Don’t get scammed. Don’t waste your money. I’ve been saying this for years: MOST bodybuilding supplements are garbage and don’t work!
In contrast to my recent article on the best bodybuilding supplements, I’ve put together a list of the top 10 products that do not work and you should never buy.
Hey, before I get into the full list, did you get my free supplement guide that I brought out recently?
It details the supplements that work, the ones that don’t…and the ones that are dangerous. You can grab it free below. You don’t have to go to your email to click a confirm link; the download link will appear immediately after you enter your email. Enjoy! 🙂
Thanks! Here's what you wanted. Enjoy...
(1) Tribulus Terrestris
Back in 2011, I first said this crap doesn’t work. When scientifically tested Tribulus Terrestris fails repeatedly to produce any increases in testosterone, strength and/or muscle gains  .
(2) Any form of Creatine other than Creatine Monohydrate.
If you’re a supplement company looking to get ahead, how can you top the 1 product that has consistently been shown to work and be safe? Introduce an even more effective version! Creatine Ethyl Esther and kre-Alkalyn have come forward as “super-charged” creatine. Pity it’s total nonsense and they’ve actually been proven to be much LESS effective  . Stick to monohydrate.
(3) Weight Gainers.
Just don’t. Seriously. I shake my head in disbelief when I hear there are some people still taking this junk. Just get your protein. The weight you gain is fat, not muscle. All a weight gainer is is some protein with high amounts of sugar (usually maltodextrin) and fat. If you really want to wash down your protein with sugar and fat, take a shake and eat a couple of snickers bars. It’d be just as healthy.
(4) Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs)
If you are getting all the protein you need on a daily basis to build muscle, there’s no need to take BCAAs. Studies show that whey is more effective  . The one time I can recommended BCAAs is when you are going to be unfed for a period. Intermittent Fasting people utilize BCAAs around their workouts to good effect in this way.
(5) Pre-Workout Drinks
I’m not saying they can’t be beneficial, they can. I’m saying you shouldn’t buy them. You can make your own for about 1/10th of the retail cost – yes 10% of what the supplement companies charge you. You can get the ingredients and where to get them in my post here.
The theory is that if you increase the amount of carnitine in your muscles, fat oxidation increases i.e. you burn more fat. However, studies have failed to demonstrate this – at all. Stay away from this one.
(7) Whey Hydrolysate
Kinda like the creatine thing. Companies are always looking for a more effective whey so that they can beat their competition. Basically whey hydolysate is already partially broken down leading to faster absorption. But there is no research that clearly demonstrates better recovery or increased protein synthesis levels. Since this form of whey costs a lot more, you’re better off sticking to your whey concentrate or isolate.
(8) Deer Antler Velvet or Elk Velvet Antler
This is another “anabolic hormone” increasing product. Except it does nothing of the sort. When tested on humans it does nothing to increase strength or hormonal response to training.
I remember being told about pyruvate when I first started training years ago. Being a lot more naive than I am now, I thought there must be something to it. Basically it’s supposed to help burn body fat faster. When tested (not by the supplement companies themselves) this effect was not seen. Surprised? Me neither.
(10) Conjugated Linoleic Acids (CLA)
Another supposed fat-burner. Yes it did help rodents burn fat, but as is normal, this wasn’t the case when tested on humans (by independent researchers). Even worse, supplementing with CLA might have a negative effect on insulin sensitivity and glucose metabolism . So unless you want to become insulin resistant, stay clear of CLA.
So after all that, here are supplements that DO work. Also, here’s a workout that works – THT – it builds muscle fast. Recently, reader Chris Marriott said on facebook that he has gained 26lbs / 12kg with FREE THT training. Download the workout below…
 The effect of five weeks of Tribulus terrestris supplementation on muscle strength and body composition during preseason training in elite rugby league players. Rogerson S, Riches CJ, Jennings C, Weatherby RP, Meir RA, Marshall-Gradisnik SM. J Strength Cond Res. 2007 May;21(2):348-53.
 The effects of Tribulus terrestris on body composition and exercise performance in resistance-trained males. Antonio J, Uelmen J, Rodriguez R, Earnest C. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2000 Jun;10(2):208-15.
 Kre-alkalyn® supplementation has no beneficial effect on creatine-to-creatinine conversion rates. Tallon MJ and Child R.
 Creatine ethyl ester rapidly degrades to creatinine in stomach acid. Child R, Tallon M. Abstract presented at 4th annual conference of the ISSN 2007.
 Post-exercise impact of ingested whey protein hydrolysate on gene expression profiles in rat skeletal muscle: activation of extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1/2 and hypoxia-inducible factor-1α. Br J Nutr. 2014 Jun 28;111(12):2067-78. doi: 10.1017/S0007114514000233. Epub 2014 Mar 6.
 Post-exercise whey protein hydrolysate supplementation induces a greater increase in muscle protein synthesis than its constituent amino acid content. Br J Nutr. 2013 Sep 28;110(6):981-7. doi: 10.1017/S0007114512006174. Epub 2013 Feb 7.
 Conjugated linoleic acid supplementation, insulin sensitivity, and lipoprotein metabolism in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus. Am J Clin Nutr. 2004 Oct;80(4):887-95.
Can I give you my free muscle-building workout?
