Best Supplements for Muscle Building Reviewed and Rated
Lifting weights will make you stronger, but growth doesn’t take place in the gym. Pumping iron causes tiny micro-tears in your tendons. When you rest after, the muscles repair themselves, creating new strands of protein. These strands are what creates muscle growth. While you can’t get there without weight-bearing exercise, your bench presses, squats, and deadlifts are only part of the process.
One way to nurture all that new muscle growth is with the use of commercially available supplements. There are supplements that work by increasing your muscles’ ability to push weight, and there are others that work by helping the muscle build new, stronger fibers of protein strands. In this review, we’ll be looking at both to help you make the best-informed decision as to whether you want to take supplements or not.
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Top 10 Picks
1. Real Muscle Builder
Premium nitric oxide
7 products in one
Max protein synthesis
Offers a line of complementary products
Real Muscle is a company that offers a whole line of muscle building supplements designed to help you grow muscle and increase your level of energy.Read more
Real Muscle positions itself as something you can add to your current workout cycle of eating, training, and sleeping. Real Muscle would like to be your fourth step. It can help you get more benefits from your workouts.
The main ingredient in Real Muscle, according to the product’s marketing is a naturally occurring chemical called ecdysterone. Ecdysterone is similar in chemical appearance to testosterone but does not mimic the action of T in your body. There is not much scientific evidence of ecdysterone’s effectiveness, but anecdotal evidence suggests they will help with muscle growth between workouts.
Real Muscle also uses nitric oxide, or N.O., to give you energy during your time away from the gym. Chemical compounds called arginase inhibitors interact with the amino acids in your body. Amino acids can give you more energy and also help build muscle.
This is a product that, if used according to directions and in conjunction with a dedicated workout routine, may be able to help you achieve your fitness goals safely.
2. Optimum Nutrition 100% Whey Gold Standard Protein Powder
24 grams of protein per scoop
Contains Whey Protein Isolate
4 Grams of Glutamine per serve
5 Grams of BCAA’s per serving
Optimum Nutrition is known and trusted for offering simple products that are effective in helping users build strength and muscle.Read more
Gold Standard is a blend of whey protein isolates, whey protein concentrates, and whey protein peptides. These bodybuilding supplements also include artificial colors, flavors, lecithin, and digestive enzymes.
Those enzymes are amino gen and lactase. They both help you to absorb the product more efficiently. The digestive enzymes give your body a boost in breaking down the protein in its free form, so it can get into your bloodstream faster.
One added perk is that Optimum Nutrition products taste amazing. It comes in an array of 21 flavors, each one more exotic than the last. With offerings such as Rocky Road and Cookies and Crème, each mouthful feels like you’re cheating on your diet, when in fact you’re getting the cleanest, purest protein source available.
Gold Standard provides 24 grams of whey protein in each measured dose. There are also 4 grams of glutamine. This is a product that can give you an extra boost, both to get through your daily routine and to get a more productive gym workout.
Remember to take all muscle building supplements according to the directions that come with them.
3. Bulk Supplements Pure L-Glutamine
Several potential benefits
Only contains glutamine
Bulk Supplements Pure L-Glutamine is another simple, straightforward product that turns excess nitrogen into energy using glutamine.Read more
Some lab studies suggest that glutamine can help your body last longer during workouts, while also giving you more energy. Intense physical activity lowers your body's glutamine levels, and Pure L aims to replenish that supply for you.
Another potential benefit of glutamine is that it may lower lactic acid in your body. Lactic acid is responsible for muscle burn during workouts and can inhibit your lifting efforts. So Pure L might help you lift more and for a longer time this way.
Glutamine may even help your body fight colds, or recover from one more quickly. This is because lowered glutamine levels have been associated with a weakened immune system. So taking this product can potentially improve your overall health, not just your physical wellness.
Since this is a natural product, Bulk Supplements advises it may have a smell like ammonia when you first open it. This will fade with repeated use. The company also cautions against keeping the bottle near a heat source or anywhere will it will be exposed to heat.
