Muscle Building Supplements: The Next Generation (2017)

Contents

Let’s talk about muscle building supplements.

It’s 2016, and several new innovations have come out in terms of natural supplements that will help you build muscle yet aren’t too hormonal… so it’s time for an update.

Who is this document for?

In two words: intermediate users.

This was written for those of you who don’t want to do steroids/prohormones/SARMs, but you’re ready to move onto to something other than creatine and the typical over-the-counter test boosters. There are some new options for you to explore here.

Perhaps you’re natty, have been lifting for a while and are stuck on a plateau. Something in here might push you past that, but still keep your natty card.

Or maybe you’ve been out of the gym for a while and just want to see what’s new. On this page, we’ll stay up to date with the latest and greatest muscle-building supplements that “everyone else” will know about a couple years from now.

Who is this document not for?

  1. Rookies / Beginners

    If you’re a completely new rookie, you don’t need to be here – not yet at least. Take just the basics for now (discussed below), train hard with high volume, and then come back when you hit a plateau. The supplements here are going to add up in cost, so it’s best to wait until you’re stuck.

  2. Experts already using hardcore hormonal products

    Another crew this document might not be for is the steroid / prohormone / SARM crowd. The products on this page will cost a lot of money that’s likely better spent on more food.

    On the other hand, these supplements could be worth considering during your post cycle therapy or when you’re off-cycle to keep strength high as naturally possible.. so maybe you should keep reading and grab at least one or two things here when the time arises.

Note that these supplements won’t yield “steroid-like gains”. We’ll never promise that. This guide is all about the next-generation, advanced-level natural muscle-builders.

First things first: Don’t forget the basics!

Ideally, you’re already taking 3-5g of creatine per day (creatine monohydrate is easiest), eating plenty of calories (especially enough carbs and protein [1g per pound of goal bodyweight every day]), taking a multivitamin and fish oil, and not forgetting your saturated fats.

If you want to build muscle but you’re not eating big every single day, then you’re wasting your time here. Your body doesn’t take weekends or Mondays off. Food first, consistency is key.

Do you know about betaine?

On top of 3-5g creatine, we now believe that 2.5g betaine per day is another science-backed “basic” to add. Not everyone knows about this, so if you want the heavy details, see our new guide on betaine.

“Daily basic” muscle-building supplements to make it easy

A few companies have more convenient ways to get the generally approved “first-generation” muscle-builders in (ie, 3-5g creatine, 2.5g betaine, glutamine + l-alanine, l-carnitine-l-tartrate, and more).

iForce Finish Line

iForce Nutrition Finish Line is marketed as a post workout that contains everything you want to speed recovery and full gains all day long.

Our top choices:

As far as the protein goes, get high doses in every day, even off days. Food is always best, but life is easier when mixing a protein shake or two in between meals or before bed. See our best protein powder guide for some recommendations on trusted stuff there, or see all protein powders on PricePlow.

And finally, don’t always trust your pre workout to give you a legit dose of creatine, unless its label states exactly what you’re getting.

The next-generation muscle-building supplements

The following ingredients have reported anabolic effects and do not rely on testosterone/androgenic effects. They exploit pathways that are anabolic, but several of which are not androgenic!

Research on these compounds is still new and although they won’t put on the same amount of lean body muscle as illegal anabolic steroids, they still have great benefits and far fewer side effects.

  1. Phosphatidic Acid

    First up, we have Phosphatidic Acid (PA). PA is believed to be able to enhance the anabolic effects of resistance training.

    Phosphatidic acid directly activates mTOR signaling[1,2,3,4,5] (mTOR = mammalian target of rapamycin), which is a key regulator of protein synthesis and muscle building.[6,7]

    Human research on trained subjects

    To test if it actually works, a recent study gave participants either PA or a placebo over the course of an eight week resistance training program and examined outcomes such as strength, muscle thickness, and lean body mass gains.[8]

    The results of this study showed that the participants who received PA experienced a 12.7% increase in squat strength and a 2.6% increase in lean body mass as opposed to only a 9.3% and 0.1% improvement for placebo, respectively. This demonstrates that phosphatidic actually is a viable option for increasing both strength and size!

