If you want to know what supplements actually work (and which ones I take), pay close attention to this strictly no B.S. article.
If you want all the help you can get to build muscle and lose fat, this is for you. I’ll also help you save some cash by telling you where to get them cheaply.
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...
NOTE: Please be aware that MuscleHack readers are entitled to 10% off their orders at MyProtein – not just 1 order, but every time you buy (MyProtein is where I get my own supplements).
All you have to do is use the discount code: MUSCLEHACK when checking out. Use these links to go there…
GO TO MYPROTEIN UK/EUROPE | GO TO MYPROTEIN USA
I’ll do this in 4 sections:
- The biggest, most important supplements
- Pre-workout supplements
(1) THE BIG ONES
It’s just protein. While there’s nothing magical about it, and you can get all your protein from food, whey is the highest “bio-available” protein source, and it’s extremely convenient for meeting your daily protein needs (about 1g protein per pound of body weight). It’s also perfect for your post-workout protein fix when the last thing you want to do is eat a couple of chicken fillets.
Where To Get It: (1) USA – Optimum Nutrition Whey (2) Europe – Impact Whey from MyProtein or “Naked” Whey from The Protein Works (if you want an all-natural whey)
How To Take It: Simply take when needed to hit your daily protein target. Ideally, take 40g in your post-workout shake.
It works   and it’s safe . Forget the hype surrounding other forms of creatine. The real research shows that monohydrate is the far superior form  .
Where To Get It: In America, you can get a high-quality, cheap Creatine here. If you’re in Europe, you can get a fantastic (and cheap) Creatine here.
How To Take It: Take 5g in your post-workout shake – just add it to your whey. I do recommend “loading” with creatine first before this maintenance phase (get details on how to load here).
Consider glutamine supplementation optional. Many people aren’t fans, citing a lack of research.
However, the more intensely you train, the more glutamine your body needs. Low glutamine levels can lead to muscle loss, and protein synthesis levels (the rate that you build muscle) are proportional to muscle glutamine levels.
If you’ve got the money, go for it. But I would prioritize the other supplements in this article first.
Where To Get It: (1) USA – Great & Cheap Glutamine. (2) UK/Europe – High Quality & Cheap Glutamine.
How To Take It: Simply put 5g in your post-workout shake along with your whey and creatine, as stated above. So a great post-workout shake to kick-start the anabolic process is 40g whey, 5g creatine, 5g glutamine.
5 star reviews! Get THT Training Totally Free Below
3 X MUSCLE GAINS | SIZE GAINS IN 2 WKS | 100% FREE 🙂
(2) PRE-WORKOUT SUPPLEMENTS
Want massive energy, drive, and awesome pumps? Ofcourse you do! But you don’t need to pay megabucks for pre-workout formulas that include loads of filler ingredients.
In fact, this formula will last you anywhere between 6 months to a year for a measly $43!! (See this article for more.)
As stated in my popular Homemade NO-Xplode Knock-Off article, the 3 active ingredients in these supplements are:
- L-Arginine AKG
Nitric Oxide supplements claim to work by increasing blood flow to working muscles and increasing mental and physical energy during your workout.
The Arginine AKG (AAKG) increases nitric oxide production – the whole basis that these pre-workout nitric oxide supplements are marketed on. The blood vessels dilate meaning more blood can reach muscle tissue, giving you bigger PUMPS and providing more nutrients and hormones responsible for muscle growth.
There is solid research regarding the efficacy of Beta-Alanine and it SHOULD play a regular role in your supplementation. This study  showed beta alanine supplementers gained an extra 1lb of muscle over 8 weeks as compared to the placebo group.
Lastly, I’ve already stated in a previous post that pre-workout caffeine works.
Where To Get It: USA CHEAP LINKS – Caffeine | AAKG | Beta-Alanine
UK/EUROPE LINKS –Caffeine | AAKG | Beta-Alanine
How To Take It: Mix 4g of AAKG with 2g of Beta-Alanine in water (or whatever you like) and wash it down with 200mg caffeine 30 minutes before your workout. You’ve got yourself a very POTENT cocktail!
