The Effect of Fish Oil Supplementation on Resistance Training-induced Adaptations

Jeffery L. Heileson, Steven B. Machek, Dillon R. Harris, Sara Tomek, Leticia C. de Souza, Adam J. Kieffer, Nicholas D. Barringer, Andrew Gallucci, Jeffrey S. Forsse, LesLee K. Funderburk

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Background: Resistance exercise training (RET) is a common and well-established method to induce hypertrophy and improvement in strength. Interestingly, fish oil supplementation (FOS) may aug-ment RET-induced adaptations. However, few studies have been conducted on young, healthy adults.

Methods: A randomized, placebo-controlled design was used to determine the effect of FOS, a concentrated source of eicosapen-taenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), compared to placebo (PL) on RET-induced adaptations following a 10-week RET program (3 days·week−1). Body composition was measured by dual- energy x-ray absorptiometry (LBM, fat mass [FM], percent body fat [%BF]) and strength was measured by 1-repetition maximum bar-bell back squat (1RMSQT) and bench press (1RMBP) at PRE (week 0) and POST (10 weeks). Supplement compliance was assessed via self-report and bottle collection every two weeks and via fatty acid dried blood spot collection at PRE and POST. An a priori α- level of 0.05 was used to determine statistical significance and Cohen’s d was used to quantify effect sizes (ES).

Results: Twenty-one of 28 male and female participants (FOS, n = 10 [4 withdrawals]; PL, n = 11 [3 withdrawals]) completed the 10- week progressive RET program and PRE/POST measurements. After 10-weeks, blood EPA+DHA substantially increased in the FOS group (+109.7%, p< .001) and did not change in the PL group (+1.3%, p = .938). Similar between-group changes in LBM (FOS: +3.4%, PL: +2.4%, p = .457), FM (FOS: −5.2%, PL: 0.0%, p = .092), and %BF (FOS: −5.9%, PL: −2.5%, p = .136) were observed, although, the between- group ES was considered large for FM (d = 0.84). Absolute and relative (kg·kg [body mass]−1) 1RMBP was significantly higher in the FOS group compared to PL (FOS: +17.7% vs. PL: +9.7%, p = .047; FOS: +17.6% vs. PL: +7.3%, p = .011; respectively), whereas absolute 1RMSQT was similar between conditions (FOS: +28.8% vs. PL: +20.5%, p = .191). Relative 1RMSQT was higher in the FOS group (FOS: +29.3% vs. PL: +17.9%, p = .045).

Conclusions: When combined with RET, FOS improves absolute and relative 1RM upper-body and relative 1RM lower-body strength to a greater extent than that observed in the PL group of young, recreationally trained adults.

Original languageAmerican English
JournalJournal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition
StatePublished - Jan 1 2023


  • body composition
  • docosahexaenoic acid
  • eicosapentaenoic acid
  • hypertrophy
  • strength

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