Weight training

Hi all, just a quick question, do any fellow AF sufferers weight train, my son is a personal trainer and I have started weight training with him about 5 months ago, this is at a similar time that my AF returned and I wondered if there could be any connection, a well respected cardiologist recently told me that it could be inflammatory to the heart and to try a cardio route rather than resistive training and if i am sure that this has made me worse then I will do so but i hope that this is not the case as I am really enjoying this type of excersise and in all other respects feel healthier for it (also lost a stone during this period) - any advice would be appreciated.



38 Replies

  • I think you may have answered your own question.

    Not something I would think of trying if susceptible to AF.

  • I have a copy of a powerpoint presentation by a Professor Patrick Doherty, but I can't find the website it came from now. He says that breath holding and sustained isometric muscle work, especially of the trunk, needs to be kept to a minimum, and that weightlifting does more harm than good.

  • Thanks for reply, i was hoping that was not the case although thought that it maybe, im gutted as i really enjoy this form of training which has helped me lose weight and given me a good opportunity to spend time with my son doing something we both enjoy, it seems that this is something else that AF has stolen from me - thanks for coming back to me- cheers - Karl

  • Sorry I can't find a link to it. If you try the following keywords you might have more luck than me:

    HRC Birmingham 2009

    AF and Exercise

    Prof Patrick J Doherty

    York St John University

    Manchester Heart Centre

    or you could try his email: p.doherty@yorksj.ac.uk

  • Thank you

  • Sorry to hear this. Would smaller weight's and repetition be okay. I am back at the gym doing 2km on treadmil steady walkl. 5000mtrs rowing and lots of weight resistance machines only low kgs. Feeling great for it.

  • I do weights - it's never been a problem. However, I do monitor my heart rate often as I'm doing weights, and I ensure that my heart is never stressed. If my heart starts pounding I immediately ease off. More generally, opt for lighter weights with more repetitions, and start gradually rather than explosively. Avoid competition-style weight lifting which will just stress your heart. Instead, lift weights in a controlled, gradual manner. I believe that the AF heart can tolerate gradually increases in heart rate, but can be triggered by sudden changes.

  • Great news, that gives me hope that i can continue in a more controlled way, i wear a fitbit whilst training to ensure that HR does not climb to high and I never super-set so allow a minute or 2 rest after each couple of minutes of weights but in honesty think that i have been pushing myself to hard in relation to the weight that i have been lifting, i will.lesson the weights and increase the reps to see if that makes a difference, thanks for your reply 😀

  • i agree with Thomps95 light weights high reps as we age we need to keep our muscles strong i have AF still play 7 a side footie with guys half my age and train in the gym 3x a week use it or loose it listen to your body

  • Thanks for reply, agreed- i will lesson weights and increase reps - cheers

  • When I bend or lift at work it sets of tachycardia. Which makes the heart tired and more likely to go into afib. I've had to change my job.

  • Sorry to hear that, my AF can often be positional but lifting has never set it off as of yet - thanks for reply

  • You might find it interesting to read 'The Haywire Heart' by Dr John Mandrola and others.

  • Great tip - do they provide advice to those who already have "athlete's heart" or is this just a warning to athletes to slow down?

    to be honest, I could do without a grim picture of older athletes with chronic and incurable AF who are described as a "warning for others" :)

    I am more than aware that I should have taken it easier playing competitive squash ... I'll get a "sample" on kindle and take a look. Thanks for the reference

  • I find Dr Mandrola's website: drjonm.org very interesting. He is an EP who is also a racing cyclist, and has experienced AF himself as a result of his cycling, as detailed on his site. Hence his book (very recently out, so bang up-to-date) will probably tell you all you ever wanted to know about AF and sport. It may be that your son would enjoy reading it first, so he understands how to apply it when working with you.

    For myself, the nearest I've ever got to a gym is through a Pilates class, so reading this isn't yet top of my priority list, although I'm sure it would be very interesting . . .