If you want to maximize results, your body needs to be healthy and to be able to recuperate at optimal levels. Most of your micronutrient needs should be met with diet, but lifting creates extra demand on the body. I take all my micronutrients together first thing in the morning.
There are a number of health benefits of supplementing with Vitamin D. But 2 studies, one on mice  and one on humans , show that it indeed may help accelerate muscle growth.
Where To Get It: USA – Cheap High Quality Vitamin D. UK/Europe – Vitamin D from MyProtein or shop around for ‘Healthy Origins’ Vitamin D3 (10,000 IU).
How To Take It: If you don’t live in a sunny climate, take 5000 IU (international units) to 10,000 per day.
Again, there are a number of health benefits associated with fish oil supplementation.
Where To Get It: USA – Cheap Fish Oil. UK/Europe – High Quality Great Value Fish Oil
How To Take It: Take 1 – 3 1g capsules per day
ZMA (or just magnesium)
Optimal magnesium levels can lead to increased strength and shows a show a correlation with protein synthesis levels .
Where To Get It: USA – Cheapest US ZMA. UK/Europe – Cheap ZMA
How To Take It: Take up to a max (no more) of 500mg of magnesium per day. For ZMA, it’s usually 1 capsule per day.
Should be fairly self-explanatory. Hacking into our muscle tissue 3-5 times a week places a greater demand on our bodies than for ordinary folk. Make sure you’ve got all bases covered with a high quality multivitamin.
Where To Get It: USA – Animal Pak or Centrum. UK/Europe – Alpha Men Supermultivitamin
How To Take It: See packaging for details.
(4) FAT BURNERS
I just don’t recommend these. They’re complete rubbish and unnecessary. What you really need is the optimal diet and workout for fat loss.
Yes an ephedrine and caffeine stack works, but ephedrine was made illegal as a fat loss supplement a few years ago.
However, clinical research has consistently verified the effectiveness of E/C on fat loss over placebos.
Ephedrine/caffeine doesn’t just speed up your metabolism, it also helps suppress hunger. Furthermore, you’ll still have the energy (physical and mental) to power through your training make gains. As such, it’s no wonder ephedrine used to be an integral part of a bodybuilder’s supplementation when cutting.
Where To Get It: I’ve been told that over-the-counter products like Bronkaid of Primatene contain ephedrine. Apart from that, I don’t know how you’d get a non-fat-loss ephedrine. Century supplements in Canada used to carry it. If you know, please leave some info in the comments section below.
How To Take It: 25 milligrams of ephedrine and 200 milligrams of caffeine to be taken together 3 times daily. In total the daily dose is 75 milligrams of ephedrine and 600 milligrams of caffeine. The caffeine has no real effect on its own, but worked to enhance the effectiveness of the ephedrine. But even 1 dose of 25mg E/200mg C will help with your workouts when cutting down below 10% body fat.
Train With Intensity!
 Creatine: a possible stimulus skeletal cardiac muscle hypertrophy. Recent Adv Stud Cardiac Struct Metab. 1975;8:467-81. International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: creatine supplementation and exercise. “Creatine monohydrate is the most effective ergogenic nutritional supplement currently available to athletes in terms of increasing high-intensity exercise capacity and lean body mass during training.” 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.
 Effects of β-alanine supplementation on performance and body composition in collegiate wrestlers and football players. Kern BD, Robinson TL. J Strength Cond Res. 2011 Jul;25(7):1804-15.
 Vitamin D3 stimulates myogenic differentiation by inhibiting cell proliferation and modulating the expression of promyogenic growth factors and myostatin in C2C12 skeletal muscle cells.
Garcia LA, King KK, Ferrini MG, Norris KC, Artaza JN. Endocrinology. 2011 Aug;152(8):2976-86. Epub 2011 Jun 14.
