When your muscles cramp up, it's because lactic acid has built up in your tissues. This happens when you're exerting yourself faster than your body can burn the acids with oxygen. There's actually a test (lactic dehydrogenase, or LDH) that can measure this build up. The test results show that your lactic acid goes up when you are physically overstressed.
So how can you help prevent this problem? A small study suggests that you can blunt this effect by taking a supplement of branched chain amino acids. These are more complex protein building blocks that are essential to your body.
In this study, the researchers provided athletes with a drink containing branched chain amino acids at a 0.4% solution in 4% carbohydrate (sugar) solution. When they took the drink, the branched chain amino acids reduced the rise in LDH by about 16%. The authors concluded that you can spare muscle damage by taking these specific amino acids when doing intense exercise.
A simple way to keep your muscles strong as you get older (and it isn't exercise)
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Whatever your intense exercise is, I would recommend a branched chain amino acid supplement. Take one to two tablets daily of standard preparations while you are into the activity. They are easy to find online and in health food stores.