Best Muscle-Building Supplements to Accelerate Growth and Maximize Growth Potential

mixing a supplemental drink

How to Build Muscle | Muscle-Building Nutrition | Muscle-Building Supplements | Hypertrophy Training | Strength Training | Chest Workouts | Back Workouts | Arm Workouts | Shoulder Workouts | Leg Workouts

Despite what some people may tell you, building muscle is hard work. Whether you're just starting out or are an experienced athlete with years of lifting, there comes a point when you may need an extra edge to get to the next level. Let's look at some of the best muscle-building supplements on the market that can help shatter your plateaus and uncover your maximum muscle growth potential.

Why Trust Us?

The health and safety of ACTIVE's readers are of the utmost importance to us. To ensure your well-being when consuming nutritional supplements, the editorial team prioritizes products independently tested by a third party. We've also consulted with a team of nutritionists and dieticians to ensure the products we feature are of the highest standard. This helps us create the most accurate, authentic review content for our readers.

The Best Muscle-Building Supplements - Our Top Picks

By clicking on the product links in this article, we may receive a commission fee at no cost to you, the reader. Read full affiliate disclosure here.

A Quick Look at Muscle-Building Supplements

Since early Greek times, athletes and warriors scoured their environment for herbs and ingredients to help enhance their recovery and performance. Since then, commercialization and extravagant claims have made it harder to discern between hype and legitimate, science-backed muscle-building supplements. The truth is that no single pill or powder will directly trigger muscle growth.

Solid, effective muscle-building supplements create an optimal environment for muscle development to occur in your body. The best supplements are designed to help enhance aspects of our ability to:

  • Absorb nutrients
  • Meet protein demands
  • Enhance workout performance
  • Increase power output
  • Accelerate intra-workout and post-workout recovery
  • Protect against muscle breakdown
  • Increase protein synthesis

Developing the best muscle-building supplement strategy can take significant research. There simply isn't a single product that provides all these muscle-building benefits. However, it's a great opportunity to build a supplement stack tailored to your individual needs. To help shorten the research curve, we've compiled a list of some of the most effective muscle-building supplements currently on the market and how each one aids in muscle development.

What to Look for When Shopping for Muscle-Building Supplements

Many supplement companies spend millions of advertising dollars getting consumers to purchase overhyped ingredients that underdeliver. The good news is that you don't have to fall for outlandish claims if you keep a few things in mind.

Ingredient Quality

Not all ingredients are equal. Always ensure that your supplements are manufactured with high-quality components. Some of the products on our list are even made with FDA-approved variations.

Formulation Transparency

Be wary of products boasting proprietary blends without disclosing their contents. This is often a marketing tactic to hide underdosing or poorly-sourced ingredients. Supplements that have something truly proprietary will have invested in patenting it.

Proper Dosage

Make sure your muscle-building supplement's serving size offers the proper dosage to be effective (minimum effective dose). Some companies are guilty of under-dosing, causing their customers to essentially pay money for zero benefits.

Backed by Research

Products with science-backed ingredients stand head and shoulders above other products that make unverified claims.

Our Rating Scale

Price/affordability scale (scale of $-$$$):

Prices depend on several factors and tend to fluctuate over time, so we've kept our affordability rating scale simple so you can easily see how products compare:

$ = under $1 per serving
$$ = $1-2 per serving
$$$ = over $2 per serving

Flavor options (scale of 1-3):

Regarding dietary supplements you take frequently or even daily, options are important. And while your protein powder or pre-workout doesn't have to taste good to be effective, having several flavors to choose from can make it easier to stick with your fitness and health goals.

N/A = Unflavored
1 = 1-2 flavor options
2 = 3-4 flavor options
3 = 5 or more flavor options

Creatine - Kaged Muscle Creatine HCl

Kaged Muscle Creatine HCl


  • Price (scale of $-$$$): $
  • Flavor options (scale of 1-3): 1 (Also has a capsule option)
  • Calories: Minimal
  • Sweeteners: Stevia, Sucralose in lemon-lime flavor
  • Main ingredient: Creatine Hydrochloride
  • Serving size: 750mg (1 scoop)
  • Intended uses: Can be used daily, pre- or post-workout

Check Price

One of the most researched, cost-effective supplements for muscle growth and performance, creatine has been a staple for bodybuilders and performance athletes for decades. In adding muscle, creatine has been shown to improve strength, develop lean muscle mass, and accelerate intra-workout recovery. In practice, creatine helps grow lean muscle by allowing us to lift more for longer periods with less rest between sets.

Kaged Muscle's Creatine HCI makes this list over creatine monohydrate because of its increased solubility and absorption. With the addition of the hydrochloride group (HCl), creatine HCI provides the same benefits while decreasing traditional side effects like bloating and puffiness. Kaged Muscle's version sets itself apart due to its amazing ability to mix in water. No more gritty sediment at the bottom of your shaker cup!


