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Muscle Building Pills – Ibuprofen & Acetaminophen?

is ibuprofen a muscle building pillWant more muscle faster? Take ibuprofen.

Ok, that’s not advice I really want to give but apparently ibuprofen and acetaminophen are muscle building pills!

A study has shown that taking the regular recommended dosage of ibuprofen and acetaminophen results in greater gains in muscle mass and strength.

The study took 36 men and women with an average age of 65 and put them on weight training program for 3 months. They were each given one of the following:

  1. Ibuprofen
  2. Acetaminophen
  3. Placebo

No-one know what they were receiving until the end of the study.

It was expected that the increases in strength and lean muscle tissue would be observed for the placebo group. Surprisingly however, the groups taking Ibuprofen or acetaminophen saw significantly more increases.

Says Dr. Trappe,

“the chronic consumption of ibuprofen or acetaminophen during resistance training appears to have induced intramuscular changes that enhance the metabolic response to resistance exercise”.

What exactly these changes are, no one knows yet.

The results were as follows:

  1. the placebo group experienced a 7 percent growth in muscle mass
  2. those taking either acetaminophen or ibuprofen experienced a 40 percent to 60 percent larger increase than the placebo group

Specifically, muscle volume increased 11 percent in the ibuprofen group and 13 percent in the acetaminophen group, compared with 9 percent in the placebo group. Muscle strength increased 30 percent in the ibuprofen group and 28 percent in the acetaminophen group, compared with 23 percent in the placebo group.

I have to admit, that’s significant. (Measurements taken at quadriceps).

Bear in mind that we are talking about untrained elderly individuals. Earlier, short term (24 hour) studies showed the opposite effect on young males i.e. protein synthesis levels were reduced compared with the control group.

However, therein may lie the answer. Dr. Trappe theorizes that in the long term the body may try to overcompensate “for an initial blocking of the enzyme the muscle needs to grow — prompting muscles to send out fresh and powerful signals demanding even more enzyme than the body would normally produce.

Very interesting indeed. You guys know I like to read the theory and then experiment on myself, I’m an experiential type of guy. However, this isn’t one I’m prepared to do right now. If you are, let the rest of us MuscleHackers know how it goes!

source: bio-medicine

Mark McManus

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Mark McManus
Mark McManus
Mark is now available for 1-on-1 consultations to help you take your results to the next level. Click here for more details.
Mark McManus is a trainer & author from Ireland. His work has been featured in major publications all over the world. He is the creator of the free growth-promoting workout Targeted Hypertrophy Training' (THT) and author of the NEW fat-torching system Total Six Pack Abs.
He has also created the BREAKTHROUGH arm and chest maximizer programs The Arms Blast' and 'Chest Blast' workouts.
And if you're a fan of delicious high-protein recipes to fuel your muscle growth, check out his cook book 'Buff Baking' here.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • javacody August 21, 2008, 11:39 pm

    Yep, I read about this on the Men’s Health website a few months back. I take Acetaminophen 3 times per day every day along with Milk Thistle (liver insurance). I think it is working. I’ve been doing it for two months and my arms and traps are noticably bigger.

    Think about this for a laugh (or not):
    Taking tylenol and working out in your mind may be more effective in combination than lifting weights alone! Pretty crazy, huh? Wonder what happens when you do all three?

  • Helfrick August 22, 2008, 1:42 pm

    Be careful about dosages and long term effects. There is a possibility of kidney and or liver damage.

  • javacody August 22, 2008, 8:56 pm

    Yep, I’m more leery of kidney damage and ibuprofin. Milk Thistle has been proven effective in liver damage, even against poisonous mushrooms that would normally cause total liver failure, so I feel ok about the risk with Tylenol. It is still a risk, though. I’ve heard of liver failure from just a single dose (in rare cases).

  • dave August 23, 2008, 12:56 am

    This is a very small number of people in this study (36), and the fact that the average age is 65 is significant as well. Im not really sure how this will hold up in a larger study with younger participants.

  • Zenlc August 23, 2008, 1:37 am

    One thing that always bothers me about these studies is they take untrained individuals. Problem is untrained people have a propensity for adding muscle mass. Trained individuals have gone through this “freshman” phase of adaptation by the body.

    One mitigating factor here is they used elderly subjects who don’t build muscle mass as easily as younger subjects.

  • javacody August 23, 2008, 6:08 pm

    Dave and Zenic, exactly. They don’t build muscle as easily as young folks. Something you both seem to not have considered is that because of this, using either one of these drugs may actually work BETTER in young people.

    Think about it. If an old person’s body supercompensates this way, maybe a younger person’s body with superdupercompensate. :)

    At any rate, I look forward to reading more about this. It is a fascinating subject.

