The only supplement list you’ll ever need.

Written by Russ Howe PTI, and most recently updated 1 day ago.

10 min read

Trying to maximize muscle growth and build a lean, athletic body?

You should be using all of these.

Yes, today we’re talking about supplements…

Specifically, I’m tired of seeing people over-complicate things and experiment with unproven, dodgy ingredients that make absolutely no difference to their physique.

In the post below, I’m going to give you my tried n’ tested list of the only supplements you’ll ever need to use.

Each of them serve a different purpose. All of them have research to prove their effectiveness. It’s time to cut out the crap.

Of course, not all products are created equal… I mean, one whey protein can be significantly better than another… so I’m even going to show you the exact brands to use, too.

Ready to get stuck in?

Then let’s begin with the obvious one.

Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Whey

Whey Protein

Whey protein is the ultimate convenience food.

Nobody wants to eat endless plates of chicken, and the prep is boring as f**k, so having a shake you can use on the go is crucial.

So why Optimum Nutrition?

Well, don’t waste your time with nonsense whey protein products that are jammed with sugar and cheap fillers that leave you feeling bloated AF.

This is the “gold standard” for a reason.

If you’ve read my website for some time, you’ll already know what we look for in a whey protein supplement designed to get us leaner. It must:

  • Provide around 20 grams of protein per serving
  • Contain a blend of different sources of protein
  • Have a protein-per-serving ratio of above 75%

This one ticks all the boxes.

Of course, there are others out there which will also do it. For instance, I’m a fan of Natural Whey (by Reflex Nutrition) and Muscle Matrix (by NutraBio).

If you have lactose issues, definitely go with the NutraBio option.

The NutraBio selection above is actually the best whey protein product in the world, but it’s not available outside the USA at the moment.

So what we have here from Optimum Nutrition is the next best thing, with worldwide availability. It features a blend of whey protein isolate, whey protein concentrate and hydrolized whey protein isolate, with a high protein-per-serving ratio.

It’s also a very trustworthy brand which is available ever-f**king-where, so you’ll never struggle to pick some up if you run out.

This is the whey protein product I use.

Click here to get my whey protein.

AML Pre Workout nutrition info

Pre Workout

A quality pre workout can be very useful, because it allows you to do a number of things that would otherwise require individual supplementation.

But most pre’s are junk, because they are under-dosed and over-priced. And people don’t know what to look for, so they wind up buying based on word of mouth rather than science.

Time for that to end.

A great pre workout should contain:

  • 6-8g citrulline malate

A full clinical dose of citrulline malate will lead to greater pumps during training, faster recovery between sets, and the ability to perform more reps per set. (1, 2)

  • 2.5g betaine

Betaine will bring improvements to your endurance levels, muscle recovery speed, and explosive strength output. It’s very popular with sprinters, for obvious reasons, and it is one of the key ingredients in a solid pre workout formula. (3, 4, 5, 6)

  • 3.2g beta-alanine

Beta-alanine is best-known for the tingly effect it creates, but the main reason we want this ingredient is due to its ability to buffer against lactic acid build-up. You’ll be able to push through “the burn” significantly longer when using this ingredient in a correct dose. (7)

  • 400mg caffeine

You know caffeine. It wakes you up, and makes you focus. But what most people don’t know is that it also has hidden strength training benefits, which require a higher dose of 400mg. (8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13)

And it should NOT contain:

  • BCAAs

Using BCAAs before training can inhibit dopamine production and lead to early CNS fatigue. (14, 15)

  • Taurine

Taurine is an antagonist of caffeine. It stops caffeine from doing its job. Ever felt flat after drinking a pre? This is why. (16)

  • Niacin

This is vitamin B3, and it’s often added to pre workout drinks to mask the fact it’s under-dosed in beta-alanine, as it creates a similar tingly feeling (with none of the training benefits).

If you’d like to read up in more detail on what I’ve shown above, read this post.

The best pre workout available is AML Pre Workout. It’s not even close. Check it out here.

I won’t even give you a second option, because this is the pre all top class athletes use.

Okay… I will.

You could also grab something like Pre Jym, or Total War. And while both of these products are good, one glance at the formula should make it clear just how far ahead AML are versus the rest of the industry.

AML Post Workout

Post Workout

Here’s another useful one.

Post workout supplements have become a thing in the last five years.

Supplement companies like to throw in full mixtures of useful ingredients because it’s a convenient way of ticking a lot of boxes in one go.

A good post workout formula should contain:

  • 5g creatine monohydrate

There’s more info on creatine below. You’ll experience significantly greater strength gains, and the ability to perform more reps to failure.

  • 5g leucine

Consuming 5 grams of leucine immediately after training will directly influence the m-TOR pathway and lead to up greater muscle protein synthesis. (17)

  • 2.5g betaine

You read about the training benefits of betaine above. Taking it after training can lead to slight improvements in hypertrophy thanks to its ability to work alongside creatine and increase its uptake into muscle cells, leading to greater gains in size and strength. (18)

Most top brands will release a pre & post stack which are designed to work well together. So if you went with AML Pre Workout (which you really should), you can complement it well with AML Post Workout. Or if you picked up Pre Jym, go with Post Jym.

creatine monohydrate


If you lift weights – and you do, because you’re on my website! – you should be taking creatine.

Man or women… it doesn’t matter.

