Fish Oil Increases Effects of Weight Training

A new study documents the beneficial effects of fish oil supplements for elderly (average age 64) women who are also engaged in a strength training program.  This adds to the growing list of impressive benefits of fish oil supplements. (Rodachi C, et al. Fish-oil supplementation enhances the effects of strength training in elderly women. Am J Clin Nutr 2012;95:428-36.)

The nervous system is composed primarily of fats and fish oil supplements, which contain omega 3 fats, have been shown to improve nerve transmissions (improved nerve conduction velocity).  Fish oils (containing EPA and DHA) have also been shown to improve heart muscle contactility.  Therefore, it is reasonable to suspect that if fish oils become incorporated in the nervous system and the muscles that the muscle might be able to contract better or more forcefully. 

This study demonstrates that when older women engaged in a weight training program and also took 2 grams per day of fish oil supplements for 90 days, they had greater increases both in strength and in functional capacity (ability to stand up from a chair).  There was a significant increase in the strength of various muscles as measured by their peak torque output in those who both engage in weight training and took the fish oil over those who just did the weight training.  Likewise these muscles also contracted more quickly and these women had more functional strength as demonstrated by the ability to rise from a chair using their leg muscles.

Based on this and many other studies, I highly recommend that you not only eat fatty fish such as wild salmon twice per week, but that you also supplement with a high quality fish oil supplement on a daily basis.

2 replies
  1. drweitz
    drweitz says:

    Most studies have shown little or no risk of bleeding even with dosages of 10 gms/day or more. I personally take 8 gms of an ultrapure, high quality fish oil per day, though I recommend that most of my clients consume 2 gms/day. One paper ( Kromann N, Green A. Epidemiological studies in the Upernavik District, Greenland. Acta Med Scand. 1980; 208: 401–406.) claimed that “Eskimo levels” of omega 3s that result from eating pounds of fatty fish per day may result in increased risk of hemorrhagic stroke, but this is not comparable to taking a handful of fish oil capsules. And a recent study found that Eskimos are remarkably healthy despite being overweight, including having very low rates of diabetes. (

    Taking fish oil has not been shown to increase levels of Vitamin D. Too bad, though, since 60% of Americans are deficient in Vitamin D and higher levels of Vitamin D are associated with lower rates of diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease.

    While I am cautious about using fish oil with clients who are on coumadin or other blood thinners to err on the safe side, fish oils do not appear to increase bleeding time. It has been assumed that this was the case, since fish oils decrease the risk of ischemic stroke. But fish oils may decrease hemorrhagic stroke by reducing the levels of circulating platelet-monocyte aggregates rather than by thinning the blood.(Din, JN, et al. Dietary intervention with oil rich fish reduces platelet-monocyte aggregation in man. Atherosclerosis, Vol. 197, 2008, pp. 290-96) The following reference summarizes a number of studies related to fish oil and stroke and blood coagulation: (


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