Building muscles is one of the most important goals of every (strength) athlete. Many of them therefore want to optimize and accelerate this in order to be able to build muscle mass even faster. In addition to the right training, nutrition also plays a central role here. If you want to achieve even faster results, you will quickly find various muscle building preparations. These are intended to accelerate muscle building even further through muscle building training.
Such preparations are also used to compensate for certain omissions elsewhere (training and / or nutrition). In fact, certain supplements can be useful for building muscle under certain conditions. I myself grab e.g. to protein shakes regularly, because otherwise my food is often not protein-rich enough.
However, such muscle building supplements are of course also big business for manufacturers. For this reason, means are also massively advertised as necessary, the taking of which is in most cases not helpful. Means are also often advertised whose effect is limited or simply cannot be proven. This is especially true if you stick to the rules of a good bulk phase diet .
For this reason, I have summarized the most important (legal) muscle building preparations in this article in order to give you very clear rules on how you can recognize which muscle building preparations are really useful in your situation and what you better avoid should leave.
Useful muscle building preparations to support your muscle building
The market for muscle building products has become really confusing. I will therefore go into the following on various food supplements that can be useful for building muscle. I will also explain in which situations it really makes sense to take them and when you can save some money with a clear conscience and do without something.
1) Creatine monohydrate
In my opinion, taking Creatine Monohydrate is always useful for strength and fitness athletes. Your body can produce creatine itself, but only about 1-2 grams per day. In principle, this is sufficient for all basic body functions. For building strength and muscle mass, however, you benefit from it when your creatine stores in the muscles are full. You can only achieve this with an additional supply.
Especially with hypertrophy training and IK training , which are important for muscle building, a large and full creatine store is helpful. ATP is required for the rapid movement of your muscles. When the creatine store is full, there is more of this fast energy carrier in the muscle and it can also be regenerated faster.
By taking creatine monohydrate, the creatine store in your muscles can be specifically increased and filled. This increases your level of performance during short-term, intensive training loads. This also allows you to make faster progress with your muscle building.
Instructions for correct intake:
A constant supplement of 5 grams per day is recommended as a sensible intake. Taking it in the form of a creatine cure is outdated.
Even if other forms of creatine are currently popular, it makes little sense to pay the higher price for these variants, since 99% of the exercisers do not show any significant advantage here.
Product recommendation :
When it comes to creatine, I only recommend products that are manufactured in Germany under the highest quality standards. All of them bear the Creapure seal.
Our partner shop Bodybuilding-Depot offers such a creatine powder of the highest quality at a very good price / performance ratio. With my code Fitvolution5 you get another five percent discount on the already very low price.
Alternatively, you can get a first-class product with the Olimp Creapure powder at Amazon * , if you prefer to order there. This is also on the Cologne list and is therefore also approved for professional athletes.
2) Beta alanine
Beta alanine is an amino acid that a few years ago I only knew as a tingling component of various pre workout training boosters . In the meantime I have learned and know how useful beta alanine can actually be in the medium and long term for strength performance and muscle building.
Beta alanine is an amino acid that is converted to carnosine in the body and, in this form, acts as an acid buffer in the muscles. So it delays the acidification of the muscles and ensures that you can do more repetitions. In a repetition range of 8-15 repetitions, a full carnosine store has proven to be advantageous. This is exactly the training area that is most important for maximum muscle growth. That is why beta alanine should of course not be missing from this list of sensible muscle building preparations.
So if you make sure that your carnosine store is always full, you will potentially make faster progress in your muscle building. To ensure this, it makes sense to take beta alanine regularly.
Similar to creatine monohydrate, beta alanine is rarely found in daily food. Carnosine occurs (especially in white meat), but the body can only absorb a very small amount. For this reason, beta alanine is also one of the more expensive muscle building supplements.
Instructions for correct intake:
As with creatine, beta alanine should also be taken daily in order to achieve a full carnosine store. A continuous supplement of 2-5 grams a day is recommended. The optimal dose depends on body weight or, more precisely, on muscle mass.
Some exercisers experience a tingling sensation at high doses. However, this is harmless and disappears after about 60-90 minutes. Since many find this tingling sensation as pushing for their training, it makes sense to take beta-alanine about 30 minutes before training. However, you shouldn’t do without it on break days.
Product recommendation :
When buying beta alanine, I first advise you to make sure that the product does not contain any unnecessary additives such as silicon dioxide. After that, I would always resort to a German (or at least European) manufacturer who regularly and transparently carries out quality controls. I am generally skeptical about cheap products made in China.
I mostly buy the Beta Alanine from Supplement Union *. I am convinced of the quality here and I do not know of any more transparent manufacturer on the German supplement market. Laboratory reports are even published here on a regular basis.
