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Fact checked by Robert Iafelice, MS, RD, LDNFACT CHECKED
May 31, 2023
When it comes to building muscle mass and healthy muscle tissue, even the most genetically gifted people know that muscle gains aren't easy to come by. That is why people will often turn to dietary supplements to try and boost muscle growth in any way that they can.
Whether to reduce muscle soreness or muscle fatigue so you can train more often, raise your energy levels so you can train for longer, or stimulate muscle protein synthesis or testosterone production to fuel muscle cells directly, getting a supplement regimen right is vital for success.
The issue is, with so many different types of muscle growth supplements on the market, how do you know which to use? Well, we will now show you the best muscle-building supplement in a variety of categories to ensure you can get your muscle supplement regimen just right.
TestoFuel is a natural testosterone booster supplement designed specifically to stimulate muscle growth and help people reach or stay at peak levels of physical performance.
Promoted by legendary bodybuilder Robby Robinson, it will also help to prevent testosterone levels from dropping as you age. This will enable you to maintain your muscle mass, prevent muscle breakdown, and allow you to keep increasing muscle mass.
The TestoFuel formula contains:
The amino acid D-aspartic acid is required for the production of testosterone, and taking it in dietary supplements has been seen to help elite athletes boost their testosterone levels.¹
If you want to learn more about the connection between D-Aspartic Acid and testosterone, check out our full article.
Maca root powder and fenugreek are herbal extracts that are known for gently boosting testosterone production and levels. They can both stimulate the growth of lean muscle mass and prevent low testosterone levels.
They can even offer additional benefits, including boosting libido, sexual functions, and mood; reducing anxiety, blood sugar, cholesterol levels, stress, and the symptoms of menopause; and treating depression and diabetes.² ³
Panax ginseng extract can improve your total testosterone levels, mood, immunity, and brain functions and even help your body fight diseases.⁴ Oyster shell extract, meanwhile, boosts your free testosterone levels while also being rich in vitamin D.⁵
While vitamin D supplements and vitamin K supplements won't boost testosterone levels directly, they will stop you from developing deficiencies, which will negatively impact your testosterone production.⁶ ⁷
Magnesium and boron boost your natural testosterone production directly, and zinc increases the production of luteinizing hormone to achieve the same goal.⁸ ⁹ ¹⁰
By boosting testosterone levels from all angles, TestoFuel can improve lean muscle growth and strength, energy levels, focus, mood, self-esteem, and even your metabolism. This is all you could ask for from a testosterone booster to help you achieve your fitness goals.
Some people even feel it is as effective as anabolic steroids while being considerably safer. When you combine this with its very reasonable price tag and serving size of four capsules, TestoFuel easily tops the list of the best testosterone booster supplements for muscle growth.
A lot of men look for a testosterone booster, and they're definitely helpful as PCT or for older men, and there are few with a bodybuilding pedigree like TestoFuel. In optimizing for the muscle growth market, they've created something that focuses more on energy and growth, making it perfect for the best booster spot on this list.
The customer reviews are great, and the parent company has a long track record for good customer service and keeping the formula up to date with the latest improvements in clinical data. Meaning we're always confident to recommend them to our readers.
Creatine is a substance produced by our bodies that allows the ATP-PC (adenosine triphosphate-Phosphocreatine) system to function, which is the main energy system used during short, high-intensity activities, such as weightlifting.¹¹
While this energy system is only able to function naturally for a short while, taking creatine supplements is a fabulous way to extend it, allowing you to keep training harder and building muscle for longer while preventing muscle fatigue.
As far as creatine monohydrate supplements go, there may be none as potent or effective as Optimum Nutrition Micronized Creatine Powder.
Containing nothing but 3 grams of 100% creatine monohydrate of the highest quality in every serving, it can help you gain muscle as well as any other dietary supplement of its kind.
The small serving size and unflavored powder make it easy to mix in with your favorite pre-workout supplements or protein powder, while the incredibly low price tag makes it great value, especially as it is produced by such a reputable company.
Great value and great customer reviews; there's nothing here not to like. This is a solid creatine powder at a good price produced by a well-known brand in the fitness space.
There are a lot of good options for a top-tier creatine powder, but you can't ever go wrong with Optimum Nutrition.
With all of this considered, Optimum Nutrition Micronized Creatine Powder is comfortably the best creatine monohydrate muscle-building supplement on the market today.
