T Nation

New Study- Weight Training Can KILL YOU!!

I’m speechless that such a thing can even be published, in the Wall Street Journal, no less…

Fears Mount Over Dangers
Of Hoisting Heavy Weights


As a fitness trainer and health fanatic, Michael Logan knew that weight lifting could strengthen his bones and protect his heart.

What he didn’t know was that it could be lethal. Mr. Logan had a bulge in his primary artery, the aorta. Knowledge of that bulge, or aneurysm, would have prompted doctors to allow only light-weight lifting. But like the vast majority of people with aneurysms, Mr. Logan didn’t know he had one.

So he continued heavy-weight lifting – until an aortic aneurysm killed him last June at age 46. “It’s very surprising that something he did for his health might have hurt him,” says Mike Logan, the late Chicago trainer’s son.

In a nation obsessed with looks and fitness, weight lifting is the latest workout craze. Recent studies have shown that lifting can lower blood pressure, combat diabetes and strengthen bones. Bookstore shelves are teeming with new fitness tomes touting weight lifting. Over the three years ended in 2001, participation in weight lifting in the U.S. has risen 12% – while aerobic exercise declined 2%, according to American Sports Data Inc.

Now, however, a small but growing number of researchers are raising concerns about the safety of lifting heavy weights. Such lifting can trigger strokes and aneurysms, and perhaps even cause a highly fatal arterial disease called dissection, believe doctors at prominent health centers such as Yale University School of Medicine and the Stanford University Medical Center.

Aneurysms alone kill 32,000 Americans a year, making them as big a killer as prostate cancer, and a more common killer than brain cancer or AIDS. Especially vulnerable to aneurysm and other arterial conditions are senior citizens – a group that has been urged to take advantage of the bone-strengthening effects of weight lifting.

Aneurysm experts express little concern about moderate to light-weight lifting. Some define light as an amount that can be lifted 60 times, in four sets of 15. A leading aneurysm research and surgeon, John Elefteriades of the Yale University School of Medicine, recommends that people over 40 years old bench-press no more than half their body weight. Equally important is breathing regularly during exercise to minimize spikes in blood pressure.

Aneurysms aren’t the only concern for heavy-weight lifters. Vascular experts say it can induce stroke, as well as dissection, in which the inner lining of the aortic artery separates from the outer walls.

Heavy-weight lifting can spike blood pressure to dangerous heights. In maximum-effort lifting, which pits a participant against the most weight he can hoist one time, studies have shown that blood pressure rises to as high as 370/360 from a resting rate of 130/80. Conventional blood-pressure monitors can’t even measure levels above 300. “At that level, nobody would be surprised if you had a stroke,” says Franz Messerli, a hypertension specialist at the Ochsner Clinic Foundation in New Orleans.

John Robertson witnessed just such an event one day when he was lifting weights as a medical student. Lifting beside Dr. Robertson was a fellow medical student who suddenly keeled over backward. A vessel in his brain had ruptured. He was rushed to the hospital, and survived. “During the time that you’re lifting, the pressure on the artery wall is intense,” says Dr. Robertson, chief of thoracic and cardiovascular surgery at St. John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, Calif.

Doctors have long suspected that the steep blood-pressure spikes arising from heavy-weight lifting could trigger ruptures of already weakened vessels. Now, suspicion is growing that such lifting can damage healthy vessels. Yale’s Dr. Elefteriades has shown in a lab experiment that intense pressure can induce dissection, often requiring emergency open-heart surgery.

Dissection typically occurs in older adults, or those who have a family history or who suffer from a syndrome called Marfan’s disease. Yet Dr. Elefteriades has treated two young dissection victims who had none of the traditional risk factors, but who were heavy-weight lifters. Similarly, a study conducted at Los Angeles County Harbor-UCLA Medical Center profiled four young men who entered the emergency room suffering dissection – all heavy-weight lifters. Steriod use may increase the risk.

One option for anyone over 60 or with a family history of aneurysms or dissection is to get scanned before starting a lifting program. Most aneurysms and dissections can be detected by CT scans. Also, an inexpensive ultrasound test can detect the abdominal aortic aneurysm, which ranks as the nation’s 13th-leading cause of death.

The latest trend in resistance training is called slow lifting, in which the participant takes 10 seconds to raise a light to moderate amount of weight and 10 seconds to lower it. Proponents tout it as a safer and more effective alternative to both regular lifting and aerobic exercise.

But the authors of two books on slow lifting concede they haven’t measured its blood-pressure spikes, which is arguably the most crucial safety issue. The two authors, Adam Zickerman and Michael Eades, say that slow lifting produces smaller spikes than regular lifting.

Other doctors and fitness experts disagree. They say that one cause of blood-pressure spikes during weight lifting is the contraction of the effected muscle. During slow lifting, a muscle may be contracted for more than 60 seconds compared with two or three seconds in regular speed lifting. For anyone concerned about stroke, aneurysm or dissection, or for the vast number of Americans with uncontrolled hypertension, “I would not recommend slow lifting,” says Wayne Westcott, a slow-lifting proponent who is director of research at the South Shore YMCA in Quincy, Mass.

Oh, “slow lifting”. It must be new. Idiots.

Personally, I hope they keep coming out with reasons why people shouldn’t lift weights. It’ll get people out of the gym and out of my way.

Also, you’re probably more likely to choke to death on a piece of food than have this happen to you. Last time I checked, there wasn’t some “expert” telling us not to eat anything.