ZMA is a patented combination of zinc, magnesium and vitamin B6. All micronutrients that are needed in larger quantities by athletes and which are often deficient in strength athletes. For this reason I have listed ZMA among my recommended useful supplements .
Some studies have also found a positive effect of the three micronutrients in the right composition on building strength and muscle mass. However, there are also some studies that could not prove this effect, regardless of a deficiency.
Often, ZMA is also advertised as having a testosterone-increasing effect. However, this is only proven to be true if the person had low testosterone levels due to a zinc deficiency.
For these reasons, I would mainly take ZMA if you have not already ensured an adequate supply of zinc and magnesium through your diet or other food supplements.
Notes on correct intake:
In the case of zinc, the recommended intake is in the evening before going to bed. However, taking large amounts of vitamin B6 in the evening can cause sleep disorders. I haven’t had any problems with it myself. If you have trouble falling asleep, you can also take ZMA in the morning.
When taking ZMA, I would also make sure that the ingredients are in the correct dosage. The best results were achieved with a dosage of 20-30mg zinc, 400-500mg magnesium and approx. 10mg vitamin B6.
Product recommendation :
At ZMA I recommend the ZMA capsules by Olimp *. Olimp is a manufacturer that I have trusted for a long time and by taking 2 capsules a day the recommended dose of the ingredients is pretty much achieved.
4) Whey Protein
Probably the dietary supplement consumed most by strength and fitness athletes is whey protein. In the form of a delicious protein shake, whey is a high-quality protein source that can be quickly absorbed by the body.
Protein powders are certainly not an absolutely necessary muscle building preparation. You can definitely get more than enough protein through normal protein-containing foods . For example, 100 grams of low-fat quark already have up to 15 grams of protein.
However, if you want to be on the safe side when it comes to your protein supply and don’t want to risk a protein deficiency and thereby reduce your progress, you won’t do much wrong with whey protein. Those who cannot tolerate lactose can alternatively try a egg protein .
Notes on correct intake:
Most exercisers take their Protein Shake right after training. In fact, there is a lot to be said for this type of intake. You have a fast, high-quality source of protein that you can easily prepare and drink straight away. This also temporarily satisfies the first hunger that some get right after training.
If it has been a while since the last meal before training and you don’t like to go to training hungry, then a whey protein shake can also serve as a light meal before the workout. But I do not recommend drinking a shake less than 30 minutes before training. Shortly beforehand, you can always have a few BCAAs . Everyone else suggests hard training with heavy basic exercises that is too bad for me.
In the end it all depends on what suits you best and that you have covered your overall daily protein requirement.
Product recommendation :
Whey concentrate is the cheap and in most cases absolutely sufficient whey protein. It is available for less than € 15 per kilo. A few additional carbohydrates and fats compared to the isolate are not really a problem when building muscle. If you are looking for a inexpensive and very tasty whey protein shake and have no problems with lactose, I can recommend a high-quality whey concentrate, such as WPC 80 from Supplement Union.
It is made entirely in Germany and you can get it either from Amazon * or (extra cheap) directly from the manufacturer *. There you, as my reader, get the code Fitvolution5 Another 5% extra discount. You won’t get such a high-quality protein powder anywhere else at a comparable price!
If you suffer from lactose intolerance, you’d better get another protein powder that doesn’t cause you any problems. Most can use a whey isolate like the WPI-90 and they have no problems with that. However, there is still some lactose in it. So if you still have problems with it, the best alternative is an egg protein powder, like the EGG protein from XXL-Nutrition *.
The egg protein is of similar quality to the whey and is also absolutely lactose-free. Otherwise you can also use a specially prepared protein like the Delicious Whey from Peak *. Lactase is added here to enable digestion and absorption even for lactose intolerant people.
5) Weight Gainer
Now comes the first and only muscle building supplement on this list that I actually think is a waste of money on most people. Weight gainers are particularly intended to help so-called hard gainers gain weight and build muscle mass .
Weight gainers are muscle building supplements that primarily contain carbohydrates. Most of all, many of these products contain sugar. In addition, whey protein is usually an important component of the weight gainer as a source of protein.
As the name suggests, the primary goal of these products is weight gain. Because such hard gainers, i.e. people who find it difficult to gain weight, must be helped above all to consume enough calories. But that can also be done through diet. Of course, you can make it a little easier with such shakes. In the vast majority of cases, I think that’s unnecessary.
Instructions for correct intake:
With the weight gainer, there is actually no right time to take it. However, if you want to gain weight with its help, it is probably best after training as a post-workout shake and as a snack.
The nutrient timing really hardly plays a role here. In the end, it’s all about getting enough calories in to help you gain weight and build muscle. Do not overdo it with the intake, otherwise you will build up one thing above all and that is body fat . So you should calculate your calorie requirement beforehand and try out whether you can achieve the desired increase. If you gain weight too quickly, you should reduce your calories a little again.
