T Nation

Is Bodybuilding Good for Bones?

We all know what it does for muscle but what about bones?

Does bodybuilding really help with bone density and makes the bones more solid?

(I started lifting again after broken sternum and I really feel like it’s helped and sternum is alot more solid now).

I’ve wondered the same thing as well, even though I have never broken a bone.

I don’t know if bodybuilding helps your bones, but the fact that you need to couple working out with proper nutrition, your body is getting stronger and healthier than it would if you ate shit all day long.

Hopefully someone can give a real answer though.

Weight bearing exercise - such as found in many bodybuilding exercises is EXCELLENT for bone density.
Weight training is PRESCRIBED for people with osteoporosis!!

OP… after a break, that bone is usually more stable in that area when it is fully repaired. It is thicker and denser due to the osteo-blast activity in the repair process.

Joe

[quote]Joe Joseph wrote:
Weight bearing exercise - such as found in many bodybuilding exercises is EXCELLENT for bone density.
Weight training is PRESCRIBED for people with osteoporosis!!

OP… after a break, that bone is usually more stable in that area when it is fully repaired. It is thicker and denser due to the osteo-blast activity in the repair process.

Joe[/quote]

'Nuff said. Weight bearing exercises cause bone to become more dense. Tendons are strengthened as well.

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Ya Bushy, thats the theory i heard, the increased osteoblast activity. I was led to believe it was due to tiny stress fractures though, is that incorrect?

Joe

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[quote]bushidobadboy wrote:
Joe Joseph wrote:
Weight bearing exercise - such as found in many bodybuilding exercises is EXCELLENT for bone density.
Weight training is PRESCRIBED for people with osteoporosis!!

OP… after a break, that bone is usually more stable in that area when it is fully repaired. It is thicker and denser due to the osteo-blast activity in the repair process.

Joe

It is debatable whether weight-bearing activity actually promotes increased bone density, or merely slows down the age-related (and inactivity-related) osteopenia or generalised loss in bone density that occurs in all of us.

Put it this way, one reaches a genetic and lifestyle/nutrition-related peak bone mineral density in early adulthood. From there, bone density steadily drops with age. The more active and nutritionally sound your childhood and early years, the higher your peak bone mineral density. However, once that peak has been reached, decline sets in and can only be minimised (not reversed) by continued good lifestyle practices. This is because osteoclastic activity remains constant, but osteoblastic activity begins to taper off.

However, certain hormones (notably GH and estrogen) play a vital role in stimulating deposition of mineral in the bone (through increased osteoblastic activity, not reduced osteoclastic activity). This may actually increase bone mineral density above and beyond the peak reached naturally.

Certainly I know of one guy personally, who underwent spinal fusion surgery. His allograft would not take (as shown by xray and other tests), until he started self-administering GH.

Certain drugs (known as bi-phosphonates) found in osteoporosis treatment protocols are thought to reduce osteoclastic activity.

After a break it is true that the bony callus that is left at the end of the reparative phase is stronger than the rest of the bone, however after the re-modelling phase has occured (18 months or so after the end of the reparative phase) the bone should have returned to the way it was before the break, assuming good apposition and alignment during the initial healing phase.

Bushy[/quote]

The attachment of tendon to bone also develops a callus that would only slowly resorb if someone gave up all physical activity or weight bearing exercise.

Considering there are very few (if any) studies showing a lack of an increase in overall bone density on those who have gained significant muscle mass, it would be a huge mistake to deny the possibility.

From personal experience I know that pain in my forearms that used to occur during biceps curls no longer occurs in spite of using heavier weight. That original discomfort was due to bone elasticity and the slight bending of bone during the movement.

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[quote]bushidobadboy wrote:
Professor X wrote:

The attachment of tendon to bone also develops a callus that would only slowly resorb if someone gave up all physical activity or weight bearing exercise.

Considering there are very few (if any) studies showing a lack of an increase in overall bone density on those who have gained significant muscle mass, it would be a huge mistake to deny the possibility.

Of course, but are there any studies that show a positive increase in BMD? Or was that not your point?

From personal experience I know that pain in my forearms that used to occur during biceps curls no longer occurs in spite of using heavier weight. That original discomfort was due to bone elasticity and the slight bending of bone during the movement.

Possibly, or it may be that the tenoperiosteal junction has become adapted to the new loads (the callus you mentioned above) and so no longer damages the bone when you overload it.

Bone is inherently flexible. I don’t see that minor bending and flexing of the bone would cause a level of damage that would cause pain, especially since it is only the periosteum and the endosteum that have nociceptors in them.

Therefore it could only be the periosteum that was signalling damage, which makes it more likely that it was the load on the periosteum, imposed by the muscles that was causing pain, rather than the bone flexing.

