"Casual" Smoking + Weightlifting = Bad Combo

I was a cardio fiend, with some weightlifting, back when I smoked cigarettes regularly. I figured all that cardio would cancel out a lot of the effects of the smoking. (nope …)

Quit smoking completely 17 years ago. Got more serious about the weights and was able to get my body into the best shape of my life. And I’ve tried to maintain it.

Recently, after all that time, I had a weak moment and actually smoked a few cigarettes (blame alcohol … or seeing friends smoking … or me just being a f*cking idiot). Next day, wow. My weightlifting really sucked. Couldn’t begin to get my regular workout in. Not just my breathing, but my whole body’s strength was way, way off.

Never. Ever. Again. That one slip-up was a loud warning that even “casual” smoking just doesn’t mix with lifting, at least not for me. (It was also genuinely alarming to me how easily I could slide back into addiction, if I let myself.)

Anybody else get much better strength workouts after getting off (and staying off!) cigarettes? Please, no lectures on how stupid I was to screw up and smoke after all those years … I don’t plan to repeat that colossal blunder.

Could it be that smoking restricts blood flow by constricting the arteries, therefore not much oxygen going thru the body

just a thought, i could be way off base here


While smoking is no bueno, what you experienced as a singular event of a poor workout was more likely the effect of a night out drinking and smoking. And not the lingering effects of being a casual smoker. That said, I’ve never smoked cigarettes myself, and I’ve also never seen anybody smoke them that maintains any semblance of a training routine. So I agree, smoking doesn’t mix with lifting.


It’s very easy to pick those substances right back up.

I played like a bargaining game for a long time where I smoked but lifted, mountain biked, and rode a lot for general transportation, and maintained a great physique the whole time, which is easier when your younger.

One of my friends convinced me to quit, and performed an accupuncture treatment which helped break the habit. My biking and lifting did benefit a great deal. After a couple years though, I ran in to a whole lot of stress and picked smoking back up.

It didn’t make much difference at first, really none. As time went on though I did start to notice getting a bit winded when I shouldn’t and a general loss of work capacity.

Then I really started dragging. I could still pull 4 plates, and bench 3 for the most part, but then my recovery started really taking a hit. That was about 10 years in, or 5 years ago.

Finally I could really tell. Getting winded easily, recovery zilch, just sucking at life.

I didn’t realize it until a massive STEMI while I was sleeping that I was in the late stages of heart failure for several years which culminated in that event. That was in 2019.

So, yeah- I don’t mean for this to be a lecture, but it’s better to just stay stopped. Keep moving in the right direction and don’t beat yourself up over it.

I did quit smoking though. Lifts and cardio have taken a pretty big hit. It’s hard to do much with a LVEF of less than 40%.