    But you may feel you've got enough help from everyone here already!

  • Hi, thanks for reply, yes i will read this, i have read a number of his blogs from his website including the one where he had his AF episode - i will read his book, also a good point for my son to read / research on this - cheers

  • I have been going to the gym for years. Have lived with AF for the past 8 years. I do bike and treadmill mostly but can now curl quite a bit of weight. I feel great, have gotten most of my energy back. Take only warfarin. Never had an ablation won't do it.

  • Great news thanks for reply, can i ask do you ever feel that you suffer AF or ectopics worse after excersise or is there no link, cheers

  • That's what I was saying, I feel much better, stronger and more energetic when I exercise regularly. Have lost 70 Lbs.

  • Good, i have felt better also and lost weight but in honesty my AF and ectopics have been worse maybe ive overdone it or maybe its just conincidence - thanks for replys

  • Actually my BP is perfect, heart rate broken but normal even while at the gym exercising vigorously. I'm not 100% but certainly 80% of my non AF self.

  • Also check yourself for parasites (Trichinosis) & (Pinworms)

  • What is the connection between AF and parasites?

  • I'm not really sure there's a direct connection between AF & parasites. It's a theory I'm analyzing based upon personal observations. There is however a recognized Connection to Hypothyroidism. Guess what causes Hypothyroidism? Fluoride

  • I've been weight training for many years and it has never brought on an Afib episode. Just do light weights and focus on technique, particularly breathing. Do not strain or hold your breath. Also have you changed your diet since starting weights? Could be that or any supplements you started that could be the cause. Unfortunately Afib seems to be different for every individual do it's hard to give advice.

    Make sure you stay hydrated with an electrolyte replacement drink. Not a sugary one, research this as it is important.

  • Thanks Swiss, good advice, i do not take supplements, i do keep well hydrated but with water, never tried an electrolyte drink (scared of trying anthing new because of AF 😀) but will look into it, in honesty i think I have been lifting too heavy so will drop weight and increase reps, it is frustrating because with exception of AF and ectopics i feel fantastic so just want to push myself as I enjoy working out - but need to remind myself that i cant - thanks for reply

  • It depends whether your doing single rep. max, your age and whether you are lifting correctly; you shouldn't be holding your breath. When I was old enough to know better I used to do a pyramid on a leg press machine; full squat, half squat, part squat with five reps at each with a rest in between. The part-squat was 220kg which was about three times my body weight. Result, two inguinal hernias and one femoral hernia. Since my stroke, my neurologist said no weight lifting but cardio on a Spin bike or rowing machine is fine.

  • Hi thanks for reply, not doing single rep max, im 42, 12 st 5 lb, going 4 times per week concentrating on 2 body parts per session, about 5 exercises per body part, normally about 5 sets for each / 10 reps, benching about 60kg / squats about 80kg, my son is a PT so mixes it up and makes changes often, have a few excersises tgat make me hold my breath or grunt so will change these to lesson stress on heart, happy that o am lifting properly via advice from son, thanks for reply, will ask my son to make some changes to workouts to help me continue without causing myself harm - cheers

  • I am a 59 yo pharmacist and I have been weight training since I was 13, with only a couple of pauses throughout the years. I started having episodes of afib when I was 50, but it was never triggered by weight training. My biggest triggers were stress and/or anger, maybe caffeine and dehydration. Funny thing, my last afib episode before my ablation about 3 months ago was triggered after I decided to add some cardio by running on a treadmill. I would agree that sticking to higher reps and avoiding holding your breath is good advice, not only for the heart but also to avoid injuries that we are more prone to as we age. Incidentally, a scan of my heart showed zero percent blockage of my arteries, despite my family history. My father had to have a triple bypass a few years ago, and he enjoyed jogging. The notion that weight training is bad for your heart seems to me more dogma than fact, though I suppose it depends on how you train. As a side note, your body has an increased need for magnesium when you exercise and low magnesium levels can trigger afib.

