The Ultimate Guide to Muscle Building Supplements

Muscle building supplements can be a lifter/gymrat’s best friend when used appropriately. This article will teach you about the most effective supplements for building muscle (or getting HUGE! as we like to say) plus when and how to use them. We aren’t going to promise you some magical pill or powder that will turn you into Ronnie Coleman after a bottle or two, but we will tell you about the best and most scientifically proven supplements that build muscle and help you get the physique you want with minimal side effects (no roids here bro).

Just remember that you have no business worrying about the best supplements to take if you aren’t eating right or training hard as these are by far the most important aspects of reaching your health/fitness goals!

Want to skip the introductory stuff and just see the top supplements for gaining muscle? No worries, scroll to the end of the article, Sultan of Squat!

Too Much Protein - No Whey Mate!

What are muscle building supplements and who needs them?

There are a number of sports nutrition supplements that can help you build muscle and burn fat when used in conjunction with a healthy diet and a solid training program. The best and safest muscle gain supplements with the most scientifically proven benefits include the following:

We’ll provide more detail about each of these supplements, how they should be used, and also provide a list of our favorites later in the article, but for now you should know that these are the primary supplements you should be spending your money on if your goal is to build muscle and improve performance in the weight room or on the playing field.

Athletes and lifters of all kinds should consider taking some or all of the above supplements if they want to build muscle, improve recovery and return to the field or weight room ready to compete harder and with less soreness sooner. In addition to being the most effective supplements that build muscle, the above ingredients are also proven to be safe and have minimal side effects for most people. Just remember that everybody is different and you should always consult with a physician or healthcare professional before taking any supplement.

How do muscle building supplements work and when/how should you take them?

Every person is different and not every supplement will work equally well for each individual. For example, we know that approximately 10-20% of the population can be classified as creatine non-responders. Ultimately you have to experiment and see what is most effective for you.

These supplements each work if used independently though you’ll often achieve better results if you stack all or some of them together. You don’t need to stack all of them together all the time (and you’d be stupid to not to give your body a break every 8 weeks or so), but you’ll notice you are extra badass when you stack whey protein, casein protein, creatine, BCAAs, and also beta-alanine together at the same time.

So we know these supplements help us build muscle, but how do they actually do it?

  • Stimulate lean muscle growth and development

  • Increase the rate of protein synthesis

  • Reduce the risk of muscle loss or catabolism

  • Improve muscle recovery to support intensive workout sessions

  • Enhance level of energy during workouts

  • Promote optimal blood flow to muscle tissues

  • Decrease the level of fatigue enabling you to exercise longer

No single supplement can deliver all of the benefits mentioned above and that is why it can be beneficial to stack all of them together. Here is an example of a solid stack that I consume when hitting the weights like a beast:

Pre-Workout (usually mixed together in 1 shake with Starbucks instant iced coffee for some caffeine)Emergency Protein Shake

  • 15-20 grams of whey protein

  • 5 grams of BCAAs

  • 3-5 grams of creatine monohydrate

  • 2-3 grams of beta-alanine (not included above though it is an honorable mention for endurance promoting effects and making creatine more effective) [1]

Post-Workout (tossed into a blender with 12 oz. whole milk, 2 bananas, 1 Tbsp Almond butter, and handful of spinach)

  • 15-20 grams of whey protein

  • 15-20 grams of casein protein

  • 5-10 grams of BCAAs

  • 3-5 grams of creatine monohydrate

  • 1-2 grams of beta-alanine

I’ll also usually take down a whey protein shake with 20-30 grams of protein for a snack along with fruit or oatmeal during the day. Sometimes I’ll put down a casein shake an hour or so before bedtime for additional recovery.

The Most Important Supplements That Build Muscle

You are probably more confused than Justin Bieber in a weight room when you walk into most supplement stores. Tons of products with shiny packages and extraordinary claims make it difficult for you to select the products that will help you find what you really need. We are here to change that and make it extremely easy for you to find the top supplements for gaining muscle. We’re going to give you a few basic points about each ingredient so you understand what it does and how you should use it.

  • Whey ProteinThe sweet nectar of the Gods. Whey protein is a fast digesting source of protein rich in both essential amino acids and branched chain amino acids (BCAAs). Since it digests quickly, It is a perfect form of protein to ingest before and after workouts to help your muscles grow and recover quickly. More detailed info here and here.

