Q: I began weight training recently and have lost weight. Because I had high blood pressure the trainer recommended that I not do overhead presses. I haven’t found any information about that. My blood pressure has dropped some since I began training. Can you share any insight?
A: Weightlifting does cause a rise in blood pressure during exercise, especially with those exercises that are executed with enough resistance to require you to “hold your breath” while you, voluntarily or involuntarily, perform what is known as the Valsalva maneuver. During heavy lifts such as the squat, deadlift, or bench press and standing overhead press, you would engage the valsalva reflex or maneuver. You close off the airway after loading your lungs with air to increase thoracic pressure for greater torso stabilization.