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A retired military officer I know (in his 60s) was recently told by his cardiologist not to weight train: She said she didn't want him to lift weights anymore - work out yes, lift no - because it "hardens the heart muscle and we want to keep that muscle nice and soft."
Cardiologist is US trained, works in a major city, and has a good reputation.
I did some research and found that some studies show a stiffening of blood vessels associated with weight training, but nothing about damage to the heart muscle, and nothing at all so far that shows any increase in mortality or other risk. I understand that cardiovascular accidents associated with weight training are so low as to be un-measurable, but I would appreciate it if I could get some comments on this from people in a position to have more practical experience than a cursory Internet search would yield. Sounds absurd to me, and at any rate, the benefits of training far outweigh the unmeasured risks.
We have dealt with some of this "arterial stiffening" literature in the science review articles. There is no observed clinical relevance to this phenomenon. As to the "hardening" of the heart, he is probably (can't be sure, because this is all bullshit) extrapolating from the observation that the athletic heart is thicker and therefore stiffer, and further extrapolating from the ventricular stiffening that accompanies early heart failure and diastolic dysfunction. Not the same scenario at all.
Cardiologists generally know nothing about exercise physiology. Cardiologists know cardiology stuff.
(Usually. I work with cardiologists. Every now and then you meet one who is actually as dumb as a sack of hammers, as in most other fields of human endeavor.)
This cardiologist, on this particular occasion, on this particular topic, is talking out his AOA cardiologist asshole, waving his hands on something he knows nothing about on the basis of no good evidence whatsoever, spewing uninformed cardiologist opinion all over the exam room like Mr. Hanky, and doing a disservice to his patient in the process.
I am a cardiac patient. My DR. fought me tooth and nail regarding weight training using the same shit theory. The wall of your heart will thicken. Really? I suggested....find a legit study that proves this and I will take it under advisement. 5 years later....still waiting.
Guess who won?
To my cardiologist’s amazement, I am off blood pressure meds, blood thinners (I have 2 stents in the main artery). I only take med for cholesterol. He fought me on this too.
I see him every 6 months for blood and every 2 years for nuclear stress test. I pass with flying colors. He no longer brings up the subject other than to make sure I'm doing some form of exercise.
There have been several threads about meet tapers for powerlifting competitions and your advice has been to keep the taper phase rather short. Since I am going to have my first weightlifting meet in September I was wondering about three things:
In your situation, I would not taper at all. Just skip your Friday strength workout and go to the meet. You've been hitting PRs from the strength-driven program anyway -- just go to the meet and hit two more.
Would this advice change if the goal was to maximize success in that particular meet vs. longer down the road? I ask this because depending on my progress in the coming weeks I might have a small chance to qualify for nationals via this meet in September, which has been a mid-term goal of mine.
I still appreciate the perspective of maximizing training success vs. first-meet success for a weightlifting novice like me. When PRs keep coming, there is no reason to interrupt good, slow, steady progress. But I am not yet sure that I can keep hitting personal bests for the coming two months (if so, then I am in pretty good shape anyways) and theoretically scaling back on the training volume a bit should help with two lifts performance short-term (but not long-term). So I am trying to balance the pros and cons here.
If you are still making linear progress with the program you're using, what you are essentially proposing is that a taper of some sort would make that progress happen faster in proximity to the meet. My approach is to let the dropped strength work the week of the meet serve as the taper, and let that be all of it. Something is working well now, so don't change anything unless you feel like altering the program that is working.
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