Body Building, Power Lifting, and Expectations

I suffered a cardiac arrest a little over a month ago and had an ICD implanted as a result. I am a pretty serious hobbyist bodybuilder/ powerlifter and was wondering what I could expect when I am finally healed up and back at it. I am hoping for reassurance that I can train like normal and still push myself, but I fear that may not be the reality. Any information will be greatly appreciated!

My stats before the surgery:

Bench - 255lbs

Squat - 325lbs

Deadlift - 425lbs


You're going to have to back off on the upper body work

by crustyg - 2020-06-30 07:09:47

After the usual 4-6weeks of not lifting your elbow on the PM/lead implant side above your shoulder (as the leads really anchor into your heart muscle), the general advice here is to return to living your life as normal - EXCEPT for one or two cautions.  Contact sports where your PM is likely to be directly crunched (e.g. AM Football, Rugby) you'll need some protection and massive upper body loads seem to be associated with a greater risk of pulling out leads, even after the safety period.  You'll definitely experience twinges of pain from around the pocket as you exercise - for months, sometimes - but you can cope with those.

I don't have a record of the posts, but there are some other contributors here who've experienced or known other body-builders who have had lead trouble post implant.

In any case, returning to previous levels of athletic effort should be a graded return - apart from anything else you may be a little nervous of triggering that ICD (although it may save your life).  Folk here say that it's quite a jolt.

I guess I'll have to move forward cautiously

by WShuey - 2020-06-30 07:29:16

Luckily the contact sports that I am interested in require me to wear either plate armor or a heavily padded gambeson (SCA heavy combat and SCA cut and thrust) so I should be fine there. As far as bodybuilding goes I have never been a fan of 1 rep maxes because of the risk of injury involved. As long as I can lift up to 80% of my calculated max I would be able to train effectively. I'm going to take it slow getting back into it so I don't dislodge anything. I know they gave my leads a lot of slack because they didn't make them long enough when they put the device in. Two weeks later I had to have a lead revision and I asked the surgeon to give me extra slack to allow for more flexibility and movement. I'm hoping that it will make it harder to rip anything out.

Sounds good.

by crustyg - 2020-06-30 07:44:16

I wish some of the youngsters I see in the gym had your sense - reps are way better and safer than max-power * 1, especially when you see that they don't have anyone spotting for them.  There was a heart-breaking moment decades ago when a Power Lifter (I think) tore his quad muscle in the Olympics attempting a PR.  You could see his leg swell as the first litre of blood dumped into it - but he was back lifting a year later.

Sorry to hear about your lead revision, but perhaps that puts you in the clear to get back to maxing those reps.

I'm impressed!

Best wishes.


by Tracey_E - 2020-06-30 10:40:07

Lifting is ok, but you may not get back to those numbers. I don't lift anything close to what you do but I do Crossfit and my doctor said no restrictions, just use common sense and see how I feel. I deadlift more than my bodyweight, squat almost my weight, can get triple digits overhead, so I'd say I'm about middle of the pack at class among the women. Make sure the bar doesn't put pressure on the box or leads in front rack, other than that you can feel when something isn't right. 


by AgentX86 - 2020-06-30 14:03:27

I'd sure back off the presses, particularly if you do it without spotters. I was told, as part of the don't list, that bench pressing free weights was out.. too much chance of dropping a weight and crushing the leads against the ribs/clavicle.

In your case, there is no way that id be pressing any free weights. Think about what would happen if you got the Jesus Jolt (where is Robo_Pop, BTW) with 225lbs held above your head by your, now collapsing, arms. No, not me.

BUT, listen to your doctors and be honest with them about your activities. It's the only way they can make the choices that will allow you to continue, as close as possible to, the life you want. All medicine is like this but none so directly linked as a PM.

You know you're wired when...

You have a new body part.

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Yesterday was my first day mountain biking after my implant. I wiped out several times and everything is fine. There are sports after pacemakers!