4. Vintage Build
Contains BCAAs, L-Glutamine, Creatine
May help build lean muscle
The taste may be unpleasant at first
Vintage Build is a post-workout muscle building supplement that contains BCAAs, creatine, and L-Glutamine - the three key ingredients your body craves when you put the weights down.Read more
Vintage Build bills itself as a 3-in-1 product, one you can mix into a drink to take following your workout. The ingredients of the best bodybuilding supplements will help you build lean muscle. You can combine it with water or another drink of your choice. With a blender, you could turn the powder into a healthy and delicious smoothie.
This is not a muscle bulk or mass builder. It is not for serious bodybuilders or powerlifters as much as for those who want lean muscle for sports or overall better health. Third-party testing adds to the credibility of Vintage Build’s claims. It works best when you incorporate is as part of a healthy eating plan.
Old School Labs, the maker of Vintage Build, stands by all its products. Supplement ingredients are clearly listed, so you know what you are taking. Old School provides realistic expectations for its products and offers a refund if they are not able to solve any problems you may have.
Old School Labs has done business in California for over forty years, giving them a track record you can trust and claims you can believe. This is a reliable company that puts its customers first.
5. Legion Athletics Recharge
Increases glycogen levels
60 servings per container
Lower than average protein levels compared to similar products
Legion Recharge is a creatine based muscle building supplement that can potentially enhance your performance and help prepare you pre-workout.Read more
Legion Athletics also bills its product as a cell volumizer. Devotees of cell volumizing claim it is a way to spark hypertrophy (muscle growth) by increasing the amount of protein in your muscle cells, giving them more fuel for growth. The science on cell volumizing is unclear, but many weightlifting buffs swear by it and there are potential benefits.
This product also contains carnitine, which may help with the catabolic recovery of your muscles. Carnitine, made from amino acids, takes fatty acids to your cell's mitochondria where these acids are burned to create energy. The FDA has not established a recommended daily dose of carnitine, and it is produced in abundance, naturally, by your liver. There are no adverse effects associated with taking extra carnitine. It is present in protein-rich foods, like meats or dairy milk.
This product may also help with post-workout soreness, and reduce damage to cells from intense exercise.
Reviewers consistently agree that Legion Recharge has a good taste when mixed with your favorite drinks. It dissolves into solution easily. Each container is packed with sixty servings of powder.
6. BSN CellMass 2.0
3 types of creatine
50:50 carb to protein ratio
Contains BSAA and glutamine
BSN Cell Mass 2.0 features a heavy creatine content in a blend of 3 varieties. It also contains glutamine to stop muscle fatigue and quickly replenish your cells.Read more
The creatine will mix in to give volume and assist in muscle growth while ensuring your ATP reserves will be there for the next workout. The product comes in four nice tasting flavors.
BSN CellMass 2.0 is also an effective workout recovery formula. BSN CellMass 2.0 has a 50:50 ratio of carbs to protein.
The ingredients of CellMass 2.0 are a proprietary blend of Protein Hydrolysate, L-Glutamine, Glutamine Peptides, Taurine and Banaba extract, Myogenix matrix of Creatine, monohydrate, Creatine HCL, and Creatine Anhydrous. BSN Cellmass 2.0 is not a high dosage carb and protein supplement. It is also missing dextrose.
7. Naked Mass Natural Weight Gainer Protein Powder
The powder has versatile uses
Tapioca based maltodextrin
Can replace a meal
This product, which comes in a stout 8-pound plastic container, has three simple natural ingredients.Read more
Naked Mass serves up an enormous 60 grams of protein, with 252 grams of carbs and 1260 calories per serving. A serving also has 11.5 grams of BCAAs and a minimum amount of sugar (5 grams).
The company markets this as a clean protein, made from grass-fed whey and casein. These ingredients will provide plenty of amino acids that will enhance your body’s protein production. The supplement is aimed at serious muscle gain athletes and fitness buffs.