    In another study, eight weeks of PA supplementation added 5lbs of muscle mass compared to the control group’s 2.5lbs.[9] There was also a significant legg press improvement over the control group – PA subjects added 115lbs over control’s 70lbs.

    Phosphatidic Acid and mTOR

    Phosphatidic Acid and mTOR

    Possible increased fat loss (not statistically significant)

    In that second eight-week study, the PA group lost 2.8lbs compared to the control group’s 1.1lbs lost, but that did not reach statistical significance. It’s a trend worth noting and exploring in more depth, though.

    Dosage

    In the study above, 750mg of PA was given each day. However, the product we’re going to suggest below will yield 1200mg per day:

    Suggested Products

    There are two ways to get your PA in:

    1. Pure PA supplements (more costly but lower in calories), or
    2. Soy lecithin granules (less costly but add fat and calories – not necessarily a bad thing for bulkers).

    Our opinion?

    Save 75% of your cash and go with the Fearn Lecithin Granules, which lists 1.2g of phosphatidic acid right there on the label.

    Fearn Lecithin Granules

    Fearn Lecithin Granules: See the Label Below and Understand Why!

    Fearn Lecithin Ingredients

    Fearn’s Lecithin granules supply 1.2g of PA in a single serving!

    You can compare prices on these below:

    Lecithin Granules - Best Deals and Price Drop Notifications

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    To take it, mix two tablespoons (15g worth) into your oatmeal, Greek Yogurt, or homemade weight gainer smoothie. This will add 8g fat, 1g carbs, and 105 calories, which is fine when bulking. The texture is a bit weird and doesn’t mix too well in a standard protein shake (unless you wait for it to dissolve), but the taste is kind of pleasantly sweet.

    In addition, the choline content in the Fearn Lecithin Granules may also make you feel a bit more focused!

    Another way to get soy granules in is via Olympus Labs TR1UMPH, which also has a few other things we want (creatine, betaine, L-Carnitine L-Tartrate, and more):

    TR1UMPH - Best Deals and Price Drop Notifications

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    Otherwise, compare prices on the “strict” PA supplements below:

    Phosphatidic Acid - Best Deals and Price Drop Notifications

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    We have a longer writeup on this – see our phosphatidic acid post for more details.

  2. Arachidonic Acid: Using inflammation to our advantage

    Next up is Arachidonic Acid (ArA). This ingredient is a bit more advanced, but might be the most effective one in this list.

    ArA is an Omega 6 fatty acid found in the phospholipids of the body.[10] It’s involved with the production of signalling molecules that modulate inflammation levels – especially exercise-induced inflammation.[11] Basically, the more ArA you have, the greater the amount of inflammation that occurs.

    But isn’t inflammation bad?

    Not necessarily. Remember, inflammation is a natural body response and a critical component in the body’s adaptation process (i.e. gains!). Inflammation becomes an issue only when it is chronic systemic inflammation. But localized acute inflammation can actually be a good thing at times!

    So how does ArA help build muscle?

    Arachidonic Acid Signaling Map

    Arachidonic Acid Signaling Map

    The signaling molecule ArA helps produce is known as eicosanoids.[12] There are multiple subgroups of eicosanoids such as prostaglandins, thromboxanes, lipoxins, and leukotrienes.

    The one that is important to us is, prostaglandins. This is because PGE2 and PGF2a, which are two specific prostaglandins, are involved in the stimulation of muscle protein synthesis we experience after killing weights in the gym.[13,14] We want these two to be as high as possible after a workout session — and here is where arachidonic acid comes in.

    Basically, by taking ArA and following a resistance training program, we can increase signaling, specifically PGE2 and PGF2a,[15] which increases muscle protein synthesis[16,17] — translating into bigger muscles!

    It sounds complicated, but the supplements work, and many users review it very positively, even when considering the cost. With one caveat…

    Don’t take at the same time as anti-inflammatories

    One important thing to note about arachidonic acid is that you don’t want to take arachidonic acid with things that fight inflammation. For instance, it should be taken on the opposite end of the day as your fish oil, curcumin, ibuprofen, joint support, etc. Reason being, these will negate the effects of the ArA.

