Welcome back! For this post, we want to address a second common concern that people have regarding weight lifting:
2) “Isn’t weight training dangerous? I’ve heard of a lot of people that hurt their backs or have bad knees from lifting weights.”
(And as always, none of the information provided here should be considered medical advice. It is for informational/entertainment purposes only. Always consult your doctor for medical advice or before starting a new exercise or nutrition program)
Here’s the short version right off the bat: According to a study by Brian P. Hamill titled “Relative Safety of Weightlifting and Weight Training” in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, injury from weight lifting and powerlifting occurs at a significantly lower rate than it does in most contact sports and non-contact sports alike, including sports like badminton (56).
The table below shows how many injuries occurred in study participants for every 100 hours of participation. For example, badminton resulted in 0.05 injuries per 100 hours of play (50 injuries per 100,000 hours) versus 0.0027 injuries per 100 hours (2.7 injuries per 100,000 hours) for USA powerlifting. Soccer, the most popular sport in the world, resulted in 6200 injuries per 100,000 hours of play.
Think about how many people you know who have an old weight lifting injury versus how many people you know that have injuries from other sports like football, baseball, basketball, etc. I’m guessing that thought experiment lines up pretty well with the numbers you see above.
(Now none of this is to say that strength training improperly is safe. Learn how to strength train properly by following the included strength training programs in the RPE Workout Builder and learn proper lifting technique by checking out our Recommended Resources or by downloading our FREE PDFs covering squat and bench press technique.)
Now that you know the relative risks of strength training compared to other sports, with hundreds of thousands of hours of data to back that up, let’s review the benefits of strength training. An article by Michael Matthews titled “How Dangerous Is Weightlifting? What 20 Studies Have to Say” lists the following potential benefits with links to supporting studies for each:
Greater insulin sensitivity (low insulin sensitivity can increase your risk of diabetes)·
Higher bone density (usually meaning stronger bones)
Increased metabolic rate (you burn more calories)
I know this post is short, but no matter how many times I tell you that the benefits of strength training far outweigh the risk of injury for most people, you probably won’t believe me without credible data to back it up. That’s why I’ve linked 11 studies in this article for you to explore for yourself.
Everything in life has risks and benefits and you need to weigh those risks and benefits to determine the best course of action for yourself. In my opinion and experience, the benefits to strength training have so far outweighed the risks that it isn’t even a question…
YOU should strength train.
That is of course unless you’re against stronger joints, increased muscle mass, decreased likelihood of developing diabetes, enhanced heart health, improved brain health, greater longevity and quality of life, higher bone density, lower risk of bone fracture, improved metabolic rate, and improved flexibility. In that case, I suggest that you avoid strength training at all costs. Otherwise, get your butt in the gym!
Thanks for reading! What do you think? Share your thoughts below, give it a like, and share this post with someone you know who could benefit from it!
Sources:Hamill, B. "Relative Safety of Weightlifting and Weight Training," Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 8(1): 56, 1994. Matthews, Michael. "How Dangerous Is Weightlifting? What 20 Studies Have to Say." Legion Athletics, https://legionathletics.com/is-weightlifting-dangerous/