The 10 best gym supplements for the ultimate workout

Pre-workout, post-workout, and even intra-workout - these are the very best gym supplements of the year

best gym supplements

by Ryan Houghton |
Updated on

The best gym supplements are among the most effective methods of improving your personal performance in the gym, from providing an enormous energy boost and preventing dehydration to significantly boosting muscle growth - they are essential for your gym journey.

The best gym supplements at a glance:

• Best overall gym supplement: Optimum Nutrition Micronised Creatine Powder - View now on
• Best whey protein: Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Whey Protein - View now on
• Best vegan protein powder: Vegan Protein Powders - View now on

Navigating the labyrinthian health and fitness market can be nothing short of a nightmare - creatine, whey, BCAAs, EAAs, pre-workout - figuring out what the best gym supplements are for your fitness goals, your budget and dietary requirements quickly become a little more complicated than you can imagine.

As a result, we've pulled together some of the very best gym supplements from across the internet - breaking down the absolute essentials, everything you'll need to start your fitness journey.

From a range of highly renowned brands, we've gathered some absolute bargains with the best quality ingredients to keep your body at its peak performance.

Best overall gym supplement

One of, if not the, most important supplements for training - creatine has been widely tested and is a highly successful gym supplement.

Boosting energy levels, increasing water retention to resist dehydration, and increasing lean muscle mass, creatine is among the most essential supplements in an athlete's arsenal.

Optimum Nutrition's micronised creatine powder is fast-acting, easy to dissolve, and perfect for a pre-workout (or post-workout boost). With over 180 servings in a single tub, simply take a scoop and add it to your pre-workout drink, it's that simple.

Looking for even more options? Here are the best creatine powders for the ultimate pre-workout pump.


  • Good workout boost
  • Flexible supplement
  • Excellent quality - no graininess


  • Average creatine per serving

Best whey protein

The gold standard of whey protein, Optimum Nutrition's Double Chocolate whey protein powder is far and beyond one of the greatest gym supplements you'll ever get your hands on.

Loaded with protein and BCAAs for that extra muscle-repairing boost and packed with mind-blowing chocolate flavour that is basically indistinguishable from standard chocolate milk - this is the level that all protein powders should strive for.

Simply between 180-240ml of water (we prefer to use milk), shake vigorously for 30 seconds and enjoy a silky smooth post-workout drink.

For a little more guidance on protein powders and other excellent muscle builders, check out our favourite post-workout supplements of the year so far.


  • Fantastic flavour
  • Huge amount of protein
  • Large amount of BCAAs


  • Contains artificial flavours

Best vegan protein powder

The vegan supplement market has dramatically expanded over recent years, with hundreds of companies offering fantastic alternatives to milk-based supplements, but none have quite captured the deliciousness of Wyldsson's plant-based protein powder.

Made of real fruits and botanicals, containing an impressive 20g of plant protein, and loaded with countless vitamins and nutrients - Wyldsson's vegan protein is simply excellent.

Our only gripe with this largely terrific protein powder is that there isn't more of it, with a 1kg bag providing around 28 servings.


  • Great flavour
  • Perfect vegan alternative
  • Tonnes of nutrients


  • Not as high in protein as a vegetarian alternative

Best caffeine gym supplement

There are few supplements that can provide an equal amount of energy while at the gym than caffeine - the great motivator.

With sufficient caffeine at the gym, most users experience a huge increase in mental alertness, efficiency and overall effort - making those intense workouts even more worthwhile.

Urban Fuel tablets contain 200mg of caffeine (around double the amount in a cup of coffee), the result? An enormous amount of bursting energy, giving you the ultimate edge when repping your maximum weight on the bench press, rocketing up with the squat bar, or going the distance on the treadmill.

All that brilliance aside, if you're particularly sensitive to caffeine, you may want to proceed with caution - as overconsumption can lead to some unpleasant feelings of anxiety and jitteriness, so be warned.

Nothing quite livens you up for the gym like a hit of caffeine - here are the best caffeine pills for an incredible boost.


  • High-octane energy
  • Great number of servings
  • Excellent quality


  • May contain too much caffeine for sensitive users

Best Applied Nutrition Pre-Workout

There are few pre-workout supplements that can truly rival Applied Nutrition's spine-tinglingly strong ABE pre-workout, with enough caffeine, taurine and citrulline to keep you powering through the toughest workout of your life.

Head to the gym with enough passion, energy and strength to train for hours, annihilate your PBs in moments and above all - have an awesome time at the gym, it's seriously that good.

As the intimidating packaging warns, this pre-workout is absolutely potent - for some, it might become far too much to handle, so be warned.


  • Incredibly potent pre-workout
  • Perfect for intense training
  • Affordable


  • Very high caffeine
  • Not recommended for daily use

Best carbohydrate gym supplement

Despite the infamous reputation carbs have as the diet-killer, carbs are absolutely essential for refuelling after a tough workout or for quickly topping up your energy before a devastating exercise regimen.

Applied Nutrition has been at the forefront of gym supplements for decades now, and their cyclic dextrin carb supplement is a testament to their excellence.

