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Are we damaging our bodies with bodybuilding?


boardn10
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I keep wondering am I placing too much stress on my joints, tendons and ligaments. I have lifted heavy for 24 years but sometimes wonder if it is natural or should I stick to light weights, walking, low impact, etc. Will I be better off in the long run? How many bodybuilders who are natural, experience serious joint problems as they get older and as a result of heavy lifting? I have always stood on the other side of the fence and believe it strengthens not only the musculature, but all of the tendons and ligaments, hence strengthening the joints. Any thoughts on this?

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It's well known that doing it properly makes the joints stronger and more stable. Unfortunately many people prob don't do it properly in some way. Train consisently with good technique and load the weight over time, don't take any stupid jumps.

 

I guess genetics will play a part as well with how strong the tendons/ligaments are, and also nutrition etc. But as far as training goes just be careful - warmup/cooldown/do your stretches.

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It's well known that doing it properly makes the joints stronger and more stable. Unfortunately many people prob don't do it properly in some way. Train consisently with good technique and load the weight over time, don't take any stupid jumps.

 

I guess genetics will play a part as well with how strong the tendons/ligaments are, and also nutrition etc. But as far as training goes just be careful - warmup/cooldown/do your stretches.

 

 

I definitely agree but I am talking more about hard bodybuilding where you regularly push to new heights....not just weight training for health.

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Coming from someone who has been lifting heavy for over 10 years now....

 

In my own opinion, i believe the muscle can get stronger, but the joints tend to breakdown with heavy use.

 

Right now I am having to keep both elbows in wraps. It feels much better with them, but without them the pain would be too unbearable in the gym to even attempt certain exercises(bicep curl, pullups, BB bench press).

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Coming from someone who has been lifting heavy for over 10 years now....

 

In my own opinion, i believe the muscle can get stronger, but the joints tend to breakdown with heavy use.

 

Right now I am having to keep both elbows in wraps. It feels much better with them, but without them the pain would be too unbearable in the gym to even attempt certain exercises(bicep curl, pullups, BB bench press).

 

Sounds like you are thinking that really heavy lifting is hard on your joints, causing future problems? So, it sounds like maybe my dream of being a master class bodybuilder in his 50s and 60s, may not happen. How do guys like Clarence Bass still do it without joint pain? I know he had a hip replacement so maybe there goes that theory.

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I am glad you posted this topic...

I am hoping that my new plant based protein diet will reverse some soft tissue problems and allow me to greatly diversify what I do in the off season. I've read about runners experiencing the ability to go much farther when switching to veggie diets.

I think each body is unique though, and listening to the signals is of utmost importance to be in the best state of health possible.

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There are many people who do keep getting better with every year and lift hard and heavy into their later years, but they're usually the ones who

 

A) seem to never have any major injuries, and

 

B) always seem to have a sensible approach to their training (no "let's max out every few weeks" type training)

 

It's completely possible to start training to be in exceptional shape once you hit your 40s and 50s, it's just that you'll have to be more cautious about listening to your body all the time (if it doesn't feel right, don't force anything), making sure to get the best nutrition, getting plenty of rest, etc. As we get older, all the "little things" we don't always think that much about become more and more important.

 

Consider that when I met Bill Kazmaier in October, he was still so massive and strong, he made me look exceptionally small at 230 lbs. He's going on 60 soon, and I don't doubt that he could still deadlift or squat 600+ lbs. any time he wanted despite his age. If you take care of yourself and keep the training sensible while still giving it 100%, you can keep making progress for a long, long time.

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  • 1 month later...

I think bodybuilding can do both - build and destroy our bodies. I completely agree that genetics, adequate resting/nutrition and slow progress, avoiding max-es and so on can definitely improve health and look.

 

@boardn10 - according to me - weightlifting is not natural. I can't think of a situation that would have forced our ancestors, or any animal to do regular excercises with weights. More probably - just some trainning with the own bodyweight

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Vegan, what do you consider maxing out? Are you referring to a one set max?

