Are You Losing Your Gains at the Club?

“Work hard, play hard” is the mantra of many recreational lifters — but is the bar slowing down your gym gains? According to a new study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning your drinking may be hurting your workouts.

Duplanty et al (2017) identified that in previous studies alcohol consumption reduced protein synthesis at rest and post-exercise, at least in rats. In this study, however, they examined the effects of post-exercise consumption in humans.

Nineteen resistance trained men (10) and women (9)  were recruited to participate in this blind study. They were randomized into alcohol- or placebo- ingesting groups before performing six sets of Smith machine squats. Everyone participated in both the control and trial groups. Vastus lateralus biopsies were taken before exercise, and three hours and five hours post-exercise.

Interestingly the effects of alcohol ingestion differed between men and women. While women did not see a reduction in mTORC1 phosphorylation, men saw a significant reduction at the three hour mark. mTORC1 phosphyrelation has been proven to positively affect protein synthesis and muscle hypertrophy.

The authors concluded that alcohol ingestion by men following resistance exercise negatively affects adaptation — meaning alcohol impairs muscle hypertrophy. While this study looked at alcohol ingestion immediately following resistance exercise, based on earlier studies with rats, the authors hypothesize that alcohol consumption at any time reduces base-line mTORC1 physphrylation in men and therefore muscle hypertrophy.

To maximize your protein synthesis and keep from losing your hard fought for gym gains, the authors recommend avoiding alcohol — especially following resistance training.


Duplanty, A. A., Budnar, R. G., Luk, H. Y., Levitt, D. E., Hill, D. W., Mcfarlin, B. K., . . . Vingren, J. L. (2017). Effect of Acute Alcohol Ingestion on Resistance Exercise–Induced mTORC1 Signaling in Human Muscle. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research,31(1), 54-61. doi:10.1519/jsc.0000000000001468

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