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If you’re an avid lifter (or even if you’re just starting out), you likely want to make sure you get the most out of your workouts.
Trust us – we get it. There’s nothing worse than not seeing the results you want or expect from your hard work.
So, it’s good that you’ve stumbled upon our article because we’re going to show you the 7 best supplements for muscle growth that actually work.
Taking these supplements will help you reach your goals even faster. Especially when paired with proper training and nutrition, you’ll notice changes very fast.
Continue reading as we introduce you to the most effective supplements to help you pack on size.
The Top 7 Supplements for Muscle Growth That Really Work
We’re tired of all those “muscle building” supplements that make false promises and don’t live up to our expectations — and we bet you are too.
Unfortunately, the industry is rife with these poorly dosed, ineffective supplements due to the increasing popularity of lifting and fitness in general.
But luckily for you, we’ve spent the last year finding and testing the best supplements for muscle growth that actually work.
If you’re looking for products that will yield the results you want and take your physique and performance to the next level (who isn’t, let’s be honest), you’re in for a real treat.
#1. Creatine Monohydrate
Researchers have understood that creatine can boost athletic performance since the 20th century. However, it wasn’t until after the Barcelona Summer Olympics in 1992 that the supplement went mainstream.
Creatine is naturally produced by your body, offering energy to your muscles and other tissue.
But supplementing it can increase your muscular creatine content by a whopping 40%, promoting muscle gain, improving performance, and enhancing strength.
The best part? It’s one of the most researched supplements out there, which proves it’s fantastic at packing on the lean mass you’re working hard for.
Due to extensive research, it also boasts an outstanding safety record, making it ultra-popular in the fitness community.
However, there are a few different types of creatine to be aware of — monohydrate, ethyl ester, hydrochloride, buffered, liquid, and magnesium chelate.
We’ve specifically suggested creatine monohydrate because it’s the most cost-effective and heavily studied.
In fact, the most recent review published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition declared that monohydrate has more of a physiological impact than other types of supplemental creatine.
So, if you’re looking for a supplement to get gains fast, we recommend starting with creatine monohydrate. There’s a reason it’s number one on our list!
How to Use Creatine Monohydrate
You should take between 3g and 5g of creatine monohydrate every day, whether it’s a training day or not.
Since the supplement accumulates in your muscles naturally, you don’t have to worry about the time you take it or what you take it with.
#2. Whey Protein Powder
There are lots of protein powders on the market, but they weren’t all created equally — whey is the best of the best.
Whey protein is a mix of isolated proteins from (you guessed it) whey (i.e., the liquid portion of milk that separates when making cheese).
Historically, cheesemakers would throw the whey out. But, in recent times, they realized the commercial value, sending it to supplement manufacturers to be turned into the whey protein that many bodybuilders and gymgoers know and love — a powder for shakes, meal replacements, or protein bars.
Supplementing with protein powder is a highly convenient way to add protein (i.e., your muscles’ building blocks) to your diet, resulting in increased muscle mass.
Not only does it contain all nine fast-absorbing essential amino acids, but it also boasts a pretty high branched-chain amino acid (BCAA) content, including leucine and cysteine.
As research shows, leucine is the most growth-promoting amino acid. Cysteine increases levels of glutathione in the body, a cellular antioxidant.
You have three types of whey protein powder to choose from:
- Concentrate — Contains between 70% and 80% protein with lactose and fat. We think it’s the best-tasting type.
- Hydrolysate — Otherwise known as hydrolyzed whey, it’s pre-digested for faster absorption. Although, it’s known to spike insulin levels more than isolate powders.
- Isolate — Contains at least 90% protein with less fat and lactose. However, it lacks many of the nutrients found in concentrated whey powders.
Overall, we suggest choosing whey protein concentrate because it’s the cheapest, contains the most beneficial nutrients, and has a better flavor.
How to Use Whey Protein Powder
You should take one to two scoops (roughly 25g to 50g) of whey protein powder per day, typically after workouts. However, always check the packaging for proper serving guides.
#3. Amino Acids
Amino acids are the building blocks of muscle tissue and protein. Therefore, they play a massive role in many of your body’s processes associated with energy, mood, recovery, cognitive function, strength, fat loss, and muscle gains.
There are 20 amino acids in total. Nine of these are classified as essential (i.e., they must come from your food intake), and 11 of them are non-essential (i.e., your body synthesizes them from the essential amino acids).
Most people get amino acids from foods such as lean meats, protein shakes, and non-fat dairy products. However, fitness fanatics often take amino acid supplements separately to enhance performance and build muscle more effectively.
The common type of amino acid supplement is BCAAs (or branched-chain amino acids). There are three BCAAs — leucine, isoleucine, and valine, which prevent muscle breakdown during training and ensure you gain as much size as possible.