 

I'm referring more to 1 rep maxes, something that tends to get the best of a lot of guys who are after top strength and are always wanting to test themselves. As I've found as I get closer to 40, I can't max out as often as I used to without it taking a heavy toll on my body, but 10 years ago, it was no problem to shoot for a new PR on a lift every few weeks.

 

After being exposed to more powerlifters this past few years, I see how many of them only max out in competition with very, very few attempts done in the gym for 100% on a set. Lots of guys will make projections for their max in a lift and only try to hit or exceed it in a contest, whereas in some gyms you can find guys trying to set a record every time they walk through the door. Slow and steady without beating yourself into the ground is the best approach for longetivity, the guys who aren't cautious are usually the ones who are out of the iron game by their early 30s and have nothing but "glory days" stories left from there on out!

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I don't thinking strength training is damaging per se, although like anything it can be dangerous if not done properly.

 

A more serious related issue in my view is the number of young guys (teens & early 20s) I see in my gym who are using steroids despite being novice trainers.

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To me, the concept of bodybuilding, is weightlifting that is heavy enough to produce microtears in the muscle tissue, and the body repairs it and makes it even better than before with more mass. Now that itself is damaging to the body. But a true bodybuilder knows how to repair their own body.

 

That process for me takes a little longer than usual as I grow older. And since I am older, and hopefully wiser, I know what foods help the most, how much rest I need before attempting another lift, and even knowing that muscle group participates with heavy lifting of another body part the next day and to avoid maybe that particular exercise. I also know how important form is when doing a lift; perhaps how to compensate by not using that repairing body part in that particular exercise with a different form. The alignment techniques I have learned from yoga has helped me immensely in being able to isolate a body part and work another body part. And to have a good massage therapist who willl yell at you when they notice that you have not been doing something properly (and then they proceed to correct it and you scream as the knot releases and you promise never to show off in front of the teenage boys again as you proceed to do a 810 lbs leg press).

 

All said in done, you have to know your body. And it changes all the time. Keeps me on my toes all the time.

 

Octo - you know better than to go to the gym in bandages and lift! Take care of your tendons and ligaments first! I always do a ligament cycle once a month to make sure they can handle the weight I will force the belly of the muscle to undertake. I am always surprised at how sore my ligaments are after doing sets after sets of 25 reps of low/med weight, the next day. And I usually have to back off my weightlifting schedule till they are repaired and ready to go.

 

If you have to bandage any bodypart to lift, your body is definitely screaming at you and you are telling it to shut up and do the work anyways (albeit: not listening to your body), you will be sorry in the end. You will be lucky if your body accepts your apology and heals properly and gives you a second chance. You only have so many second chances, and most of them were spent in your youth. . . .

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I think that really heavy weight lifting - pushing yourself really hard - will result in damage to the joints. But general living also results in damage to the joints. At both extremes - hard exercise or none at all - the choice might be between having more damage to the joints but better overall health (especially of the heart) or less damage to the joints and poorer health.

 

Most of the peasants of a few hundred years ago died worn out by hard work. Many of their skeletons show advanced arthritis of the joints.

 

A study of how vigorous physical activity (not weight training) affects the patella showed that those who engaged in activity were less likely to have cartilage damage to the knee. As the authors said:

 

'In this longitudinal study of community-based adults with no history of knee injury or disease, participation in vigorous physical activity, which was predominantly weight-bearing in nature, was associated with a reduced rate of patella cartilage loss and a trend toward a reduced risk for worsening patella cartilage defects. The benefits of participation in vigorous physical activity were only apparent for people without cartilage defects at baseline, and not observed for those with already established cartilage defects. This suggests that the benefits conferred by vigorous physical activity at the patellofemoral joint may be limited to people without existing cartilage defects that signify early joint damage. For people with baseline cartilage defects, vigorous physical activity was not significantly associated with subsequent changes to patellofemoral cartilage morphology.'

 

Arthritis and Rheumatism. 2009 Aug 15;61(8):1095-102.

