Is Lifting Heavy Bad For You?
By CHARLES POLIQUIN Iron Man Magazine
Extreme workouts could eventually result in orthopedic problems.
Q: On “Celebrity Apprentice” I saw Donald Trump joke with Lou Ferrigno that heavy lifting might be bad because Ferrigno has had both knees and hips replaced. Is there some truth to this?
A: I don’t watch the show, but I know it’s true that Ferrigno needed to have hip- and-knee replacement surgery. Consider, however, that there are many other exceptional bodybuilders who have not needed those surgeries—and I just read that Manohar Aich, who won the ’52 Mr. Universe title, recently turned 100 and has looked great all his life.
It’s not that competitive bodybuilding or weightlifting is bad, but as with any sport, it’s possible that the extreme workouts needed to reach the highest levels can eventually result in orthopedic problems. Gymnasts and figure skaters (who usually retire in their early teens) are not the only athletes who will put in 30-plus hours training in a week; the same goes for athletes in many other sports, including weightlifting.
The Bulgarians were a dominant force in weightlifting for more than two decades, but their grueling, five-a-day workouts often resulted in their retiring very early. In contrast, many United States weightlifters have long careers without becoming orthopedic disasters. Fred Lowe was born in 1947 and is a three-time Olympian. He won a national championship in 1969 and again in 1981 and took the bronze medal in 1997! And he’s still going strong in masters competition.
Lou Ferrigno’s achievements in bodybuilding have been remarkable, and although he’s in his 60s, he is still in Incredible Hulk shape. Even so, yes, it’s possible that if he had backed off a bit in his training, he might not have developed the orthopedic issues he has had—at least, not to the extent of requiring surgery.