Is Weightlifting Dangerous? Here’s What the Studies Have to Say

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It’s easy to understand why some of my clients come to me saying “Marc Dressen, isn’t weightlifting a little dangerous – couldn’t I get hurt?”

Ultimately, if you compare deadlifting and bench pressing as methods to use with your online fitness coach, to other workouts that include things like cycling or jogging, weightlifting can look pretty daunting. On top of that, there are countless horror stories on the internet about exercise gone wrong that could leave you dreading the dumbbells.

Unfortunately, strength training has gotten something of a bad reputation when it comes to injury, but the truth is that it’s not as dangerous as you might think.

Here’s the deal…

While there are definitely problems you’ll need to consider, as long as you know how to weight lift properly, you should be safe. In this article, we’re going to give you everything you need to know about the safety of weightlifting from a scientific perspective so that you can work out with confidence.

Let’s dive right in.

How Likely are Injuries in Weightlifting?

In the world of athletics and fitness goals, there’s a common saying that you’re always one step away from your next injury. If you’ve ever played sports competitively, then you’ll know there’s some truth to that phrase. Unfortunately, injuries do happen – even if they’re only small, and weightlifting is no exception to the rule.

Engage in weightlifting exercises for long enough, and you could end up dealing with a number of problems like joint pain and muscle tightness. However, does that really make weight lifting dangerous?

According to a review of twenty different studies, bodybuilding only produces one injury for every 1,000 hours in a training session. On the other hands, sports like rugby, soccer, and football all have injury rates that range from 6 to 260 injuries per 1,000 hours. While it’s true that intense weightlifting sessions like Olympic powerlifting and cross lifting have more risk involved, they still only produce between 2 and 4 injuries per 1,000 hours. In other words, weightlifting might be the safest exercise of them all.

On top of that, the benefits of weightlifting are astronomical. The right routine delivers stronger joints, better muscle mass, higher insulin sensitivity, better brain and heart health, greater quality of life, and so much more.

If you compare the potential of weightlifting with the somewhat small risk of injury, it’s easy to see that strength training shouldn’t be a source of fitness anxiety.

How to Avoid Injuries in Weightlifting

Often, speak to your online fitness trainer, and you’ll find that weightlifting injuries aren’t necessarily caused by too much intense training, but by the fact that people don’t take enough time to recover between workouts. The truth is that more injuries in weightlifting give you plenty of chances to change your ways before you see a severe problem. For instance, you might feel a bit of discomfort in your knee before you start to really suffer from pain while you’re squatting, and then eventually, you suffer from knee pain all the time. These types of injuries are known as repetitive stress injuries, and they’re the bane of a lot of athletes.

The good news is all you need to do to avoid a repetitive stress injury, is make sure that you’re getting enough rest. Once the discomfort has begun to set in, the only way to make sure that you don’t suffer too much in the long-term is to avoid the activity that caused your pain in the first place.

Reducing Your Risk of Weightlifting Injuries

If you spend enough time working out at the gym or with your online fitness trainer’s help, then there’s a good chance that you’ll eventually start suffering from repetitive strain injury. The good news is that there are a few ways that you can reduce your risk level. For instance:

  1. Avoid Anything that Hurts

Often, when you’re working out, you might think that the only way to achieve your goals is to keep pushing yourself beyond your comfort zone. Though there is some truth to that idea, it’s worth noting that you shouldn’t merely be exposing yourself to ongoing pain. Pain is a sign that something is wrong in your body. If you don’t listen to it, then you’re asking for trouble.

When you start to feel pain, make sure that you stop and rest for a few minutes before trying again. If you find that the exercise continues to cause discomfort, then you’ll need to do something else instead.

  1. Go Slowly

We all want to reach our goals as quickly as possible, but that doesn’t mean that you can simply rush your way into success. One of the easiest ways to make sure that you end up with an injury as a result of your workout is to keep pushing yourself harder and faster than you can reasonably manage.

The more stress you put on your body, the more strain your ligaments and joints have to work with during each session. You need to make sure that you have plenty of time to recover between sessions, so it’s a good idea to make sure that you go slow and steady at first. If you’re new to weightlifting, start by adding about five pounds to your lifts every couple of weeks, and go from there.

  1. Always put Form First

Finally, remember that when you’re lifting weights, the aim shouldn’t be to merely lift as much as you possibly can without being cautious – but instead carefully control your progress, while ensuring you stay healthy and flexible. The more you dedicate yourself to managing your form, the more likely you are to reduce your risk of injury in the long run.

Managing form is particularly important when it comes to compound exercises like the deadlift, squat, or bench press. Although these exercises aren’t necessarily dangerous at their core, they can involve a lot of heavy weights that can cause injury when used improperly. Make sure that you always put form first.

Finishing Thoughts on Weightlifting

Ultimately, weightlifting isn’t as dangerous as it might seem, and it could be a great way to make sure that you achieve your goals for muscle growth and fat loss. Science seems to show that weightlifting is one of the safest things that you can do at the gym – so long as you know how to approach it with the right attitude.

Make sure that you respect the limits of your body when you’re weightlifting, and avoid any reckless behavior that might increase your risk of injury. That way, while you might end up with some general discomfort and muscle soreness from time to time, you can rest assured that you won’t end up in hospital with something sure to make you dread your next strength training session.

Be wary of any pain, make sure you don’t rush, and keep your focus on form. Follow these three tips, and you should be fine.


Marc Dressen
Personal Trainer London

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