There is a muscle-building supplement trifecta that many trainers and athletes feel that can be used together to get the maximum benefits and the best muscle performance out of your workouts.
The best supplements for muscle growth are considered to be pre workout supplements, intra workout supplements (BCAA’s) and post workout protein powder supplements.
These 3 types of supplements work together to keep your muscles charged from start finish. They include the energy and Aminos necessary for a powerful start, all the way through to the critical nutrients and proteins needed for after workout recovery.
I’m going to explain these three supplements, as well as the different options for each of thems so you will know which works best for your fitness goals.
This post with clear up more about these supplements by giving a brief summary of the active ingredients and how they work. I’m also going to mention a few recommendations for the best muscle growth supplements based on personal experience, research, and reviews.
Pre Workout Supplements
The first category that I believe to be the most critical to my exercise routine is the pre workout supplement. You may be familiar with the term “pre workout” since it is probably the most popular and heavily advertised supplement. This is for good reason.
A pre workout is an important start to any workout. Not only is it one of the best supplements for building muscle, but it brings intense energy and focus to your workout.
It gives you that “muscle pump” through vascularisation. This brings you noticeably more strength and stamina while keeping you from fatigue. These chemical processes recharges your muscles between sets by bringing greater amounts of nutrients and oxygen to the muscle tissue.
Since our bodies all react differently to certain products and ingredients, I’ll give a brief summary of the different pre workout options available to you.
Caffeine Free Pre Workouts
Caffeine is a powerful natural stimulant which is the main ingredient that gives the energy for most pre workouts. Some pre workouts contain up to 400mg of this ingredient! However, for those that are caffeine intolerant, this amount of Caffeine can result in anxiety, nausea, discomfort and even rashes.
Fortunately, some manufacturers have come up with a Caffeine Free Pre Workout Supplement. These pre workouts usually contain a larger quantity of Amino Acids such as Creatine, Nitric Oxide and Beta Alanine to make up for the missing stimulant.
There are several effective stimulant-free pre workouts that come with good user reviews. Many Organic and Vegan Pre Workout brands come with a natural blend that may contain less Caffeine, so check the nutritional facts label for Caffeine quantities.
Creatine Free Pre Workouts
Creatine is a well known, widely studied Amino Acid. This Amino is quite healthy and effective. It has been shown to improve strength, power and endurance. However, as with many ingredients, some of us react differently than others. If you are Creatine intolerant this could result in discomfort and water retention.
If this is the case, the Creatine Free Pre Workout Supplements available are just as good as the regular ones. They contain enough energy and Aminos to give you all of the performance that you will need.
Traditional Pre Workouts
What I consider to be the “Traditional Pre Workout” category are the most popular and largest brand names. They are usually on the eye-level shelf at nutritional stores and are made with the strongest ingredients.
They tend to contain a healthy amount of Caffeine, Amino Acids including Creatine as well as other nutrients. The “traditional” category may also be the Best Tasting Pre Workouts. However, this category contains artificial ingredients such as colors, flavors, and sugars.
The ingredients are not grown or manufactured to be certified chemical-free. There is nothing wrong with these “traditional pre workouts” as there haven’t been any reports of being harmful. This is based mainly on personal diet preferences.
All Natural Pre Workouts
All Natural pre workout supplements come with all the zip as the traditional ones. The difference is that they do not contain any artificial colors, flavors or sugars. These may not be quite as sweet, and the flavor may not be as strong because of the natural ingredients. Personally, I prefer a low key taste anyway.
Natural Pre Workouts are becoming a very popular category since most fitness enthusiasts don’t seem to care about how pretty the color is if they have a healthier option.
Organic Pre Workouts
The Organic supplement category is the fasted growing in the fitness industry. Organic pre workout supplements are manufactured with the purest ingredients and are regulated by the USDA Organic agency. They are held to the highest standard in the food industry.
Not only are they made without artificial ingredients, but they are also must be manufactured without the use of any fertilizers, chemicals or pesticides.
I’ve had good results with Organic Pre Workouts myself, as well as getting great online reviews. If there is any downside to Organic, it is that they tend to cost a little bit more than other pre workouts. Some of them may not be as intense or strong as the “traditional” pre workouts.
Vegan Plant-Based Pre Workouts
Vegan plant-based products are just as they sound. Manufactured without the use of any animal or dairy products. Usually, these ingredients are also ecologically friendly. In other words, they take extra care not to harm the environment in the process. Vegan Plant-Based Pre Workout Supplements are usually manufactured under the same strict USDA Organic guidelines.
Plant-based Vegan is the smallest pre workout category, so there is not quite as much of a selection. Vegan pre workouts tend to have less Amino Acids per serving because plant material is not as concentrated as animal proteins.
