Is Lifting Heavy Bad For Your Heart?

Resistance training is good for your health, but can going too heavy put your heart at risk?

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Today’s Health Upgrade

  • Does lifting heavy hurt your heart?

  • Oh, can it

  • The brain boost you didn’t expect

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Is Lifting Heavy Bad For Your Heart?

Most people know the saying, “Go heavy or go home,” — but is this mindset a recipe for heart issues?

In a recent Q&A inside The Pump app, members asked if lifting heavy weights causes heart issues. The truth? Research suggests resistance training significantly reduces the likelihood of cardiovascular disease, heart attack, and stroke. 

Unfortunately, only 30 percent of people do the recommended minimum of two resistance training workouts per week. And nearly 60 percent of people don’t perform any regular strength training at all. 

Multiple studies have found that lifting weights could be the key to a healthy heart. Scientists have found that resistance training at least twice per week results in a 41 percent lower risk of cardiovascular disease mortality. And those benefits were observed regardless of age, sex, or whether the person had existing cardiovascular conditions.

Researchers speculate that resistance exercise prevents disease and breakdown because it helps reduce body fat, improve insulin resistance, lower blood pressure, and improve insulin sensitivity, all of which collectively contribute to better heart health and a reduced risk of developing cardiovascular problems.

If you have a pre-existing heart condition or are battling very high blood pressure, you should consult with your doctors about how heavy you can go. If your heart is already under too much strain, research suggests going above 85 percent of your maximum rate could pose a risk. But that doesn’t mean to avoid training.

Multiple studies suggest people with pre-existing issues or high blood pressure can boost heart health and lower blood pressure with regular lifting sessions (at least three days a week) at moderate levels (70 percent to 75 percent of your 1-rep max). And if your heart is healthy, there’s little concern about pushing maximum weights. 

And remember, minimum habits can lead to significant changes. As little as one moderate-intensity session per week can make a difference, but aiming for more frequent workouts can further improve your cardiovascular health. So if you’re new to the gym, start slow, build confidence, and rest assured your commitment will pay off. 

Oh, Can It

If you love convenience foods, here's some good news: canned foods are an effective way to add more nutrients to your diet.

Researchers explored the association between canned food consumption and nutrient intake in children and adults. They analyzed data on people who had high canned food consumption (more than six canned items), average consumption (3-5 canned items), and low consumption (less than two cans per week). 

People who ate six or more canned items per week had higher intakes of 17 essential nutrients — including Vitamins A and C, potassium, and fiber — than those who ate two or fewer cans per week. 

The study does not advocate replacing fresh fruits and vegetables with canned alternatives. Instead, it highlights the potential benefits of incorporating canned foods into a balanced diet. And if your budget doesn’t afford as many fresh options, that doesn’t mean you still can’t eat healthily. 

Adding canned options — whether beans, fruits, vegetables, or proteins such as tuna or salmon — can provide a convenient and cost-effective way to boost nutrient intake. In general, look for canned foods that are lower in sodium and added sugars, and opt for varieties packed in water or their own juices rather than heavy syrups.

The Brain Supplement You Didn’t Expect

You might have heard about using creatine for building muscle. But a recent review suggests that creatine might also boost brain health, as well as short- and long-term memory. 

The researchers discovered that supplementing with creatine led to a 14 percent improvement in short-term memory and a 12 percent improvement in long-term memory. 

Creatine may improve memory performance by increasing energy availability in your brain. Creatine plays a crucial role in the production of ATP, the energy currency of cells. That’s why creatine research previously showed improvement in exercise and building muscle.

But ATP isn’t just limited to your muscles; it also influences your brain cells. By enhancing brain energy levels, creatine supplementation may improve memory formation and retrieval processes, and support better overall cognitive function and health.

The scientists found that creatine benefits people of all ages, but the most significant impact was for those older than 60.

If you’re looking to supplement with creatine, research suggests that creatine monohydrate is most effective, and a dose of 3 to 5 grams per day is most likely to provide what’s needed to see benefits.

Publisher: Arnold Schwarzenegger

Editors-in-chief: Adam Bornstein and Daniel Ketchell