How important are supplements? For muscle growth

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As a publisher of a fitness website, we are sometimes surprised that the articles about supplements score so well, in terms of page views. Because supplements are actually not very important for a successful strength sports career.

In our opinion, supplements are not even the icing on the cake. Supplementation is a small addition to the bigger picture, in which a well-thought-out training program (with attention to the right parameters of intensityvolumefrequency), the right nutrition and sufficient rest/recovery are decisive.


We can therefore completely agree with this tweet from hypertrophy professor Brad Schoenfeld:

And if you then ask which supplements make up that 5%, most experts will say: creatine, possibly caffeine and if necessary protein powders. ‘If necessary’, because:

Among those experts is bodybuilding coach Eric Trexler. He says :

If you spend a whole training career with a slightly boosted capacity to train (from supplements, ed.) there’s a likelihood that there’s still that kind of razor-hin benefit.


I don’t think anyone would ever get to the end of a career and look back and say: “If not for the creatine, I never would have gotten this far”.

In some circumstances, supplements can be useful to boost your capacity, for example if you have been ill for a while and have had to lose a lot of fitness. Or, for example, in the cut, if you have been living and training with an energy deficit for quite some time.

But even then it only concerns short-term effects that make little or no difference in the overall picture, according to coach/author Greg Nuckols and coach/podcaster Dave Maconi .


As has been said many times on our site, creatine is actually the only supplement that can actually make a small difference and whose effect has been extensively researched and has been sufficiently proven. Well, that may also apply to caffeine, but that substance only works for strength performance if your body is not used to it.

Is there really nothing under the sun but creatine and caffeine? Maybe. For advanced natural bodybuilders, it might be worth experimenting with citrulline, beta-alanine and betaine.

All this apart from nutritional supplements such as protein powders and vitamins and minerals, which are only necessary if you do not get enough of them through your regular diet.

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