Most weight gain muscle building supplements use maltodextrins made from wheat. Naked Mass has made its powder with tapioca instead, providing a lower carbon footprint. The flavorless powder can be added to smoothies or any flour-based food including pancakes to up your protein intake while eating your normal meals.
Naked Mass also makes a creatine powder and a vegan-friendly pre-workout prep powder. The company is committed to making effective all-natural products for athletes and weightlifters.
The manufacturing process is bleach-free for increased health and safety. Naked Mass has gone out of their way to produce a sustainable and gimmick-free product.<
8. Myogenix AfterShock
Creatine and glutamine
50:50 carb to protein ratio
32 grams of protein per serving
Different flavors and sizes
Product pricey especially in larger sizes
Myogenix AfterShock contains a complete nutritional profile to fast track protein and carbs to your muscle cells immediately after the workout.Read more
The full name of this product is Myogenix AfterShock Tactical Post-Workout Catalyst. It is designed to be taken within thirty minutes of completing a workout, which Myogenix says is the ideal window for spurring muscle growth.
Aftershock includes creatine and glutamine for cell volumization and enhanced ATP production. The product has a great taste that isn’t thick or overpowering. This post-workout shake acts as an appetite stimulant, meaning that you’ll be primed for a whole meal an hour after your workout.
The addition of creatine and a glutamine blend make this a complete post workout formula. AfterShock contains roughly a 50:50 ratio of carbs to protein. Every serving contains 30 grams of carbs and 32 grams of protein. It contains Kre alkaline, L- Norvaline, Magnesium, Glycyl Glutamine and BCAA’s.
Aftershock is expensive, but it does come in different sizes to help defray the cost and provide more options. There is a joint support formula made from glucosamine and other ingredients. It contains vitamins and antioxidants as well. It comes in a variety of colors.
9. Scivation Extend
7 grams of BCAAs
Electrolytes for hydration
Glutamine level a little low
Scivation Xtend is the most popular BCAA supplement on the market, providing you with 7 grams of branch chain amino acids.Read more
It will immediately prevent the catabolic effect of your workout, transforming it into an anabolic state. The emphasis on BCAA’s will increase the rate of protein synthesis and decrease protein degradation. This product is especially beneficial if you are on a low-calorie diet since Scivation Xtend is a carb-free product.
As the BCAA’s contained in Scivation Extend are known as free form, they must be taken on a stomach that is empty to gain the best absorption. The ingredients are Leucine, Iso-leucine, Valine, Glutamine and Citrulline Malate. The product comes in a range of great-tasting flavors including watermelon and other fruit selections. Xtend is zero calories, sugar-free and carbohydrate-free.
Xtend also contains electrolytes that will help you stay hydrated before, during, and after your exercise session. Several testimonials from athletes, on the company's website and Amazon listing, add to the credibility of Scivation's claims.
10. N.O. XT
Greater nutrient delivery
Increases blood flow
Does not contain creatine
N.O. XT will help you shred your workouts by boosting your endurance and strength and aiding in muscular healing post-workout.Read more
A scientific design with specialized ingredients increases nitric oxide levels, while enhancing blood flow. This greater flow of blood delivers nutrients more efficiently and helps your muscles feel more full. N.O. promises you will feel stronger after just one dose before one workout.
The way the nitric oxide works is by increasing your muscles’ ability to expand and contract while you exercise. Increased delivery of nutrients to your muscles ups the anabolic action that creates the micro-tears that will lead to muscle growth. You will also feel an improvement in both strength and endurance.
Jacked Factory, the parent company, makes all their muscle building supplements in an advanced facility. They promise the safety, quality, and effectiveness of all their supplement products. They are so confident in their product that they offer a money-back guarantee.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
Muscle building supplements don't have to cost a lot to give you results.
The value of any supplement is in how effectively it delivers on its promises. We noticed in our reviews that there is not a huge range of prices when it comes to these products. They start at around thirty dollars, and the most expensive ones, in their largest sizes, topped out somewhere between seventy and eighty.