  • javacody August 23, 2008, 6:11 pm

    Doh! Should be “body will” not “body with”.

  • Zenlc August 23, 2008, 6:39 pm

    @javacody *may* work better. May not. My whole point was that since no research has been done with trained individuals, we don’t really know anything, and testing on oneself is hardly scientific proof – that is called “anecdotal evidence.” Compelling, perhaps, but not scientific.

  • javacody August 23, 2008, 6:45 pm

    Anecdotal? Never heard of it. Can you sound it out for me slowly? And evidence, what is that?

    You are very skilled at condescension my friend, but perhaps not so skilled as me.


  • Greg Landry August 23, 2008, 10:15 pm

    Hmmm. Personally, I think by the time I stop seeing gains from natural lifting I will be happy with the shape I’m in. I’m not even close to showing signs of slowed growth yet and I’m starting to like what I see in the mirror more than before. But I guess some people do hit a plateau and are desperate to keep growing. I don’t believe in putting pills in my body unless I’m actually sick. Just my opinion.

  • Tanizaki August 24, 2008, 3:31 am

    A 2002 study by the same doctor using generally fit male subjects in their mid to late-20s found that ibuprofen and acetaminophen inhibited muscle synthesis.


    The title of the 2008 article is “Ibuprofen and acetaminophen promote muscle hypertrophy and strength gains during resistance exercise *in* *the* *elderly*” (emphasis added)

    Maybe javacody is a geezer?

  • Rich August 24, 2008, 1:21 pm

    Maybe those on the painkillers weren’t as sore so they worked harder.

  • Stephen August 27, 2008, 1:08 am

    There could be a mitigating factor here. For example, elderly people are know to have higher levels of aches and pains. People on painkillers (i.e. with less pain) may be more active between sessions, which may have helped muscle growth. I look forward to more research to explain the divergent findings.

    Btw, I got here by looking for a way to handle a headache that will not stunt muscle growth. If anyone has any suggestions, I’d be very thankful.

  • Chris August 28, 2008, 2:32 am

    Mark, I love you’re 5 day workout plan…I’ve been doing it for about 2 weeks now and my body feels great. I have a question tho..How do I “cut” my muscles? For example, my biceps are getting much larger, but I don’t see much more definition..what do I need to do?

  • Mark McManus August 30, 2008, 5:28 pm

    Hi Chris. You can’t ‘cut’ your muscles by lifting weights. If you want more definition you have to do this with diet and cardio.
    See http://www.TotalSixPackAbs.com

  • Paul November 23, 2008, 10:14 am

    I agree with Rich and Stephen. The analgesic properties most probably played a role enabling them to work harder and be more active between sessions.

    Ibuprofen also has anti-inflammatory properties so this also would reduce soreness in the joints and muscles.

  • javacody November 23, 2008, 2:47 pm

    “A 2002 study by the same doctor using generally fit male subjects in their mid to late-20s found that ibuprofen and acetaminophen inhibited muscle synthesis.”

    Tanzaniki, if you do a little more reading, you’ll notice the study you mentioned was a 16 day study and this newer study, I believe was a 3 month study. It may take some time for the supercompensation to start. Of course, it may only impact the elderly as well. Who knows?

    Yes, I am a geezer. I’m 35 years old. Better to be a geezer than a total wanker.

    “Btw, I got here by looking for a way to handle a headache that will not stunt muscle growth. If anyone has any suggestions, I’d be very thankful.”

    They didn’t mention asprin. It may be ok.

  • A toxicologist July 11, 2009, 2:28 pm

    There is serious danger in chronic use of acetaminophen (aka paracetamol, Tylenol, etc.). APAP overdose is actually the number one cause of acute liver failure in the US and UK, most likely because people walk around popping pills from their purse or pocket and rarely think about the total dosage taken. Further, combination of APAP and alcohol, APAP and caffeine, or APAP and other drugs can be especially lethal.

    An additional note, for those interested, is that endurance exercise may help to protect against APAP toxicity. Endurance exercise (i.e. distance running) appears to improve synthesis of the body’s major anti-oxidative compound, leading to increased protection against APAP metabolite oxidation of proteins and nucleic acids.

  • PATRICK November 18, 2009, 12:31 am

    HI im thinking of trying this Ibuprofen test, i used to train regular, until i was in a car crash, i suffered back neck injuries, as a result i find it hard putting in a good session in the gym, my body mass is now fat and im feeling pretty low about it, i understand if the pan killers work i could be doing myself more damage as im not feeling the pain, but i cant do crunches or sit ups as it strains my neck, plus my pecks are now moobs, ill try anything,,,,,,,, any advice people,