Creatine will improve your results by improving your strength, and the number of repetitions you can perform to failure. As an added bonus, muscles generally look harder and fuller as a side effect of creatine supplementation, thanks to its ability to force additional water into our muscle cells. (19)

Standard creatine monohydrate at a dose of 5 grams per day will give you all of these benefits.

If you experience any digestion issues with it, switch to creatine HCL. This blend has a tangy taste, but it will perform the same job at a lower dose so stomach issues will disappear. (20)

If you took my recommendaion of using the AML Pre & Post stack above (or Pre Jym & Post Jym), those products already contain a full clinical dose of creatine so you don’t need to pick it up separately.

But if you need some, this is the one.

list of best supplements to take to build muscle


Now we move on to stuff everybody overlooks.

You know those guys at your gym who never seem to change shape? They’re the guys who happily spend cash every month on flashy pre-workout drinks that promise to “kill you stone dead” but overlook the basics…

Omega-3 has so many health benefits, yet so few of us eat fish regularly enough to obtain them.

So get a supplement.

list of best supplements to take to burn fat

Vitamin D3

Vitamin D… good old sunshine.

Like Omega-3 above, we generally don’t get enough of the stuff, so having a supplement plugs the gap.

With enough vitamin D in your diet, you’ll notice greater energy levels and better moods.

But don’t pick up a useless product that doesn’t provide you anywhere near enough to reap the rewards. Make sure you get vitamin D3 (not D4) and look for a serving size of 5000iu.

This is the one.

list of best supplements to take to lose weight

Multivitamins & Minerals

Notice a trend here?

So far, every item on my list is one of convenience.

Having supplements makes it easier for us to max out the benefits of things which we are missing in our diet. With a quality multivitamin supplement you will ensure you always hit your baseline for daily vitamins (duh!), and this is super important because the spectrum of vitamins and minerals has so many responsibilities, ranging from energy levels, to mood, to hair strength, to skin quality.

And very few of us eat a wide enough variety of vegetables to get them all (we are creatures of habit).

So get this one if you’re a guy, and get this one if you’re a girl.

Now You Know What Supp…

There you go, we’re all done here.

Now you have the complete list of supplements I use and this is really all you should ever need.

If anything new hits the market which warrants a place on the list, you can rest assured it’ll be on the page.

If you’ve enjoyed reading this article, jump on my email list at the bottom of today’s post for more tips like this. I get people lean AF for a living, so I’m sure you’ll enjoy the stuff I send out via email to my subscribers.

Until next time…

Outwork Everyone!


  1. Pérez-Guisado J., et al. Citrulline malate enhances athletic anaerobic performance and relieves muscle soreness. J Strength Cond Res. (2010)
  2. Alvares T. S., et al. Acute l-arginine supplementation increases muscle blood volume but not strength performance. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. (2012)
  3. Hoffman J.R., et al. Effect of betaine supplementation on power performance and fatigue. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. (2009)
  4. Lee E. C., et al. Ergogenic effects of betaine supplementation on strength and power performance. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. (2010)
  5. Holewa J., et al. Effects of betaine on body composition, performance, and homocysteine thiolactone. Department of Kinesiology, Recreation, and Sport Studies, Coastal Carolina University. (2013)
  6. Pryor J. L., et al. Effect of betaine supplementation on cycling sprint performance. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. (2012)
  7. Hoffman J., et al. Beta-alanine and the hormonal response to exercise. Int J Sports Med. (2008)
  8. Duncan M. J., et al. The effect of caffeine ingestion on mood state and bench press performance to failure. J Strength Cond Res. (2011)
  9. Childs E., et al. Subjective, behavioral, and physiological effects of acute caffeine in light, nondependent caffeine users. Psychopharmacology. (2006)
  10. Kim T. W., et al. Caffeine increases sweating sensitivity via changes in sudomotor activity during physical loading. J Med Food. (2011)
  11. Cook C., et al. Acute caffeine ingestion increases voluntarily chosen resistance training load following limited sleep. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. (2012)
  12. Del Coso J., et al. Dose response effects of a caffeine-containing energy drink on muscle performance: a repeated measures design. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. (2012)
  13. Mora-Rodríguez R., et al. Caffeine ingestion reverses the circadian rhythm effects on neuromuscular performance in highly resistance-trained men. PLoS One. (2012)
  14. Walker D. K., et al. Exercise, amino acids, and aging in the control of human muscle protein synthesis. Med Sci Sports Exerc. (2011)
  15. Choi S., et al. Oral branched-chain amino acid supplements that reduce brain serotonin during exercise in rats also lower brain catecholamines. Amino Acids. (2013)
  16. Giles G. E., et al. Differential cognitive effects of energy drink ingredients: caffeine, taurine, and glucose. Pharmacol Biochem Behav. (2012)
  17. Walker D. K., et al. Exercise, amino acids, and aging in the control of human muscle protein synthesis. Med Sci Sports Exerc. (2011)
  18. Hoffman J. R., et al. Effect of 15 days of betaine ingestion on concentric and eccentric force outputs during isokinetic exercise. J Strength Cond Res. (2011)
  19. Rawson E.S., et al. Effects of creatine supplementation and resistance training on muscle strength and weightlifting performance. J Strength Cond Res. (2003)
  20. Miller D. et al. Oral bioavailability of creatine supplements: Is there room for improvement? Annual Meeting of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. (2009)

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I’m Russ. I’ve been a personal trainer since 2002, and I own

My job is to simplify fitness for my readers.

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