Build Muscle

A Guide to Supplements for Every Budget

Want to get big? We have the right stuff for you no matter what how much you're able to spend.

bodybuilding supplements

Building eye-popping muscle mass takes dedication, both in the gym and at the kitchen table. While a strict training program and a solid diet are essentials, taking the right supplements will help you get there faster and go further than you thought possible. But with so many mass-building products to choose from, which ones are right for you?

The good news is that many of the supplements available are effective; our ever-advancing scientific knowledge helps product manufacturers provide you with the ingredients that can help you reach your muscle-building goals. The bad news is that in the land of the free, not much is free. So while finding good products is less challenging, deciding which ones you can afford isn't. But with our help, you can design a supplement plan to fit your body and your budget.

Like restaurant meals, supplements come in a wide range of prices. Some will set you back a few coins from your piggybank, while others require a well-padded wallet. The first group is made up of essentials you'll need to put on healthy muscle. The second group will cost more but covers all major bases - the less-expensive items, plus a few extras to help you add a few more pounds of muscle. The third group subs in a couple of special utility supplements for a bit more bang, and includes some hot items you'll want in order to add even more muscle. Happy shopping, and even happier growing.

Bodybuilding Staples

Like a meal from a cafeteria, this class of supplements is perfect for students or anyone on a budget. These recommendations give you solid support for your training, helping you improve your lifts and gain muscle size.

Whey protein isolates (WPI) provide all nine essential amino acids, including a hit of branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs). BCAAs conserve muscle glycogen and are essential for growing muscle. Whey also bolsters a muscle-preserving antioxidant called glutathione, which may reduce muscle loss after training. Taking 20-40 grams of whey with creatine after pumping iron, along with a high-glycemic carbohydrate that raises blood glucose fast, like bread or a potato, bolsters the insulin-releasing effect of carbs and enhances the muscle-building effects of your training.

This is probably one of the most studied and effective supplements ever. Most bodybuilders can expect to gain close to five pounds of lean body mass, and some even more. And after years of safe use by athletes, scientists recently gave creatine a clean bill of health. We recommend 5 grams (a heaping teaspoon or a serving of most creatine products) per day with your whey and carbohydrate source. It's best after your workout on the days you lift, or at a similar time on days off.

Multivitamins are an excellent investment, containing 20-30 vital micronutrients in every pill. Running low on any of these essential components can sabotage your physique. You can't manage protein without B6, any more than you can build oxygen-delivering blood cells without B12. With vitamin deficiency, it's fatigue, shriveled muscles and frequent infections. Minerals are often overlooked as well, but the benefits of correcting even a marginal deficiency are obvious: While a zinc deficiency lowers testosterone, restoring inadequate levels to normal bolsters it. Guys should buy one without iron, like Centrum Silver, unless you're a vegetarian. Take 1-2 doses with food at different times of the day.

As long as you're already eating a good diet, you're now covered for most of what you need to pack on quality muscle. Of course, you don't have to stop there.