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Hernia, What Would You Do?


I have had what a surgeon called "start of hernia" for about 12 years now. I had it checked on an ultrasound and actually have small, maybe 1 cm openings on each side with some tissue poking through when I valsalva, and which reduces.

I've never really gotten as strong as I had hoped in the squat and DL with tops at about 450, and part of it I feel is that I get sore in that area when I push my training weights up. I'm not a competitive powerlifter but I've lifted for the big 3 for the last 15 years, getting a little over 1250 in the gym with strict form.

So, at age 44, do I keep squatting and DLing without surgery?

Do I change my training to avoid intraabdomial pressure and give up heavy squats and DLs but do higher reps and other stuff?

Do I get surgery even if I want to change my training? I seriously doubt having any issues if I don't squat and DL heavy as I have no pain, and it has not changed much with all the squats over the years.

Or do I get surgey and then recover and start up again with a PLer approach?

My goal is simply to do something physically that I 1) enjoy while I'm doing it; 2) makes me healthy and feel good in general. I enjoy things with a challenge and don't care about competition.


I know it might be difficult to accept since you've spent so much time training with a particular approach (heavy squats and deads, caring about your total, etc) but from an outside perspective, if your stated goals are honest then I see no reason to continue trying to push heavy weights.

If you just care about being active and challenging yourself physically, there are a lot of ways to do that that are less likely to aggravate your hernia. Surgeries are expensive and potentially dangerous -- I personally wouldn't elect to take that risk unless I was out of other options or absolutely dead set on continuing to train how I do.

Many guys develop good physiques without heavy squats and deads, not to mention guys who find a physical outlet outside of the weight room all together. You have a lot of options. As far continuing to train, I know EyeDentist has has his fair share of injuries and setbacks that would have derailed lesser men, but has been able to thrive regardless. I'd check out his recent "how do you train" thread for some inspiration and potentially applicable training ideas.


Is there any reason you need to do the squat and deadlift?


No, except that I will miss it, and they have idealized numbers associated with them so they are motivating.


I wouldn't do them. Hell, I barely do them right now, and I totally wouldn't hit those movements unless I was competing.


Have you tried front squats? Less stress to the back, and viable lower body strength movement in which you can progress years and years.

I know that some (non competitive) lifters have moved to FS because of disk problems.


You already know this but others saying it might help... Set yourself a cap at about 225 lbs. and just start doing slow controlled reps and making rep PRs. You'd be able to lift 400 if you ever HAD to but you don't need to ever demonstrate it. This is what I've done through various injuries and it is amazing how strong you can come out after a long time of lifting medium weight carefully. I've done this for back strains, rotator cuff pain, and tennis elbow. I always recover and never lose much strength. Plus you'll look awesome because you're bodybuilding more.


Yeah, I'd do higher reps, no Valsalva.