Bushy[/quote]

The pain was in the middle of my forearms, not at the tendon attachment and only occurred after placing the weight down after a set. I do think I know the difference.

As to your statement about BMD studies, the point was, there are very few studies, period, done on BODYBUILDERS who gain LARGE AMOUNTS OF MUSCLE. Most studies are done on patients that are already sick or elderly, not on healthy 25 year olds who have gained 50lbs of lean body mass.

That means relying only on available studies when discussing topics like this makes little sense. We can only look at it through the studies that have been done but not as it applies directly to healthy muscle growing weight lifters with big biceps as a goal.

Further, the AGE of the studied individual is also a factor considering bone repair slows with age. Therefore, if your test subjects are all over the age of 60 yet you are comparing those results to what could be seen in a 20 year old, it does not directly apply.

A study done on weight lifters supporting an increase in BMD seen with resistance training.

[quote]Bone mineral density in elite junior Olympic weightlifters.Conroy BP, Kraemer WJ, Maresh CM, Fleck SJ, Stone MH, Fry AC, Miller PD, Dalsky GP.
Department of Sport, Leisure, and Exercise Sciences, University of Connecticut, Storrs 06268.

The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship of bone mineral density (BMD) to muscular strength in highly trained young male athletes in order to gain insights concerning the influence of heavy resistance training on BMD. Twenty-five elite junior weightlifters (age, 17.4 +/- 1.4 yr) and 11 age-matched controls (16.9 +/- 1.1 yr) volunteered for this investigation. Measurements of BMD (g.cm-2) utilizing dual energy x-ray absorptiometry were obtained for the lumbar spine (L2-4) and the proximal femur (neck; trochanter, Ward’s triangle). The BMD values for the junior lifters were found to be significantly greater at all sites for the junior weightlifters compared with their age-matched control group. The BMD values of the spine and femoral neck of the junior weightlifters when compared with adult reference data (i.e., 20-39 yr old men) were found to be significantly greater. Both simple and multiple regression analyses demonstrated significant relationships of BMD with strength accounting for 30-65% of the variance. These data suggest that in elite junior weightlifters, muscle strength, highly specific to the sport of weightlifting, has a major influence on BMD due to the influence of the chronic overloads experienced in training.

PMID: 8231753 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
[/quote]

Lo and behold, ask and ye shall receive.

Wow, lots of info here, thanks Bush, X.

I think the NSCA’s text also supports positive increases in bone density in response to exercise.

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[quote]bushidobadboy wrote:

It is during the declining, post 30yr period (where I am, being 34) that the debate over whether BMD can be actually increased or whether its rate of decrease can only be slowed, occurs.

The study only proves what I/we already know to be true about youthful exercise being critical to proper development.

Whether or not mature BBers can increase BMD or not (without the use of hormones), it WOULD be great to see some proper research. I certainly don’t write off the idea that they can, all I’m saying is that with the current (poor) data, it doesn’t look like it, however I would be happy to be wrong.

Bushy[/quote]

The fact that they found greater bone density in those weight lifters does more to support the belief than ANYTHING you have provided against it.

They are too young? Most of the people who fall into SERIOUS bodybuilding begin around that age which means this is exactly the news they need to be listening to.

Again, it matters little what someone over the age of 35 years sees in terms of bone density when applied to people who are under the age of 25.

AGE is a huge factor itself. Why ignore or reduce the significance of this evidence because the test subjects were not old enough to see a decrease in bone healing?

If anything, the position should be that weight lifting is EXTREMELY BENEFICIAL to those under the age of 30 because it may be able to increase bone density FOR LIFE if the stimulus is continued instead of waiting until they are 35 years of age to pick up a weight for the first time.

Time is fleeting and waiting half your life before realizing that weight lifting is a life long benefit would be a mistake. It should be obvious that there would be decreased benefit in terms of bone density the older someone gets as bone heals slower. That’s just the reality of the situation.

I am glad I followed that route with that thinking myself and did NOT wait until 30 to figure that out.

Further, the pain that was in the middle of my ulnar and radius was not muscular pain. It was in the bone and only occurred after the weight was SET DOWN and only lasted for seconds afterwards. You are talking to someone who has dissected a human arm before. Making things more complicated in explanation does not equal truth.

[quote]bushidobadboy wrote:
Professor X wrote:

The attachment of tendon to bone also develops a callus that would only slowly resorb if someone gave up all physical activity or weight bearing exercise.

Considering there are very few (if any) studies showing a lack of an increase in overall bone density on those who have gained significant muscle mass, it would be a huge mistake to deny the possibility.

Of course, but are there any studies that show a positive increase in BMD? Or was that not your point?

