Resistance exercise is a form of training that requires an individual to work their muscles repeatedly against an external resistance. Although usually associated with the improvement of sports performance or enhancing physique, other benefits of this form of training include improved posture, balance, coordination and injury prevention. Resistance training is most commonly associated with gym-based activities which include machine weights, free weights and bodyweight exercises. There are many types of resistance training goals including improving muscular endurance, hypertrophy (muscle building), strength and power. These training goals can be used to maximise performance in a range of sports including soccer, rugby, boxing, basketball and many more. Resistance exercise can have profound physical impact on the body when undertaken appropriately, and in conjunction with appropriate nutrition strategies. This article provides a broad overview of nutrition related to resistance training, but our Knowledge Centre contains a variety of more detailed articles on training for strength and body composition goals, and nutrition strategies and supplements for use before, during and after training to support those goals.

Sport-specific physiological demands

The physiological demands and effects of resistance training are dependent on the frequency, intensity, duration and type of workouts. If sessions are well-structured and completed at a high intensity, resistance exercise can be highly physically demanding. There are a number of physiological short and long-term affects that occur in athletes following resistance training. For the novel trainer, an increase in metabolic rate is observed after training sessions, thereby increasing energy requirements for energy balance, or aiding in fat loss by creating an energy deficit. Initially, neural adaptations to training result in increases in muscular strength and coordination, whereas long-term habitual resistance training results in muscle growth (hypertrophy), and increases in strength and power. After a single bout of intense resistance exercise, muscle protein breakdown and muscle protein synthesis (growth) are increased. Muscle hypertrophy occurs when muscle protein synthesis exceeds muscle protein breakdown over an extended period of time. Along with an appropriate training stimulus, adequate energy and nutrient availability are essential for recovery from training and the development of new muscle tissue by ensuring these rates of muscle protein synthesis are maximised.

Nutritional considerations

Following intense resistance training, stress hormones are elevated, muscles are fatigued and fuel stores are depleted. For the positive effects of resistance exercise to occur, the body must move from a catabolic (muscle breakdown) to an anabolic state (muscle growth). An anabolic environment is created by the synergistic effects of the training stimulus, and the appropriate amount, type and timing of nutrient intakes. A meal or nutritional supplement that combines the right quantity and type of carbohydrates and proteins is suggested to maximise recovery by replenishing glycogen levels, raising anabolic hormones, and increasing muscle protein synthesis. Resistance training athletes tend to require more quality protein and less carbohydrate than endurance athletes during recovery. In addition, factors such as the type, quantity and ratios of protein and CHO are critical factors to this effect, and ROS Nutrition has taken great care to formulate our products based on the latest published information in this regard.

Protein requirements

Proteins are required for almost every biological process within the body, as proteins are essential components of muscle, skin, cell membranes, antibodies and enzymes. The contribution of protein to overall energy intake in an individual´s diet depends heavily on the individual goal, and is intensely debated in training and science circles. Current guidelines suggest that the amount of protein required by an individual looking to increase muscle mass is between 1.6 and 2.0 g per kg body mass, assuming the individual is in a slight energy surplus. This equates to about 130 to 170 g for an individual weighing 13 st. Good dietary protein sources include meat & fish, eggs, dairy products, and nuts. However, in practice, given the factors such as ease of consumption and transportability, it is often practical to consume part of this protein requirement in the form of a liquid supplement.

Additionally, there is emerging evidence that protein supplementation, particularly essential amino acids (EAAs) and branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) consumed during and after high intensity exercise can reduce the feelings of fatigue, and promote muscle protein synthesis and adaptation after exercise. This concept is known as ´nutrient timing´, and is covered in detail in our articles on nutrient timing and BCAA use in athletes. The type, timing and amount of protein can be manipulated to enhance the adaptive response to training. A fast-digesting source of protein such as WHEY TRU, or using isolated amino acids such as ISO BCAA, is appropriate. Higher protein and isolated amino acid intakes may also help to preserve muscle mass during calorie restriction by limiting the catabolic effects of energy deficit, and therefore may be of interest to those looking to reduce fat mass while maintaining muscle mass.

Choosing the right product

Nutrition support for resistance training should be:

  • High in protein
  • High in BCAAs
  • Contain appropriate quantities and types of carbohydrates
  • Increase insulin levels post-exercise i.e. hyperinsulinemia
  • Support muscle, strength and power development by maximising gains from the training stimulus

ROS products are formulated based on the latest scientific research to maximise the positive effects of resistance training. Depending on your goal, high protein, calorie-dense products such as Alpha Mass or Meta-Muscle can be consumed daily as an extra meal, or in the hour before your training session. These products will provide the body with the necessary nutrients and energy required to perform to a high intensity and support gains in muscle mass in the long-term.

During recovery, the focus should be on providing a high quality source of protein, amino acids and carbohydrate to supply nutrients for the growth, repair and adaptation of muscle. A protein-carbohydrate drink that contains electrolytes is the optimal recovery product in these circumstances. RecoverAce Strength is formulated with this in mind and provides the optimal ratio of protein and CHO to drive muscle protein synthesis. By using a specialised recovery product like RecoverAce strength, you will provide your body with the necessary components to initiate the recovery process and achieve your training goal. Apart from the general macronutrient considerations for performance and recovery, many other nutrients can be taken to support gains from resistance training e.g. creatine, glutamine, HMB and so on. A range of other products that are suggested to enhance your training are listed in the table below. For more information on their use and value to your nutrition strategy, please see the individual product pages.