  • Hi, thanks for reply, good to hear of another fellow AF sufferer that can still enjoy working out, you make some valid points, i will continue just change it slightly and yes i take magnesium taurate (500g daily) - cheers

  • In addition, I would think that you are doing your heart a big favor by losing some weight, thanks to the exercise.

  • Agreed, have lost a stone so far and trying to get another 8-9 lb off to take myself to my ldeal weight which i am hoping will naturally lower BP to help me reduce meds as well as lessoning stress to heart - cheers

  • I have had continuous AF since at least 2008 and had a single bypass and new aortic valve in 2015. I go to Ienga yoga once a week, the gym twice a week to use the machines and rolling road and to tango whenever possible. I have an electric bike which allows me to get out into the countryside. In none of these activities do I push myself to extremes or try to be competitive at all. A little and often means my body shape is good and my BMI is 25.It gives me a feeling of mental well being and maintains social contact with people often younger than myself. This is at least as important as your physical health. I always have a good event horizon to look forward to. My exercise stress test at the Liverpool H&C Hospital shows I have low exercise tolerance but good recovery and no chest pains. There is no suggestion at all that I should give up exercise.

    I have cut out sugar, caffeine, alcohol, most red meat and carbohydrate (bread and potatoes). I do not feel deprived at all and am trying to enjoy my later years with grace and not wasting any time.

    Hope this helps a little

  • Hi, yes it does help thanks very much for your response, as i mentioned in a previous message it feels like AF gradually steals things from us if we let it, it is clear from yours and others messages that many of us still enjoy this type of activity (whilst in relative moderation) and tolerate it - thanks again for reply 😀

  • Hi Karl,

    your post is of interest to me, as I also have paroxysmal AF and I weight train. I am 44.

    The advice that several people have already given seems to be the way forward: more reps, not too heavy.

    I have triggered AF once during weight training, while performing squats. This was actually during a warm-up, so the set wasn't the heaviest I did at the time. Since then I've lowered the weight and concentrated on better form, with more reps, taking my time to breath during sets (especially doing core exercises like squats). I remember as I was somewhat rushing through the set where the AF triggered.

    Since then I haven't triggered AF during weight training, or any exercise., although it took me a little while to build up my confidence. I've slowly increased the weight since then, but have changed my plans to become the next Arnie!

    I now also wear a heart rate monitor and am careful not to push heart rate too high (mainly stick in the 70%-odd, sometimes into the 80%s).

    Apparently heavy weights cause a spike in your blood pressure, so that is what could trigger AF. Holding your breath is also to be avoided, as others have said.

    I still do cardio too, but again not too excessive. I think moderation in all things is the key with AF.

    Would be interested to hear how you progress. As many people say that AF is different for everyone, there's probably no hard and fast rules. But I think heavy weights are probable not advisable.

  • Hi Cutlips, thanks for response.

    I find that there are a few exercises that seem to trigger a flutter or ectopics so my son usually replaces them for me with something that will work the same muscle but with a different movement, i also stay away from super sets and they push me too hard, i dont go if i am run down or tired but as previously stated have been lifting too heavy so that would no doubt spike my BP - my son has already started adjusting my workout plans to suit the new requirements and I will update you to let you know if it has made a difference - thanks

  • Hi, I'm enjoying HIIT sessions at the mo. I try and do a session every other day although I've just returned from holiday where I was doing a session every day

    15 or 20 minute sessions.

    I do use some weights including own body weight in the sessions along with some some standalone weight sessions. I do these at home so only have a limited amount of weight to use

    Usual thing is to find whatever suits you as this AF doesn't seem to have rules

  • Thanks for reply, i agree it certainly doesnt have rules, glad you have found a system.that suits you, my ectopics have improved since i have lessoned the weight that i am lifting so fingers crossed I might have found the right balance 😁

You may also like...