Whether you are an expert lifter who spends their whole life at the gym, a newbie who doesn’t even know how much they can bench yet, or perhaps you’re someone in between: no matter who you are, there is no doubt that you have heard the many horror stories about the dangers of weightlifting.
Most sports and exercises tend to cross that line between being good for you and being bad for you: depending on which activity you are participating in, the line may allow you more leeway, or it may be so faintly drawn that it can be hard to see without squinting your eyes.
In fact, it is probably possible to injure yourself doing most tasks these days: it’s not impossible for a spinal disc to slip while you’re kneeling down, emptying the dishwasher.
Hardly any task is completely danger-free, even the everyday ones, and the danger becomes more prominent through several factors, including your age and your overall health.
However, of course, there is a pretty big difference between loading a dishwasher and lifting 150 pounds on a barbell curl.
If we strain ourselves enough while taking part in any activity, the likelihood is that we will end up pulling some sort of muscle in our body… but, how easy is it to strain the muscle inside your chest, the one that pumps all your blood around?
Depending on how healthy we are, or how used to exercising we are, our heart rates will significantly rise if we are pushing ourselves, and when it comes to weightlifting, you will want to improve as little and often as you can.
So, does weightlifting help strengthen your heart, improving your overall health such as most exercises do, or does it harm your insides?
Continue reading to find out.
So, Can Weightlifting Harm Your Heart?
So, while this may seem obvious to whoever is reading, the short answer is simple: it all depends.
An inexperienced runner is much more likely to sprain their ankle than a person who has been running two marathons a year for the best part of a decade.
Someone may pull a muscle in their back while lifting a heavy box, while others have learnt to lift several hundreds of pounds with ease through many hours put in at the gym.
The reason for this is, simply, common sense: the experts know how to properly warm up and prepare their muscles, minimizing risk of injury.
Any exercise can be dangerous if you haven’t done your research, and you’re not 100% sure how to care for yourself before, during and after the process.
If you’re a beginner, and you haven’t lifted weights before, you will need to not only do your research beforehand, but you definitely need to start from the beginning: start with a lighter weight and work your way up, learning your limits.
While it may, in theory, be easier and more common to pull a muscle in your leg or your back, your heart is just as vulnerable to injury, so it is important to know your limits through this form of exercise.
Your body isn’t indestructible, and no one knows how it works as well as you do: it is so, so important to ensure that you don’t push yourself too far, whether you’re experienced or not.
How To Prevent Heart Injuries (Short-Term)
If you push yourself too hard through any form of exercise, you will be putting yourself at risk of having high blood pressure.
While this isn’t a major concern on its own, it may cause problems later on if you already suffer with heart problems, such as genetic issues like forms of cardiomyopathy.
Your blood pressure will rise while exercising no matter what: even a swift walk through the park will raise your blood pressure, and this can be good for your health.
It is only by pushing your limits too far, and forcing your body to take on more than it physically can, that you will really hurt yourself.
The most important thing to remember while lifting weights is to keep a steady rhythm while breathing.
If you lift something heavy, you will naturally hold your breath, and this is something you will need to learn to control: while lifting, you should be inhaling and exhaling rhythmically, working in harmony with your routine.
Holding your breath can interrupt your blood circulation, as it prevents oxygen from entering and flowing through your bloodstream. This immediately puts you at risk of causing a potentially dangerous spike in blood pressure.
This can cause the chambers of your heart to thicken, and, in extreme cases, could cause heart failure, a heart attack, or even sudden death.
How To Prevent Heart Injuries (Long-Term)
When it comes to keeping your heart in top-working form, as well as the rest of your body, there are many things you can do to stay as healthy as possible.
For example, we all know that smoking is bad for you: smoking increases your blood pressure, and will not only cause you to feel more uncomfortable while exercising due to shortness of breath, but will cause long-term health issues in the future.
Along with smoking, several other factors can weigh in on what could cause you harm in the long run: excessively drinking alcohol and being unhealthily overweight are also issues that need to be considered.
These factors can cause several health issues, and in order to be healthy, they need to be controlled and monitored, and eventually cut out from your way of living.
Unlike forms of exercising such as walking or running, weightlifting is not something that can be immediately incorporated into your lifestyle, especially if you’re deciding to lift extremely heavy weights from the offset.
This will strain your heart muscles, and can cause immediate and long term damage to your health.
Can Weightlifting Be Good For Your Heart?
Let’s return to the original question.
Is weightlifting bad for your heart? Overall, quite the contrary: weightlifting can be extremely good for your heart, and your health in general.
In fact, if done correctly, this form of exercise can reduce your risk of having a heart attack by 40 to 70 percent. Even if just one hour is spent lifting weights, your body will thank you for this over time.
However, as previously mentioned, it is very important to know your limits.
Take the time to learn how far you can push yourself without running the risk of causing harm to yourself: if you overdo it from the offset, you will definitely injure yourself, and depending on your initial health, it may be difficult to recover.
So, what can you do to minimise these risks?
Monitor your health. Be aware of health issues that you may already suffer from, such as genetic heart illnesses.
Give up smoking and cut down on drinking alcohol, and if you’re at an unhealthy weight, try to lose it over an acceptable amount of time: this will not happen overnight, and you should try to lose weight in a healthy manner, avoiding fad diets or pushing yourself too far while exercising, which will cause more harm than good.
Every single person is different, and you will need to be patient and understanding with yourself, and your body!
The most important thing you can do is speak to a professional, and the best person you can ask is your doctor.
The more you learn about your body and how it works, the easier and faster it will be to make workout plans, and know how far you can push yourself without causing injury, internal or external.
Overall, weightlifting can be extremely beneficial to having a healthy heart! You will need to do your own research, working out what your body can do, and it will help you in the long run, providing you have no underlying, potentially dangerous heart issues. It’s up to you to find out!
Once you are familiar with your own body, you can set up your own workout routines, including weightlifting, and begin to improve the health of your heart, and your health overall.