Longitudinal effect of vigorous physical activity on patella cartilage morphology in people without clinical knee disease.

Teichtahl AJ, Wluka AE, Forbes A, Wang Y, English DR, Giles GG, Cicuttini FM.

PMID: 19644895

The full free text is available.

-----------------

 

But another one says:

 

'A questionnaire, designed to elict information about training programs, experience and injury profile, was administered to 358 bodybuilders and 60 powerlifters. This was followed by a clinical orthopedic and radiological examination. The upper extremity, particulary the shoulder and elbow joint, showed the highest injury rate. More than 40% of all injuries occurred in this area. The low back region and the knee were other sites of elevated injury occurrences. Muscular injuries (muscle pulls, tendonitis, sprains) were perceived to account for 83.6% of all injury types. Powerlifting showed a twice as high injury rate as bodybuilding, probably of grounds of a more uniform training program.'

 

Sportverletzung Sportschaden. 1989 Mar;3(1):32-6.

[injuries and damage caused by excess stress in body building and power lifting].

[Article in German]

Goertzen M, Schöppe K, Lange G, Schulitz KP.

PMID: 2711326

 

But many of these may have been caused by poor technique.

-----------------

And:

 

'Most of the injuries were in athletes undertaking free-weight training. Most injuries were in the upper limbs, particularly around the shoulder. Scintigraphic patterns of supraspinatus and bicipital tendons and also rotator cuff lesions were identified. Clavicular osteolysis, avulsion injuries, muscle damage, and vertebral lesions were also noted. Several abnormalities revealed by scintigraphy were clinically unsuspected.'

 

Clinical Nuclear Medicine. 1999 Dec;24(12):915-20.

Scintigraphic patterns of injury in amateur weight lifters.

Van der Wall H, McLaughlin A, Bruce W, Frater CJ, Kannangara S, Murray IP.

PMID: 10595467

----------------------------

 

I think it is safer to use weights that you can do at least 5 or 6 reps with in the first set. I have also started to do some stretches for tendons. At the moment, I am only doing them for the biceps and wrist tendons. I just go slowly and easily. Tendons take time to adapt.

 

I agree with VeganEssentials and Gaia about listening to your body - and I don't mean the creakings and cracks.

 

I'm 58 and have been doing vigorous exercise since I was 15. I only returned to resistance training a few years ago but my body has been driven quite hard for decades. The only injuries I have are due to falls and to what are probably congenital injuries and malformations. And I damaged the medial cartilage in both knees thirty-odd years ago but they give me no trouble now.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I believe burdening the digestive system can cause physical aging. If it were not for that one simple fact I would be shoving my face all day. It is impossible for me to do energy work properly with a stuffed belly. Fasting and cleansing is absolutely necessary in the poisonous city environment as well. It seems to be a constant chore staying clean on the outside and even eating very healthy and mostly raw vegan foods is not enough to keep the body running perfect. I wish I could have a super food that is a balance of proteins fat and carbs and various other minerals and enzymes etc without any burden on the digestive system. That is why liquids work so well with the human body. Liquifying a food does a lot of the work for you since food must be liquified ultimately before it is to be broken down into small enough bits (to put it bluntly) for the energy to chemically convert and store itself in your cells. There is no freebie in this world. Everything comes with its price. Too many things come with the price of shortened life and ugly aging with aches and pains and deterioration. If you look into people who avoid that they tend to be monks, yogis, masters, calorie restricted, clean living, no stress. None of them pound the weights and eat all day and night stuffing cells full to the brim and pushing the most out of their physical structure. I am 5'10" 150 and my body likes this weight. I was 3% BF when body building with a mostly vegetarian diet and taking a lot of supplements and I managed to blow up every muscle and put on 25 pounds of solid lean mass! I was ripped and more jacked then ever but I was shoving my face. As soon as I clean up my digestive system and balance my body I tighten up, shrink down, lose all the excess water and crap and turn into a glowing, tight and ripped person. I love both. I love lifting. I want to be jacked but I can't sacrifice my glow. I just stopped looking at the scale and stopped trying to compete and gain large mass because mass comes with calories and calories comes from a lot of fooooood. Even great training techniques don't change the fact that you are filtering more physical matter through the body then is actually necessary. Only downfall, only thing that matters for spirit and only thing that matters for mass. Tough one.

