Is Advil Killing Your Gym Results?

Are anti-inflammatories stopping your muscle growth in it’s tracks? It’s an odd thought, but it just might be the case. Now, to be clear, we don’t mean drugs like Motrin or Advil are inhibiting the function of your muscles, but they may be the reason you’re not seeing impressive results at the gym.

According to a new study by the Karolinska Institutet, anti-inflammatories can inhibit the growth of muscles by decreasing the amount of inflammation in the muscles, which seems to be essential to growth. Researchers took people ages 18-35 and divided them into two groups. The first got a higher dose of ibuprofen, and the second got a low dose of aspirin, daily for a period of eight weeks. Each subject had supervised weight training 2-3 times a week.

The group on aspirin had muscle gains 50% higher than the group on ibuprofen, a remarkable difference. They also had less dramatic gains in strength. “Our results suggest that young people who do weight training to increase their muscle mass should avoid regular high doses of anti-inflammatory drugs,” says lead study author Tommy Lundberg.

Hopefully you don’t have to take pain medications every day, but if bulking up is your goal, try to avoid them on days where you work out. While they do soothe by taking down inflammation, the results are body-wide, which can inhibit your fitness goals. You could always try an alternative solution, like meditation, stretching, or acupuncture!