T Nation

Hypertension and Powerlifting


So it turns out I've 144 to 77 tension. It sucks, but nothing I can do about it right now. However, the doctor advised me to stop weight training. No such thing is going to happen. However, what I'm wondering about is, will Powerlifting type heavy lifting prove any complications?

If anyone else has had the same problem, what is its effects on you? And one more thing, I've decided to actually start doing aerobic exercises. I'm thinking about HIIT running and barbell complexes. What do you advise (No, I have access neither to a prowler or any hills)?


Lifting weights will not contribute to hypertension.

Not doing conditioning, excess weight gain and shitty nutrition can easily though.

I do hill sprints and sled drags. Im sure you can improvise both if you really tried. my sled is some metal thing i found in the woods randomly, lol.


Are you large? I had a work physical and the doc told me I had high blood pressure. I went to my primary doc and he said my blood pressure was fantastic. The other doctor used a cuff that was too small.

If you've been legitimately diagnosed, you ought to get your own cuff and chart your pressure every day.

I expect sprints and hiit to have a positive effect since it is good for dropping extra fat.


Make sure they are using the biggest cuff if you are a 220 or above.

It is common in the sport though. Walk a 1/2 hour 4 times a week, need the low level cardio to get the BP down. Clean up diet too.


What everyone else has said is spot on. I took my blood pressure in one of those machines and it said I had slight hypertension, then I realized my arm was too big for it to get a proper reading. Doctor told me I'm perfectly healthy. Obviously if you do have hypertension or are worried about it, get in shape. It's a smart idea to do conditioning for powerlifting anyway. You will recover faster, fatigue less quickly, and feel much better in general. My favorites are Fartleks, Track Intervals, prowler sprints, and the occasional complex. Also, eating healthy will probably help too.


Fish oil. Helps immensely.


I know that heavy straining can cause vessel walls to harden and jack up blood pressure but since i've been powerlifting mine has actually decreased. I was always around 140/90 while playing football in high school and college. But, just like every other football player on earth, I was out of shape. Since I've been lifting heavy and keeping up with my conditioning, I havent had a bp reading over 120/80 in 6 years... and my average weight has been around 275-285.

A lot of it is genetics. Conditioning will help. Eating better will help. If you are predisposed to hypertension it will be very hard to get it down to normal.


Also, the number one thing that will raise my blood pressure more than anything is lack of sleep and stress. If I don't have those under control, then my bp will generally be close to or above 140 for the top number. Bottom number always stays good for me.


What is a Fartlek?

This is something I'm struggling with too. I'm not sure that I've had a big enough cuff for my most recent readings, however I'm certain that I need to add more conditioning into my program. My coach has expressed his aversion to running/sprints due to the joint stress of my body weight. Can any other big guys share their experience with sprints for conditioning? I was planning on doing more prowler, sled work, and tire flips for conditioning, along with morning fasted walks. Are these good things to add? Also, how about sledge work on a tire?


all of the conditioning is good, but the steady state stuff will have the longest positive impact.

never, ever, ever do what I did New Year's day: tired and hung over, popped some ephedrine and went and did a long shirted bench session. geared lifting will alway jack the bp up for a period. after I was done lifting decided to stop at the minute clinic for a sinus infection. they took my bp and almost called an ambulance. funny, but not cool...


I'm thinking about doing this:
Keeping my PL program as it is right now, but adding 4 sessions of slow, steady-state cardio (Brisk walking/light jogging) and 3 intense sessions of HIIT running or barbell complexes a week. Only problem is that, wil it tax my body too much?


I would start with the walking, a few weeks later add in complexes twice a week after heavy sessions.


In general, you'll be surprised at what your body and mind can take. The key is to add everything in gradually.


not to be an ass, but your main fix should consist of a good, well-planned diet and supplementation program (together with the SS Cardio - ofc you neednt and shouldnt stop lifting)

//edit: Creating abdominal pressure through valsalva isn't the best thing in the world for people with high blood pressure, but i am not competent enough to exactly tell you when youre in the danger zone and when not.
But if you fix your pressure, you will evade a shitload of late-effects...


Is 144/77 high? The top number almost always fluctuates and the bottom number is ok, especially if you were in a DR's office-where mine always is a little higher. They're both important, but the bottom is the one to watch. Mine was between 95 and 100 regularly for awhile - started doing cardio - mostly hit and prowler, and I am in the 110/70 region regularly. Couldn't agree more with the gear comments. But if you are otherwise healthy, situational spikes like while lifting will in most cases be ok- at least they are for me. When in doubt though - listen to your doctor - not internet docs. If you do not totally trust - or like - what your doc has to say, get a 2nd opinion AND research on your own. IMO, DO NOT check it every day - it will stress you out and spike it just like 'white coat syndrome' in the Dr.'s office.


I'm pretty sure 144 over 77 isn't really that bad... it may even fall within a "normal" range. The first number is definitely not ideal, but the 2nd is very good (and the 2nd number is more important). Have you had multiple readings? High blood pressure shouldn't be diagnosed from just a single measurement.


Talk to your doctor! If you don't like him b/c you think he's not competent in that regard, find a second opinion. And it's easy to look up lifesstyle changes that may improve your bp off of google. My dad's heart was seriously enlarged and had heart problems and he never had troubles with his lower number.