    Arachidonic Acid Dosage

    SNS X-Gels

    SNS X-Gels provide 25 workouts worth of ArA at 1g/workout

    The recommended arachidonic acid dosage is between 1g-2g on workout days, but most stick to 1g due to cost reasons. Many users (including SNS’ reps, leading sellers of ArA) state that taking it on an empty stomach is most effective. Although that’s anecdotal, the exercise / acute “starvation” state is when these fatty acids are most channelled into muscle tissue (rather than deposited into fat tissue).[18,19,20]

    In fact, SNS reps’ even state that it will lose some effects if taken with food! So if you must eat a pre workout meal, it may not work to its fullest potential.

    Roughly 12 hours after its supplementation (or 12 hours before, depending on your perspective) is when it’s best to take your fish oil and joint supplements as discussed above.

    It isn’t necessary to take ArA on off days. Save your money.

    Suggested Arachidonic Acid Muscle Building Supplements

    For whatever reason, there’s only a few products out there with serious ArA doses:

    Arachidonic Acid - Best Deals and Price Drop Notifications

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    The issue with X-Factor Advanced is that it’s in a proprietary blend, and is combined with anti-inflammatories like Omega-3 Fish Oil and Boswellia. So we stick with the brand we always trust – SNS and their X-Gels.

    X-Gels - Best Deals and Price Drop Notifications

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    You can read more on PricePlow’s main Arachidonic Acid category page.

  3. Anacyclus Pyrethrum

    Next up is Anacyclus Pyrethrum. This is a pro-vitality and virility herb that has a long history of used in Ayurvedic culture as a treatment for infertility and impotence.

    Anacyclus Pyrethrum

    Staying natty? What’s more natural than this? (Image Courtesy Wikimedia)

    Anacyclus is believed to boost the synthesis of testosterone in the testes. Unfortunately at this time, no human studies exist but there are studies using an animal model that show that there is great anabolic potential. In one study, AP was shown to boost the concentration of testosterone, LH (luteinizing hormone) and FSH (follicle-stimulating hormone) in rats. In addition to this, the animal’s’ body weight also increased.[21]

    Although this doesn’t necessarily prove it will help with your body composition, reviews after nearly half a decade of anacyclus use consistently help show that this ingredient probably does have a strong natural anabolic effect. We just wish there was more human research, but this is how things go when on the cutting edge.

    Anacyclus Dosage:

    In the above rat study, the lowest dose used was 50mg/kg/day which translates to about 8.1/mg/kg/day for humans.[22] All of the supplements below have this amount, but actually go higher for best results. We often see 1.6-3.2g/day.

    Recommended Anacyclus Supplements:

    Anabeta Elite

    Anabeta Elite is our anacyclus product of choice because of the other stuff included – plus, we pay our respects to the company who brought anacyclus to market

    PEScience AnaBeta blew the doors off the industry when it was first released. It contains 1600mg Anacyclus Pyrethrum. PES then discontinued that and followed up with AnaBeta Elite, which has a 3.2g proprietary blend where anacyclus comes second (behind Lodhra extract) – the dose might be a dash smaller, but the reviews are actually better. It also has forskolin and cistanche, two other ingredients that do have human data.

    This is a supplement best taken with food, twice per day — with your two largest meals.

    There are two other alternatives from trusted brands: first, ALR Restored has 850mg anacyclus per caplet, so two of them per day gets you over the preferred dose. Second, Olympus Labs’ Test1fy Pro, which is a natural testosterone booster powder with tons of other stuff in it (yet is a bit more hormonal than anything discussed on this page – consider it a “kitchen sink” natural testosterone booster powder).

    All things considered, we’re initially going to recommend AnaBeta Elite, because it’s going to be synergistic with arachidonic acid:

    Thoughts on stacking (synergy between Anacyclus and ArA for a 1-2 punch!)