Fantastic punchy flavour and easy-to-digest carbohydrates provide an instant energy burst and with 48 servings - this effective, affordable supplement is unbeatable for the price.


  • Perfect pre/intra/post-workout supplement
  • Great flavour
  • Very affordable


  • Not suitable for keto diets

Best mass gainer

USN's top-tier mass gainer is loaded with protein at 60g total - alongside 1,160 calories for major muscle growth. Mass gainers are one of the most efficient and surprisingly cost-effective methods of bulking up and drastically increasing muscle mass on the market - and USN's hyperbolic mass gainer is among the greatest of them. Fantastic flavours that are shockingly easy to mix, an insane amount of protein that is unrivalled by practically any supplement on the market, and at a great value - there's no beating that.

Unfortunately, as is the case for many mass gainers, there aren't a lot of servings per bag. With only 20 servings in a 6kg bag, it is shocking how few drinks there really are in the tub.

For greater gains advice - read up on our best mass gainers for huge muscle growth.


  • Huge amount of protein per serving
  • Tonnes of calories
  • Easily integrated into diet


  • Not many servings per bag

Best vegan mass gainer

The ultimate vegan alternative, Protein Works' extreme mass gainer combines delicious flavour with over 50g of pure plant protein, which is near-unattainable with just diet alone.

Packed with 740 calories and 120g of carbs, Protein Works extreme mass gainer is perfect for post-workout repair and replenishing depleted energy stores, giving you the edge in the next day's intense workout.

Despite being pricey for a small number of servings, Protein Works has made quite possibly the best vegan mass gainer on the market - the results are more than worth the cost alone.


  • Excellent taste
  • Massive amount of protein
  • Plenty of nutrients


  • If you are to follow the scoops per serving, the protein will only last just over one week. May mean you end up repeat buying frequently

Best BCAA gym supplement

BCAAs are essential amino acids involved in the building of lean muscle, and they're essential for protein synthesis. BCAAs are found in protein-rich foods such as chicken and beef - but are tough to find in high amounts when it comes to vegetarian and vegan alternatives - making Optimum Nutrition's BCAA supplement an excellent choice for non-meat eaters alike.

Filled with electrolytes and vitamins for a great pre-workout kick, Optimum Nutrition's BCAA supplement is fantastic for giving yourself an extra hit of energy before you break into an intense workout whilst also aiding in rapid muscle repair, so you're not out for the count longer than you need to be.

Made of premium ingredients with an intense strawberry kiwi flavour, Optimum Nutrition's BCAA supplement is one of the best on the market and is absolutely worth your consideration.


  • Great flavour variety
  • High-quality ingredients


  • Some reviewers found the taste could be quite bitter

Best protein snack

For a tasty, filling and protein-rich snack after a tough workout, you cannot do much better than Grenade's chocolate chip salted caramel protein bar.

Packed with 20g of sheer protein, with only 1.4g of sugar and roughly 226 calories, Grenade protein bars are the best cure for the post-workout munchies, which won't leave you feeling overly guilty afterwards.

Despite being a little on the pricier side, you'll save yourself lots of cash by avoiding the quick trip to the shop after each workout, and with the sheer amount of protein it contains, it's pretty guilt-free as well.


  • Perfect post-workout snack
  • A delicious alternative to high-calorie snacks
  • 20g of pure protein per bar


  • The chocolate and salted caramel flavours aren't overly strong

Gym supplement FAQs

What's the best gym supplement?

Needless to say, there's no definitive answer to this question - certain supplements work much better than others, and you'll certainly find that some work better for you than others.

However, that isn't to say that there aren't supplements that are scientifically proven to be extremely effective and are basically essential for building a good amount of muscle.

We're talking, of course, about creatine - the wonder supplement with enormous training benefits from increased strength and power output to increasing muscle mass after prolonged intake.

Creatine is one of the best gym supplements you can buy and is absolutely worth considering before you begin your fitness journey.

Do gym supplements have side effects?

Not everyone will experience some of the side effects that certain supplements can cause, but they can often lead to some uncomfortable short-term sicknesses such as cramps, headaches, anxiety and chest pain - this is most common amongst pre-workout due to them often containing caffeine.

High-protein post-workout supplements can cause bloating, gas and cramping - which is why it's advised to take them after a good workout.

Are gym supplements necessary?

Gym supplements are not a necessary part of the gym - you can simply eat a healthy, high-protein diet and find noticeable effects on your physique - but it's certainly not the most efficient way of gaining muscle.

Should you load on creatine?

There's a ton of conflicting information on whether or not you should load on creatine - some of the best experts suggest that loading with 20g for up to 5-7 days will saturate your muscles sufficiently, giving you that desired boost.

However, creatine can also be taken in 3-5g doses for three weeks to have the same effect - the only downside being it'll take longer to truly feel the effects.

Ryan Houghton is a tech product writer and reviewer for What's The Best, specialising in PCs, smart tech, televisions and gaming. He also writes for Empire Online.

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