If you want to get the most muscle growth out of your workouts through smart supplementation, then you want to read this article.
You’ll discover the three best and the two worst muscle-building supplements so that you can get optimal gains without wasting your money.
The Three Best Muscle-Building Supplements
What follows are the three best muscle-building supplements. These have been proven to work through quality research. So feel free to enhance your muscle-building results with these compounds.
Creatine is the most effective natural muscle-building supplement. That was concluded through a meta-analysis involving 250 studies.(1)
Image source: J Appl Physiol (1985). 2003 Feb;94 (2):651-9.
But how much does creatine enhance muscle growth? Well, various factors influence the exact amount of extra gains you’ll get, such as how hard you train and how well you eat.
However, a twelve-week study in resistance-trained men noted that training with creatine supplementation increased muscle growth by two to three times more than training alone did.(2)
One of the main reasons creatine offers such benefits is that it enhances the cellular hydration of muscles. That’s why most people gain around 0.7 to 1.6 kilos throughout the first week of creatine loading.(3)
Since that water retention occurs in your muscles and not under your skin, your muscles will appear bigger and fuller.
So, go ahead and add some creatine to your daily supplementation routine. For the first five days, take twenty to twenty-five grams of creatine monohydrate daily. Then, continue with five grams per day.
2) Protein Powder
The amino acids found in protein form the building blocks of your muscles. Therefore, if you want to gain mass, you must consume enough protein.
That means taking in at least 1.6 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day (0.73 g/lbs/d). If you consume that amount, you’ll reap all the muscle-building benefits of protein, according to a 2018 meta-analysis.(7)
Image source: Br J Sports Med. 2018 Mar;52(6):376-384.
The problem? Many people have a hard time consuming enough protein. If that applies to you, the solution is as easy as drinking one or more protein shakes per day.
The enjoyable thing about protein shakes is that they’re easy to consume. Just take one after your workout or before you go to bed. Here’s the product we recommend that you use.
A pre-workout supplement can boost your gym performance. As a result, you can exert a more potent stimulus on your muscles, which means more growth.
What follows are the ingredients you want to look for if you’re going to invest in a pre-workout product:
- Caffeine. This stimulatory compound improves performance by enhancing focus, suppressing fatigue, and increasing strength, power, and endurance.(8)(9)(10)(11)
- L-arginine. This is an amino acid that boosts strength in the moderate-to-high rep range by helping your muscles buffer acidity.(12)(13)
- Citrulline malate. This amino acid enhances blood flow, which helps you get a more severe muscle pump, recover faster from your workouts, and do more reps with moderately heavy weights.(14)(15)
- Beta-alanine. This is an amino acid that improves performance with moderate to high reps by helping your body buffer acidity in your muscles.(16)(17)
- Guarana. This Brazilian plant reduces fatigue, improves focus, and helps you burn more fat during your workouts by enhancing your metabolism.(18)(19)
- Beetroot extract. Beetroots contain nitrates, which are small molecules that improve endurance performance by enhancing blood flow to your muscles.(20)(21)
While various products contain a few of these ingredients, almost none contain all of them. Even if they do, the ingredients are often underdosed, which means you won’t reap the full benefits.
That’s why we’ve created our own pre-workout supplement here at Half Human. It contains all the ingredients outlined above – in the right amounts! – plus other potent performance boosters. You can try it out here.
The Two Worst Muscle-Building Supplements
Aside from the three compounds we have just covered, most of the other products that are on the market don’t speed up muscle growth. Avoid the following two popular but useless compounds.
Many people take antioxidants, such as vitamin C, post-workout. They hope that taking these compounds will speed up muscle recovery and growth by reducing cortisol levels and inflammation.
That’s because exercise-induced inflammation is a trigger for muscle growth. The inflammation caused by lifting weights signals your body that it has to repair and strengthen the fibers.
If you reduce that inflammation, something that happens when you take antioxidants post-workout, the signal that your body receives to rejuvenate the muscle fibers will be weakened.
That’s why you shouldn’t consume high antioxidant foods or supplements before and after your workout. Examples of such foods are raspberries, artichokes, red cabbage, spinach, and dark chocolate.
Instead, consume these supplements and foods further away from your workouts. Then they can actually boost muscle growth by lowering chronic inflammation.
2) Testosterone Boosters
There are many supplements on the market that claim to boost testosterone. Most of them, however, do nothing besides splitting you from your hard-earned money.
Besides, some compounds have been “proven” to work, but the problem is that those only work in the short term. After around a week of continual use, the T-boosting effects vanish. An example of this is D-Aspartic Acid (D-AA).(29)(30)
So, be wary of fancy T-boost supplements that promise to pack quality mass onto your frame. There are no reliable testosterone boosters on the market, and the benefits they offer are small, although many of the compounds can come with negative side effects.