The Ultimate Guide to Understanding the Effects of Weight Lifting on the Chest

Weight training exercises are a great way of staying fit and healthy, which is why more and more men and women are adding them to their fitness routine. While engaging in these exercises regularly, it is not uncommon to experience some magnitude of chest pain or cramps. This pain, centered on the chest, can be caused due to strain or overexertion or be a sign of a heart attack or heart disease. To rule out the possibility of the latter, it is important to consult a general practitioner.


The magnitude of chest pain caused by weight lifting depends on three things:

  1. Age and stiffness of the body
  2. Level of strain
  3. Extent of pain bearing ability

Here are two possible reasons why your chest hurts when you lift weights.


Angina is a mild ischemic heart disease that is caused due to temporary blockage in blood vessels that carry blood to the heart. The heart is unable to pump the extra blood required while lifting heavy weights. The pain associated with angina is a mild pressure felt on the heart and chest cavity. It can radiate to the arm, jaw, or even upper back. The pain lasts as long as one lifts the heavy object and subsides when they return to normalcy.

Along with chest pain, you can show other symptoms like

  • Excessive sweating
  • Heavy palpitation
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness

Electrocardiography (ECG) can detect an angina easily and this can be treated through lifestyle changes and medication.

Muscular Strain

Many experience pain centered in the chest when they perform heavy weight lifting. The actual reason for this pain could be inflammation of muscles and strain in connective tissues. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, such muscle soreness and chest pain are intermittent and can be handled at home easily using hot or cold packs combined with ample rest. When there is a connective tissue inflammation, it can lead to two severe medical conditions:

  1. Costochondritis, which is the inflammation of cartilage in the rib cage due to physical strain and high impact activities
  2. Tietze syndrome, which is a rare inflammatory disorder wherein one can observe swelling of cartilage and upper ribs due to repeated microtrauma to the anterior chest wall

In both conditions, the strain can be caused due to heavy weight lifting.

The Positive Side

There are plenty of positive side effects of weight lifting on the chest and the rest of the body. For example:

  1. Weight lifting for less than one hour per week reduces the possibility of heart attack or stroke by 40 percent.
  2. It helps to shape the chest muscle and strengthen the biceps and forearms.
  3. It also helps one to gain bone density, maintain body weight, lower inflammation and boost metabolism.

It is common to experience chest pain on lifting weights. This can be caused due to various reasons including an angina, muscle strain, or even heart attack. Get yourself checked to receive the appropriate remedial treatment for worry-free workout sessions in the gym!


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