  • Patented formulation made with top ingredients
  • Capsule and powder options
  • Easy digestion
  • Highly water soluble
  • No loading phase required


  • Artificial sweeteners used in flavored option
  • Lemon lime flavor can be too sour for some

BUY: Kaged Muscle Creatine HCI

Protein - Ritual Daily Shake 18+

Ritual Daily Shake 18+


  • Price (scale of $-$$$): $$$
  • Flavor options (scale of 1-3): 1
  • Calories: 115 calories
  • Protein: 20g
  • Carbs: 3g (dietary fiber)
  • Fats: 2g
  • Sweeteners: Reb-M (organic sugarcane), monk fruit
  • Main Ingredient: Organic pea protein
  • Serving size: 30g (1 scoop)
  • Intended uses: As needed to meet specific protein requirements

Check Price

Protein intake is a key component of muscle growth. Especially important after heavy lifting sessions, protein needs to be readily available to be synthesized into the muscle fibers for repair and growth. Careful protein selection may be the most important of all the supplements on this list. If you aren't careful, you may fall for the marketing hype that promises results but underdelivers with poor-quality ingredients that can cause negative side effects such as gas, bloating, and overall discomfort.

High-quality protein that's also good for the environment, Ritual's Daily Shake 18+ is redefining the way we look at high-quality, sustainable, muscle-building supplements. This pea protein is soy-free, gluten-free, vegan-friendly, and formulated with non-GMO ingredients. As a result, this protein powder was designed to be the least irritating protein delivery system on the market.


  • 100% traceable, natural ingredients
  • Loaded with 12g of amino acids
  • Aids in satiety, keeping you more full for longer
  • Tested to be free of heavy metals and over 250 banned substances
  • Popular vanilla flavor
  • Ideal for those sensitive to dairy or who need a vegan-friendly option


  • Expensive
  • Does not provide an advantage over high-quality whey proteins regarding muscle growth

BUY: Ritual Daily Shake 18+

HMB - Transparent Labs Creatine HMB

Transparent Labs Creatine HMB


  • Price (scale of $-$$$): $$
  • Flavor options (scale of 1-3): 3
  • Sweeteners: Natural flavors, Stevia extract
  • Calories: N/A
  • Main ingredients: HMB, creatine monohydrate, vitamin D
  • Serving size: 1 scoop (7-9.9g depending on flavor)
  • Intended uses: Daily use, pre- or post-workout

Check Price

The second creatine supplement to appear on our list, Transparent Lab's Creatine HMB, is another important variant of basic creatine found in the gym bags of many athletes and fitness competitors. In a series of studies that included a sample size of over 200 athletes, creatine paired with beta-Hydroxy beta-methylbutyric acid (HMB) was demonstrated to dramatically increase strength and improve high-intensity exercise performance.

Aside from its direct effects on lean muscle mass development, creatine HMB also aids you in performing more work during each workout. The more our muscles are put to work, the greater our exposure to muscle hypertrophy.

Transparent Labs' formulation has solved many of the absorption problems other creatine HMB products have encountered. In another study, researchers witnessed a large segment of subjects who saw no significant difference in performance or muscle growth when using creatine HMB. The problem? A vitamin D deficiency. Transparent Labs' version has spared no expense and includes vitamin D to ensure absorption for its users.


  • Serving size meets requirements for a clinically effective dose
  • Addition of vitamin D increases the probability of effectiveness
  • Great for older individuals
  • HMB amplifies the effects of creatine while mitigating side effects


  • Can be ineffective in individuals who are extremely vitamin D deficient
  • Mixed reviews on the flavors

BUY: Transparent Labs Creatine HMB

Testosterone Booster - Testo Prime

Testo Prime


  • Price (scale of $-$$$): $$
  • Flavor options (scale of 1-3): N/A
  • Calories: N/A
  • Main ingredients: D-Aspartic acid, Panax ginseng, ashwagandha extract, fenugreek
  • Serving size: 4 caps
  • Intended uses: Taken daily

Check Price

While low testosterone levels are especially prevalent in men in their 30s and 40s, a host of underlying factors can make this an issue for people of all ages. And a testosterone deficiency can have a cascading effect on the rest of your body's processes, including muscle building.

Take cortisol, for instance. Low T levels affect our ability to regulate our emotions and stress, leading to increased production of cortisol. Cortisol has been shown to limit carbohydrate and protein synthesis within muscle tissue. On top of that, stress has been proven to weaken muscle performance. The result? Diminished muscle gains. While you could opt for testosterone replacement therapy (TRT), many people opt for less invasive, testosterone-boosting oral supplements unless otherwise recommended by their doctor.

