Monday, July 20, 2009

Busted-up Weightlifters?

Okay, I might dub Pierini the the official Bodyweight Files muse. He fired off yet another very interesting blog about busted-up weightlifters syndrome (hereafter BUWS). Like the man said, this term (or others like it) get thrown around a lot with bodyweight-only strength trainers. The other side of the strength training fence scoffs at the notion that weight lifting can, over the long-term, virtually guarantee long term damage to the body.

One thing that weight lifters who respond to the charge of BUWS, and correctly so, is that you can hurt yourself doing just about any sort of strength training. Far too frequently I see people trying to goose as many push-ups out of their body as possible by letting their weight drop to the floor rather than controlling the descent. Then, they get up off the ground, wondering why they have sore elbows and shoulders. I'm sure there's been more than one person who has attempted Pistols or bridging before their body was ready for either. While my T-handle handstand push-up stunt set was impressive, have you seen me recommending it to anyone ever? So, I'm not going to lie to you and say that there is no risk to BW-based strength training.

Still, I'll hold firm to the notion that it's EASIER to hurt yourself with weights than it is with BW. I just got done getting a laugh out of this article at T-Nation for the second time. This is what the author said about the following (keep in mind that he's tried all of these except Olympic lifting):

"You have constant back, knee, and shoulder pain, and your career is defined by your willingness and ability to come back from serious injuries"

Olympic Weightlifting...
"The risk of injury is high, due to the ballistic nature of the lifts"

"The risk of serious injuries is off the charts, and you'll need every bit of that core strength to protect your spine from permanent damage"

Let me ask you this: Are BW strength trainers nearly as accepting of the fact that they will get injured during their strength training sessions? Granted there isn't a formal, BW strength-training competition but maybe that's what gives it an advantage in the less-injuries department: the methodology hasn't become a sport/game. It's much more based on keeping your body strong and healthy than most weight training disciplines ever thought of. The sport/game pushes aspect certainly pushes people past the point of what's reasonable or safe for the body.

I've even question if practicioners of weight lifting sports even know what being healthy is? I remember reading about one powerlifter who admitted his steroid use triggered dangerously high LDL (bad) cholestrol, low HDL (good) cholesterol, low sperm count, sore nipples, and shock syndrome. Yet he, and the guy interviewing him, thought he was healthy (BTW, this guy was only in his early 40's)! Too bad he didn't elaborate on his training injuries. Still, as long as they can hoist huge piles of iron, then as far as they're concerned, they're healthy.

Even when the practitioner isn't competing, there's always the ego factor. Everyone loves to brag about their lifting feats. In fact, the nearly-universal question that everyone asks about another person's strength is, "dude, how much do ya bench?" This certainly doesn't help out the situation. Not to mention, there are lifts out there that aren't good for the body, no matter how little weight you do them with.

Still, to say for certain that weightlifting results in BUWS, we'd have to be able to say that it's an INEVITABILITY that a person's body will break down under the weight of, well, the weights. In other words, it isn't possible to train with weights without injuring yourself. That, of course, is flat-out untrue. It ultimately comes down to what I've said before about weight lifting: I don't have a problem with weight lifting (I train with stones approximately twice a week) but I have a huge problem with weight lifters. It doesn't have to be that way, but I feel that more often than not, it is.


pierini said...

If there is a relay team of bloggers today writing about busted up weightlifter syndrome, let's just say that I started the race and have passed the baton to you. There's at least two more legs to go to finish the race and I'm sure there will be more great contributions from the crowd and a couple VIP characters that I have sent my blogflection to.

Thanks for your contribution. I'll eventually summarize all that I receive but have to make sure that I don't succumb to a non-sampling error and failing to get input from the population of being who are banged up from weightlifting because they may not be frequenting the places that I posted my blogflection.

Tom said...

Your comment got me over here first in a long long time. Nice writing, great stuff.

Gymnasts? Trackists? Yogists? Competitive? Smart? Dumb?

There are so many questions