From personal experience I know that pain in my forearms that used to occur during biceps curls no longer occurs in spite of using heavier weight. That original discomfort was due to bone elasticity and the slight bending of bone during the movement.

Possibly, or it may be that the tenoperiosteal junction has become adapted to the new loads (the callus you mentioned above) and so no longer damages the bone when you overload it.

Bone is inherently flexible. I don’t see that minor bending and flexing of the bone would cause a level of damage that would cause pain, especially since it is only the periosteum and the endosteum that have nociceptors in them.

Therefore it could only be the periosteum that was signalling damage, which makes it more likely that it was the load on the periosteum, imposed by the muscles that was causing pain, rather than the bone flexing.

Bushy[/quote]

As in periostitis?(sp?) or Shin Splints? I have had this in my forearm from straight BB Curltoo…

Joe

[quote]Professor X wrote:
bushidobadboy wrote:

It is during the declining, post 30yr period (where I am, being 34) that the debate over whether BMD can be actually increased or whether its rate of decrease can only be slowed, occurs.

The study only proves what I/we already know to be true about youthful exercise being critical to proper development.

Whether or not mature BBers can increase BMD or not (without the use of hormones), it WOULD be great to see some proper research. I certainly don’t write off the idea that they can, all I’m saying is that with the current (poor) data, it doesn’t look like it, however I would be happy to be wrong.

Bushy

The fact that they found greater bone density in those weight lifters does more to support the belief than ANYTHING you have provided against it.

They are too young? Most of the people who fall into SERIOUS bodybuilding begin around that age which means this is exactly the news they need to be listening to.

Again, it matters little what someone over the age of 35 years sees in terms of bone density when applied to people who are under the age of 25.

AGE is a huge factor itself. Why ignore or reduce the significance of this evidence because the test subjects were not old enough to see a decrease in bone healing?

If anything, the position should be that weight lifting is EXTREMELY BENEFICIAL to those under the age of 30 because it may be able to increase bone density FOR LIFE if the stimulus is continued instead of waiting until they are 35 years of age to pick up a weight for the first time.

Time is fleeting and waiting half your life before realizing that weight lifting is a life long benefit would be a mistake. It should be obvious that there would be decreased benefit in terms of bone density the older someone gets as bone heals slower. That’s just the reality of the situation.

I am glad I followed that route with that thinking myself and did NOT wait until 30 to figure that out.

Further, the pain that was in the middle of my ulnar and radius was not muscular pain. It was in the bone and only occurred after the weight was SET DOWN and only lasted for seconds afterwards. You are talking to someone who has dissected a human arm before. Making things more complicated in explanation does not equal truth.[/quote]

I have to go with you on this one X, i mean, this debate is about "Does Weight Training etc increase Bone Density?) This lad is not ostoporotic(sp?), nor ill (i dont think) - a young weight trainer of ages between 17 and 25 i would guess.
That link is for his exact age group and proves that resisted loading DOES increase bone mass in those individuals.

This is going to be a higher level of mass that a non trained individual would have, full stop. This will benefit that person well into their later life - especially if they continue resisted loading, seeing as the evidence you have seen Bushy, stating that this kind of response is present in elderly subjects too.

As for the forearm issues - I have the exact problem as we speak, when i foinish a set i have to curl my RHS fingers from the bar v…ee…rr.yy slowly to reduce the pain. I had assumed (due to how it feels etc - an educated guess i suppose) that is was a teno-periosteum issue (if that is the correct term for the junction) - similar to the cause of shinsplints. It goes if i rest it (No standard BB Curl’s), and comes back very easily and as soon as i begin to use decent a weight again (35-50kgs). What do you think?

Joe

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Absolutely.
Due to years of abusive sports, accidents, injuries, etc, I have quite a pile of plain films, CT’s and MRI’s.
I’ve lifted very heavy for many years.
My bones look unusually dense on diagnostic images. I mean to the point that radiologists have commented on it. They look like “white bars of steel” on x-rays!
Knock on wood, I’ve never broken a bone either.
How’s that for low-tech unscientific evidence!

[quote]Radjxf wrote:
Absolutely.
Due to years of abusive sports, accidents, injuries, etc, I have quite a pile of plain films, CT’s and MRI’s.
I’ve lifted very heavy for many years.
My bones look unusually dense on diagnostic images. I mean to the point that radiologists have commented on it. They look like “white bars of steel” on x-rays!
Knock on wood, I’ve never broken a bone either.
How’s that for low-tech unscientific evidence![/quote]

I have an MRI of my arm and shoulder that got the same responses…and I’ve never broken a bone. The most pleasing was, “is this a leg?” from one doc observing the images for the first time of my arm.