    When the arachidonic acid discussed above is taken, some of it gets broken down into leukotrienes and thromboxanes via LPO and COX. If we could inhibit both of them, it would result in more arachidonic acid in place, which means there is more that could be used by our muscles.

    Arachidonic Acid L-Carnitine

    L-Carnitine causes less Arachidonic Acid to get released by cells.[23]

    To do this, we propose a stack of Anabeta Elite, ArA, and L-carnitine to help maximize the anabolic potential of ArA. This is based on the above breakdown pathways above. This stack would inhibit the ArA being broken down  into thromboxanes via L-carnitine[23] and inhibit ArA being broken down into leukotrienes via anabeta elite.[24] So l-carnitine and anabeta elite would create the environment for optimal available ArA.

    Further synergy with Lodhra from AnaBeta Elite

    Now you’ll get to see why we like AnaBeta Elite for our anacyclus dose – it contains lodhra bark extract, an Ayurvedic herb that increases cAMP[25] by functioning as a PDE inhibitor,[26] potentially giving you better bloodflow and cellular energy.

    Like L-Carnitine, Lodhra Bark prevents the conversion of ArA to leukotrienes – it functions as a lipoxygenase inhibitor.[24] So the AnaBeta Elite + L-Carnitine + ArA from your X-Gels make for a stack that has actual synergy – the total becomes greater than the sum of the parts.

    Compare prices on Anabeta Elite below:

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    What form of L-Carnitine?

    There are a few forms of L-Carnitine, but when it comes to the muscle-building side, L-Carnitine L-Tartrate is our chosen one. Thankfully, this is already what’s in a couple of our trusted “everyday supplements” listed above – iForce Finish Line, and Olympus Labs TR1UMPH (which also includes phosphatidic acid).

    Note that the study cited above[23] did use L-proprionyl carnitine (LPC), so if you want to match the study as much as possible, you’d have to find a GPLC supplement too – but those are expensive and we still like the LCLT research better.

    You should be starting to see things coming together here…

  4. Epicatechin

    How Epicatechin Affects Myostatin Levels

    Epicatechin dropping myostatin! Will this work in younger users? Will it result in GAINS?

    Last but not least on our list of next generation muscle builders is (-)-Epicatechin. Epicatechin is a molecule found in chocolate that has some very unique muscle-building properties.

    It’s believed -epi has the ability to inhibit a myokine that suppresses muscle growth, myostatin. Another myokine, follistatin, works in the opposite way of myostatin and promotes muscle growth.

    Recently, a human study was conducted investigating epicatechin’s effects on these regulating molecules. What the researchers found was that it did have a positive effect on follistatin to myostatin ratio. Subjects who were given epicatechin increased follistatin by almost 50% and decreased myostatin by -16%.[27] Unfortunately the researchers did not measure lean body mass changes.

    A new safety study published in January 2015 had subjects taking 50-200mg epicatechin per day. It showed that there were no side effects, and after just five days, the average follistatin levels were ~2.5 times higher than day one in the (-)-epicatechin subjects![28]

    Dosage

    For muscle building purposes, users seem most successful when they get at least 150mg epicatechin per day, but 200mg is the preferred going dose.

    There are two ways to get it in – through supplementation, or through food like dark chocolate.

    • The dark chocolate route:
      Lindt 85% Dark Chocolate

      You either love or hate this stuff. The 85% is great because it’s made without the flavonol-killing Dutch/Alkali process

      For general health, ~40g daily of high-quality 85% dark chocolate will yield several benefits. However, it’s important that the dark chocolate has not been processed with alkali (or the Dutch Process). We like Lindt’s 85% Cocoa version for this.

      That will only give you 60-70mg epicatechin, and will unfortunately also add 200 calories to your diet. That might be fine for bulking, but the cost will add up and it’s still not as high of an epicatechin dose as the supplements below.

      So feel free to throw some non-alkalized dark chocolate into your diet, but it’s probably best to look at the capsules:

    • The supplemental route:
      Olympus Labs Ep1c Unleashed

      With Ep1c Unleashed, Olympus Labs encapsulates the epicatechin in a lipid using PhytoFuse technology for better absorption.

