Q+A: Ibuprofen and Resistance Training

Ibuprofen and Resistance Training

by Tony Nuñez, PhD

People often take over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen to ease the sting of delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS). Alas, research suggests taking these medications may blunt the training benefits of an exercise bout

researchers trying to determine the effects of high doses of anti-inflammatories on resistance training adaptations launched a study of 31 men and women (aged 18–35); 15 received a high dose (1,200 milligrams) of ibuprofen, while 16 received a negligible dose (75 mg) of aspirin. Each group performed 8 weeks of weight-stack resistance training and resistive flywheel (cycle) exercise (matched for training volume). After the 8 weeks, the aspirin group had double the increase in percentage of muscle volume gained and greater strength compared with the ibuprofen group.

These results suggest that taking maximal over-the-counter doses of anti-inflammatory drugs can thwart exercise gains in young adults. More research needs to be done to determine if lower doses of anti-inflammatory drugs have a similar detrimental effect.(See Resist Using Ibuprofen Right After Resistance Training for a related study.)

REFERENCE: Lilja, M., et al. 2017. High doses of anti-inflammatory drugs compromise muscle strength and hypertrophic adaptations to resistance training in young adults. Acta Physiologica, doi:10.1111/apha.12948.

Have a question for our experts? Send it to AmericanFitness@nasm.org.

Meet our experts

AFM_Author_Nunez TONY P. NUÑEZ, PHD, is an assistant professor in exercise science at Metropolitan State University of Denver. He is an active researcher and presenter in the exercise physiology and fitness field.

The information provided is without warranty or guarantee and NASM disclaims any liability for decisions you make based on the information. Learn more