Is Weight Lifting Bad For Your Heart?

Weight lifting isn’t necessarily bad for your heart, unless you do intense exercises regularly that could put strain on your chest. Anything that involves you holding your breath can spike your blood pressure. 

Whilst any form of exercise will increase blood pressure, this increase is only temporary. Squatting, for example, will increase your blood pressure around your cardiovascular system, which is good.

Holding your breath during strenuous weight lifting exercises can put unnecessary strain on your heart, which can be painful. 

Whilst your heart is a muscle, you don’t want to exercise it in the same way as you would your other muscles. When you exercise your legs on leg day, you are contributing to muscle hypertrophy (muscle growth).

You don’t want this to happen to your heart, because this can lead to a condition called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. This is when the walls around the heart grow, which prevents blood from pumping around the body effectively

However, you shouldn’t worry about hypertrophic cardiomyopathy if you only do these exercises occasionally. This is a condition that is generally hereditary or caused by excessive and continuous exercises that negatively affect your heart. 

When matched with other exercises, weight lifting won’t be bad for your heart. It’s always good to have a range of fitness exercises to encompass every part of your body - from cardio to core training exercises. Aerobic exercises like running and cycling will benefit from additional weight training to increase muscle and bone density as well as endurance. 

If done correctly, weight training can help you with day-to-day activities like lifting a heavy bag of groceries and moving furniture, as it will have prepared your body to withstand heavy weights. This could be considered good for your heart, as it means that your body won’t be tense from holding an unexpected heavy weight which could put a strain on your heart. 

However, there are people who should avoid weight training if they want to preserve the health of their hearts. This includes people with congestive heart failure, acute infection of the heart or tissue, angina and other coronary heart diseases, uncontrolled high blood pressure, and anyone with a history of heart attacks or cardiac arrests. 

We rely on our hearts to live, so you must consult with a doctor before weight training if you have a heart problem. It’s not like having a consistent leg injury but still going to the gym, because we can exist without one leg.  

The short answer to this question is that weight lifting isn’t necessarily bad for your heart if you take it seriously. Weight lifting is a great exercise paired with aerobic and cardio exercises to strengthen and improve the muscles, bones, and endurance. It’s best to work with a trainer or professional to learn how to breathe whilst lifting weights, as you don’t want to put unnecessary strain on your chest or heart. 

However, if you have a heart condition or history of heart problems, you should check with a doctor to see if you can commit to weight training.

What should my heart rate be while lifting weights? 

It’s a common misconception that strength training exercises don’t increase your heart rate in the same way as aerobic exercises.

Sure, running, cycling, swimming, and other aerobic exercises are going to increase your heart rate and blood pressure. Strength training exercises like weight lifting, however, will also increase your heart rate. 

After all, your muscles require oxygen to lift heavy weights, so your heart rate will increase to support them. 

Whilst it’s pretty standard for your heart rate to increase by 70-85% when doing aerobic exercises from your maximum heart rate. To calculate your maximum heart rate, subtract your age from 220 (so a 35-year-old would have a maximum heart rate of 185 BPM). 

It’s not easy to say what your heart rate should be while lifting weights because our bodies and hearts are all built differently. There are lots of factors that will change your heart rate when lifting weights, ranging from how often you lift to any underlying health issues. 

There will be people who will have an elevated heart rate to support their muscles and bones to lift heavy weights. This is usually the case with overweight and obese people, as their heart rate is forcing the body to consume more oxygen to support their muscles. 

People who are new to weight lifting, or those with health issues such as heart problems or obesity, will find that their heart rate might be higher than they would think. This can be met with side effects such as dizziness, nausea, chest pain, irregular heartbeat, and shortness of breath. 

People with high cholesterol and high blood pressure should be cautious about not overdoing it with heavy weights. To avoid your heart rate from increasing too quickly, you should start slowly and with light weights. You should properly rest between reps and follow the guidance of your trainer or doctor who will be able to monitor your heart rate alongside you. 

You should pay attention to your heart rate after lifting weights. It’s normal for your heart rate to be elevated once you have finished exercising, but if it hasn’t gone down to your resting heart rate by itself, you should consult your doctor.

Of course, other factors could contribute to this such as caffeine pills or energy drinks, but you shouldn’t ignore any irregularities in your body - especially if you are over 40 as you are more exposed to health issues. 

In short, it’s not easy to say what your heart rate should be when lifting weights. On average, a healthy person’s heart rate will increase by 60-85% from their maximum heart rate when lifting weights. This is because the muscles require oxygen for support, so the heart will deliberately fasten to force you to breathe more. 

However, other factors will affect your heart rate, including health issues such as obesity, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure. You should always consult with a doctor and trainer before lifting weights if you have a health issue.