On top of that, they help optimize body composition by assisting with fat loss. So, even when you’re in a calorie deficit, you can retain muscle mass!
How to Use Amino Acids
Always follow the manufacturer’s directions when it comes to dosing BCAAs. Usually, one scoop will be between 15g and 20g.
We recommend taking amino acids during or after your workouts for maximum absorption and effectiveness.
Taking turkesterone supplements has somewhat recently gained a lot of popularity among bodybuilders who adore it for its accelerated muscle-growing effects.
Turkesterone is a type of ecdysteroid, a hormone found in plants. It’s derived from the Ajuga turkestanica plant found in central Asia and is known to enhance strength, increase muscle gain, decrease fatigue, and quicken recovery times.
Ecdysteroids are often compared to testosterone due to their growth-inducing abilities. However, they don’t connect to androgen receptors, ensuring you don’t suffer any negative steroidal side effects, like hair loss.
So, how does it improve muscle growth?
Well, it enhances MPS or muscle protein synthesis. Turkesterone does this by perfecting the mRNA translation process and boosting the muscle cells’ intake of leucine.
In turn, the muscles experience a positive nitrogen balance, preventing breakdown and allowing you to more easily keep the gains you’ve earned.
Evidence suggests that the supplement significantly enhances strength and mass in humans. In fact, research shows that it’s just as effective (if not more so) as results from androgenic steroids and doesn’t require post-cycle therapy afterward.
Some fitness fanatics consider it the safe version of steroids. As research concludes, there aren’t any side effects to taking turkesterone — it even boasts brain-protecting properties.
How to Use Turkesterone
We recommend running an eight-to-12-week cycle of turkesterone, taking 500mg every day with the first meal of the day for the entire duration. Although, beginners may want to start with 250mg and work up from there.
Note: Turkesterone may induce nausea if taken on an empty stomach. Hence, we suggest using it with your breakfast.
Like turkesterone, ecdysterone has gathered lots of lovers in the bodybuilding community over the last few years. Also like turkesterone, it’s a type of ecdysteroid found in plants.
Otherwise known as 20-hydroxyecdysone, it’s a powerful naturally-occurring compound for building muscle.
As studies show, it increases muscle protein synthesis by 20% and has proven to be even more effective than steroids and synthetic SARMs for packing on lean mass.
Ecdysterone was compared to Dianabol, SARMs, and Dienedione, showing considerably higher potencies than them all. Considering that those compounds are known to be insanely effective for muscle building, the potential for ecdysterone is massive.
A test involving 46 participants looked at ecdysterone’s performance-enhancing impacts over a ten-week period. One group took ecdysterone, and the other took a placebo every day for the duration.
The group who took the supplement increased their one-rep maximum bench press and squat by 19.4%! That’s a huge improvement in just ten weeks, concluding that ecdysterone is highly effective at boosting strength and quickly gaining muscle mass.
How to Use Ecdysterone
The majority of studies were conducted with dosages between 50mg and 500mg per day for a period of three to 12 weeks. The results show that higher dosages reap better strength and size.
However, it’s still effective at doses as low as 12mg per day.
We recommend taking 5mg per kilogram of body weight. For instance, a person weighing 90kg would take 450mg of ecdysterone per day.
Beta-alanine is a type of amino acid applauded for its fatigue-reducing effects and notable improvements in exercise performance. And yes, it also helps increase muscle mass, provided you are following a proper weightlifting regime.
However, it’s unlike most amino acids in that your body doesn’t use beta-alanine to synthesize proteins. Instead, it mixes it with histidine and creates carnosine, which is kept in your skeletal muscles.
Carnosine limits the build-up of lactic acid, allowing you to perform better throughout the entirety of your workout and lengthening the time it takes for you to feel fatigued. Therefore, promoting muscle growth through increased exercise intensity.
In 2011, researchers conducted a study on the effects of beta-alanine on college football players and wrestlers.
The results? Taking 4g of the supplement every day for eight weeks boosted their lean body mass.
Another study showed that, when added to a six-week program of HIIT (high-intensity interval training), beta-alanine increased lean muscle mass by one pound more than the placebo.
Despite some studies suggesting there’s no change in body composition when supplementing beta-alanine, we’ve certainly noticed positive changes in our builds and muscle masses. So, we just had to include it on our list.
How to Use Beta-Alanine
The typical dose of beta-alanine is between 2g and 5g per day.
Research suggests that taking the supplement with a meal can further enhance carnosine levels, improving effectiveness.
#7. KSM-66 (Ashwagandha)
If you’re even a little bit into fitness, you probably expected to find most of the supplements on this list. But KSM-66 or ashwagandha probably didn’t come to mind.