 Association of vitamin D status with serum androgen levels in men. Wehr E, Pilz S, Boehm BO, März W, Obermayer-Pietsch B. Clin Endocrinol (Oxf). 2010 Aug;73(2):243-8. Epub 2009 Dec 29.
 Effects of magnesium and zinc deficiencies on growth and protein synthesis in skeletal muscle and the heart. British Journal of Nuwition (1991), 66, 493-504
Get Totally Shredded Fast
Get ripped at blistering speed without losing muscle and keep gaining in the gym. Also, you get your abs or you get your money back! That's the power of Mark's Total Six Pack Abs program. More details here.
Buff Baking Anabolic Cookbook
Extremely easy anabolic recipes with simple ingredients that makes fueling muscle growth feel like a cheat meal! Bars, cookies, pizza, ice cream...see pics and recipes here.
Advanced T.H.T. Training
A brand new workout including 9 x advanced "Shock & Awe" hypertrophy techniques to ignite pounds of new gains! It's "Game-Changing" time! Got at least 1yrs training experience? It may be time to go advanced! You've never trained like this before. Get all the details here.
Stay shredded all year – no more long cutting cycles. If you’ve ever gotten ripped abs only to lose them a few weeks later, you need to know the secrets of staying shredded without fasting and without giving up cheat meals. I’m ripped all year – you should be too! Details here.
Shoulder Blast Workout
In Jan 2019 a bunch of 'lab rats' tested the New Shoulder Blast Workout and gained up to 2.5 inches in shoulder size in 7-10 days! There is a very specific type of training stress that works uniquely well for the shoulders. You're about to target it...hard! More details here.
The Arm Blast Experiment
Gain up to an inch on your arms over the next week with new "hyper-intense" training techniques that literally force new arm growth. The workout is based on the results of an online study conducted by Mark from MuscleHack. More details here.
Chest Blast Workout
3 Workouts | 7 Days | Up to 3 inches in chest growth! A workout that will fry every muscle fiber in your pecs and literally force new and permanent growth...fast! More details here.
The Leg Blast Workout
An explosive training package for fast leg gains! 1 week | 3 x 90 minute workouts | "hyper-intense" techniques = big & fast leg gains. Up to 3 inches in growth. See more details and testimonials here.
HERE ARE THE SUPPLEMENTS I HIGHLY RECOMMEND
I highly recommend MyProtein for all your supplement needs.
GO TO MYPROTEIN UK/EUROPE
GO TO MYPROTEIN USA
- I also recommend to US readers this Optimum Nutrition whey (and here's a low-carb whey)
- And this quality, inexpensive creatine ~ Mark McManus
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)
This is definitely very helpful Mark. I’m new to the site, keep it coming!
A very important & good read Mark. Thank You!! I don’t think a lot of people realize How Important Supplements are in Their quest to build muscle!!
Hey Mark! What about Natural Testosterone boosters. Are their any you suggest or are they just a bunch of b.s. ?
@Mike. Thanks 🙂
@Liz. I’m not a fan at all. Haven’t seen any solid research. I wrote an article on Tribulus Terrestris here https://musclehack.com/tribulus-terrestris-review/
Hey Mark! this is a great comprehensive article! Which ones you personally take besides Whey and Creatine if you dont mind me ask?
Hi Mark just want to know if this applies to women also .What about (for woman)your hormones can they hinder your results (like muscle) I use only weights and find it extremely difficult in achieving lower body definition and muscle gain.
I would also add:
Leucine (post workout)
Casein Protein (before bed)
As far as fat burners go, while ephedrine is no longer available we still have some supps that can aid in fat loss, mainly CLA, MCT, chlorogenic acid & green tea catechins.
@Reza. I take all the supplements on this list, and nothing else.
@Westfall. Yes, all of these supplements are recommended for women too.