Men’s Vs Women’s Pre Workouts
Men’s and women’s bodies process supplements very similarly. However, some brands market their product specifically towards each gender. Some of the key factors for this are metabolism, tolerance to certain ingredients (especially Caffeine), the difference in body weight and the genetics between men and women.
This being said, Women’s Pre Workout Supplements are usually not as strong. They may taste better and contain less Caffeine. Since women are generally lighter in weight, this has a large effect on the quantity and strength of their pre workouts.
Women’s pre workouts are also aimed more towards the ladies by being sugar-free and zero calories. And there is also that pink label that the manufacturers feel women adore.
Men’s Pre Workout Supplements are made with stronger content and don’t advertise for natural ingredients as much. The theory behind the difference in product strength is not only because of the weight between genders, but that men usually have a higher metabolism to process these ingredients.
Men also have less of a tendency for weight gain, so women’s pre workout many times focus more on fat burning aspects. If you have any questions or comments regarding pre workouts, please leave them in the space and the bottom and I will respond.
Pre Workout Ingredients
- Caffeine is a natural stimulant that is the most important ingredient for energy. Teacrine is another form of Caffeine extracted from the tea leaf.
- Nitric Oxide and L-Citrulline. These Amino Acids synthesize to open up the veins for blood flow and vascularization to bring more oxygen and nutrients to the muscle tissue. This brings faster muscle recovery between sets, movements, sprints or trials.
- Beta-Alanine is another Amino that increases muscle carnosine. Increased carnosine buffers the negative side effects of the hydrogen accumulation in the muscles when exercise intensity increases. This improves muscle performance.
- Creatine is an Amino Acid that is the primary fuel source in the muscles for high intensity, short duration activities. Creatine maintains these energy stores which increases muscle strength.
- L-Leucine, L-Taurine, L-Tyrosine, L-Arginine are essential Amino Acids responsible for protein synthesis, muscle growth and recovery. They also help to increase strength, muscular endurance, and training volume.
- Pre Workouts for fat burn include thermogenic ingredients.
Intra Workout Supplements or BCAA’s
Intra workouts are composed of a particular group of BCAA’s (Branch Chain Amino Acids) that provide nutrients and hydration to your body. This is necessary if you are to keep up the same level of stamina throughout your workout.
The Amino, “Nitric Oxide” will enable your blood to flow stronger, making these BCAA’s and other nutrients more available and at a faster rate than before. This keeps your muscles charged while fighting fatigue.
Aminos are the building blocks for protein synthesis in your body, and muscle tissue cannot perform or grow without them. Therefore, Amino Acids and muscle growth go hand in hand.
Intra workouts contain vitamins and minerals which are the electrolytes for hydration. This keeps your energy strong and reduces fatigue much better than water alone can.
You have probably seen that “muscle guy” at the gym carrying around a gallon jug around with brightly colored blue or red liquid. This most likely is his Intra Workout Amino Acid or BCAA. That is just an example. Most weightlifters will drink their BCAA’s out of a less discrete container
Intra Workout Amino Acid powders come in the same more healthy options that are available in the pre workout supplements. They can come in “All Natural”, “Organic” and Vegan. You also have the option to get BCAA’s with or without Caffeine or Creatine. Sugar-Free is also a popular option.
If you have any questions or comments regarding Intra Workout BCAA’s, please leave them in the space and the bottom and I will respond.
Intra Workout Ingredients
- BCAA’s include 3 essential Amino Acids: L-Leucine, L-Isoleucine, and L-Valine. These Aminos stimulate muscle protein synthesis. This continues the job of maintaining strength, performance, muscular endurance and fighting fatigue where the pre workout left off.
- Vitamins and minerals such as Vitamin B complex, magnesium, calcium, sodium, potassium. These are the critical electrolytes that keep your body recharged, energized and hydrated through the end of your workout.
Post Workout Protein Powders
Protein powders are the best supplements for building muscle as well as for weight loss. I will talk more in detail about protein powders for weight loss in a minute. “Post”, of course, means to take this right after your workout for the best results.
Studies have shown that the peak absorption time for you to consume protein powders is about an hour after you finish exercising.
The Amino Acids will help to quickly rebuild your muscles stronger than they were before. Muscle recovery cannot occur without these Aminos, so it is critical to get plenty of them. There are several different theories on the amount of protein that is needed post workout.
This mostly depends on your body weight. If your protein powder happens to give you gas, try drinking it slower or get a protein powder that doesn’t cause bloating.
The majority of people in the fitness industry recommend using 20-40grams of protein for a serving. If you have the option to eat a well-balanced meal instead, you should always take this over these powder forms. Listed are some of the options available when choosing a protein powder.