Sound like you? You aren’t alone! Ashwagandha is an herbal supplement rooted in ancient times. And frankly, we don’t think it gets the love it deserves.
Made from the roots of the Withania Somnifera plant from India, it’s most well-known for reducing stress and anxiety-related symptoms. However, its lesser-known impacts on testosterone, glucose, and strength make it a fantastic supplement for muscle growth.
Cortisol, known as the stress hormone, is produced by the adrenal glands, playing a vital role in metabolism, immune system functioning, and energy regulation during stressful scenarios. It’s a response that has been with us since we lived in caves.
Even though we’re unlikely to be eaten by a lion in the developed world, our 21st-century stressors elicit the same response. And while it can be useful, high cortisol levels promote fat storage, muscle breakdown, and ineffective recovery.
But that’s where ashwagandha comes in to save the day by mediating the negative effects of increased cortisol levels. Specifically, it:
- lowers serum cortisol by 27%.
- increases testosterone by 17%.
- lowers bad cholesterol, triglycerides, and blood glucose.
- boosts good cholesterol and DHEAS.
In short, it supercharges your gym sessions!
How to Use KSM-66 (Ashwagandha)
Ashwagandha capsules have dosages between 450mg and 2g. You can take it in a single dose with food or split it across two means.
Like most herbal supplements, the effects take a while to show, even when taking them daily. However, we recommend starting with a low KSM-66 dosage to see how you feel before moving on to higher, potentially more effective amounts.
How We Picked The Best Supplements for Muscle Growth
By now, you’re well-equipped with the seven best supplements for muscle growth. However, you’re probably wondering how we arrived at our recommendations, right?
Well, we picked the products because they ranked highly in every single category below:
The ingredients are crucial. After all, they quite literally make up the entire supplement. So, if the ingredients aren’t high-quality, neither is the supplement itself.
For each product we tested, we looked at the ingredients and researched whether there was any scientific data to back up their inclusion. Thus, you can rest easy knowing that everything we recommend contains top-notch ingredients bolstered by science and proven to work.
In short, you’ll get real results from using the supplements we suggest.
If it doesn’t work, we don’t want it, and neither should you.
We asked ourselves, have we actually seen results? And for all the products we mentioned earlier, the answer is yes. We can safely say they all make a solid impact.
We always check to ensure we aren’t the only ones who love the product. Every supplement we mention here has worked for us and loads of other people around the world.
So, the chances of it working for you are incredibly high (as long as you follow the recommended dosages and follow a workout/nutrition plan).
It isn’t all about effectiveness — the supplements need to aid muscle growth safely to make it onto our list. All the products we mention are safe and won’t cause adverse side effects.
Finally, we consider the supplement’s value for money. We ensure it’s fairly priced, high-quality, and actually worth the cost.
Are Muscle Building Supplements Safe?
As a healthy individual, muscle building supplements are 100% safe to take and don’t cause any adverse side effects. You can even take multiple at the same time.
That said, you should always read the manufacturer’s instructions regarding dosages and never exceed the recommended per-day amounts.
If you have any health or medical concerns, we suggest consulting your doctor before beginning supplementation of any kind. They will be able to tell you whether it’s wise for you to use the product.
This is especially important if you take prescribed medication!
Do You Need to Take Supplements to Build Muscle?
Technically no; you don’t need to take supplements to build muscle if you eat a high-protein diet. However, they are extremely helpful in supporting the muscle building process, allowing you to see results quicker than without supplementation.
So, if you have the budget for it, we highly recommend stocking up on a range of supplements for muscle growth to help you reach your goals faster.
PS: We mention an especially effective stack for gaining lean mass in the FAQ section later.
4 Extra Tips to Help You Build Muscle Mass
Remember, supplements are useful for supporting your efforts. Unfortunately, they aren’t miracle products for building mass without any work on your part.
So, here are a few extra tips you can follow to grow your muscles:
#1. Do Progressive Overload in the Gym
Progressive overload is when you increase the number of reps, weight, or frequency of your weightlifting regime. It challenges your body and avoids plateauing, helping you efficiently improve strength and, thus, mass.
Doing the same workouts over and over again or utilizing the same weight each time can lead to plateauing. While it will feel good easily lifting weights that you once found difficult, you won’t be making any progress — performance-wise and physique-wise.
That’s where progressive overload comes in to switch things up and make it challenging again. It’s the difficulty that promotes gains and builds muscles.
We know it’s a cliche. But there’s a reason why the quote, “change begins at the end of your comfort zone” exists — because it’s true. You won’t put on mass if you’re chucking easy-to-move weights around.
