A Few Tips on how to Avoid Getting a Hernia When Weight Lifting

A hernia occurs when a portion of an internal organ protrudes through weak abdominal lining. It is typically caused by genetics, but there are various other types of hernias.

Fortunately, certain steps can help prevent hernias during workouts or weight lifting. Read on to learn more about the different hernia types and how to try and prevent them.


Congenital Hernias are present at birth, although they may remain unnoticed for years.

Acquired Hernias develop when the lining of the abdominal connective tissue or muscles becomes damaged or weakened. Even hernias that occur later in life may be a result of a congenital defect or weakness.

Although having a hernia is not necessarily dangerous, it will not go away or heal by itself. If a hernia is suspected, it is important to get it checked by a physician. Depending on the severity, it may require repair.

A hernia can only be repaired through surgery. Doctors sometimes use existing tissue to fix the abdominal lining. Other cases may require mesh material to repair the hole.


What Are the Different Types of Hernias?

A hernia is classified by the area of the abdominal lining that gets broken through. A groin hernia, also known as Inguinal Hernias, is the most common type since the weakest portion of the abdominal wall is the groin. About 80 percent of all hernias are Inguinal hernias. The majority of these occur in men.

Although rare, Femoral Hernias are another type of hernia. They are more common in women due to structural differences between male and female bodies. They can occur due to pregnancy-related issues or obesity.

If the intestines protrude through the abdominal wall, it is classified as an Abdominal Hernia. Depending on where in the abdomen the hernia occurs, it may be named accordingly.


How To Help Prevent A Hernia

As mentioned above, the majority of hernias result from a genetic weakness in the lining of the abdominal wall. Despite genetics, a few simple tips can still help prevent a hernia.

Weight Lifting and Workouts

Many weight-lifters and bodybuilders fear getting a hernia during their sessions. Fortunately, a properly completed weightlifting or workout routine can actually help prevent hernias.

Strength training helps build up connective tissue, tendons, muscles, and ligaments. This means weightlifters and bodybuilders will have stronger abdominal walls than sedentary people. This translates to a decreased chance of tearing the abdominal lining during lifting sessions.

Out of shape individuals that suddenly lift a heavy object or strain themselves in an unexpected situation – pushing a stuck vehicle, moving furniture, or performing heavy manual labor they are not accustomed to – are at an increased risk of acquired hernias.

Even though staying active and working out can be helpful in preventing a hernia, it is still important to be wise about it. Many of the workout tips designed to prevent injuries also apply to preventing hernias. Below are some of the most important tips for protecting your abdominal lining.


Complete a Good Warm Up Prior to Working Out – A quick Google search will provide instructions on how to properly warm up prior to training sessions.


Don’t Push Too Hard for Progress – When weight lifting, it is important to maintain patience when trying to achieve progress. Frequently making small adjustments to the amount of weight lifted helps promote progress while still preventing injury from lifting too much too fast.

Avoid Forced Reps – When a lifter pushes past the point of failure during a set and then has a spotter assist with additional reps, this is known as forced reps. Although hardcore lifters may take issue with this suggestion, it really isn’t necessary to push past failure and perform forced reps. To safely push the limits, rack the weights instead upon reaching failure. After a rest break, perform an additional set. This extra set after a break is superior to forced reps since the total volume of work the muscles perform is actually higher. As a bonus, the risk of injury is significantly lowered.

Use Abdominal Breathing – When lifting weights, it is recommended to use abdominal breathing. This means expanding the stomach upon breathing in and contracting it upon exhale. When working out at the gym, try breathing in and causing the belly to expand when lowering the weight. When lifting the weight, blow air out to contract the stomach. Not only is this breathing style safer, it may also help you feel stronger since it stabilizes the torso during lifting.

Maintain a Healthy Body Weight – Being overweight is another risk for getting a hernia. Extra weight around the abdomen stretches and weakens the abdominal lining and raises the risk of suffering from a hernia. Again, athletes and bodybuilders tend to have a healthier body weight than sedentary people. This helps decrease the risk of developing a hernia.

Steer Clear of Smoking – It is no surprise that smoking is considered unhealthy. However, it may be surprising to find out that smoking raises the risk of having a hernia. Smoking overloads the body with toxins and chemicals that negatively impact the body’s production of enzymes which promote cell growth and creation. This can lead to a weakened abdominal lining. Additionally, heavy, frequent coughing (common among smokers) can weaken and tear the abdominal lining and lead to a hernia.

Stay Regular – Constipation leads to excessive straining and puts extra pressure on the abdominal connective tissue and muscles. This can lead to a tear in the lining of the abdomen. To maintain regularity, aim to consume a high-fiber diet rich in unprocessed foods, whole grains, vegetables, and fruits.

It is also important to drink adequate water (around 1 gallon per day for athletes or bodybuilders). Along with maintaining hydration, water also helps flush out toxins from the bowels to make elimination easier. Ideally, bowels movements should happen at least one or two times a day. If bowel movements are infrequent, it is best to check with your physician to evaluate your dietary habits and rule out any health concerns.


Final Thoughts

All in all, it isn’t necessary to worry about hernias during bodybuilding workouts when proper precautions are in place. Bodybuilding, along with a healthy diet, can actually help prevent hernias from occurring.

However, a suspected hernia (often indicated by odd bumps or lumps in the groin or abdomen) need to be checked out by your physician as soon as possible, even if no discomfort or pain is present. Hernias are best fixed when they are still small, as opposed to waiting until the abdominal lining tears even more and leads to a bigger hernia.

It is important to remember that hernias do not go away or heal on their own. The only treatment is surgery. When treated promptly, surgery is relatively simple and only requires a short recovery period.

Gasper Novak

I train hard (lift weights + cardio) and try to eat right!

I enjoy reading about improving my physique and write about muscle building, shredding fat and supplements that give you that little edge over your competitors.

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