Testo Prime has topped our list of recommended testosterone boosters for muscle growth. Its commitment to all-natural, research-backed ingredients that aid in helping your body naturally increase testosterone makes it worth looking at. With research backed by reputable sources such as the Mayo Clinic and the National Library of Medicine, we feel strongly about this product's ability to aid muscle growth for those with low testosterone levels.


  • All-natural, FDA-approved ingredients
  • 2,000mg of D-Aspartic Acid, known for helping muscle development
  • Non-GMO and soy free
  • Lifetime guarantee
  • No need to cycle off


  • Pricey upfront cost
  • Shipping times can vary

Read the full TestoPrime review.

BUY: TestoPrime

Weight Gainer - Transparent Labs BULK

Transparent Labs BULK


  • Price (scale of $-$$$): $$
  • Flavor options (scale of 1-3): 3
  • Calories: N/A
  • Sweeteners: Stevia, natural flavors
  • Main ingredients: Citrulline malate, beta-alanine, BCAAs, vitamin B12, betaine anhydrous
  • Serving Size: 22.9g
  • Caffeine content: 180mg
  • Intended uses: 20-30 min. before workouts

Check Price

Developed by Transparent Labs, this potent formulation has the added benefit of promoting lean muscle growth. The company started due to the founder's frustration with a lack of accountability and transparency in the supplement industry. Transparent Labs develops its products with transparent, research-backed formulations to combat this.

One of the only pre-workouts specifically designed for muscle growth, BULK departs from the industry's status quo by including testosterone-boosting ingredients like vitamin D, while the nitric oxide boosters in this pre-workout enhance performance. In other words, it helps you get the most out of your sets, facilitating muscle hypertrophy.


  • Great flavor options
  • Uses natural sweeteners
  • Clean, high-quality ingredients
  • Many ingredients meet minimum effective dosing requirements
  • Formulated to enhance muscle growth
  • High concentration of nootropics to aid in focus and drive
  • Cycling off not required


  • Pricier than other pre-workouts on the market
  • Some customers reported inconsistent taste from one order to the next

BUY: Transparent Labs BULK

BCAAs - Cellucor Alpha Aminos Performance BCAAs

Cellucor Alpha Aminos Performance BCAAs


  • Price (scale of $-$$$): $
  • Flavor options (scale of 1-3): 2
  • Calories: 0
  • Sweetener: Sucralose
  • Main ingredients: BCAAs, proprietary amino acid complex
  • Serving size: 12.7g
  • Intended uses: Take up to two scoops before and after workouts

Check Price

Branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) boast an extensive list of benefits for health and exercise. Regarding muscle growth, BCAAs have two major superpowers: protecting lean muscle tissue and promoting muscle growth by initiating muscle protein synthesis.

When taken before a workout, BCAAs can increase your muscle's force output, maximizing the effectiveness of each set. BCAAs act as a reserve fuel source that prevents your muscles from tapping into their internal amino acid reserves. Think of it as an insurance policy for your muscles. Taking BCAAs post-workout can be one of the best supplements for muscle growth.

We've highlighted Cellucor's Alpha Amino Performance BCAAs because they deliver the maximum number of amino acids while eliminating many of the fillers and artificial ingredients of other products on the market. Cellucor Alpha Aminos boasts one of the highest doses of L-leucine (2,500 milligrams), which is considered the most important amino acid for initiating muscle protein synthesis. Alpha Aminos Performance BCAAs are the preferred choice among bodybuilders and performance athletes with their high flavor rating, zero calories, and minimal use of artificial sweeteners.


  • 14 amino acids
  • More L-leucine per dose than many competitors
  • Amplifies protein synthesis response during workouts
  • Helps preserve muscle


  • Uses an artificial sweetener (unflavored is sucralose-free)
  • Premium-priced product

BUY: Cellucor Alpha Aminos Performance BCAAs

Protein Blend - Crazy Nutrition 100% Tri-Protein

Crazy Nutrition 100% Tri-Protein


  • Price (scale of $-$$$): $$
  • Flavor options (scale of 1-3): 2
  • Calories: 110.13
  • Protein: 23.69g
  • Carbs: 1.87g
  • Fats: 0.78g
  • Sweetener: Sucralose
  • Main ingredients: Protein blend (whey protein isolate, whey protein concentrate, micellar casein), digestive enzymes
  • Serving size: 30g
  • Intended uses: Can be used daily to help meet protein requirements

Check Price

Seeing celebrities like Terry Crews and Dolph Lundgren repping a fitness supplement might make you assume it's all about the hype. But when you deep-dive into Crazy Nutrition's tri-protein blend, you find that the praise from celebrities and top bodybuilders might be deserved. Protein powders are an effective tool in reaching your daily protein requirements. When you're in a muscle-building phase, consuming enough protein through food may be uncomfortable and cost-prohibitive. We picked Crazy Nutritions' protein because it addresses many of the issues we've found in nearly every other protein supplement such as sub-par ingredients and fillers.