Join thousands over the world who are packing on slabs of new muscle for free with Targeted Hypertrophy Training (THT)
Cool – I’m not taking any of them lol. Just whey and sometimes creatine.
Mark, so for men over 50 is there any supplement that will boost testosterone to help add muscle.
Body builders use ZMA supplement, for boosting Testosterone. It is a mix of Zink and magnesium.
thanks for the information
excellent article as always, there is soooooo much crap being marketed out there, nice to know
what to avoid.
Good post Mark should help stop a few of the uninformed wasting their money.
@joe there are test boosters out there that work, but I’m not convinced that they increase test enough to increase muscle.
@M zma supplements would only increase test in people who are deficient in zinc and magnesium in the first place.
Joe, be careful about increasing testerone too much over 50–you’re walking a fine line and may just end up with unintended and undesired side effects like enlarged prostate late in life (esp. if you don’t already have it). Maybe just stick with what your body can naturally produce via hard workouts, good nutrition and plenty of sleep and recovery time.
To all: posts like this are proof that Mark doesn’t make any money from the pharmaceutical or supplement companies. I’ve never seen such honesty in recommending/not recommending this supplement or that, this protein or that. He simply makes suggestions, what you do or buy is up to you. He points out what works for him and gives us a forum to offer feedback to each other. Wish more bodybuilders did this!
Mark, a little off the subject here, but with regards to vascularity and pumps that can be aided by NOX products or your home-made formula, do you have any recommendations for those of us (irregular heartbeat) who can’t tolerate much caffeine? How about L-citrulline malate, which I’ve read is supposed to taste awful but is cheap and effective? AND, do you Mark have an opinion on BFR training to increase pump during last set and increase nutrients getting to the muscle? Very interesting reading but have not tried it yet.
Well I’m not going to disagree and say anything against your article as it was worth the read, however I disagree about the kre-alkaline creatine as I use it and find it very effective. I tried creatine mono hydrate earlier but it gave me stomach cramps so I stopped.
The study you cite for your opinion on CLA is based on test subjects with type 2 diabetes. There are numerous studies out there using “healthy” individuals that do not show the same effects. Rather, they seem to show increased fat burning with little or no change in blood glucose or plasma insulin. Here’s one: Smedman A, Vessby B. Conjugated linoleic acid supplementation in humans–metabolic effects. Lipids. 2001 Aug;36(8):773-81.
I’m not a fan of supplements in general, but more research might be in order here before rejecting CLA.
You are absolutely right about Mark!
@John, Iam 54 yrs old the thing that has worked best for me is SQUATS DEADLIFT BENCH PRESS..And the info off this web site.Good Luck!
You not only talk logical but also save money! In one of other posts by someone else I was pretty much convinced that kre alkalyn is something awesome. Thanks for breaking that bubble and saving my bucks! I have got just one question – I really suffer from insomnia after some heavy work out if I take only whey post workout. So I Googled and found carbs post workout will decrease that… Which worked actually! Any comments?
Uh-oh. I bought “Homemade Supplement Secrets” by Jeff Anderson some time ago, which previously has an ad posted here at Musclehack. Although, there are a lot of other things there and great stuff, Jeff’s Fat Burner recipe involves both CLA and L-Carnitine. Haha, funny, I just bought some a few days ago and then this post. Oh well.
As a gay man with an extreme appetite for sex and illicit behavior, I find that Natto (Japanese fermented beans) and eating a lot for organically feed French hen eggs have helped me stay on top of my game. My energy levels are off the charts and my strength is similar.
i totally agree with u, Thanks a lot for your valuable articles, cheers.
@Joe. If your test levels really are low, go to your doctor and see about possible Hormone Replacement Therapy for men. You could waste years and money trying all sorts of things on the market. At least see if you can get the real thing first. Have your doc test your levels first.
@Mark C. Thanks man.
@Newton. You could still get the pump and vascularity benefits without the caffeine in my PWO formula. The AAKG is primarily responsible. L-citrulline malate *may* help with endurance and decreasing muscle soreness. I don’t write it off and it may be worth investing in.
Yes I was reading about BFR a few months ago. I haven’t done thorough research to come to an informed conclusion on it, but it looked interesting. As far as I know, it has been demonstrated that using BFR with light weights (about 30% 1RM) can produce just as much growth as classical hypertrophy training (about 70% 1RM). But it doesn’t produce any additional benefit. This is good for those people who have to use light weights. But for everyone else, the 8-12 rep range is still where it’s at for growth. It’ll be interesting to see what further studies show about BFR.
@Dr sunil Kumar Singh. I can’t imagine how carbs would help with that. However, insomnia is linked to overtraining. Perhaps you’re doing too much. If you’re not already on my THT routine, get on it and stick to the number of sets and don’t do any more.
Its good to hear which supplements don’t work as there are many out there.
I’m nearly 50 and i really do need help with increasing testosterone, could you please name any recommendations of test supplements that you think may work – I think a lot of older guys would appreciate help on these types of test supplements
Also as you have your top ten you should never buy, I think it would be good to have an article on your top ten for supplements you would recommend / buy
6. L-carnitine. While I don’t dispute your argument you should look up Bruce Ames, a very respected researcher at UC Berkeley, and his pioneering research into l-carnitine, r-lipoic acid and mitochondria