The Top 3 Best Muscle Building Supplements

The Top 3 Best Muscle Building Supplements

By Vince Del Monte

When it comes to lifting for size and strength, boat loads of iron and buckets of sweat are summoned. Over the past eight years of bodybuilding I’ve resorted to three primary muscle building supplements, that have stood the test of time, and support muscle growth directly and indirectly.

In no particular order, here are my personal top 3 muscle building supplements to build into your bodybuilding budget:

Top Muscle Building Supplement #1: Creatine

Creatine is made from the three aminos arginine, glycine and methionine, creatine is technically is an amino-acid supplement, not an individual amino.  There has been endless debate on whether to take creatine pre or post workout or both and which protocol works best.

During my research and experience, I’ve found that post workout creatine supplementation is more effective then pre-workout and does not require the traditional 5-day loading phase.  For best results, take a dosage of creatine in your protein-shake immediately after a workout to prepare you for your next workout.

One way creatine boosts growth postworkout is by increasing levels of insulinlike growth factor-1 (IGF-1) in muscle. Whether you weight train or not, creatine has many other general health benefits: It guards against heart disease, provides antioxidant protection, can ease chronic fatigue syndrome, shields the brain against damage and can guard against skin damage.

I continue to use the original creatine monohydrate but most supplement products market multiple forms of creatine together these days.

DOSE: Bodybuilder over 200-pounds should consume 5 grams in the morning and 5 grams after a workout.  Bodybuilder under 200-pounds should consume 2.5 grams in the morning and 2.5 grams after a workout.  I recommend supplementing with creatine all year round and to only take a break when you go on vacation. This approach allows you to say “loaded” all year round and avoid the 5-day loading cycle.


Top Muscle Building Supplement #2: Zinc Magnesium Aspartate (ZMA)

The combination of zinc and magnesium aspartate plus vitamin B6 has been shown to increase anabolic hormone levels, include free testosterone and IGF-1, that could otherwise be suppressed in hard-training athletes.

ZMA can improve your quality of sleep. Enhanced recovery from workouts due to sleep efficiency, increased anabolic-hormone levels, and greater gains in strength and power are the reported benefits of ZMA supplementation.

DOSE: Follow the label recommendations and take on a empty stomach 30-45 minutes before bed.  Don’t mix with any form of dairy.  Most products contain 30 mg of zinc, 450 mg of magnesium aspartate and 11 mg of B6.


Top Muscle Building Supplement #3: Caffeine

It’s as simple as having a large black cup of coffee or an espresso 60-minutes before you workout.  Caffeine not only acts as a stimulant to increase workout intensity but it’s an effective fat-burner due to it’s ability to increase the release of fat from fat cells.

Research that caffeine immediately boosts muscular strength and power output when taken one hour before workouts. I take caffeine before my cardio and weight training workouts.

While certain communities advise against excessive caffeine use, newer studies show that your body can tolerate up to 400-800 grams of caffeine per day without adrenal fatigue. Caffeine has a powerful antixoidant and has been shown to guard against neurodegenerative diseases.

DOSE: For fat loss, take 100-300 mg every four hours. For mental acuity and focus, try 100-200 mg every four hours. For strength and power, take 200-400 mg one hour pre workout.


Your turn to share your knowledge: What are your top 3 muscle building supplements?

Let us know what dosages you have experimented with, side effects and brand recommendations.  Look forward to hearing your experiences.


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10 Responses to “The Top 3 Best Muscle Building Supplements”


    Creatine is a confusing supplement.
    Vince, you replied me "Creatine can be a pre workout supplement for fat loss " and in the same hour your reply to Ben was "Research shows that pre workout creatine supplementation does nothing."
    Please clarify


    Thanks Mark, I will opt for Before workout !

  3. Leo

    oh man… whey protein and caffeine combined, not only does it taste AWESOME, its gives you MAD energy in the gym I find, the caffeine alertness really makes you focus on your workout and keeps the intensity up

  4. vince_delmonte

    Creatine can be a pre workout supplement for fat loss and post workout supplement for muscle building. It has multiple functions and pathways it can act on your body.

  5. vince_delmonte

    Hey man… I figured you were having a bad day :) Here's what to do:

    1. Pick ONE program. I don't care if you make it up on your own, you buy it or you get it for free. Just pick ONE program and follow it for FOUR WEEKS.

    2. Make notes of what worked and make notes of what didn't work.

    3. Keep what worked and drop what didn't.

    4. Don't read ANYMORE fitness info until you conduct this experiment on yourself.

    You'll learn a lot of great info about your own body and it will help you sift out all the other info you hear. In the end, you have to test programs yourself and come to your own conclusions. Learn through ACTION, not by talking about it.

    Keep it up

  6. vince_delmonte

    Bottom line: caffeine has more pro's then con's.

  7. vince_delmonte

    Research shows that pre workout creatine supplementation does nothing. Post workout has a bit of an impact. Bottom line: when creatine is in your muscles, it's in your muscles. Load on it for 5 days to get it in or just take it 5-10 grams a day for a month and then you'll be "loaded" and you're good.

  8. Ben

    Hey Vince, I just started taking creatine monohydrate and I've had a few different suggestions on how to take it. One said skip the loading phase and take 1 serve pre and 1 serve post workout, another said do the loading phase and take half a serve pre and half a serve post workout. On the bottle it says to do the loading phase and afterwards, take 1 serve post workout, do not take pre workout. Have you tried taking half a serve pre and half a serve post workout?

  9. Edv

    Well, I read what you posted. I am not blind to the caffeine good effects… I am just validating what Dave said, about cortisol, cause apparently Vince does not believe Dave, that's it.

  10. Mark

    whoops, typing too fast…I meant it's "cheap" not "cheat".