      Our favorite epicatechin-based supplement is Olympus Labs Ep1c Unleashed, which takes epicatechin and encapsulates it in a lipid so that it makes it further down your digestive tract in tact.

      But dollar for dollar, you’re not going to beat Competitive Edge Labs’ Epi-Plex, which enhances absorption with piperine (black pepper extract) for far less money.

      An alternative supplement is Myokem’s Magnitropin, which contains an undisclosed amount of epicatechin in a more anabolic supplement. Magnitropin is a phenomenal muscle-builder on its own, but if you’re going to use it, you should probably run it alone — perhaps on a month when you’re not using the other stuff discussed on this page.

      This way, you can really assess its properties on its own. It does have some testosterone-boosting qualities too, which seem to function a bit stronger than what we’re shooting for in this guide.

    You can read more on our lengthy epicatechin guide.

  5. Carbing Up? Consider a Glucose Disposal Agent

    This one is decidedly not “anabolic”, but we added it here because too many people still don’t know about this branch of supplements.

    If you’re on this page, chances are you’re eating big, and that includes a high carb intake. How can we make sure those carbs get used more for muscle and less for fat?

    Glucose Glycogen

    Fates of Glucose 6-Phosphate: Glucose 6-phosphate derived from glycogen can (1) be used as a fuel for anaerobic or aerobic metabolism as in, for instance, muscle; (2) be converted into free glucose in the liver and subsequently released into the blood; (3) be processed by the pentose phosphate pathway to generate NADPH or ribose in a variety of tissues.[31]

    The supplements to help with this are known as glucose disposal agents, or GDAs, but they’re also called nutrient partitioners.

    GDAs are a category of supplements that aim to take advantage of one of the body’s most anabolic hormones: insulin.[29,30] These supplements can be stacked with any of the above next gen muscle builders, but they’re best taken with your high-carb meals.

    All dietary carbohydrates are broken down and enter the bloodstream as glucose. From there, the glucose will either be used to fulfill immediate energy needs (ATP synthesis) or will be stored for later use. When glucose is stored, it’s stored as glycogen.[31]

    The key to taking advantage of insulin’s anabolic potential isn’t necessarily more insulin, but to make the least amount of insulin the most effective. This is where a GDA enters the picture. Some compounds found in these supplements may have the ability to help the body utilize a small amount of insulin more efficiently. This optimization can play a pivotal role in muscle growth.

    Several ingredients worth exploring

    Berberine

    Berberine is possibly the most underrated supplement in the world. It creates a fantastic series of metabolic reactions that every carb-user should know about.

    There are quite a few different compounds that are used in these GDA products (berberine, Na-R-ALA, gymnemic acids, banaba, momordin, etc) and there are several different ways by which they work (increase GLUT-4 expression, nutrient uptake, improve glucose sensitivity, metabolism, disposal, etc). We won’t get into the specifics on each (unless there are requests in the comments), but essentially what is going on is the compounds in the GDA help to remove glucose from the bloodstream[32] thus resulting in lower insulin levels.

    On top of this, GDAs are also purported to increase muscle sensitivity to glucose so that the glucose in the blood gets driven into the muscles.[33] This ensures for full muscle bellies as well as help maintaining a stable blood glucose level. Given the wide range of effects these can have, a better name for this category would be nutrient partitioning agents.

    How to use a Glucose Disposal Agent / Nutrient Partitioner

    GDAs must be used 10-15 minutes before a high-carb meal (ie 25g carbs at bare minimum, but typically 50g carbs or more).

    This is important — you don’t just take these supplements and go on your way. Reason being, if you take them alone, they will drop your blood sugar (as they divert it out of the bloodstream), and you could go hypoglycemic and feel faint.

    It’s important to follow each product’s instructions – some are stronger than others.

    If you take a GDA, then have a high-carb meal, and then go lift, you should notice some serious pumps if it’s working. Since we like to get most of our carbs in surrounding our workouts, this works out perfectly.