Prime Male is one of a small range of testosterone boosters that are specifically designed to help men keep their testosterone levels up as they age. This will allow it to build lean muscle mass while keeping your libido and energy levels up and even promoting body weight loss.
The Prime Male formula contains:
Many of these are the same ingredients seen in TestoFuel and offer the same benefits. However, there are a few changes to help it achieve its stated goal.
Ashwagandha extract and luteolin will boost testosterone levels, increase muscle mass and strength, boost athletic performance, increase fat and weight loss, reduce anxiety, blood sugar levels, and stress, and aid your focus, memory, sleep, and heart and brain health.¹² ¹³ Ashwagandha supplements have started to become more prevalent in testosterone boosting supplements for good reason.
Vitamin B6 prevents estrogen production and regulates hormone levels while boosting the immune system, the production of neurotransmitters, and the metabolism of amino acids, fat, and sugars.¹⁴
Nettle root extract binds to sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG) to keep your testosterone production up while reducing inflammation and keeping the urinary tract healthy.¹⁵
Black pepper extract then enhances the effects of all the other ingredients in the formula.¹⁶
This formula doesn't just boost testosterone production like most testosterone boosters; it also combats things that can cause your testosterone levels to dip. This easily makes Prime Male one of the very best supplements for muscle growth for men over 50.
That is before we even get to the reasonable price tag and the easy-to-swallow serving size of just four capsules.
All in all, it's not quite as good for muscle gain as TestoFuel, but if you're a little older and want a one size fits all supplement, then this and some creatine is pretty much an unbeatable combo.
Not only will it help you keep pumping iron like a 35-year-old, but it's going to boost a lot of other areas of your overall health too.
While tiredness or a lack of energy can ruin even the best muscle-building workout, using a pre-workout supplement is a quick and easy way to give yourself a boost and get back on track.
When it comes to this sort of dietary supplement, SFS Always Ready is easily the best pre-workout supplement on the market today and a perfect way to support muscle growth.
It is designed to give you intense focus, pumps, power, and energy without any itches, crashes, or jitters.
The SFS Always Ready formula consists of the following:
The l-citrulline, malic acid, GlycerPump, and agmatine sulfate combine to improve blood flow and create a pumped-up feeling in the muscles. This gives you the physical energy and drive required to help you power through even the toughest workouts with conviction.¹⁷
Betaine anhydrous, l-taurine, ancient peat and apple extract then work to aid muscle strength and reduce muscle fatigue. This lets the muscles contract harder and for longer, allowing you to move bigger weights without getting tired, which is vital for muscle growth.¹⁸
The combination of l-tyrosine, alpha GPC, and Huperzine A will keep you mentally focused, while caffeine anhydrous, l-theanine, and n-isopropysynephrine will boost your physical energy levels, giving you even more assistance to power through workouts.¹⁹ ²⁰
The black pepper extract will then make all of these effects far more potent.
SFS Always Ready isn't just one of the best supplements for muscle growth based on effects either. With a delicious Sour Gummy flavor and reasonable serving size and price tag, it is a pre-workout supplement that people can actually enjoy using on their quest to build muscle.
Training harder means more muscle gain in almost all cases, and it's certainly going to tip the scales when you're not feeling 100% game for today's gym session. There's a reason pre-workout supplements for muscle growth are some of the most popular in the fitness industry, and they're a fantastic addition to any arsenal.
There are so many out there that it can be hard to pick the best, but SFS has created an affordable and well-dosed blend that makes sense. But, just in case you're looking for a pre-workout without stimulants, we've compiled a list of the best caffeine-free pre-workouts available.
Whey protein powder is one of the most popular muscle-building supplements on the market and has been since dietary supplements became widely used, as protein is required to build healthy muscle tissue and promote muscle recovery.
Protein supplements are a great way to aid your normal diet to ensure you hit your needs, and whey protein is by far the best protein source around. As far as whey protein supplements go, Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Whey Protein Powder is the cream of the crop.²¹
As the name suggests, it consists of nothing but 100% whey protein, which delivers 24 grams of protein and 5.5 grams of essential amino acids in every reasonably sized serving, with only 0.7 grams of sugar and 120 calories.
This is ideal for supporting muscle growth and repairing and building muscle fibers, which explains why it is the top-selling protein supplement in the world.
Available in a choice of flavors that includes banana cream, caramel toffee fudge, chocolate hazelnut, chocolate mint, chocolate peanut butter, cookies & cream, delicious strawberry, double rich chocolate, extreme milk chocolate, French vanilla, vanilla ice cream, white chocolate raspberry, and unflavoured, there are options to suit people of all tastes.