And there are studies to back it up, such as the 2011 test published in the European Journal of Applied Physiology.
It looked at the effects of a 12-week bicep-focused progressive overload regime on 83 people. The researchers found that the program increased bicep growth and strength in men and women.
#2. Make Sure to Eat Enough Protein
As we mentioned earlier, protein is the foundation of your muscles. So, when trying to build mass, you must eat more than enough protein. Otherwise, your muscles won’t have what they need to grow.
We recommend aiming for 0.8g to 1g of protein per pound of body weight from high-protein foods like:
- Eggs — A large egg contains 6.3g of protein.
- Almonds — One ounce provides 6g of protein. Other high-protein nut choices include pistachios and cashews.
- Chicken breasts — Half a chicken breast offers 26.7g of protein.
- Cottage cheese — It’s low in fat and calories, but one cup provides a whopping 28g of protein.
- Greek yogurt — A seven-ounce container offers 19.9g of protein. Other great yogurt choices include kefir and unsweetened low-fat yogurt.
- Milk — One cup provides 8.32g of protein.
- Lentils — Half a cup of cooked lentils offers 9.02g of protein, making them a great option for vegans and vegetarians.
- Lean beef — Three ounces provides 24.6g of protein.
- Fish — A fillet of white cod offers 41g of protein, while half a salmon fillet contains 30.5g. Really, all fish are high in protein!
#3. Lift Heavy and Lift Intensely
Lifting heavy and intensely is a surefire way to reach your physique and performance goals when coupled with proper nutrition (and supplements).
We recommend focusing on compound movements so you can experience total-body results.
These exercises work numerous muscle groups at the same time. Not only does this save you time in the gym, but it also:
- improves overall fitness, strength, and aesthetics.
- burns more calories.
- improves intramuscular coordination.
- enhances flexibility.
- raises your heart rate.
The most popular (for good reason) compound exercises are:
- Deadlifts for targeting forearms, lats, glutes, hamstrings, core, and back.
- Squats for targeting quads, glutes, and calves.
- Bench press for targeting chest, shoulders, and arms.
- Lunges for targeting glutes, quads, calves, and hamstrings.
- Dips for targeting the chest, shoulders, triceps, and abs.
#4. Prioritize Your Recovery
Sleep isn’t for the weak. It’s very much for the strong.
Your muscles grow when you rest. So, getting seven to eight hours of sleep per night is essential when trying to grow mass.
Muscle Building Supplements FAQ
Do you still have questions about muscle building supplements? This section was made just for you.
How Fast Do Muscle Building Supplements Work?
The answer to this common question is largely dependent on the particular product. Usually, it takes at least seven days to notice any effects, regardless of the supplement type you’re using.
Have a look at the table below to find out the average time it takes to start seeing results per supplement we discussed earlier:
|Supplement Type||Time to See Effects|
|Creatine monohydrate||Two to four weeks|
|Whey protein powder||Eight weeks|
|Beta-alanine||At least two weeks|
|Turkesterone||Two to four weeks|
Can You Stack Muscle Building Supplements Together?
Absolutely! It’s completely safe to stack multiple of the products we’ve mentioned to further enhance muscle growth, body composition, and performance.
For building mega mass, we highly recommend stacking creatine, beta-alanine, and whey protein powder in the following way:
- Creatine — 3g to 5g before and after workouts
- Beta-alanine — 1g to 2g before and after workouts
- Whey protein — 20g before workouts; 20g to 30g after workouts
Depending on the flavors of your powders, you can throw your before and after workout amounts into one, easy-to-drink, convenient shake!
Conclusion: The Best Supplements For Muscle Growth
Taking one of the seven best supplements for muscle growth we suggested — creatine monohydrate, whey protein powder, amino acids, turkesterone, ecdysterone, beta-alanine, or KSM-66 (ashwagandha) — will significantly quicken and enhance your fitness journey. We’ve tested them all for effectiveness, science-backed ingredients, safety, whether others like them, and value for money.
However, you need to combine supplementation with adequate sleep, proper nutrition, and a worthwhile workout regime to see the results you expect. Unfortunately, you won’t gain lean mass by sitting on the couch!
Ideally, you should focus on progressive overload and compound movements like deadlifts, bench presses, dips, lunges, and squats for optimal results.
Once you’ve got your exercise routine and nutrition down, you can include supplements to aid and enhance your hard work.
Remember, you can stack the supplements we recommended for increased effects. We particularly recommend stacking creatine (3g to 5g), beta-alanine (1g to 2g), and whey protein (20g to 30g) for mass.
And lastly, be patient! Results from these supplements can take a while to kick in.
This is sponsored content. M&F is not endorsing the websites or products listed in this article.