Skip This Common Painkiller If You Want Bigger Muscles

Many guys lift weights at the gym to build muscle and burn fat. But your fitness goals may be thwarted if you simultaneously take this drug that most people keep in their medicine cabinets.

According to Swedish researchers at the Karolinska Institute, individuals who regularly take anti-inflammatory medications, such as ibuprofen, will experience inhibited muscle growth. The study examined healthy adults who regularly lifted weights and the effects of ibuprofen on their muscles. The drug is commonly used to treat ailments such as headaches, back pain, arthritis, and minor injuries.

According to the Independent, participants ranged in age from 18 to 35. Over the course of eight weeks, half took a somewhat high but safe dose of ibuprofen—1,200 mg—every day, while the other half took 75 mg of aspirin. Both groups engaged in weight-training exercises that targeted their leg muscles two to three times a week.

After completing the eight-week routine, researchers examined the volunteers’ muscle growth and strength as well as anti-inflammatory indicators in the muscles. And the news is bad for people who pop a few Advil every day to combat pain. They determined that participants who took low doses of aspirin had muscles twice the size of those who took ibuprofen. They also concluded that high doses of ibuprofen harmed muscle strength.

Tommy Lundberg, a researcher at Karolinska Institutet’s Department of Laboratory Medicine, noted: “The results are extremely interesting since the use of anti-inflammatory drugs is so globally widespread, not least amongst elite athletes and recreationally active individuals.”

Researchers elected to use ibuprofen in their study because the anti-inflammatory drug has been well studied. However, they think high doses of all types of over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs will produce similar results.

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