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Are Muscle-Building Supplements Effective?



Muscle-building is arduous and requires monumental effort. One has to do gut-busting workouts that are intense enough to cause trauma to our muscles. While it may sound negative, it’s the only stimulus to make muscles bigger and stronger. 

When the muscles are damaged, the body will naturally repair them. The critical part is that, during the healing process, the body will overcompensate the muscles by increasing protein synthesis, which then adds new muscle mass. 

Can Muscle-Building Supplements Help? 

Besides protein powders and branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) supplements, you may have heard of “Boost Performance with Nitric Oxide” or “Intensify Workout with Creatine”  for muscle building. They’re all great additions to your muscle-building regimen. 


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Other supplements for building muscles include:

  • Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) 
  • Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA)
  • Alpha-lipoic acid (or lipoic acid)
  • Gamma Oryzanol
  • Chromium
  • Phosphatidylserine
  • Beta-alanine
  • Citrulline malate

Most of these supplements can be taken from our diet. Unless you can’t consume them through food, these supplements aren’t really necessary. Additionally, many muscle-building brands lack solid evidence to back their marketing claims. More importantly, taking them may worsen your condition. Hence, there’s a need to manage your expectations of them and speak with your healthcare provider for personalized advice before taking any new supplement. 

10 Reasons Why People Aren’t Building Muscles 

Even after training until a point of exhaustion, religiously following a diet plan and supplementation, and taking enough rest, it’s possible that you may not gain muscle mass. It’s because either your body has unique needs requiring professional help, or you’re not simply doing them right. 

Here are common muscle-building mistakes causing people not to gain muscle mass:

1. Inconsistent training 

Muscle-building is a slow and steady process, so consistent training is crucial. It doesn’t only help achieve muscle gain but also increases your stamina. Experts recommend setting a realistic goal to be consistent. For beginners, start by exercising 3-4 days a week and build up from there. 

2. Not lifting heavy enough

Aim to lift heavy weights with fewer repetitions to cause muscle hypertrophy (muscle growth). Experts recommend doing “pyramid training,” where you start with a lighter weight for more repetitions, then move to heavier weights for fewer repetitions. 

3. Inadequate recovery between sets

Experts recommend 2-3 minutes of rest between sets for efficient muscle building. While multiple sets of resistance training are needed to build muscles, giving time for the muscle fibers to recover is also critical. Otherwise, you’ll be overtrained, causing you to be prone to fatigue, declining performance, and injuries. 

4. Too much cardio 

Cardio expends more calorie intake, so too much of it can impede muscle mass gain. Experts recommend  30-40-minute cardio three to four times a week. This amount helps burn excess fat and even enables muscle maintenance and strength.

5. Inadequate calories

A positive calorie balance (consume more than you burn) is needed to build muscle mass. Experts recommend consuming around 2,800 calories for a pound of muscle you need to build. 

6. Inadequate protein

Protein plays a crucial role in repairing and maintaining muscle tissue. Without enough of it, building muscles is impossible. Hence, you must ensure your body has a good Protein Absorption rate. Experts recommend consuming 0.5-0.8 grams per pound of body weight.  

7. Inadequate carbohydrates 

Carbohydrates are also essential in muscle development. They replenish your energy and glycogen and help prevent fatigue during and after your workout, helping you consistently train. Experts recommend two grams of carbs per pound of body weight. Also, only have them after a workout. 

8. Inadequate fluids

Among all kinds of fluids, experts recommend water. It helps transport nutrients that form glycogen and protein for muscle growth. To increase muscle mass, they also advised the following:

  1. Pre-workout – consume 15-20 ounces of water (or other fluids), specifically 2 -3 hours before exercising; 
  2. Warm-up – another 8 ounces of water;
  3. During the workout –  keep taking 7-10 ounces of water every 10-20 minutes; and 
  4. Post-workout – replace every pound lost with 16-24 ounces of water.

Drinking enough fluids during exercise is needed to replace the fluids you lose when you sweat. Doing so reduces the risk of heat stress, maintains your normal body function, and maintains performance levels. 

9. Inadequate sleep

Getting enough shut-eye isn’t only important for healthy functioning but also for increasing your muscle size. It’s the time when your muscles recover and repair themselves, and human growth hormone levels are highest. Experts recommend not only getting adequate rest (seven to nine hours of sleep per night) but also quality sleep. 


10. Eating fast

Gobbling down your food prevents you from building lean muscles. When you do so, your body may get enough time to process hunger cues, resulting in overeating and a calorie surplus. Although enough calories help build muscles, too many can be detrimental. 

Final Thoughts

Muscle-building is a three-pronged approach, and intensive physical training is just a part. The other prongs include healthy nutrition and good rest, each of which has challenges unique to every individual. Also, while muscle-building supplements can help, they may not be effective for everyone. Consult a professional to ensure you’re doing it right away.

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