Is Tribulus Useless For Muscle Growth?

June 7, 2023 0 Comments

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In this article I will be answering the question “is tribulus useless for muscle growth?”. Tribulus is often touted as an excellent supplement for boosting testosterone and improving muscle growth.

Is tribulus really that effective? This article will unpack this topic in greater detail and present some very interesting insights. I hope that you enjoy reading it.

Is Tribulus Useless For Muscle Growth?

The research on tribulus is inconclusive but does show that it isn’t really effective in boosting testosterone or improving muscle mass.

There aren’t too many studies on humans either and the research is very mixed. It is important to note that different people react differently and there any many different forms of tribulus on the market.

The most potent is bulgarian tribulus, but not many studies have been done on it. There is also a strong placebo component that comes with administering tribulus. 

If you believe strongly that tribulus will raise your testosterone and boost your muscle gains, you will often respond better to tribulus than people who don’t have that same belief.

Mixed Results From Research

The research into the efficacy of tribulus supplementation for muscle growth  is very mixed. There is little evidence to suggest that tribulus can increase your muscle gains.

In the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism there was a study where 15 people were assigned to a placebo or tribulus group. The tribulus group was given 3.21mg per kg of bodyweight daily.

Body weight, body composition, maximal strength, dietary intake and mood states were determined before and after an 8 week exercise and supplementation period.

No changes were seen in either group. In addition, muscle endurance increased for the bench press and leg press in the placebo group (p < .05, bench +- 28.4%, leg press +- 28.6%).

The tribulus group experienced a gain in only leg press strength (p < .05, bench +- 3.1%, leg press +-28.6%). From this study, tribulus didn’t enhance body composition or exercise performance.

Only 15 people were used in this study though, so the findings are not as significant as they would be with a lot more people.

Not Many Studies On Humans

Another thing to bare in mind is that there aren’t many human studies when it comes to tribulus. There just isn’t enough research on humans and the existing research is inconclusive.

There are more tribulus studies on animals. An experiment conducted on castrated rats showed that an extract of tribulus administered orally possessed aphrodisiac activity (Gauthaman et al., 2002). 

In terms of humans there is some evidence that tribulus can boost the libido. But there just isn’t any compelling body of research with enough credence to show that tribulus is effective for boosting testosterone and muscle mass.

Interestingly, there is research on animals that shows that tribulus does increase testosterone. Studies on primates, rabbits and castrated rats showed that acute intravenous tribulus treatment with an extract (7.5 mg/kg) resulted in a significant rise of blood androgens – testosterone, DHT and DHEA (Gauthaman and Ganesan, 2008).

When it comes to humans, no such studies demonstrate similar effects in terms of raising testosterone. It is unfortunate that many supplement companies market tribulus as having testosterone boosting effects. There just isn’t strong evidence to support this in humans.


Something very interesting that many people don’t consider when it comes to tribulus is the power of the placebo effect.

Some people that strongly believe in the performance boosting benefits of tribulus will respond better to it. Anecdotally, I know a 60 year old man who takes tribulus religiously and has noted strong performance benefits from it.

Not only does it improve his libido, but he experienced better gains in the gym. He also strongly believes in the positive effects of tribulus touted by supplement companies.

Other people who don’t have the same level of belief in tribulus don’t tend to respond as well. There is also the issue of hyper responders. Everyone responds differently to supplements, some people experience performance gains outside the norm.

Then there are those who experience very little benefits from certain supplements. This is another very interesting factor to take into account.


Is Tribulus Spiked?

Something to bare in mind with supplements like tribulus is the possibility that companies are spiking it with anabolic agents.

Indeed, some supplements are intentionally contaminated by banned substances which may enhance athletic performance (Aqai et al., 2013; Cavalcanti Gde et al., 2013; Judkins and Prock, 2012).

This practice does occur, although it really shouldn’t. As a result there are large variations in outcomes that people can expect when taking tribulus. It depends which source they are using.

The same could also be said for other supplements. The user can never be entirely sure about what they are getting when they buy supplements.

Safety Concerns

There are safety concerns to be aware of when it comes to tribulus. Overall, the supplement is safe but there is a risk of adverse effects.

The only case of acute poisoning from tribulus was reported in a young man, who in two days consumed a high dose to prevent kidney stone formation. He was hospitalised and after seven days signs of kidney necrosis was decreased (Talazas et al., 2010). 

Potential benefits and risks of tribulus supplementation on human health is still unclear. The majority of people don’t experience serious adverse effects. In terms of dosages, you should follow the instructions provided by the supplement company.

Final Thoughts

Is tribulus useless for muscle growth? The research is inconclusive but it doesn’t show any real benefit for human use in terms of building muscle or raising testosterone.

Animal studies have shown that tribulus is effective in raising libido. In humans as well there has been anecdotal evidence of this. 

There is also the placebo effect to take into consideration. Some people will find that they get more out of tribulus than others, based on their strong belief in the supplement.

There are also hyper responders who will experience better results from tribulus than other people. It is true that some supplement companies could contaminate their tribulus with anabolic agents or banned substances.

If you have any comments about tribulus please leave them below. As always, stay safe and enjoy your training!

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