T Nation

Pain Relievrs May Lead to Gains


Combining pain relievers with weight training may increase muscle strength, mass (4/7/2008)
Taking ibuprofen and acetaminophen on daily basis while weight lifting may increase muscle mass and strength, says new research by Ball State University.

A study of male and female participants found that taking regular daily doses of one of the two pain relievers may substantially increase the amount of quadriceps muscle mass and strength during three months of intense weight lifting.

Physiologists Todd Trappe and Chad Carroll from Ball State's Human Performance Laboratory (HPL) presented their findings April 6 at the Experimental Biology 2008 conference in San Diego. The presentation was part of the scientific program of the American Physiological Society (APS).

Thirty-six men and women, between age 60 and 78 years, were randomly assigned to daily dosages of either brand versions of ibuprofen, acetaminophen or a placebo. The dosages were identical to those recommended by the manufacturers and were selected to most closely mimic what chronic users of these medicines were likely to be taking.

Subjects participated in three months of weight training that included 15- to 20-minute sessions three times a week in the Human Performance Laboratory.

"Over three months, the chronic consumption of ibuprofen or acetaminophen during resistance training appears to have induced intramuscular changes that enhance the metabolic response to resistance exercise," Trappe said. "This allows the body to add substantially more new protein to muscle."

The researchers now are analyzing muscle biopsies taken before and after the three-month period of resistance training.

Going into the research project, Trappe and Carroll, an HPL post-doctorate fellow, knew various studies that training at this intensity and for this time period would significantly increase muscle mass and strength.

As they expected, the placebo group showed such increases, but researchers were surprised to find that the groups using either ibuprofen or acetaminophen did even better. The most recent study appears to contradict previous findings.

An earlier research project from the laboratory, measuring muscle metabolism â?? or more precisely, muscle protein synthesis, the mechanism through which new protein is added to muscle â?? had looked at changes over a 24-hour period. This acute study found that both ibuprofen and acetaminophen had a negative impact, by blocking a specific enzyme cyclooxygenase, commonly known as COX.

Trappe said the study has implications for the elderly, who suffer from muscle loss as they age, and astronauts, who lose muscle mass and strength during long durations in space. HPL currently has research projects focusing on the adaptation to exercise in both groups.

Funding for the research came from the National Institutes of Health and a postdoctoral initiative award from APS.

By Marc Ransford, Media Relations Manager

Copyright © 2008 Ball State University 2000 W. University Ave. Muncie, IN 47306
800-382-8540 and 765-289-1241
Legal Information | Employment | TTY Numbers


There's also a bunch of studies that say otherwise. Regardless, the actual amount that it helps or hinders is probably negligible. If taking pain relievers get you in the gym, then take em.

My 2 cents.


although i see why they did it, i wish they had broadened the age range of the test subjects.

pretty neat stuff though.


Yep, the scientific consensus over the past few years has been that they limit the markers of hypertrophy.


I don't know man. I've seen a bunch of tests saying the opposite, but I've learned it's usually better to just go from personal experience.

I've wanted to bring this up before but didn't in order to avoid being accused of certain illicit drug activities and whatnot and etcetera.

If it's ever time to go to the gym, and I'm feeling shitty or I have a headache or whatever, I take some of these Acetaminophen pills. It's the active ingredient or whatever in pain killers. I don't know, I Wikipediad it a while ago, but it works. I straighted the hell up real quick and have some sick ass workouts on that stuff. I take a bit more than recommended, but I really feel different.

I may walk into the gym on Saturday morning. It's leg day and I'm feeling like shit. Get in like one or two tablespoons of black coffee with a lot of sugar, pop a few of these pills, and I'll have a great workout. It even suppresses the nausea that normally accompanies leg day.

But I only take it when I have a legitimate headache or whatever so as not to become dependent.

But I've noticed that all drugs effect different people really differently, so basically..
Don't go popping Ibuprofens for no reason.


This is a slippery slope. I used to take a lot of pain pills (8-16 at a time) and eventually you don't feel anything at all. Sure you can bench 10 plates, you won't feel a damn thing and next thing you know, you've torn a pec in half. I won't even go into the consequences of addiction. I don't think this is something we should be pursuing as intelligent, healthy adults.



I got a bottle of perc's and was wondering about liftin loaded... I just assumed Id be sluggish and not able to push the same weight and possibly hurt myself... well maybe its just cause I tend to overdo it with the pills sometimes... I guess if I just took one it actually help huh?


Uhm. They're 60-78years old. It's pretty likely that some of them will be experiencing some level of joint pain.

Take painkillers -> Alleviate pain -> Allows for greater effort in gym -> Allows for more muscle growth overall.