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Irregular Heartbeats & Weightlifting

By Kristi Croddy

Weightlifting provides numerous benefits, such as stronger bones and increased muscle mass, even to the heart muscle; however, some weightlifters may have an underlying condition causing an irregular heartbeat or they may develop an irregular heartbeat during exercise. If you notice an irregular heartbeat during weightlifting exercise, stop the exercise and consult your doctor immediately.

Weightlifting Benefits

The benefits of weightlifting include increased bone mass and strength, increased muscle strength, and an overall enhanced quality of life, according to the American Council on Exercise. Reduced injury results from the increases in muscle and bone strength, and overall activities of daily life become easier as a result. Incorporating a weightlifting regimen provides an added benefit of maintaining a healthy body weight.

Irregular Heartbeats

Irregular heart beats, also called arrhythmias or abnormal heart rhythms, are heartbeats that are either too fast, too slow or irregular. During exertional exercise, the heart can beat faster than normal -- over 100 beats per minute. The resting rate of an athletically trained heart tends to beat slower than normal, less than 60 beats per minute. During exercise, an athlete may notice the heart skipping a beat, pausing or beating irregularly for several beats in a row. Having these irregular beats during exercise can be a harmless condition known as athlete's heart; however, it can also be life threatening, which is why you must consult your physician should this occur.

Warnings

Not knowing when an irregular heartbeat warrants a trip to the doctor has caused many a weightlifter an uneasy nights' rest. Some of the warning signs that signal when to stop a workout include having more than one premature beat every 20 or 30 seconds; developing a heart rate over 100 beats per minute, which does not return to baseline at rest; feeling dizzy or lightheaded during a workout; or incurring unusual chest pain or shortness of breath during your weightlifting routine. These warning signs not only mean a quick trip to the doctor but may also necessitate a call to 911.

Considerations

You can take some precautions to protect against the possibilities of problems due to irregular heartbeats during weightlifting. First, get a regular checkup before starting a weightlifting regimen. This can help your doctor rule out any underlying condition causing an irregular heartbeat. Second, work out with a partner. Working out with another person means having someone else available to assist you or call 911 should you start having irregular heartbeats, chest pain, shortness of breath or experience an episode of syncope, or passing out, during exercise.

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