It is up to you, supplement taker and workout enthusiast, to decide which supplement will be the most valuable to you, according to your goals, experience, dietary requirements, and even your outlook on life. There are products with seven or eight ingredients, including different types of protein; there are also some with just three.
Whatever you do, don't be fooled by hype into purchasing something you won't use or that will not meet your needs. If you are a runner, you will need something that delivers energy, not a protein-rich weight gainer that a serious lifter might want.
Every supplement should be laser-focused on giving you more mass and helping you grow stronger.
While muscle growth is the main idea here--they are called muscle builders, after all--these products can have other uses. They can hydrate with electrolytes, get your blood flowing, help you grow while you rest, supplement your regular meals, give you energy throughout the day, and occasionally replace a meal since many of them have a high caloric content.
But still, we did not want our offerings to stray too far from that muscle building purpose. So we evaluated each of them primarily for how well they met that need. This is why we reviewed manufacturer information, consumer and professional reviews, athlete testimonials, and medical research findings. We wanted to be sure you would receive the maximum benefit for your own fitness program.
Supplements are just extra tasks if you don't get results.
All supplements are not created equal. There are protein powders and capsules you can buy that will not live up to the manufacturer's promises. At times, supplements can produce a placebo effect, making you feel stronger but not actually having an effect.
So we were careful, in our reviews, to find and describe products from reputable companies. We steered clear of supplements that made too many extravagant promises or seemed to cram too many exotic-sounding ingredients into their labels. Some of our products only contain a handful of ingredients. Often these are the most effective. You do not need 10 or 12 different types of proteins or amino acid builders to get results.
The best supplements can help you build muscles faster, recover more effectively, get a longer workout, and even stay hydrated while you enjoy increased blood flow. We hope we have provided enough products and information for you to find one that will deliver these results effectively for you.
Supplements do have features, they just may not be obvious.
Thinking of features, for supplements, is a little harder than it is for an exercise bike or another piece of workout gear. Supplements are something you only deal with for a few minutes per day, and we don't expect anything from them except to do what the label says they will do.
So, for these reviews, we looked at things like packaging, extra benefits, ingredients, and even flavoring. Supplements may be plain and straightforward, but they are not one size fits all and they do not need to be boring. We hope you can gain an understanding of each product's features in order to make the right decision.
You can tell a lot about a company by what it puts into its products.
What materials are muscle building supplements made of? It is hard to tell without doing in-depth research. But many supplement makers are proud of GMO-free, soy-free, vegan, gluten-free, and organic offerings. We made sure, in our reviews, to point out when this was the case, as we know these special ingredients are important to many of our readers.
Materials can also refer to the packaging of the supplements. It is important, too many fitness buffs, that bottles and other containers be made from recyclable materials.
Expert Interviews & Opinions
While supplements can give your fitness plans a boost, for some of us they are little more than an added cost that we can do without.
Many of us start working out and exercising after a trip to the doctor. We may have extra weight, high blood pressure, or heart problems. Walking, either outside or on a treadmill, are basic exercises that can help with those medical problems.
You may have turned to exercise to prevent or treat a physical injury, or even as part of your emotional well being.
In those cases, you can skip the supplements. A balanced diet can provide all the protein you need. In the future, if you decide to step up your fitness goals, you can always experiment with supplements and see what benefits they can give you.
Supplements are just that-they supplement and augment your existing workout routines and healthy eating plans. You should not attempt to use them as a shortcut, or take pre workout supplements and not follow up with actually working out.
In addition, be sure that whatever supplement you purchase makes sense for why you will want to use it. If you are getting too tired after workouts, perhaps a post workout supplement is best. Or you may need more energy during your workouts, so you can meet your cardio or weightlifting goals. Take the time to research, and make sure you are using your supplements effectively and in a productive way. They are sometimes costly, and you want to make sure you are getting a decent return for your investment.
