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Keep reps high for hypertension?

My Dad has finally figured out the right combination of meds to keep his b.p. under control (probably somewhere slightly above normal, especially in the morning), and is convinced that he should keep reps in the ten or above range indefinitely. I’ve heard some informed opinions on this forum before, and i’m wondering if it is in fact significantly riskier (stroke, etc.) for him to vary his rep protocal, venturing into the 4-6 range as part of a normal periodization scheme. Thanks alot for anything you can offer. Ken

Using big weights (& therefore the Valsalva maneuver which is basically trying to breathe out but not actually letting any air out) is what causes temporary high blood pressure. Intrathoracic pressure increases, which constricts the Venae Cavae, causing less blood to get to the heart, causing less blood to get out of the heart. When the exertion ends, blood starts rushing into & out of the heart so blood pressure skyrockets temporarily, like to 150/95 or something. A beginner or somebody who might have a heart problem should keep the weight (& exertion) light enough or reps high enough to not have to resort to the Valsalva thing. After a while (like months) maybe he can start doing it sparingly.

btw that was from chap 6 or 7 in Science & Practice of Strength Training by Zatsiorsky.

Off hand, the only type of weight lifting done with hypertensive subjects in research literature is circuit training (moderate weight, around 10 reps per set). This helped lead to a drop in resting BP. Not to say that there have not been other studies, but I just have not seen them. In general, the heavier you go, the bigger the increase in blood pressure over the course of a set. I’m not sure if this is a serious problem for most. If you dad has serious coronary artery or carotid artery blockage then a huge increase in BP could possibly increase the risk of a stroke or heart attack. We all have huge increases in BP when we lift. A heavy set of leg presses can drive systolic BP above 400 mmHg and yet we handle it fine. I would stay away from the leg press, but most other lifts should be ok. It also depends on the severity of the hypertension and how well it is controlled. IMO, hypertension causes problems because the BP is chronically increased and thus the heart has to pump against a higher pressure (afterload) and the blood vessels constantly face a greater shearing force. The big, short increases that occur during weightlifting are not that big of a problem. But as I mentioned before, a severe and unstable plaque buildup in the coronary or carotid is something to take into account. Maybe he should get a max treadmill test with ECG to check for signs of heart disease. If the ECG is clean, I see no reason to avoid any rep ranges. Sorry for the long response. Hope this helps.

see, that’s what i mean by informed opinions; thanks for the great responses - i’ll be forwarding them to my Dad directly. Ken