T Nation

What's Easier on Joints?

Does anyone have some science or experience behind this question? For someone with joint issues are high rep/low weight or high weight/low rep sets better? For example if someone does 10 reps with 100 lbs or 5 reps with 200 lbs, they’re moving 1000 lbs in both cases. Which is the bigger factor in causing problems, he amount of movement (high reps) or the force (low reps?

If you bodybuild, you will have joint problems at one point. No matter what you do. I think the weight at certain points of the exercise hit the joints specially hard. This is worsened when the weight reaches heavy ass levels.

Whenever I’ve had trouble with a joint I’ve found higher reps to be easier on it.

From experience, the heavier weights are going to be more taxing on your joints.

[quote]john2009 wrote:
Does anyone have some science or experience behind this question? For someone with joint issues are high rep/low weight or high weight/low rep sets better? For example if someone does 10 reps with 100 lbs or 5 reps with 200 lbs, they’re moving 1000 lbs in both cases. Which is the bigger factor in causing problems, he amount of movement (high reps) or the force (low reps?[/quote]

Good question, but it is the high reps. it isnt total volume of load, but load lifted per rep i think… so 5/200 = 40lbs per rep and 10/100 = 10lbs per rep. Easier on joint, less compression forces. (for a closed chain exercise)

Joe

When my joints are throbbing, I focus on just slowing everything down, and squeezing the muscles a little harder. Sometimes any rep range will hurt.

S

Appreciate the thoughts. I just had my shoulder scoped and found out that I have degenerative arthritis in my shoulder (virtually no cartilage in the joint) and want to develop a lifting plan I can live with and not have constant problems. Doctor said I can go back to lifting, but want to come up with some routines where I won’t have to be taking time off constantly due to pain.

You might want to pm Cressey or Robertson about the subject. They can probably help.

It is definitely the heavier weight. Joe Brooks pulled that formula out of his ass and he knows it. When lifting weights the lighter the weight is the easier it is for your muscles to control it (obviously). When you get really heavy the joints take a quite a bit of abuse, Cressey talks about how from a saving your body standpoint it would be good to use a weight say on back squats that you can pause at the bottom for a moment before coming back up. If it is so heavy that you can only explode out of the bottom over time this can really wear on you. Im not sure the name of the article but I know he said it.

However, if you go all the way to the other side of the spectrum with cardiovascular exercise and running specifically, that type of high repetition volume is usually much much worse for you even (depending on how far you are running) than extremely heavy lifting. Long distance running for most people means running to partial exhaustion with sloppy technique on pavement… not good. What is worse a few extremely heavy reps or a few thousand poorly performed ones?

Yeah, i agree. Cardio type high reps are terrible for joints… what about low impact very high reps though… say rowing or elliptical?

I did pull the equation out of my arse! It wasn’t an equation to prove why light weights are less harsh on joints, i was just showing that total load lifted isn’t all there is when looking at load bearing effects.

I thnk the question is too vague given the new info you provided shadow, if we are talking about a squat only and an osteo-arthritic joint, then low weight is better (and not squatting the best!)
But if we are talking heavy leg extensions and a jog, then the leg extensions are better for the arthritic joint.

I think that is a valid point…? What do you think shadow?

Joe