Protein powder and Creatine! That’s what most athletes say when you ask them about critical supplements for their strength training. Of course, those with deeper pockets will mention fish oil, zinc, and a long list of pills and powders that boost their workout performance. But it’s rather odd that very few athletes name magnesium as a vital supplement to build strength.
It’s even more surprising because magnesium deficiency is one of the most common types of deficiencies around the world and it plays a significant role in helping strength athletes with their workouts.
Of course, there’s a reason many don’t include magnesium in their workout diet. It’s because many athletes are not aware of the benefits of magnesium supplementation for strength training. That’s what we’re going to talk about in this article. But first, let’s see how magnesium works in the body.
What Does Magnesium Do?
Magnesium is one of the key players in over 320 enzyme reactions in the human body. These reactions inject us with energy during the day, improve muscle and bone function, and balance out electrolytes in the body.
Despite popular conception, magnesium is not abundant in different dairy products such as milk. Instead, you can find a good amount of magnesium in nuts and seeds, avocado, seaweeds, brown rice, unrefined whole grain cereals, and green leafy vegetables.
It’s impossible for magnesium to be involved in that many reactions and not benefit athletes to lift bigger weights and gain better results. Improving metabolism, boosting immunity, regulating blood sugar, preventing inflammation and strokes are only some of the ways that how magnesium helps your body.
While we could write pages about the value of magnesium, we’ve focused more on the benefits of Magnesium supplementation for strength training.
Building Muscle Faster
One of the major struggles for strength athletes is not building muscles as fast as they expected. Magnesium deficiency is undoubtedly one reason for that. It’s because the body cannot properly restore tissues, contract muscles, or keep maximal strength without magnesium.
A wide range of studies, including the American College of Nutrition, have proven that participants with a higher magnesium intake gain significantly more muscle than other athletes. It’s essentially because when they consume protein-rich foods, their body will break them down into amino acids. Then, those amino acids will link up and create new proteins, helping the body repair and build muscles. None of that is possible without adequate levels of magnesium in the body. In other words, if you want to get the most out of all those protein-rich foods and supplements, you should include magnesium in there as well.
Lifting Better and Longer
Magnesium is one of the fundamental electrolytes that improves hydration and causes muscle oxygenation. That’s vital in strength training because athletes use a lot of oxygen during lift weighting reps. After a while, the body will start producing lactic acid and create a feeling of fatigue for the athlete. How can you delay the lactic acid production and the onset of fatigue? You improve oxygenation by taking more magnesium.
Magnesium is also a star player in helping the body cells burn through ATP (adenosine triphosphate) and produce the energy needed for many types of intense workouts, including strength training. As you know, the muscles contract during weightlifting, causing the body to break down high ATP levels. That’s only possible because magnesium will cause the enzymic reactions that burn through ATP. Without magnesium, you won’t have enough energy to lift better and longer.
A Good Night’s Sleep
Athletes may disagree on a lot of the elements of success, but there’s not one that can deny the importance of a good night’s sleep. Sleep is a crucial window for the body to work on muscle recovery. Poor sleep quality or sleep deprivation will undoubtedly lower the protein synthesis efficiency and even degrade the synthesis pathways even more. In simple terms, if you don’t sleep well and long enough, you may lose muscles, wait for longer muscle recovery, and face a higher risk of injury.
Luckily, magnesium can give you the sleep quality you need. Besides relaxing the muscles, it will also relax the nerves and dial down brain activity, putting you in a peaceful state for deep rest. By controlling the stress hormones, increasing serotonin production, and regulating melatonin, magnesium will calm the nervous system and prevent mood swings.
Plus, if you feel that your body clock is not correctly aligned with the rhythm of day and night, magnesium will set that clock where it should be. So, it’s probably best to start giving magnesium more attention.
What’s the Right Dosage?
Magnesium supplements are very safe, but the exact dosage differs for every individual because their magnesium uptake and metabolism are different. But the standard dose is taking 200-420mg of supplements every day with food. Generally, the recommended dosage for the elderly is higher than for an adult.
Plus, for many of us with magnesium deficiency, it’s recommended to increase dosage gradually and observe how the body reacts. In all cases, it’s better to consult with a doctor first.
How is it Absorbed?
Despite its vital benefits, many people have a magnesium deficiency. In fact, a significant fraction of adult women have a low level of magnesium intake. Magnesium is primarily transported through a saturable system into the small intestine. The body will only absorb a fraction of the incoming magnesium. It will absorb about 80% for low magnesium intake and about 25% when you take in high magnesium levels.
Sometimes, you may take proper amounts of magnesium but still struggle with deficiency. In such cases, it’s usually because you eat a lot of highly processed foods. So the digestive tract can’t properly absorb the magnesium because of digestive problems. Plus, if you’re a fan of caffeinated drinks and take a pre-workout caffeine supplement, you need to be careful. That can lower your magnesium absorption.
In this article, we explored the importance of Magnesium supplementation for strength training. We focus so much on getting vitamins and not enough on taking in minerals in this day and age. Fortunately, magnesium is pretty cheap, unlike many workout supplements, like fish oil, pre-workout mixes and other expensive low benefit supplements. Plus, it’s vital if you want to sleep right, lift bigger weights for longer and get the maximum benefit out of your training sessions.
Of course, with all the brands offering magnesium supplements on the market, it may be overwhelming to know which one is the right choice for you. You need to consider the quality, the dosage, and the proper form of magnesium for your body. In most cases, an all-around option will give you precisely what you need.