Product recommendation :
When it comes to Weight Gainer, I don’t recommend buying a finished product, but rather a high-quality whey protein powder, like the S.U. WPC-80 * or the ESN Tasty Whey * to combine with a high quality source of medium and long-chain carbohydrates, such as Instant Oats oatmeal *.
If you absolutely want to buy a ready-made weight gainer, make sure that you buy a product in which the carbohydrate part does not (only) consist of sugar and maltodextrin and the protein content is at least 30%. For example, this is a good product in this area Bodybuilding Meal by Supplement Union * (directly from the manufacturer with 5% special discount through Fitvolution5 ).
6) Vitamin / mineral combination products
If you train a lot and want to achieve the best possible results, you urgently need sufficient micronutrients. This not only applies to muscle building, but also of course. Ideally, this need should primarily be met with fruit, vegetables and Co. .
However, it is understandable that this does not always succeed. Especially on stressful days when you are out and about a lot, you may sometimes just not make it or forget to eat enough fruit and vegetables. In such cases, I regularly take a combination preparation that serves as a kind of micronutrient insurance. If my body is not getting enough from food, I have always ensured a good supply through the supplement.
I used to take a simple combination preparation Ultra A / Z from Peak * for this purpose. In the meantime, however, it is important to me that my micronutrients are not produced synthetically and that your supplement also contains the valuable secondary plant substances.
The best product in this area on the market is Athletic Greens. It has more bioactive ingredients than any other Greens concentrate and is even recognized by the National Science Foundation for its high quality and sustainability. The quality has its price, but it is still cheaper than the daily coffee at the bakery around the corner. There is also a special offer for my readers. This includes a bonus and an unconditional 60-day money-back guarantee.
As a cheaper alternative, you can also use Green Mother * Try it once. It’s a little cheaper and when you look at the ingredients you can see that of course something was saved here. Nevertheless, this also gives you solid nutrient insurance against days when your diet is not the best.
Muscle building supplements that you should keep your hands off of
Now that I have introduced you to some muscle building preparations that can be used in principle, I would like to show you the other side of the coin. Because there are many products that are primarily intended to generate a lot of sales for their manufacturer, but which do not bring you any real advantage or at least this is out of proportion to your costs. Here I will not go into very specific products, but more into product features that suggest that you should stay away from them.
As you may know from one of my other articles (e.g. the one about Micellar Casein ) about dietary supplements, I particularly value the transparency of the products I take. This mainly relates to the ingredients and also to the manufacturing process. Of course, this rule also applies to muscle building preparations.
If the composition of a product is not clearly stated and unknown ingredients are hidden behind various “blends”, I would rather stay away from them. Exemplary manufacturers not only list the ingredients in detail in their product descriptions, but also regularly carry out laboratory analyzes and publish the results on their website.
Means without proven effect
There are so many ingredients in various muscle building supplements that you have probably never heard of. If such ingredients are contained in an advertised product, I advise you to always inform yourself about what exactly this substance does or what purpose it fulfills in the respective product.
Google will usually help you here. Unfortunately, there are of course some questionable sources on the Internet that also advertise the effects of ineffective ingredients. Wikipedia is really not as bad as many people think. In order to get a good overview quickly, I prefer to go to Examine.com, there is always a good summary of the current study situation. However, this is only available in English.
Illegal and dangerous substances
Should you come across a muscle building preparation or an ingredient of it that is not marketable in Germany (i.e. prohibited) and can only be purchased on prescription or under the counter, then please leave it alone. The possible benefit for your muscle building is not worth the risk to your health!
It may well be that professional bodybuilders take such supplements without suffering any serious harm, but they are usually very well informed and ideally are under constant medical supervision. And even in this case, I don’t believe that the negative effects can really be completely ruled out.
Your fitness should first and foremost be about your health and there are good reasons why such things are prohibited!
Conclusion on the subject of muscle building preparations
There are certainly dietary supplements that you can use sensibly to support your muscle building. Miracles are not to be expected from these supplements, however. At most they will help you to reduce your muscle building duration a little and to make your life a little easier.
Taking some muscle building supplements such as Creatine and Beta Alanine basically makes sense. This also applies if your diet is very good. Other supplements are more worthwhile to compensate for deficits in your diet. Here you have to decide for yourself whether it is worth the money to you.
It is important that you do not allow yourself to be blinded by false promises. So do not sell you products with non-transparent and possibly ineffective ingredients. Above all, don’t let yourself be encouraged to use any illegal or dangerous substances.
In general, such food supplements are only a very small component if you want to build muscle. In my book Muscle Building Basics you can find out which building blocks are really important and how you use them correctly and combine them with one another in order to build muscles effectively and in a manageable amount of time. In it I focused on the most important things and combined them with the best training plans.