The Best Supplements for Female Muscle Building
We have entered a new era in women’s fitness. But even with a newfound interest in muscles and strength training, many women don’t know the best supplements for female muscle building. While women and men are similar in many ways, including in the gym, the average woman needs a different amount of macro- and micronutrients than the average man. Still, most supplement brands focus on the needs of male athletes over female athletes.
However, some supplements do advertise themselves directly to women. You can normally recognize these products by their bright pink packaging, a sharp contrast to the black or grey packaging aimed toward men. Of course, these products are not inherently bad or poor quality. But do women really need to use specially blended formulas? And if not, what are the best supplements for female muscle building and fitness?
FEMALE MUSCLE BUILDING: THE BASICS
There are some differences between men’s and women’s strength training. But these differences are not as dramatic as many people think. The discrepancies between men’s and women’s physiques, physical strength, and metabolisms mostly come down to the sheer difference in average size. Obviously, the average man is considerably bigger than the average woman. And with this extra size comes more muscle mass, higher nutritional needs, and greater strength.
Hormones also play a role. The lower level of testosterone found in most women impedes their ability to gain considerable muscle mass. These hormone differences might mean that women don’t gain strength and muscle mass at the same rate as men. But heavy lifting and consistent training can still deliver impressive results in both strength and appearance.
Some fitness enthusiasts think that women should follow different workout routines than men. While some women might opt to focus on different body parts than their male counterparts, there is really no reason for women to follow a different routine. With hard work and effort, women can see strength and muscle gain, relative to their body size, just like any man. And while women do have some unique nutritional needs, many of the best supplements for female muscle building work just the same for men. And vice-versa.
ARE FITNESS SUPPLEMENTS SAFE?
Generally, yes. But there are some cases where you’ll want to proceed with caution. Make sure you purchase your fitness supplements from reputable retailers. While you might think you’ve found a good deal online, you might unwittingly purchase a counterfeit or unregulated product. Also, ensure that the products you purchase are sealed and fresh. While you’re not likely to become ill from expired protein powder, it is possible.
If you’re going to use stimulants, though, you do need to be careful. Too many stimulants can cause heart problems and other health issues in some people. If you want to avoid heavy stimulants entirely, steer clear of pre-workouts, fat burners, or any other products that contain caffeine. However, most people can consume small amounts of caffeine and other supplements without worry. Plus, some stimulants can actually be beneficial for your muscle growth.
CHOOSING THE RIGHT SUPPLEMENTS FOR YOUR BODY
Not everyone uses supplements. Some fitness enthusiasts swear by their protein shakes and pre-workouts while others take nothing at all. The supplements you decide to take and how well they work will depend on your own routine, diet, and goals. But it’s important to remember that no one needs these products to see results in the gym. Consistent hard work is all it really takes.
It’s always a good idea to consult with a medical professional before jumping into a new fitness or supplement routine. Checking with your doctor is especially important if you have existing conditions like heart problems, diabetes, or obesity. While lifting weight is an excellent way to get in shape and improve your health, you should never put your safety at risk with dangerous supplements or risky exercises.
HOW WE REVIEWED
The world of fitness supplements is vast and overwhelming. So for our review of the best supplements for female muscle building, we decided to focus in on specific ingredients. While many products boast proprietary blends and other secret recipes, what you should really look for in a supplement are quality ingredients at an effective dose.
First, we chose eight of the best supplements for female muscle building based on current research and medical knowledge. We then broke down what these supplements actually are, as well as the supposed effects they can have on the female body. We then looked at products that contain these ingredients, as well as the average price for each of these supplements and their respective products.
As you can probably guess, the best supplements for female muscle building range greatly in price. Most products, depending on servings, will typically cost anywhere from $5 to $50. While this can vary slightly, you should be suspicious of any product that is outlandishly expensive. However, many quality supplements are available at affordable prices, especially if they’re from a generic brand.
THE 8 BEST SUPPLEMENTS FOR FEMALE MUSCLE BUILDING
As we said above, the supplements you choose, if any, will depend on your personal goals and routine. But there are several supplements that have proven or strongly suspected benefits for both muscle gain and general health. Another thing to point out is, although these are some of the best supplements for female muscle building, there is no reason that men can’t use and benefit from these ingredients. After all, men’s and women’s bodies are very similar when it comes to fitness.
We’ve linked to products that contain these supplements under each ingredient, but you should be able to find a variety of options at your local health or fitness store. If you’re on a budget, you can also often find generic versions of these supplements. While they might not taste great, they can help ensure that you’re getting the supplements you need without breaking the bank.
As far as fitness supplements are concerned, creatine is one of the most backed by science. This amino acid naturally exists in the human body through our diet, though typically in small amounts. Our muscles use creatine as an immediate energy source during exercise, so supplementing this compound can help improve performance in the gym. In turn, this increased performance leads to great muscle gains over time.
There are several types of creatine, but creatine monohydrate is the most accessible. Most people choose to take creatine as a plain powder, mixing it into their pre-workout or protein shake. Some supplement blends also contain creatine already mixed in. The Optimum Nutrition Micronized Creatine Monohydrate Powder retails for between $10 and $15 for 600 grams. If a powder isn’t your style, you can also try the Optimum Nutrition Micronized Creatine Monohydrate Capsules. These capsules are between $20 and $25 for 300 capsules. Many fitness and health retailers will also carry their own generic version of creatine monohydrate powders.
Protein is not only one of the best supplements for female muscle building, but just for muscle building in general. Many people get enough protein from their diet, though, so these supplements are only necessary if your protein intake is lacking. There are two types of protein supplements sourced from milk: whey and casein. While these two supplements are very similar, they do work slightly different within the body. Whey protein is considered an anabolic, or muscle-building, compound. Whey protein triggers a rapid increase in blood amino acids, which are needed for muscle protein synthesis.