@Seb. I wouldn’t waste money on casein. A high protein solid food meal (with carbs and fat) will break down at less than 5g protein per hour in the body. A 40g protein meal will be providing protein for at least 8 hours. There’s no need for expensive night time proteins. Save your money.
Hi Mark. awesome page……. what do you think about Pumped Extreme?? thanks
@Manny. That’s a Creatine Kre-Alkalyn® supplement. It’s nowhere near as effective as creatine monohydrate. Don’t buy it. Get mono. Read more here https://musclehack.com/creatine-facts-what-is-the-best-creatine/
Nice review, Mark. Whey protein is already on my list of supplements. And I drink a cup of coffee before starting my afternoon workout. The micro-nutrients are a nice addition that I’ve never considered before. Will drop in the drug store today and pick up some Vitamin D and Fish Oil capsules and a multivitamin.
Thank you so much !!!! keep it up
Thanks Mark, I’ve always used whey and creatine post-workout, but have just started to try AAKG and beta-alanine pre-workout on the advice of your previous article. I’m not sure if they’re working for me yet, but I’ve found that the beta-alanine (2 g) makes me feel hot, flushed and a bit itchy soon after taking it and lasting for 30-60 minutes. Is this a recognised effect or is is possibly an allergic reaction?
As you said, supplements can be expensive if you don’t get them from the right place. I’m from the UK and used to get mine from myprotein.com. I’ve recently moved to Canada and again found the health food shops etc. very expensive. I just found a website canadianprotein.com and got my first order last week. They provide very good quality product, price and service. I know this sounds like an ad, but I have no links with them and would suggest that any of your Canadian readers check out the site.
@Max. The hot and flushes are probably from the AAKG. The tingling/itching is from the beta-alanine, everyone feels that. So it’s all normal 🙂
cayenne pepper for vascularity..google it..works great and is cheap.
Hey Mark, your email says you just published this, but all the comments are from 2014… I don’t get it. Is this a rehash?
Hey Rik. This post was revised and updated just today.
You missed one. Coconut Oil. (Provided it is 100% organic extra virgin, pure, unrefined and cold pressed).
I’ve never quite mastered my resting metabolic burn and because of my job situation, have a really hard time eating consistently or measuring. Whatever – I still had way too much flab given my my protein/fat focus and 3-a-week workouts.
I had a plastic container of Carrington Farm’s I bought almost 2 years ago, and began putting a tablespoon in my 2 coffee’s every morning. In less than 2 weeks, without any other change in my diet or exercise, I’ve dropped at least 3″ in my waist. I know to get the RIGHT results I need to finally USE the Six pack Abs I’ve bought , but I’ve never had a single food or supplement do for me what this has done. here is an article on it https://authoritynutrition.com/coconut-oil-and-weight-loss/
I think it was from you I learned about the Cereal Killer’s documentaries which I’ve purchased, and it was remembering their discussion on fats that got me thinking about adding that to my coffee. Thanks.
Hey Mark, Another great article. My partner likes to use vega one protein, which is largely pea protein and hemp protein. I am curious of the efficacy? I use whey, but I would love to make the switch if I am not pissing the money away.
Thanks, Mark.. Valuable advice as usual. Since you’ve changed to your new look, I find it very difficult to read your articles because of the light gray font against the white background. There just isn’t enough contrast. Just my opinion.
@Jim. Yep I use coconut oil. I even cook with it, buddy 🙂
@Stu. I’m afraid you’d probably be pissing your money away. I don’t have exact figures, but there are 2 issues: the completeness and bioavailability. I don’t even think they are complete proteins, but even if they are, the bioavailability has gotta be low. An egg is 100, whey isolate is up to 159. I know beans are just 49 – terrible. So your body just can’t use this stuff very well.
For more on this issue, go here https://musclehack.com/top-5-protein-sources-for-building-muscle/
Hope that helps,
@Rick Henkin. Thanks for the feedback.