Other Factors to Consider
Versatility is important in looking at supplements because different athletes will have different goals and needs. Some of the products we reviewed can offer more benefits than just build muscle. They can add electrolytes for hydration, increase blood flow, help with recovery, and give you an extra boost to get through your workouts.
Just as you may want to combine features and get a combined exercise bike and elliptical, for example, you may want to find a single supplement that can meet several needs for you in one convenient package.
It is important to remember that muscle building supplements are not inspected or approved by the FDA.
This does not mean muscle building supplements are impure or dangerous. The FDA does not consider supplements as food products or drugs. They are chemical compounds, often made of ingredients that occur in nature. The purity of a supplement product will depend on the care that the manufacturer puts into their product. You may opt for all-natural options, made from organic ingredients. Some of these all-natural options will not even include wheat-based ingredients. If you want to go this route, you will typically have to pay a bit more for these all-natural products.
Frequently Asked Questions
q: How effective are muscle building supplements?
The answer to this question is a complicated one. A completely accurate answer would require a deep dive into the scientific literature dealing with these chemicals. There are manufacturers of muscle building supplements who will simply add ingredients, thinking more chemical names will attract more customers. We have avoided those kinds of products in our reviews.
But we do know that extra protein can help you if you are not getting enough protein in your diet. Extra protein does help grow muscles, and it can temporarily give you extra strength. If you are interested in supplements, you can always experiment with them and see what kind of benefits you get. If a certain best muscle building supplements for muscle gain seems to give you a better time with your workouts, or more energy during the day, then it is definitely effective.
q: When did muscle building supplements become so popular?
One of the first and best muscle building supplements for muscle growth to come into popular usage was creatine. Creatine is a chemical that your body manufactures to help with energy levels by working with your muscles. Taking extra creatine can help you lift heavier weights as a short term effect. Scientists first began to examine creatine in the 1970s.
Later, in the 1990s, professional athletes began using creatine to give greater performance. From there, creatine supplements became popular with regular consumers. By 2010 or so, there were myriad possibilities for supplements on the market. In recent years, plant-based sources of protein have become a popular trend for supplements.
q: Why do some muscle building supplements have extra carbs?
Thanks to the popularity of low or no-carb diets, including the paleo and keto diets, carbohydrates have gotten a bad rap that we think is misleading and unfair.
Your body needs complex carbs. Complex carbs contain two or more simple carb molecules joined together, These longer chains of molecules mean your body takes longer to break down and process these complex carbs.
Complex carbohydrates are often called good carbs. They are different from simple or "bad" carbs. These are the kinds of carbs or sugars you can find in sweets and sugary fruit or soda drinks. Simple carbohydrates will give you a quick burst of energy, but it will be short-lived and you are likely to crash as your body finishes processing the simple carbohydrate.
Supplements, then, sometimes contain complex carbohydrates in addition to proteins. You need these carbohydrates to give your body energy. Without carbs, your body starts using stored fat and protein to get energy. This can actually lead to muscle shrinkage and fatigue.
q: How can a pill or powder help me recover?
It all has to do with what is in the best muscle building supplements. Electrolytes can proactively hydrate you, so you do not experience the fatigue that comes from not having enough fluids. Proteins and other muscle-building components will help you heal faster from the micro-tears that lifting weight produces. This is what causes your muscles to grow.
Some supplements will also encourage your system to flush out waste products to aid in recovery.
q: I hear the words catabolic and anabolic a lot when I read about muscle building supplements. What do those terms mean?
Anabolic reactions consume energy. This is because small molecules come together to form larger molecules. Amino acids, sugar, glycerol, carbon dioxide and water are all vital chemicals in your body that come about because of anabolic reactions. All that creation takes a lot of energy.
Catabolic reactions, the ones that take place after your work out, involve the breaking down of bonded molecules. This is what causes the tiny muscle tears that later lead to muscle growth during the recovery.
- Carnitine: Fact Sheet For Health Professionals, National Institutes of Health Site ,
- Ecdysterone, Medical Website ,
- Arginase Inhibitors: A Rational Approach Over One Century., NIH Website ,