    Recommended GDAs

    Performax Labs SlinMax

    Performax Labs unveils their all new nutrient partitioner SlinMax which improves glucose uptake, blood sugar levels, and lean mass gains.

    Everyone seems to have their own GDA ingredient preferences, so it takes testing and experience to see what’s best for you.

    Our personal favorite ingredients are Berberine and Na-R-ALA (R-Alpha Lipoic Acid), and banaba. We’ll even go so far as to say that berberine is one of the most underrated herbs on this planet — more diabetics should know about it — but that’s another blog post for another day.

    Anyway, the products we’ve enjoyed the most:

    Two capsules of MIMIC is likely the strongest one and we suggest starting with one capsule, whereas SlinMax is geared more towards the bulkers in us and even has some agmatine to increase pumps even more… never a bad thing there.

    So if you’ve ever said to yourself “I’m carb sensitive” or “I wish I could eat more carbs and not get fat”, give one of these a try and see how you fare. No promises, but we see far more good than bad coming from this category.

    Glucose Disposal Agents and Cheat Meals

    Magnum gets it! Use MIMIC with your next cheat meal and avoid getting too many carbs stored as fat!

  6. Keep an eye out for…

    Three ingredients that could possibly get listed here in the future are Peak ATP,[34,35,36] Tongkat Ali,[37] and Cordyceps.[38] But at this point, there are still some caveats and we think we’ve already thrown enough at you and your budget!

    • Peak ATP

      MuscleTech Muscle Builder Review

      Muscle Builder is a brand new product featuring PeakATP, developed by MuscleTech, that enhances strength, power, lean body mass, and recovery all in one cap.

      The issue with Peak ATP is that we’re not yet sure it’s worth the money, aren’t sure if it will add any benefits over creatine, and still want a bit more research.

      The currently successful research suffers from what we call the “Jacob Wilson effect” – this researcher’s training methods are so awesome that even his placebo groups have fantastic gains.[34]

    • Tongkat Ali / Longjack

      Tongkat ali (longjack) is also interesting, but is a bit more hormonal than what we’re shooting for on this page. It’s worth considering if you want to go down that path one step further than anacyclus does this in this document. LJ100 is the extract we trust there, but would still like to see more peer-reviewed studies in major publications.

    • Cordyceps

      Finally, Cordyceps (specifically cordyceps militaris) is a very interesting one. New research has come out showing that it boosts VO2,[38] and we can correlate that to more power and endurance. This could lead to longer and more effective workouts, yielding better ultimate results. That would then result in something like the beta alanine effect, except the still-limited research is actually far more impressive.

      Scivation Xtend Perform could be the next-generation BCAA to try
      Scivation Xtend Perform

      Xtend Perform is the newest version of Scivation’s incredibly popular BCAA supplement that enhances muscle growth and performance!

      We’re keeping an eye on Scivation Xtend Perform for this one. The first study looks downright amazing.

      Now published: we’ve made some new discoveries in cordyceps – click the link to read about it. We believe we’ve found the reason why the previous cordyceps sinensis studies are so hit or miss, and why Scivation’s Cordyceps Militaris (in the Compound Solutions made ingredient, PEAKO2) is where it’s at.

    • HMB to make a comeback?

      It’s also been a long time since the days of EAS and their insanely-expensive HMB supplements. Perhaps it’s time to take another look, as a new placebo-controlled, crossover study on highly-trained males on aerobic capacity showed that 3g HMB per day over the course of 12 weeks yielded a small increase in fat-free mass and a decrease in fat mass.[39]

      Note that this was the “standard” CA-bonded HMB, not the more expensive HMB Free Acid sold in MuscleTech’s Clear Muscle. Possibly time to stack back in the cheaper stuff?

  7. Tomatidine

    New for 2017, Tomatidine is an anabolic plant-based steroid that comes from the common tomato plant — and it’s actually healthy for you too!

    The preliminary research looks incredible, but we’re still yet to find out what dose is best, and cost may definitely be a concern. Either way, if you want to check it out, Antaeus Labs Titan is the first Tomatidine-based supplement out, and you can read even more at our in-depth Tomatidine article.

