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Can The Bench Press Cause a Hernia?

Whether you're a borderline hypochondriac or are genuinely at risk for a hernia, I hope you find what you're looking for in this write up.

If you're eating well and keeping up with an exercise routine, the chances of a heavy bench press causing a hernia are pretty low. Most people with a healthy weight shouldn't worry about getting a hernia from lifting. However, if you know you are at risk, it's complicated. Proceed with extra caution. Strengthen your abdominals through non straining exercise (don't hold your breath but inhale and exhale with the movement.)

What Is A Hernia?

First, please remember, I'm not a medical professional by any means. I'm just trying to present some information about whether exercises like the bench press can aggravate a hernia. I'll link to some more complete sources below if you're interested. With that out of the way, there are several kinds of hernia. Some of the most common:

Inguinal Hernia

The most frequent type of hernia is an inguinal hernia. When the intestines push through a weak point or rip in the lower abdominal wall, usually in the inguinal canal, they cause a perforation.

In your groin, you'll find the inguinal canal. It's where the spermatic cord connects the abdomen and the scrotum in men. This chord connects the testicles. The inguinal canal contains a ligament (known as the round ligament) that keeps the uterus in place in women.

Because the testicles descend through the inguinal canal immediately after birth, inguinal hernias are more common in men. Behind them, the canal should close almost completely. The canal might sometimes fail to close correctly, leaving a weak spot.

Inguinal Hernia

Hiatal Hernia

A hiatal hernia happens when a portion of your stomach protrudes into your chest cavity through the diaphragm. The diaphragm is a muscular sheet that contracts and draws air into the lungs to help you breathe. It divides your abdomen's organs from those in your chest.

People over the age of 50 are more likely to get this sort of hernia. A congenital birth abnormality is usually the source of the problem in children.

Ventral Hernia

A ventral hernia occurs when tissue bulges through an opening in your abdominal muscles. When you lie down, you may find that your ventral hernia shrinks.

Although a ventral hernia can be present from birth, it is more typical to develop one later in life. Obesity, pregnancy, and intense activity are all common causes of ventral hernia.

A hernia happens when an organ pushes through a weak muscle opening and is commonly caused by birth, age, strenuous activity, or obesity. The principal symptom is having lumps in your affected area, like around your stomach. Also, there may not be any symptoms and a hernia shows up through a medical exam.

Additional Sources:

Is The Bench Press Risky For a Hernia?

Anything is risky for anything. If you have weak abdominal muscles, sure, lifting with “improper form” is going to get you a hernia. But really? Spreading the ‌fear that lifting might cause a hernia causes more harm than anything.

Though, note certain people are at risk because of past hernias and this and that, but if your eating is okay, you're not over fifty, and you're lifting with decent form, there's no need to quit lifting. Not exercising is a bigger risk than a potential hernia. That's just my opinion. There are some things you can do to try to “prevent” a hernia. Like with most illnesses, keep a healthy weight, diet, and strengthen your body.

Exercises That Can Aggravate a Hernia (What to Avoid)

However, while any exercise and strenuous activity may cause a hernia, there are some probably more conducive to this. Some examples would be extremely strenuous exercises like the deadlift or squat. Since your legs can move more weight, heavier weight requires more bracing and therefore more intraabdominal pressure, strain, and risk.

If you are lifting with correct form, and not holding your breath for excessive periods, you’ll definitely be okay unless you are at congenital risk for a hernia (you had one as a newborn). No exercise will “cause” a hernia, but if you’re at risk of one, avoid near 1RM or heavy movements and straining core exercises.

What Exercises to Do if You're At Risk of a Hernia?

If you know you're at risk for a hernia, whether it runs in the family or you previously had one and you're worried, even though hernias are not hereditary, you should, as I mentioned, avoid extremely heavy movements and work on strengthening your core along with other exercises. Lift lighter weights than usual and progress in smaller increments. If you have lower body days, add a core exercise like the bird dog plank. Just don't do any exercise which requires you to flex your core or brace excessively.

How to Exercise with a Hernia (Exercise Alternatives)

Unfortunately, it's not recommended to exercise with weights when you have a hernia. This is because, as previously explained, pushing, pulling or movements that require you to hold your breath cause excessive strain in the abdominal cavity and may heighten the chances of worsening your mild hernia.

Some exercise alternatives, though, because obesity is a risk factor for a hernia include:

  • Swimming
  • Running
  • Light yoga (no excessive bending)
  • Walking
  • Cycling


Congratulations, you may have got a free pass from exercising. But seriously, if you're on this article worrying if lifting will give you a hernia, it probably won't. The risks of not exercising and eating clean are worse than a hernia. Hernias are serious though, so before you lift like crazy and have a suspicion, go talk to a medical professional or something.