Crazy Nutrition's tri-protein blend not only eliminates fillers, they add quality ingredients like digestive enzymes to maximize absorption and eliminate things such as bloating, gas, and upset stomach that many can experience with other muscle-building protein powders.


  • Blend of casein and whey proteins provide both anti-catabolic and anabolic benefits
  • Combination of fast- and slow-absorbing proteins feeds your muscles for longer
  • Contains digestive enzymes that aid in absorption and reduce bloating
  • Low-carb
  • 60-day, 100% money-back guarantee


  • Artificial sweeteners
  • Some customers report longer than average delivery times (7-10 days)

BUY: Crazy Nutrition 100% Tri-Protein

Beta-Alanine - Swolverine Beta-Alanine

Swolverine Beta-Alanine


  • Price (scale of $-$$$): $
  • Flavor options (scale of 1-3): N/A
  • Calories: N/A
  • Sweetener: None
  • Main ingredients: Beta-alanine
  • Serving size: 5g
  • Intended uses: Before or during workouts

Check Price

In a nutshell, beta-alanine helps our muscles work at maximum strength for longer periods of time. When performing exercises, this non-essential amino acid will help ward off fatigue by counteracting lactic acid build-up. The result is longer sets with more reps. The seemingly small boost in delayed muscle fatigue you get from beta-alanine can add to significant gains over time when added up over several weeks and hundreds of sets.

Beta-alanine from Swolverine crushes it when it comes to a high-quality muscle-building supplement that is safe for long-term use. Swolverine has opted to build its product using CarnoSyn. To get an idea of its quality, this patented beta-alanine has become the only one in its class to gain the coveted New Dietary Ingredient (NDI) designation from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

We appreciate that it's unflavored and can be mixed with any of your other protein shakes or BCAAs, reducing the number of liquids you consume. You get what you pay for, and while Swolverine's offering may not be cheap, it packs an astounding 5 grams of beta-alanine per serving.


  • Recognized by the FDA, the only beta-alanine to gain NDI status
  • 5g per serving, nearly double its competitors
  • Backed by 55 clinical studies


  • More expensive than competitors
  • Only has an unflavored option

BUY: Swolverine Beta-Alanine

FAQs About Muscle-Building Supplements

Which supplement is best for muscle gain?

The answer to this question will differ depending on training experience, genetics, and goals. Regarding muscle building, your supplements may also vary depending on if you're doing it for aesthetic or strength purposes.

With that in mind, the best muscle-gain supplements should align with helping in your greatest point of need. Is lactic acid build-up getting in the way of reaching muscle failure in your sets? Look into investing in a beta-alanine supplement. Have a hard time meeting your protein requirements? Consider a couple of scoops of a protein blend. The bottom line is to evaluate what your process has been like so far and identify areas that may be holding you back. Once you've figured it out, refer to our list above and see what supplement could fill that gap for you.

What helps build muscle fast?

According to a review published by the National Center for Biotechnology and Information (NCBI), adult males can healthily gain 0.5-2 pounds of muscle per month. This varies based on your genetics and how long you've been training, however. The health community generally agrees that the goal of building muscle fast should be focused on a plan to realize your peak growth potential.

To do this, you must ensure the primary components are in place for growth. Building muscle requires:

  • Resistance training: Consider a muscle-building program such as hypertrophy training.
  • High-protein diet: As a general rule, aim for 0.7-1g of protein per pound of body weight.
  • Caloric surplus of 200-500 calories.
  • Proper recovery through nutrition, supplementation, and sleep.

Do muscle growth supplements work?

When synergized with proper nutrition, caloric intake, and recovery, muscle growth supplements can be a great way to maximize your muscle-building potential. While they may not directly grow your muscles, the supplements we've listed aid the key processes within your body that produce muscle growth. As a general rule, supplements are not a replacement for hard work and a healthy lifestyle, they are amplifiers and enhancers for a sound training strategy and good habits.

Is there a pill to build muscle?

Unfortunately, there is no single pill that will miraculously grow your muscles. Some supplements facilitate an optimal environment for your body to experience muscle growth faster. You can't go wrong with any of the supplements on this list as long as you implement them consistently and pair them with a solid muscle-building workout routine (strength training) and adequate caloric intake.

Supplement timing is another important factor. Reading the recommended usage for each of your products will help ensure they are delivered at the moment when your body will benefit the most. When it comes to supplements, more does not equal better. Resist the urge to use more than the recommended amount. Doing this will diminish your muscle growth returns while draining your bank account simultaneously.

How to Build Muscle | Muscle-Building Nutrition | Muscle-Building Supplements | Hypertrophy Training | Strength Training | Chest Workouts | Back Workouts | Arm Workouts | Shoulder Workouts | Leg Workouts

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

Discuss This Article