Men’s Vs Women’s Protein Powders
The differences between men’s and women’s protein powders supplements are basically the same as that of the pre workouts. Women tend to weigh less and have a slower metabolism. Therefore, women do not need the same amount of Amino Acid proteins or other post workout nutrients.
Women also tend to gain weight more easily. Because of this, the best Protein Powder for Women will be lower in calories, carbohydrates and many times sugar-free. Women prefer to look thin and more toned than bulky.
On the other hand, the best Protein Powder for Men is the exact opposite. Men are more concerned with muscle growth and size. Because of this, men’s protein powders contain more calories and Amino Acid proteins. Men generally want to put on muscle mass.
If a couple needs to use the same protein powder, there is nothing wrong with this. Most quality powders should have the sufficient amount of proteins for either gender. Of course, the amount of proteins can be controlled by the portions.
Organic and Vegan Protein Powders
You have the option of a healthier choice for your post workout protein powders. Organic Protein Powders and Plant-Based Vegan Protein Powders are manufactured without pesticides, fertilizers or any artificial ingredients. Vegan protein powders are made without animal or dairy products.
Organic and vegan protein powders are made with better ingredients and are usually are priced a little higher. The only downside to this category is that they will contain less Amino Acid proteins per serving than other protein powders. This is because animal products contain more proteins than plants.
I like to include Organic protein powders in my supplement rotation. I’ll simply double up on the to get the additional protein that I need. The one that I use the most is Orgain Organic Protein Powder.
If you have any questions or comments regarding post workout protein powders, please leave them at the bottom of the page and I will respond.
Protein Powder Ingredients
- They contain the following proteins or a combination of them: Whey, whey isolate, beef, casein, egg, brown rice, hemp, pea, chai, and soy.
- These protein sources contain up to 22 Amino Acids, which provide muscle recovery and development, muscle growth, as well as creating new muscle.
Pre and Post Workouts for Weight Loss
Pre Workout Fat Burner
he combination of a longer, more intense workout along with the thermogenic ingredients, cause your body up to burn calories at a much faster rate. This is the best long term way to lose weight, gain muscle tone. This will result in an all around healthier lifestyle.
Most diet pills and supplements not only come with potential side effects, but the weight that was lost generally returns. One of the main reasons for this is that the manufacturers of diet supplements recommend using their product with an exercise program for it to work. This is a critical part that is not usually carried out when using these “easy weight loss programs”, so they are set up for failure.
Protein Powder for Weight Loss
Post workout protein powders benefit weight loss in a couple of different ways. First of all, after an intense exercise session, it is critical for your body to get its healthy amino acid proteins for muscle recovery.
At an average of 100-200 calories per serving, protein powder is the lowest calorie food that you can get to recharge your muscle tissue. At the same time, your body burns additional calories while digesting protein.
The other process at work here is that protein is the most filling type of food that you can eat. Filling up on this will not only keep you from eating a large meal after exercise, but it is proven to keep snacking to a minimum.
This helps to avoid unnecessary calories. Keep in mind that it is always healthier to choose a well-balanced meal over a protein powder if you have the chance.
Are Workout Supplements Safe
There is no such thing as an FDA approved pre workout or post workout. In fact, nutritional supplements as a whole are not FDA approved. However, the individual ingredients contained in these supplements are approved and can be seen on the FDA website. If any supplements are deemed dangerous or misbranded, the FDA will remove it from the market.
Most documented cases having to do with exercise supplement dangers are caused by misuse and user error. People mistake thinking that more is better and will get over ambitious with their serving sizes. Usually, this will result in discomfort, nausea, headaches and other minor issues.
The Best Supplements For Muscle Growth – Conclusion
It is important to know what the best supplements for building muscle are, but even more important is to know which supplement is best suited for you as the individual. Some of you may be looking for the strongest, most intense, the Best Tasting, the healthiest or the best supplement for weight loss.
Whichever your preference, I hope that this post helped clarify which one will work the best to reach your personal goals. When I know that I will be doing an intense, strenuous workout, I will use the supplement trifecta. Pre, Intra and Post workout supplements.
This way I will get all of the energy, Aminos and nutrients to give me the best chance for a strong finish. Using these supplements will give your muscles the best opportunity for growth.
I hope this gives you a better understanding of these best exercise supplements for muscle growth so you can align them with your fitness goals. Take a close look at the different categories and options that we discussed so you can make the best choice for your individual needs.
Think about some of our options, such as Organic, Vegan, All Natural, Supplements for menn or women, fat burning supplements, Caffeine free, Sugar-free and the list goes on. Keep in mind that nutritional supplements come with a 30 day satisfaction guarantee, so if you don’t care for the product simply send it back.
If you have any questions or comment about any of these exercise supplements, please leave them at the bottom and I will respond.