Also sold in a great range of sizes and with a fairly reasonable price tag, given the standing of the product, this is comfortably the best whey protein powder for anyone looking to promote muscle growth.
Cheapest isn't always best, and there are a few ways in which protein powders cut costs but also cut value. A lot of protein powders have been caught lying about their protein content over the years when independently tested, so it's generally worth paying that little bit extra to make sure that you get something that actually contains enough whey protein isolate to do what you want.
Plus, Optimum tastes great, so what's not to like?
Instant Knockout Complete is a unique supplement that can double up as both a protein powder and a meal replacement shake. Designed with athletes like MMA fighters in mind, it can help with building muscle mass, losing body weight, and balancing your body composition.
The Instant Knockout Complete formula consists of the following:
This helps it pack in 35 grams of protein, 35 grams of carbs, 13 grams of healthy fats, and 400 calories per serving. It is also rich in essential amino acids, medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
This plant-based formula will give both you and your muscles plenty of energy to complete workouts, promote muscle growth and muscle recovery, replenish your glycogen stores, keep your heart, mind, and body healthy, and keep you feeling full to stop you from snacking.
Instant Knockout Complete may not be the cheapest meal replacement powder around or have the smallest serving size, but as it blends meal replacement and protein supplements into a single product, it is worth its weight in gold.
Add in the fact that it has a delicious vanilla flavor, and Instant Knockout Complete is easily one of the very best muscle-building supplements for a wide range of different people.
The great victory for Instant Knockout Complete is the taste and the consistency, we've tried a lot of high protein meal replacements over the years, and they tend to either taste terrible, be thicker than glue, or both. Fortunately, Instant Knockout doesn't have this problem.
The other issue with a lot of the competition is that the micronutrient profiles aren't as good as they should be, or their amino acid profiles are a letdown. There's nothing wrong here at all, and it's a great product. It's a bit expensive, but considering what you get for your money, it's still good value.
It's also vegan, which means that it's a very good addition to the muscle-building supplements stack of anyone who can't simply have whey protein.
An ability to build healthy muscle tissue is essential when developing an impressive physique, but your efforts won't be rewarded nearly as much if all your lean muscle mass is covered by a layer of fat. That is why fat burner supplements can be just as useful on a muscle-building plan.
Instant Knockout Cut is a thermogenic fat burner that is designed to help elite athletes shed that last bit of fat through a variety of pathways.
Its formula includes:
Caffeine, cayenne pepper, green tea, and black pepper extract all stimulate thermogenesis, a process that promotes fat burning by increasing your internal body temperature.²²
They also make you more energetic so that you can train harder and boost your digestion and metabolism so that you can make better use of the nutrients in your diet. Black pepper then improves the absorption and efficacy of all of the other ingredients in the formula.
L-theanine prevents the crashes common with stimulants and boosts sleep quality to aid recovery and muscle soreness. The vitamins then lower your blood pressure levels, boost your mood and focus, and enhance your overall health.
Glucomannan swells in your gut to keep you satiated, prevent overeating, and slow and aid digestion. The bloating that can occasionally occur from glucomannan is then counteracted by the antioxidants in the green tea extract.
When you combine all of these effects with the fact that Instant Knockout Cut uses no animal products, artificial substances, or gluten, causes no side effects, and has a very low price tag and serving sizes, it's clearly an ideal product for people looking to show off their muscle gains.
This one isn't going to be essential for everyone, as it's more about protecting your gains whilst you cut, and depending on how you've been building muscle mass, then it may be completely unnecessary.
However, if you're doing bulking and cutting, then this should be part of your rotation. Not only does it help you train harder whilst dieting, but it helps you stick to that diet too. And making your cut easier will make the whole cycle go a lot more easily.
When you are trying to build lean muscle mass as quickly as possible, it is vital that you get enough sleep to give the muscle cells plenty of time to recover. That is why we feel sleep aids are one of the best options for maintaining muscle growth. Sleeping is when your body actually releases the growth hormones which are required to build muscle mass, meaning if you're not sleeping enough, you're not going to experience muscle gain.
This can be particularly important for people following high-protein diets, which can negatively affect sleep quality. In fact, a huge number of bodybuilders will cite sleep aids as being their most valued supplement for muscle growth, period. It's also helpful to counterbalance the effects of heavy caffeine consumption around training.
