Just about every bodybuilder phases scrutiny from various family members concerned about the safety of their chosen hobby. While drug use is outside the scope of this piece, family members will still question your intentions with training and the likelihood of any injuries that could befall you. “Aren’t you going to hurt your back lifting all of those weights?” “What if you drop a bar on yourself when no one is watching?” Never mind the fact that they’re stuffing their faces with metabolic syndrome-inducing foods while also having to inject insulin before every meal. But lifting weights is dangerous!
In fact, as you can see in the chart, bodybuilding is much safer than just about any other sport on the planet. Did your parents let you play baseball, soccer, basketball, or even football growing up? Great, then they should have no problem with you lifting weights at the gym. Contact sports have a much greater injury risk due to the, ahem, contact that occurs in the sport. If you consider bodybuilding to be a contact sport then you might want to re-assess your training.
Now, the counterpoint here is that this chart doesn’t mean you can just go to the gym and flop around like a fish and expect to remain injury-free. Perfecting your form on each movement is still paramount for safety as well as long-term gains. I’ve been in the gym for nearly 15-years and have compiled my own laundry list of injuries, however, just about all of these injuries took place when I was competing at a high level in powerlifting. If you decide to go the route of competitive lifting, you’re probably going to experience a few more injuries than a non-competitive lifter.
Random accidents happen in the weightroom and some of them are nearly unavoidable; sometimes equipment breaks or another gym-goer is a complete doofus and you’re simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. However, proper bodybuilding training is much safer than just about any other sport. I’m sure our readers already knew this, but this might be a good page to direct Aunt Karen to next time she questions your training habits.
Siewe, J., Marx, G., Knöll, P., Eysel, P., Zarghooni, K., Graf, M., … & Michael, J. (2014). Injuries and overuse syndromes in competitive and elite bodybuilding. International Journal of Sports Medicine, 35(11), 943-948.
Kerr, Z. Y., Marshall, S. W., Dompier, T. P., Corlette, J., Klossner, D. A., & Gilchrist, J. (2015). College sports–related injuries—United States, 2009–10 through 2013–14 academic years. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 64(48), 1330-1336.
From being a mediocre athlete, to professional powerlifter and strength coach, and now to researcher and writer, Charlie combines education and experience in the effort to help Bridge the Gap Between Science and Application. Charlie performs double duty by being the Content Manager for The Muscle PhD as well as the Director of Human Performance at the Applied Science and Performance Institute in Tampa, FL. To appease the nerds, Charlie is a PhD candidate in Human Performance with a master’s degree in Kinesiology and a bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science. For more alphabet soup, Charlie is also a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS), an ACSM-certified Exercise Physiologist (ACSM-EP), and a USA Weightlifting-certified performance coach (USAW).