The muscle building supplement stack

Now let’s do some cost breakdown and see where you want to go.

  1. BUDGET MODE

    1. Bare basics

      1. Creatine: $1.50/month
        SNS Creatine Monohydrate

        What a deal!

        Right now, we have a deal on SNS Creatine Monohydrate – 1200 grams for $11.69 after coupon. It won’t always be that cheap, but the point is, it’s too inexpensive to skip. 3g is the daily minimum, but at that price, we don’t see a major reason not to go 5-10g/day.

        For the sake of our math, let’s say it costs you 5 cents per day. That’s $1.50/month.

      2. Betaine: $1.65/month

        Right now, we’re seeing 1000g betaine for $21.96. There are some cheaper options if you want to buy less at one time.

        2.5g per day is the going dose – so that’s about another 5-6 cents/day, making it $1.65/month.

        So far so good!

    2. Phosphatidic Acid (Fearn Granules): $9.00/month

      A 30-serving / 30-day supply of Fearn Granules is currently $9.00.

      This stack really isn’t very expensive yet, so at this point, we can choose one extra supplement to get you going.

      Most bang for your buck?

    3. PES AnaBeta Elite: ~$38/month

      Of the remaining supplements, AnaBeta Elite is the cheapest with the most desirable effects. Now we’re looking at about $50/month, which we hope most of you can afford. Everything else needs to be spent on food and training hard.

      Anabeta Elite vs. X-Gels vs. A SOLID Pre Workout?
      APS Mesomorph

      But why not this guy? Get ready to get ROCKED….

      When writing this, we battled with the question of what to do with that final $40. There are three main choices: AnaBeta Elite vs a solid pre workout supplement (see our best pre workout buyer’s guide), vs. X-Gels.

      AnaBeta Elite is ultimately a tad cheaper and easier to deal with than X-Gels. But what if you want and got yourself a fully-stocked pre workout like APS Mesomorph (currently rated #1 best pre workout as we write this)? One could argue that killer workouts will take you further than these supplements when on a budget. Something to keep in mind.

      But then again, at an even lower cost, you can get fired up with a cheap caffeine pill or home-brew coffee and some heavy metal… so for now, AnaBeta Elite is where we stand on the final $40 in the budget. Fire away in the comments.

  2. Intermediate Mode

    Got more than $50/month to spend? Then let’s make things a bit more interesting.

    1. Olympus Labs TR1UMPH: ~$36/month

      Olympus Labs Tr1umph

      This knocks out quite a few of our daily needs here

      In one fell swoop, this is going to take care of our creatine, betaine, phosphatidic acid, L-carnitine-L-tartrate, and has plenty of others.

      For instance, TR1UMPH includes l-alanine and l-glutamine, which have synergistic effects when combined[40,41] – basically, the L-Alanine helps make glutamine into what it was first marketed to do years back (but failed to achieve on its own).

      On top of that, there’s also elevATP, which we’re hoping can raise extracellular ATP levels like Peak ATP does, as mentioned in our list of possible extras above.

      One caveat is that it contains just 2.5g of creatine hydrochloride – we’re really not sure why they didn’t go with a full 3g (possibly because creatine and betaine have some overlap), but you might want to add some of the SNS creatine monohydrate listed above. Creatine mono is good to have in the house no matter what anyway. And your pre workout likely has some too, so no skin off TR1UMPH’s back.

    2. PES Anabeta Elite: $38/month

      Next up, once again, is Anabeta Elite for the anacyclus. Still great bang for the buck.

      But now that we have that Lodhra and L-Carnitine L-Tartrate (from the TR1UMPH listed above), why stop there?!

    3. SNS X-Gels for Arachidonic Acid: $40/month

      SNS’s X-Gels brings in the real difference-maker and the synergistic components we need are already there. So how do you time it up?

    4. TIMING: Here’s the plan:

      1. Four X-Gels on an empty stomach, pre workout.

        Note: If you cannot train fasted, consider using BCAAs on an empty stomach before and during training. If you still can’t do that, and need to workout with food in your stomach, take the X-Gels before that pre workout meal. However, this may diminish some of the effects.