Idiocy at its finest.

Gee, if I have a friggin’ aneurysm, do you think these 20 rep breating squats might be a problem?

The horror! How many people must senselessly die before no one ever has to die again?

There is some probability that you can die doing ANYTHING. My god, the keyboard could short out and electrocute me right now as I type, and if it did, some jackass would invent a rubber case to go around keyboards and make millions.

The question is, what’s more of a risk to your health, lifting weights, or living a sedentary life?

risk = probability of occurence X magnitude of consequence

Actually, I agree with the article in many respects. People (usually men) tend to do too much too fast. This is usually okay for younger people, but can be problematic in older people. They need to first be checked out by a physician before they begin a program, and then begin very slowly.

Furthermore, many older people who begin lifting are doing it primarily for health benefits. When you approach it from that angle, as opposed to developing size and strength, your goals are entirely different. To get maximal health benefits you don’t need to lift to failure or take on weights that will only allow 6 to 12 reps.

I remember an article several years ago about running. It was about a study that showed the health benefits of someone who ran 30 to 35 miles a week were only marginally better than someone who ran 10 or 15 miles per week. Recently I read an article that said the health benefits for runners actually begin to decrease when they run more than 30 to 35 miles a week. I think you can safely extrapolate that to lifting, i.e. the health benefits are not proportional to the amount of weight you can toss around.

Saying all that, I do think the article could have been more balanced, and only using weights that one can perform 40 reps on is erring too much on the side of caution, I believe.

Weightlifting is a great activity, and I do hope more and more people become involved in it. But there are risks to take into consideration, particularly when you are older.

I can see it now: as I’m walking into a gym, someone outside yelling at me, “Don’t go in there! You could kill yourself!”

The horror.

What tlmorrison said is correct, too. And for goodness sakes, this guy in the article was a fitness trainer?! He, of all people, should have known better than to put himself at risk like that.

The overall benefits of weight training totally outweigh the negatives. IF there are negatives. There are certainly negatives to living a life totally devoid of anything physically active.

That it. I’m withdrawing my name from the Hot-Rox contest. I have a wife and three kids who need me, dammit!

Okay, folks, aside from the obvious fact that such deaths are extremely rare, has anyone ever heard the recommendation that anyone who is considering beginning a weight training program, or any fitness program for that matter, should consider going to his/her doctor for a thorough examination?

This holds true especially if one has been sedentary for an extended period of time, or has other risk factors to consider.

Dude must have had a brain lock and couldn’t think of anything else to write to meet his deadline.

Those assholes forgot the two most important conclusions–squats are bad for your knees, and all that muscle turns to fat. If anyone wants me I will be in the gym doing lots of low reps.

next thing you know tree hugging, anti- american, gay rights activists are going to be protesting outside my door when my latest shipment of mag-10 and grow arrives.

Couldn’t sex have similar negative side effects to the ones mentioned in the article? In order to be healthy, you gotta practice celibacy.

Well then kill me now.

Holy Moly. 40 years of lifting and I ain’t dead yet. That must be a record. The article is correct, however, in pointing out the potential dangers of maxing out or following a HIT program with the spike that occurs in BP. Not recommended by AR for us old farts.

Hahaha. The best quote is right at the beginning:

“In a nation obsessed with looks and fitness, weight lifting is the latest workout craze.”

Latest workout craze. Wow. Aren’t stupid people fun?

Articles like this one tick me off because the guy had to be struggling for something to write about and his deadline was coming up and ,SHAZAM! instead story. It makes me angry because of all the people who wont know that this is CRAP. And all those who will use this as a reason to get fat and out of shape. “Hey, lifting weights kills people, be fat and live longer”

New headline: “Wearing sandles prevents heart attacks”

It has been a growing epodemic in the past years, more than 1500 people have died from bending over to tie their shoes. University of Fat-ass doctors released statement “Sure they may have been 300lbs overweight, but we think that that had nothing to do with the deaths. We recommend everyone wear sandles from now on to save their lives”

Now that is how you make up a dumb-ass story like this one.

Honestly, if less ppl weight train, better for us.

A friend of mine’s dad passed away after a brain aneurysm ruptured while he was on the toilet. Thus, defecating can kill you. Anyone participating in a defecation routine should run out to have a CT or ultrasound done before continuation of this dangerous activity.

Wow! Just like TC says- “do it” or rather “don’t do it for the children.” Let us all get into research jobs were we can justify our paychecks by only presenting the weak arguement like it was the strong arguement all the time. Fuck these people! Tell them to stop writing discourageing BS! Tell them to get off their ass and start helping people change their lifes instead of giving sullen weaklings a reason to stay sullen and weak. I see people left and right in my everyday affairs that could benefit from weight training in countless ways. Yet they are stuck in ignorance because of the “latest research”. What about what is tried and true? What about what has been proven for hundreds of years already? Those who use their bodies (and closer to its potential) don’t loose their bodies. This was a Wall Street Journal article? You know what, let 80% of the readers follow it’s suggestion. I’m sure not everyone who reads it is a dumbass. On the contrary, I’m sure many savy T-Men read it and make their living buying and selling. The rest of those fucks though deserve to waste away reading stupid worthless garbage like that. Hell maybe the excitment of trading stocks and making investments will make those assholes have a stroke or aneurysm anyway. And those who know better should buy in Biotest! :slight_smile:

I guess it’s true then!

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.