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The Effects of Ventolin on Weightlifting

By Linda Tarr Kent

Ventolin may have the capacity to promote more strength and muscle gain when weightlifting. However, talk to a doctor before using it for any purpose, as it may cause side effects and interact with other drugs, herbs and vitamins. It also may require precautions if you have certain health conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, a heart condition, seizures or hyperthyroidism. In addition, weigh the potential for short-term gains with the possibility of long-term side effects.


Ventolin is a brand name for the drug albuterol. This medication works by relaxing muscles in your airways to help you breathe better. It is used to treat the shortness of breath and wheezing, referred to as bronchospasms, if you have a condition such as asthma. It is in the class of drugs called beta2-adrenergic agonists.


The inhale and exhale are important components of weightlifting. You are supposed to inhale deeply to gain a fresh oxygen supply when you lower a weight and exhale on exertion when you perform the lift. However, exercise-induced asthma can make this difficult. Taking Ventolin 20 to 30 minutes prior to exercise and doing a good warm-up can help alleviate symptoms, say Gregory S. Kolt and Lynn Snyder-Mackler, authors of “Physical Therapies in Sport and Exercise.” Consult a doctor, however, before attempting to use Ventolin to combat this problem.


Healthy people who take Ventolin during the latter stages of a strength training program gain more strength and muscle than those who do not, according to a 2005 study published in the “Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.” In the study, two groups performed strength training exercises three days a week. After 10 weeks, the difference in strength and muscle between the groups was insignificant, says lead study author J.F. Caruso. That’s when the drug was added into the picture. Between weeks 10 and 13, those taking albuterol outpaced the placebo group in strength and muscle gains.

A 2004 study published in the journal “Neurology” also found that the drug helped people suffering from facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy gain muscle. Meanwhile, in this double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, the subjects who were given a placebo lost muscle mass. Facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy is a disease that causes progressive muscle tissue loss.


E.L. van der Kooi, lead author for the study in “Neurology,” cautions that no one knows the consequences of prolonged use of the drug. Thus, it should not be prescribed along with strength training unless it is proven safe. Also, some of the side effects from Ventolin have the potential to make it difficult to perform a weightlifting workout. Potential side effects include dizziness, muscle cramps, headaches, insomnia, nervousness or tremor, nausea and vomiting. Avoid exercising in cold air because it may worsen your respiratory condition, according to

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