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  • 2 weeks later...

krmass25,

 

You bring up a lot of the point in which I point to. We eat a lot of food, more than is necessary, but to get larger, you need to eat lots and lots of calories. One problem I have always found is when I get lean and more cut up, I lose muscle, so I end up cut, but much smaller. When I pack on the muslce, I get belly fat. Can't win. Don't know how guys like Clarence Bass do it. Maybe he is a genetic freak.

 

I wonder how many natural bodybuilders who are now in their 60s or 70s, have more than the usual physical ailments and complaints? Are their joints shot? Spine and back, shot?

 

I do squat, but does it feel natural to squat? No? Something that is more functional like the step up and lung, feel more natural.

 

I wonder if I lift too much weight for my joints. Recently I was doing dumbless chest presses with 100 lb dumbells for low reps and I had to ask myself, will I look any different in the end, by going heavy? Why can't I just do 80 lb dumbells for 15 reps? In the end, is 100 lb dumbells for 6 reps the same as 80 lb DBs for 15 reps in how the joints see it? Is there more damage using the heavier weight?

If I do 15 reps with lighter weight on the squat, do I get the same benefit in the thighs as lifting heavy for 6-8 reps?

There is more and more research coming out pointing to the fact that you can lift much less weight for more reps and still gain as much mass.

But, does this do less joint damage? Does any of this damage joints if you progress slowly with correct form?

I don't know.

 

All I know is that I have terrible pain in my feet, my upper bakc and spin and left arm, elbow and shoulder. Some doctor's tell me it could be Ankylosing Spondylitis, some say it could be something with the spine as in a disk issue. I had three MRIs 3 years ago of my spine and all looked good. Go figure. A few of the doctor's say it is still the Lyme disease that I have been fighting for years, still causing trouble....or irritation. Maybe it is my Ulnar Nerve still erritated after I had Ulnar entrapment surgery 3 years ago.

 

These are the things that cause my confusion in how it pertains to body building.

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  • 2 weeks later...

@boardn10 -

Recently I was doing dumbless chest presses with 100 lb dumbells for low reps and I had to ask myself, will I look any different in the end, by going heavy?

 

How do you perform your reps? Do you release the tension in the top upper point, or you don't lock up your elbows?

 

I have found for my self that I can change the impact of a given weight by only playing with the reps execution, time between the sets and the overall attitude towards it.

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  • 2 weeks later...
@boardn10 -
Recently I was doing dumbless chest presses with 100 lb dumbells for low reps and I had to ask myself, will I look any different in the end, by going heavy?

 

How do you perform your reps? Do you release the tension in the top upper point, or you don't lock up your elbows?

 

I have found for my self that I can change the impact of a given weight by only playing with the reps execution, time between the sets and the overall attitude towards it.

 

 

I try not to lock out at the top.

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  • 4 months later...

Hey, boardn10!

 

Let me get this straight - your friend is a trainer, but says bodybuilding is unnatural and shouldn't be done? Methinks that he needs to go into a new line of work, unless he's one of those people who is simply content to help people not be so overweight/sedentary and thinks that anything beyond is no good

 

I'd question one big thing about his opinions - steroids do NOT help people prevent injury, on the contrary, they help muscles recover and grow at a rate faster than tendons, ligaments and connective tissues, thereby INCREASING the odds of someone using steroids to be injured more often than the average trainer. Sure, they help with recovery and growth, but they do have their downsides, and being more prone to injury is a big part of what happens to people who use them. You might want to share that bit of info with your friend, he seems to be a bit misinformed regarding how steroids actually make one more vulnerable in time and open up more potential for injury!

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