What’s your opinion about ibuprofen?
I know it’s a subject that some of you probably aren’t hip to. Based on what I’ve seen on Catalyst Athletics, I think we’ve got pretty educated readers. It’s obvious from the comments I see on this website that many of you do thorough research on things, so I’m sure there are a lot of you who have done some reading on ibuprofen.
Consequently, I’m betting that many of you have negative opinions about it. Yes? No? Maybe? I’m making that assumption because it’s a pharmaceutical, which is something that a large section of the population seems to be against. I have a feeling that most of us, being strength athletes and coaches, try to preach healthy eating and whatnot. And there has been some documentation about potential negatives associated with ibuprofen and other NSAIDs. According to some people, it’s pretty risky stuff… right up there with pork chops, Diet Coke, rated-R movies, lifting weights, and a long list of other things that basically provide 90% of the pleasure I get in life. But you know what? I’m gonna be a gangster and just write about it anyway. Straight outta Compton.
Up until I was thirty-seven, ibuprofen was a regular part of my weightlifting life. I definitely wouldn’t say I was ever a full-blown junkie for the stuff, but it was part of my toolbox. For the last eight or nine years, I’ve been taking it twice a week before big workouts (usually 800-1000 milligrams). I usually increased the dosages a little when I was getting close to competitions and taking a lot of heavy attempts in training, and then I would stop taking it for a few weeks after the meet. But I got my ACL surgery last summer, and obviously I wasn’t lifting big weights for several weeks after the operation. Because I wasn’t training hard, I just stopped taking ibuprofen completely.
When I started training the Olympic lifts again back in October, I decided that I wanted to start taking ibuprofen again but in drastically reduced amounts. So I decided to only take it one week each month when I’m going heavy. My monthly training routine now basically looks like this:
Week One- light
Week Two- moderate
Week Three- heavy
Week Four- deload
That’s a really simple way to describe it without going into too much detail. That heavy week is when I take ibuprofen. The rest of the month, I don’t use it at all.
And let me tell you something right now, brothers and sisters. During that week when I take it…holy buckets of whale crap. I guess I know what crystal meth feels like now. I’m twice as fast and nothing hurts. As you probably know, ibuprofen is something you build up a tolerance to. Now that I rarely use it, I don’t have a tolerance built up. So when I take some, the effects are hellacious. I’m like a combination of Hunter S. Thompson and Jim Morrison, walking around in a drug-fueled haze. Okay, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration. But my workouts do feel pretty good.
I’m glad that I’ve reduced the amounts I take, and I’m actually surprised that I feel as good as I do. During those weeks leading up to my heavy week, I’m not handling huge weights. That could be a reason why I’ve been able to adapt and train well without ibuprofen. But still, I’m almost forty and I’m actually relying on the stuff a lot less now than I did five years ago. That’s a good thing, and it’s not the way I thought it was going to be.
I’m not totally sure that there’s a message to this post. Maybe it could be food for thought in case any of you are hammering the NSAIDS pretty hard. If you’re on a lifting break right now, maybe you could try going without it (or using a lot less) when you start training again. If you’re in the middle of a hard cycle, maybe starting to scale back the dosage little by little would work. Something like that.
And if you don’t take ibuprofen at all, that’s just wonderful.
However, let’s make sure we all understand that this isn’t designed to be a propaganda promotion for ibuprofen. I’ve written about some of the positive effects I get from it, but I’m not telling anybody to run out and start popping pills. If any of you go nuts with painkillers after reading this and you get sick, it’s not my fault. If you try to sue me, you’ll have to deal with my lawyer, Bernie Slapasucka. He drives a Prius, so you don’t want to mess with him.
[Editor's Note: Catalyst Athletics, Inc. and its contributors do not prescribe the use of ibuprofen. Talk to your doctor before using NSAIDs or any other drug.]