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Training to Failure: Heart Risk?


A friend of mine, a 33 yeard old bodybuilder, was hospitalized and underwent urgent heart surgery (mitral valve failure). I'm belgian, and as you maybe know, belgian heart surgeons have a worldwide reputation. I was shocked to hear the doctor's opinion on the cause of this unexpected condition for somebody who had - in my opinion - a very lifestyle, constantly staying on 4% body fat. Downside : he used to train to failure, never did any GPP and stayed year round on testo (500-1500/week).

In short, he was made the following recommendations : not to train too heavy anymore, certainly not to failure and avoiding exercices that "generate high blood pressure", i.e. exercises where you put yourself under a heavy load. He was advised to train with more volume, using maximum 70% of 1RM and staying far away from failure.

This made me a little concerned, being a fan of heavy free weight training who's eyeballs are regularly almost popping out in an attempt to set a new PR on a heavy lift.

My question : what could be the cause of my friends condition? The constant use of roids, making him lift heavier than his heart was built for? Too low body fat percentage year round? Can weight training be dangerous for some individuals? Or is it just genetics (bad luck)?
Thanks for sharing your opinion.


the man's on test, and the doctors blame the heart problems on lifting to failure? That makes no sense...


My gut reaction would be it was probably caused by the following:

-Test (1500mg/wk is anything but a low dose, I don't know how long he stayed on this high of a dose - but it could certainly have been a contributing factor)
-And who the hell stays at 4% bf year round?

Obviously, I'm no doctor and I don't know the guy - but my guess it was everything BUT training to failure that contributed to it.


lol, The Belgian doctors 'reputation' has been tarnished in one sweeping moronic comment.


Agreed, the first things I thought were:

  1. 4% BF (first thing mentioned)
  2. Test all year round


Yea, what he said.


He said they had a rep, he didn't say it was good.


Yeah, I never understood why he tortured himself for keeping his bodyfat that low all the time.
But why is that bad for the heart? I always thought cardiovascular diseases were caused by too high body fat levels, not by too low?


lol good observation skills.


Mitral valve failure is not a sudden event. It is usually preceded by a condition called mitral valve prolapse, which is genetic or also can be a result of a strep infection. The prolapsed valve is sometimes detected as a "heart murmer" when the doctor listens to your heart.

You better check the credentials of this MD who diagnosed him and get a second opinion.


It makes sense to me. Blood pressure goes through the roof on excercises like leg press and the last time I did some HIT stuff I thought my heart was going to beat right through my chest.

I would never put a client at heart attack risk through a workout to failure.

I don't think this one thing would have gotten to your friend but this, along with his other contributing factors definitely would've helped.


So, it could be:

  1. Bad luck
    -bad doctor
    -large amounts of test year round (although some of the guys on juce might have an issue with this)
    -fairly low body fat year round [remember, healthy fat is good for the heart. If you are at either extreme (too fat, or not enough) for a long enough time, it might not be good for you]

  2. Traning to failure 3 or 4 days a week for the last many(?) years.

  3. Never ever any GPP (or cardio?) one style of traning that hasn't changed for a while.

Why couldn't it be a combination of ALL of these factors? Why should just one contribute?


You best me to it.


Hey, don't blame the doctor, it doesn't sound like the doctor was blaming it on anything... just giving advice on how to behave going forward.

There's a difference... and I think our poster has twisted the advice into an interpretation that isn't warranted.