Summing It All Up
There are many aspects to muscle recovery. Rest days and varying intensity of exercises are important to have in your training schedule so your muscles can have time to grow and repair. Proper nutrition is key to rebuilding muscle stores.
Eat something after exercise, especially on days where exercise is intense or lasts more than 90 minutes. Combining carbohydrates and protein appears to be advantageous for muscle recovery. This can be done with real food or supplements, but it is important to eat within the hour.
Many nutritional supplements may not offer additional benefit for muscle recovery, with certain exceptions. Protein powders and BCAAs both can improve muscle growth and repair. However, more research needs to be done for exact details on this.
Get enough sleep and listen to your body to avoid over training and injury. Even if you vary exercises, make sure you have at least one full rest day per week where you engage in nothing heavier than walking. Resting is about more than your muscles, it’s also about your brain and your hormones.
Overtraining may have “training” in it, but under-nutrition is a better way to look at it. Eat enough, even if you are trying to lose weight. If you don’t eat enough, your body will burn your muscle in addition to fat, and you will make less progress.