Fish oil supplementation has gained a lot of attention for its health benefits. Specifically, supplementation of omega 3 fatty acids has demonstrated positive effects on blood pressure, triglycerides, and heart rate.1
Additionally, they’ve been shown to improve arterial dilation, possess antiarrhythmic and anti-inflammatory properties. All of these have been shown to have protective effects against cardiovascular disease development.1
But less is known about the role of fish oil supplementation in recovery from resistance training.
A 2020 paper2 by VanDusseldorp et al. set out to examine the effects of fish oil supplementation on various markers of recovery following a strenuous bout of eccentric exercise.2
A 2020 paper3 by Heileson et al. found that the minimum effective dose for fish oil supplementation to elicit a positive response on recovery was 2 g supplemented for at least four weeks.3 However, research has been conflicting regarding what the appropriate dosing should be.
Therefore, the previously mentioned paper by VanDusseldorp and colleagues where they set dosages to 2 g, 4 g, and 6 g between groups and examined the effects of a seven-week fish oil supplementation protocol. This paper was on a well-controlled study:2
“Utilizing a randomized placebo-controlled double-blind experimental design; participants were randomly assigned to consume 2- (2 G), 4- (4 G), or 6- (6 G) g/da of either FO or placebo (PL) supplementation for ~7.5 weeks (8 participants per group (4 males and 4 females per group); a 6-week run-in the supplementation period, 1-week involving familiarization testing at the beginning of the week and experimental testing at the end of the week, and three days of recovery testing). Muscle soreness, venous blood (for the assessment of creatine kinase (CK) and lactate dehydrogenase (LDH), and indices of muscle function were collected before eccentric exercise, as well as immediately post 1-, 2-, 4-, 24-, 48-, and 72-h (H) post-exercise. Participants continued to supplement until they completed the 72H time-point.”2
- Participants completed eccentric squats on a Smith machine at a tempo of 4-0-1 for ten sets of eight reps using 70% of their 1 RM and taking three minutes to rest between sets.
- Additionally, participants were made to complete five sets of twenty bodyweight split jump squats.
- The primary metrics used to evaluate muscle damage and recovery were blood biomarkers, perceived soreness, vertical jump, agility test, forty-yard sprint, and maximum voluntary isometric contraction.
Researchers observed 6 g of fish oil supplementation had a beneficial effect on perceived muscle soreness.
Whereby participants reported lower soreness scores across all time points of measurement. The 6 g group also decreased the recovery time of vertical jump performance. In some cases, it also resulted in better blood values when monitoring indirect markers of muscle damage compared to the other controls.
So, what does this mean practically? Although the researchers found a beneficial effect on recovery when supplementing 6 g/day of fish oils, the effect's magnitude was still relatively small. Therefore, a costs benefit analysis should be the basis for deciding whether to utilize this strategy.
I typically don’t recommend many supplements to individuals.
However, from a health perspective, I think fish oil supplementation is generally beneficial. So if you decide to take it for that reason, you may also experience some minor benefits of enhanced recovery.
Finally, if you want a comprehensive analysis of primary recovery strategies and how to utilize them for better results effectively, I have covered it on Kabuki Strength.4
1. "Effects of B vitamins and omega 3 fatty acids on cardiovascular diseases: a randomized placebo controlled trial." BMJ. 2010;341:c6273. Accessed March 17, 2021.
2. Trisha A. VanDusseldorp, Kurt A. Escobar, Kelly E. Johnson, Matthew T. Stratton, Terence Moriarty, Chad M. Kerksick, Gerald T. Mangine, Alyssa J. Holmes, Matthew Lee, Marvin R. Endito, and Christine M. Mermier, "Impact of Varying Dosages of Fish Oil on Recovery and Soreness Following Eccentric Exercise." Nutrients, U.S. National Library of Medicine, NIH. Published online 2020 Jul 27. Accessed Mar 16, 2021.
3. Heileson JL, Funderburk LK. "The effect of fish oil supplementation on the promotion and preservation of lean body mass, strength, and recovery from physiological stress in young, healthy adults: a systematic review." Nutr Rev. 2020 Dec 1;78(12):1001-1014.
4. Daniel Debrocke, "Optimize Your Recovery For Maximum Strength." Online Kabuki Strength, Accessed March 16, 2021.