

No pain, no gain - is that what exercise is supposed to be like?

Well, not exactly.

We need to push ourselves in order to produce the amount of physiological stress necessary to get stronger and more fit, but that doesn’t need to mean pain.

In fact, pain usually indicates damage.

And although some muscle damage is necessary to gain strength, too much damage can stop you from performing optimally, both inside and outside the gym.

Is muscle soreness preventing your progress?

We all know that person who goes to the gym once a month and spends the next 3 days walking like they just got off a horse after a week-long trail ride.

Maybe that person is you. You can’t sit down without your legs giving out under you, and you avoid the stairs at all costs. Maybe you avoid the gym too—just for a few days, while you recover from the pain. Those few days turn into a week and then a week turns into a month… and the cycle begins all over again.

You want to be more consistent and you understand that exercise is good for you. You might even realize that working out will eventually get easier, if you could just commit.

Then there’s that person who is in the gym working hard every day, sometimes twice a day. They work through all types of pain and have laser focus on their fitness goals. They never complain about how sore they are but you know that they must be sore frequently due to how much they exercise. What makes them so different? Why can their body handle what yours can’t?

The answer: GAINS, or, the more technical definition; adaptations to training.

The science behind gains

When we exercise, we initiate a complex cascade of physiological responses that result in changes to our bodies. Over time these small changes, occurring at the cellular level, result in whole body adaptations to training, like increased strength, improved endurance, and increased muscle mass. These adaptations take weeks, sometimes months of regular exercise to achieve.

At rest, your body has an optimum level of reactive oxygen species (ROS)—commonly known as free radicals—that it can naturally withstand. Free radicals are produced within muscle cells during exercise. The accumulation of these free radicals results in oxidative stress. Too much oxidative stress can cause inflammation and damage in muscles, so the goal is to achieve something called redox balance; a state when oxidative stress triggers adaptations to training, but doesn’t cause too much damage to cells.

How can your body achieve redox balance?

Polyphenols work as antioxidants that help regulate and stabilize free radicals, which can minimize inflammation and damage to muscles after exercise. As your fitness improves, your body is better at achieving redox balance, but polyphenols can also support your natural antioxidant systems and can help improve muscle recovery. The challenge is getting enough of the right antioxidants in your diet to achieve this. That’s where the right foods and nutritional supplements come in.

XSurge™: A dietary supplement ingredient for workout recovery

XSurge is a proprietary blend of green and black tea rich in polyphenols to help maximize recovery after damaging exercise. The polyphenols in XSurge help increase antioxidant capacity and can minimize the inflammation caused by damaging exercise.

Look for supplements containing XSurge to help close the gap between your workouts—and finally close the gap between you and the laser-focused, dedicated gym-goer. Improved recovery is key to maintaining a strenuous exercise program that moves you along the journey to a healthier you.

For more post-exercise recovery strategies, visit the American College of Sports Medicine website. For more information on the benefits of regular exercise visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.

Emily Pankow, Ph.D. is the Technical Services Manager for Dietary ingredients in Kemin's Active Wellness Platform.

She graduated from South Dakota State University with her Ph.D. in Nutrition, exercise and Food Science and is an ACSM Certified Exercise Physiologist.

Prior to coming to Kemin she served as an Assistant Professor of Exercise Science at Simpson College in Indianola, IA and continues to develop her passion for health and fitness through her work at Kemin.


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  2. Herrlinger KA, Chirouzes DM, Ceddia MA. Supplementation with a polyphenolic blend improves post-exercise strength recovery and muscle soreness. Food & nutrition research. 2015;59.
  3. Jajtner AR, Hoffman JR, Townsend JR, et al. The effect of polyphenols on cytokine and granulocyte response to resistance exercise. Physiological Reports. 2016;4(24):e13058-n/a.