      2. Olympus Labs Tr1umph Pre Workout alongside your optional pre workout supplement

        Tr1umph contains fat from the soy lecithin, which would seem to contradict the above “fasted workout” advice, but SNS reps have stated that taking an emulsifying fat like this alongside X-Gels would be fine.

      3. Two other meals: Anabeta Elite

        Take two caps with your two other large meals.

  3. Nuclear Assault Mode

    What more is there to do besides the intermediate mode above?

    1. Add Epicatechin

      The advanced route is to go with Olympus Labs EP1C Unleashed. A slightly simpler route is a pure epicatechin, such as the 300mg you get in Epi-Plex by Competitive Edge Labs.

      Or… the fun route is to eat an entire bar of Lindt 85% Dark Chocolate every day. This is mostly a joke though, because it will blast your calories up and cost well over $50/month.

    2. Bump up carbs and add in a GDA

      If you’re still not gaining, it’s time to check the diet. Three things:

      • Can you safely bump the carbs up more and add a GDA like SlinMax or MIMIC?
      • Are you really tracking your calories / protein and weighing your food with a food scale? We like the MyFitnessPal app.
      • Are you sure you’re getting enough fat, especially saturated fat? A tablespoon of bonus MCT Oil or Coconut Oil each day can’t hurt. Go eat some fatty steak ‘n’ whole eggs. Add peanut butter to your shakes. There’s more to life than cheap carbs and protein.
      • Carb trick: if fast-digesting weight gainers that use stuff like dextrose or maltodextrin aren’t for you, consider a REAL FOOD carb supplement… such as REAL FOOD by Rich Piana’s 5% Nutrition. We don’t hide that we downright love this stuff on this blog. It’s made from yams, oats, and sweet potato powder, and tastes great.
    3. Cool with more testosterone-boosting action? Switch out AnaBeta Elite and add Olympus Labs Test1fy Pro

      Olympus Labs Test1fy Pro

      Olympus Labs has released a revolutionary testosterone booster in Test1fy Pro that uses only proven ingredients to increase muscle and testosterone levels.

      Olympus Labs has a new supplement named Test1fy Pro that is yet another “fully loaded” kind of powder. It contains 3.2g anacyclus (more than Anabeta Elite), LJ100 longjack extract, and tons of ashwagandha, maca, forskolin, Vitamin D, and more. Basically, it’s just lots of natural stuff, each of which may edge up your test levels – and tribulus alatus to top off the libido and mood too.

      On top of that, Test1fy Pro also has an estrogen inhibitor in the form of Dehydroabietic Acid (DHAA), pomegranate fruit extract, and mucuna.

      When we say loaded, we mean it.

      Note that this product should be taken with a chocolate protein powder. There’s a lot of herbal stuff in there and you can’t expect it to taste fabulous on its own.

      The question is, will these other testosterone boosters translate to muscle building? The argument on that one is vicious, but at least some of these ingredients like LJ100 has at least one decent body recomposition study behind them.[37]

      And same argument for pre workout supplements applies — if they get you working out like a beast, can’t that help indirectly? Comments are open for discussion on that one.

Beyond this, there’s not a ton more natural stuff you can do. Again, we’re looking at Peak ATP and Cordyceps Militaris. If you’re ready for the next phase – hormonal supplements – you could get some additional assistance there, and a ‘mild’ start would be that LJ100 Tongkat Ali extract discussed above.

But at this point… if you’ve used the stuff in this guide and are still going absolutely nowhere, it might be time to check on your workout and pay for a real-deal trainer instead.

Training with badass guys like CJ and Amin (from the PricePlow YouTube channel) show better gains than most of the stuff listed here in the first place. And therein lies the rub when talking about supplements!

Muscle Building Supplements

Pictured: @Amin_Shahry, PricePlow YouTube Sensation, promoting MealPros.com

Like this Post? We have more on the way…

PricePlow is a price comparison site that asks one simple question: is this worth it?

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