RestAgain is a sleep aid from FA Nutra Ltd designed to make it easier to achieve a regular sleep schedule. It can help people fall asleep faster, stay asleep longer, and get better quality sleep.
The RestAgain formula contains the following:
All of its ingredients are natural, carefully chosen, and optimally dosed to safely provide the maximum sleep benefits possible.
Melatonin will improve your sleep-wake cycle and ability to enter REM sleep.²³
Ashwagandha and the amino acids 5-htp and l-theanine will make you feel calm and relaxed while boosting mood, brain, and immune functions and reducing stress and anxiety levels.²⁴ ²⁵ ²⁶
GABA reduces stress and boosts relaxation even more, as well as getting to work within a 1-hour window, while valerian root extract makes its effects more potent.²⁷ ²⁸ ²⁹
Calcium and magnesium prevent you from having trouble falling asleep or entering REM sleep, boost your mood, and prevent cramps, dry mouth, jet lag, and other health issues.³⁰ ³¹
The vitamins then accelerate the recovery of your brain and muscle tissue. This will not only help you to sleep better, but it can also promote muscle gains directly too.³² ³³ ³⁴
By promoting better sleep from every angle, RestAgain gives you the best chance possible to build muscle and maintain it.
Throw in a very fair price tag and a serving size that is easy to swallow, and while it is technically a sleep aid, RestAgain is also one of the best muscle-building pills for people who truly want to gain muscle tissue as quickly as they can.
Getting enough sleep can be challenging, but it's essential for muscle growth, and RestAgain is by far the best sleep supplement on the market, meaning this one is a no-brainer if it's something you need.
It's also got a couple of things in that will help for muscle building by itself, like ashwagandha and magnesium, even if that isn't the purpose of the supplement itself.
One of the big things that can stop rapid muscle growth is an inability to complete workouts, which is a common issue when people feel pain in their joints. FlexAgain is a joint supplement that is an ideal way to help you forget about joint pain and get back to muscle building.
Beyond being a good joint supplement, it's a good post-workout supplement in its own right. Making this arguably one of the most important muscle growth supplements to take.
There isn't a single man in the gym over 35 that won't tell you he wishes he'd taken something to help look after his joints before it was a problem. And almost everyone will complain about a shoulder or lower back injury slowing their training and hindering muscle growth.
Yes, there are other reasons for these issues as well, but most are well aware that they probably didn't get enough nutrients that would've helped protect their health.
Made using optimal dosages of proven, high-quality ingredients that come from a wide range of different sources, it provides a host of joint health benefits without causing any side effects.
The FlexAgain formula consists of:
Between them, these ingredients will support the joints from all angles.
They protect and produce cartilage, prevent; reduce, and repair joint damage, inflammation, pain, and swelling; enhance joint flexibility, function, lubrication, and mobility; ease arthritis pain and symptoms; and help keep the bones, connective tissues, joints, and muscles healthy.
A lot of the ingredients, like their ginger extract, aid with muscle soreness, and standardizing to 70mg of hydroxymethoxyphenyl makes it equivalent to around 5 grams of ginger. With 2 grams being enough to reduce doms.³⁵
Omega 3 has also been shown to reduce DOMS,³⁶ (DOMS stands for delayed onset muscle soreness) as has curcumin³⁷ and vitamin D³⁸ in even lower dosages than present in this supplement. Resveratrol also seems to help muscles recover and reduce muscle fatigue.³⁹
Lastly, in terms of the ingredients with an effect on the muscles beyond joint protection, we have bromelain. There have been some long-standing myths about pineapple juice helping bodybuilding, and bromelain is the active ingredient in that. Interestingly when dosed highly enough, it has been shown to help decrease muscle fatigue the day after intense training or exercise.⁴⁰
Produced in FDA-registered, cGMP-certified facilities and offering a full 90-day money-back guarantee on all purchases, FlexAgain is an ideal product to help you keep your joints healthy and ensure that nothing gets in the way of your ability to enjoy lean muscle mass growth.
We all know by now that we need to look after our joints in the gym; many of us have waited too long, but if you've got the opportunity to protect them now, then you should. They're not going to help you build muscle mass directly, but not being sore and reducing inflammation isn't going to hurt.
There are a lot of ingredients in there that can help with muscle recovery, meaning you can hit the gym harder for longer the next day. All in all, that makes FlexAgain a great option to take alongside some creatine and a test booster, especially for older gym goers.