  • Casein ProteinAlso awesome. Casein protein is a slower digesting form of protein that is traditionally used before bedtime or other periods when you know your body will be without protein. The thought here is that since it breaks down more slowly in the body, it will help provide your muscles with protein over a more sustained period of time. Research also shows that post workout shakes containing a blend of casein and whey protein are more effective at increasing strength than whey protein alone [2].

  • Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs) - BCAAs are best known for helping athletes recover faster with less soreness. They are also great at preventing catabolism (breakdown of muscle tissue). BCAAs are composed of leucine, isoleucine, and valine. Leucine in particular seems to be a total badass in terms of stimulating protein synthesis and recovery. Read this article for more detail. BCAAs are best used before, during, and after a workout.

  • Creatine MonohydrateCreatine must be one of the most misunderstood substances on the planet. Despite the fact that is is simply a combination of three amino acids (glycine, arginine, and methionine), uneducated people associate this awesome and safe supplement with steroids or other illegal substances. Creatine works by supplying your muscles with additional ATP (one of their main sources of energy). This enables you to lift more weights, run faster, and in general just be more awesome. It is best consumed pre and post workout and while not 100% necessary, I recommend cycling on and off creatine for 8-12 periods to give your body a break.

Top Supplements for Gaining Muscle – My Favorites

We are fortunate enough to have tried virtually every supplement under the sun and know which ones work and which ones don’t. We’ve listed a few of our favorite choices in the various categories along with special discounts you won’t find anywhere else!

Whey Protein

Gold Standard 100% Whey by Optimum Nutrition - The name says it all – this stuff really is what all other whey proteins are measured against. Great ingredient profile from a trusted name at an awesome price make this a great choice. Enter OPTIMUM5 at checkout for an extra $5 off!

 

VP2 Whey Isolate by AST Sports ScienceA pricier protein for sure, but this stuff contains an abundance of the fastest digesting and best absorbed protein (hydrolyzed whey). It also mixes like a dream and is INSANELY delicious (my personal favorite is mocha cappuccino). Enter AST5 at checkout for an extra $5 off.

 

Casein Protein

Gold Standard 100% Casein by OptimumNutrition - Notice a trend here? Optimum makes great and trusted proteins that are tough to beat. I alternate between this one and their Natural version. I prefer chocolate supreme for the standard one and chocolate creme for their natural version.

 

Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs)

AMINOx by BSNA great formula that has everything you need and tastes great. Literally every flavor I’ve tried has been outstanding, though fruit punch is my favorite. Use code AMINOX5 at checkout for an extra $5 off!

Muscle Martini by GATThis isn’t a pure BCAA formula as it does contain other essential amino acids and antioxidants, but this is hands down the best tasting amino drink you’ve ever tried. I love all 3 flavors, but Peach Mango Candy is unreal. Use code MARTINI5 at checkout for an extra $5 off!

 

Creatine Monohydrate

Adenoflex AND JetMASS by GATI couldn’t make up my mind which GAT formula I liked better. Here’s the deal-I like Adenoflex’s formula better, but I prefer the taste of JetMASS. Both are kickass products so you really can’t go wrong. Enter ADENOFLEX5 or JETMASS5 for $5 off either product.

Micronized Creatine Powder by Optimum NutritonThis is your super basic micronized creatine monohydrate from Optimum. Nothing fancy, just awesome stuff that works. If you are on a budget, this is your best bet.

All Around Awesome Products

AfterShock Recovery by MyogenixDon’t want to deal with finding a bunch of separate products and mixing them together? AfterShock is your best bet. This is a kickass post-workout that tastes great and has all of the above mentioned ingredients in effective dosages. Enter AFTERSHOCK5 for an extra $5 off at checkout.

N.O.-SyntheSize by VPXAnother great comprehensive post workout that has it all. Definitely one of my go to supplements. Enter SYNTHESIZE5 for an extra $5 off at checkout.

 

Conclusion

Muscle building supplements can be very effective at helping you achieve the physique you want. We hope this post has helped you learn more about these supplements and how you should use them. Now stop reading this article and go get HUGE!! Thanks again for reading and leave questions or comments below!

 

[1] Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2006 Aug;16(4):430-46. Effect of creatine and beta-alanine supplementation on performance and endocrine responses in strength/power athletes. Hoffman J, Ratamess N, Kang J, Mangine G, Faigenbaum A, Stout J.

 

[2] J Strength Cond Res. 2006 Aug;20(3):643-53. The effects of protein and amino acid supplementation on performance and training adaptations during ten weeks of resistance training. Kerksick CM, Rasmussen CJ, Lancaster SL, Magu B, Smith P, Melton C, Greenwood M, Almada AL, Earnest CP, Kreider RB.






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