The Effect of Smoking on Weightlifting

Woman lifting barbell

Everyone knows that smoking is a dangerous habit, but addictions can be hard to break. You don't have to give up on healthy habits such as weightlifting, though. A 2006 study published in Cancer, Biomarkers, Epidemiology and Prevention found that vigorous exercise at least twice a week could reduce the risk of lung cancer by about 30 percent. Smoking may, however, make your weightlifting routine more challenging and reduce your ability to achieve your goals.

Aerobic Capacity

Although weightlifting is not an aerobic exercise, you still have to breathe. Smokers are more likely to experience shortness of breath when they lift weights, and decreased lung capacity can interfere with your ability to get enough oxygen. This in turn affects the amount of oxygen in your blood, which can cause your muscles to be deprived of oxygen -- resulting in muscle pain and fatigue.

Muscular Strength

According to the Cleveland Clinic, smoking can decrease strength and flexibility, which can make lifting weights harder. You may have to start at a lower weight, with less intense exercise. This can mean it takes longer for you to meet your physical fitness goals, particularly if other effects of smoking -- such as breathing problems -- cut your workout short.

Increased Healing Time

Smoking can interfere with circulation and cardiovascular health, reducing the blood supply available to your muscles. This interferes with your body's inflammatory response to muscle injuries and can increase the amount of time it takes for you to recover from weightlifting injuries. The Cleveland Clinic also reports that smokers are more likely to sustain muscular injuries in the first place.

Fewer Exercise Benefits

One of the primary benefits of weightlifting is that it reduces your risk of chronic disorders, such as osteoporosis. However, smoking is itself a risk factor for osteoporosis. Consequently, smokers may not receive as many benefits from physical activity as non-smokers do. This doesn't mean that you should avoid weightlifting, but does mean that quitting smoking can increase the value of lifting weights.