For example, if money was no object and you wanted near-perfect optimization for a man over 50, FlexAgain, Prime Male, and creatine would be one incredibly potent muscle-building stack.
We've looked at not only the best specific workout supplements but supporting supplements that tackle issues commonly faced whilst building muscle. We all know that creatine or whey protein isolate is going to make almost every list like this, but where a lot fall down is neglecting the importance of good sleep or injury prevention. So, what we're looking for is the very best in each of these categories to ensure you can not only build muscle effectively but recover properly.
The rankings are based on ingredients, value, customer reviews, taste (where relevant), company reputation, and our personal experience.
All of the supplements for muscle growth on our list can be considered completely safe as they're all produced in FDA-approved facilities in line with CGMP guidelines. However, that doesn't mean that all supplements for muscle growth are safe.
As a result, you should always do your research and only buy a muscle-building supplement from reputable companies and always make sure to look into any brand before purchasing.
Of course, muscle-building supplements aren't essential, and for beginners, they're often unnecessary. However, if you're trying to optimize for maximum muscle growth or you've hit a plateau, then they can make a huge difference.
In fact, a lot of the best coaches will recommend that you don't start taking supplements for muscle growth immediately into starting training but save them to help you get past a sticking point.
Generally speaking, creatine is considered the best muscle growth supplement, and for good reason. It's been shown to increase workout performance by 10% for meat eaters and as much as 20% for vegetarians and vegans.
This is because the latter gets less in their natural diet. Aside from that, caffeine is quite possibly the next best singular supplement you can take, and that's why it's in almost every pre-workout. And that's simply because it gives you more energy to train.
The old saying "abs are made in the kitchen" is so well known for a reason. Unfortunately, you can't out-train a bad diet. Even the best muscle-building supplements aren't going to make a difference if you don't make sure to at least hit your macros.
We're not saying that you have to optimize every single micronutrient and essential amino acid to perfection, but you are going to want to make sure to get enough protein. As a result, protein supplements and protein shakes are a good way to supplement a less-than-optimal diet, but the best thing you can do is to make sure to eat at maintenance calories or in a minimal surplus (no more than 200kcal per day) to optimize for muscle growth. We explain how to calculate your protein requirements here.
Realistically yes, the reality of the vegan diet is that they're very unlikely to get enough of the right omega-3 fatty acids and will have difficulty getting all their essential branched-chain amino acids without supplementation.
The fatty acids are essential for their long-term (and even relatively short-term) joint health, and if your joints hurt, you can't train. It's important to use algae and not other plant-based sources, as algae contains DHA and EPA, whereas other plants contain AHA, which the body has to convert into the previous two, meaning you'd actually need 10x more than the 1100mg required from an algae source.
As for other issues, the only vegan source that contains all of your essential amino acids for muscle-building supplements is soy. And consuming more than 40 grams of soy protein a day can deplete testosterone levels, hampering muscle growth. There is also generally the issue of getting enough protein in general. That being the case, vegans should also look to supplement with a non-soy-based vegan protein powder in most cases.
The short answer is some can, but typically they're not optimized for this. Whilst some muscle-building supplements like creatine will also be in a lot of pump supplements as they make the muscles retain water and look larger, that doesn't mean all pump supplements will work the same way. Most just make your body retain water around the muscles without giving you the benefits of creatine for a long-term increase in muscle mass.
This one is a mixed bag and depends on the rest of your diet. Ultimately a lot of weight gainer shakes come close to dirty bulking, which is something that a lot of gym goers will live to regret as it gets them on to the bulk and cut cycle.
This is why we recommend a high-protein meal replacement shake as a muscle-building supplement instead. If you're really struggling to stay at maintenance calories or get the extra 200-300 calories a day for controlled weight gain, then sure. But, generally, they're not the best option for everyone. Building muscle mass should be considered a marathon, not a sprint.
When people go looking for the best muscle-building supplements, they will often just pick a single whey protein shake and leave it at that. If you really want to gain muscle faster and see great results, though, it is vital that you use a range of muscle supplements of different types.
You have those that will help you maintain a healthy diet, those that will aid joint and muscle recovery, those that boost your energy levels and workout performance, those that help you sleep better, and even those designed to boost muscle protein synthesis and direct muscle gain.
The more muscle gain supplements you use, the greater chance you give yourself of achieving the physique and lean body mass of your dreams. This guide should have given you all of the information that you need on muscle-builder supplements to ensure that you can do just that.
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September 23, 2023
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