Protein comes in a variety of forms: bars, pre-made shakes, and more. But the most popular kind of protein supplement is a traditional protein powder. You can find protein powders in all brands and flavors, but there are some big names that many fitness enthusiasts turn to. The Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Whey Protein Powder retails for between $20 and $30 for two pounds. You can also try the Isopure Zero Carb Protein Powder, which retails for between $10 and $15 for one pound. Whichever whey protein you choose, remember that it is one of the best supplements for female muscle building out there.
On the other hand, casein protein is an anti-catabolic, or muscle-preserving, compound. Instead of spiking the amino acids in your bloodstream, it delivers a steady supply to your muscles over time. The tangible differences between these two types of protein might be negligible in practice. But many higher level athletes choose their protein source strategically based on these traits.
Casein protein also comes in bars, powders, and other supplements. But it isn’t as common as whey protein. Still, you shouldn’t have too much trouble finding quality casein protein online or at a trusted retailer. Optimum Nutrition’s Gold Standard 100% Casein Protein Powder retails for between $30 and $35 for two pounds. The MusclePharm Combat 100% Casein Supplement retails for between $35 and $40 for four pounds.
If you’re dairy-free for whatever reason, there’s no reason to avoid protein supplements entirely. Pea and soy protein powders can be some of the best supplements for female muscle building if you’re vegan or lactose-intolerant. While these products aren’t as widespread as whey and casein, they are becoming more and more popular.
When it comes to protein, another one of the best supplements for female muscle building is a BCAA blend. BCAA stands for branched-chain amino acids, which include leucine, isoleucine, and valine. These amino acids are essential for the human body’s protein-making process. Like whey or casein protein, many people receive adequate BCAAs from their day-to-day diet. However, others choose to take supplements to ensure they’re getting enough BCAAs.
BCAA supplements typically come in powders or capsules. You may also find BCAA blends mixed into other sports supplements or drinks that you take. So make sure to double-check the labels on your current products before adding more BCAAs. The Scivation Xtend Energy BCAA Powder retails for between $25 and $35 for 30 servings. The Optimum Nutrition BCAA Capsules retail for between $20 and $25 for 400 capsules.
Beta-alanine is another type of amino acid. This amino acid helps provide energy, increase sports performance, and may even help build muscle mass. The research surrounding beta-alanine and its benefits are currently limited. But many experts believe that this amino acid shows promise for being of the best supplements for female muscle building.
Beta-alanine is another compound that is often mixed in with other sports supplements. But if you’re currently lacking this amino acid in your supplement regimen, there are plenty of products available. You can try the BulkSupplements Beta-Alanine Powder, which retails for between $10 and $15 for 250 grams. Another option is the Optimum Nutrition Beta-Alanine Powder, which retails for between $15 and $25 for just over seven ounces.
Magnesium is not just one of the best supplements for female muscle building. It is also one of the best supplements for female health in general. Magnesium is an electrolyte of which many people are deficient. But this element has countless benefits including insulin regulation and muscle oxygenation during exercise. The latter of which makes it one of the best supplements for female muscle building.
Many hydrating sports drinks contain magnesium. But you can also purchase additional supplements from your local drugstore or health store. Nature Made Magnesium capsules retail for between $4 and $10 for 100 tablets. You can also find generic magnesium supplements at most pharmacies or grocery stores.
The reason caffeine is one of the best supplements for female muscle building is that it dramatically boosts performance during a workout. If you’re tired or lethargic, you’re much less likely to push yourself at the gym. By taking a drink or other supplement that contains caffeine, your body is able to give its all during your lifts.
Caffeine is found in many, if not most, pre-workout products on the market. You might also find caffeine in your BCAA blend or another supplement you’re already taking. And at the end of the day, you can always just drink a cup of coffee before your workout. But before adding caffeine to your supplement regimen, ensure it’s not already in one of your products. You should also consult with a doctor if you have any pre-existing conditions that may worsen with regular caffeine use.
Nitric oxide’s role as one of the best supplements for female muscle building is twofold. On the one hand, this supplement can increase your performance while in the gym. On the other, it decreases muscle soreness, allowing you to hit your next workout even sooner. That happens because nitric oxide widens the blood vessels. With widened blood vessels, your bloodstream is able to transport oxygen and other nutrients to your muscles with more efficiency.
However, calling nitric oxide a supplement is somewhat misleading. The supplement you should actually take is called l-arginine, which promotes nitric oxide production within the body. You might see these supplements marketed under the name l-arginine, or with phrases like “nitric oxide amplifier.” If you’re looking for a nitric oxide boost, you can try the Cellucor NO3 Chrome Pills which retail for between $25 and $35 for 90 capsules. You can also try Havasu Nutrition Extra Strength L-Arginine which retails for between $15 and $20 for 60 capsules.
ARE FITNESS SUPPLEMENTS WORTH THE COST?
While the best supplements for female muscle building listed above offer many benefits, they might not be worth the cost for everyone. Plenty of successful athletes use only a couple supplements in their regimen. And some use none at all. If you have any serious concerns about whether or not you’re getting the right nutrients for your goals, then these supplements can be a worthwhile investment. But oftentimes re-evaluating your diet is just as effective.
If you do decide to invest in fitness supplements, make sure you’re choosing recognized brands with high-quality ingredients. You certainly don’t need to break the bank to purchase any of the best supplements for female muscle building. But if a supplement’s price or claimed effects are too good to be true, you’re probably best off choosing something else.
In the end, it’s not about the protein powder or pre-workout you take. If you want to see meaningful results in your strength, health, and appearance, then you need to put the work in at the gym. Even the best supplements for female muscle building can’t replace hard work.