How To Prevent A Hernia In Weightlifting

Essential Tips and Techniques for Safe and Effective Weightlifting

Did you know that almost two percent of the world’s population will suffer from a hernia? And these are just the reported cases.

Hernias are one of the most common injuries in fitness. While some forms of hernia are caused by genetics or surgery, the most common form – inguinal hernias – is largely preventable. 

Let’s take a closer look at what a hernia is, the causes of a hernia, and how to prevent a hernia without sacrificing your workout routine and results.

What is a Hernia?

Your abdominal muscles act as both a layer of protection and a wall of support for your internal organs. A hernia occurs when a part of your intestine pushes through the abdominal muscle wall. The most common areas on the body where a hernia is likely to occur are the groin and lower abdomen.

Depending on your weight and where it occurs, the hernia may or may not be visible as a lump on the skin.

Aside from the obvious bulge that forms as a result of a hernia, symptoms include the following:

  • Burning and aching at the site of the bulge
  • Pain or discomfort when bending over, coughing, or lifting
  • Heavily weighted sensation in your groin
  • Weakness or pressure in your groin
  • Swelling

How to Prevent a Hernia?

Prevention is the best medicine. Here’s how to prevent a hernia without negatively impacting your workout routine.

Strengthen Your Core

The first thing you can do to prevent a hernia in weightlifting is to strengthen your core. Remember that one half of the equation for developing a hernia is weak abdominal muscles. You can’t just focus on the front abdominal wall, which can cause overcompensation. Instead, you’ll want to focus on your core as a whole unit.

Be Mindful of Certain Exercises

Not all exercises are created equal. Some exercises will naturally put more pressure on the abdominal wall. Even if you actively strengthen your core musculature, this will still increase the risk of developing a hernia.

For example, squats and deadlifts place excessive pressure on the abdominal wall, even with light weight. Be mindful of how each exercise can impact your kinetic chain, with an emphasis on the hips, groin, and abdominals.

Here are some common exercises that can place an excessive amount of pressure on those areas of the body:

  • Squats
  • Deadlifts
  • Weight-based abdominal exercises
  • Plyometric exercises

Remember to grab a weightlifting belt: It can provide added support and help prevent injury during heavy lifting.

Adding a weightlifting belt while performing exercises like squats and deadlifts can provide additional support to the abdominal and lower back muscles, reducing the risk of hernias and other related injuries. However, it's essential to use the belt correctly and not solely rely on it for core stability. Proper form, gradual weight progression, and strengthening the core muscles are still essential components of a safe and effective weightlifting routine.

Start Light Before Going Heavy

Continuing with the point above, once you identify the exercises in your workouts that will put the most pressure on your abdominal wall, start with lightweight.

Safely using heavy weight is great, but we highly recommend you build up to it. Start with a few lightweight warm-up sets, gradually increasing the weight as you decrease the number of repetitions.

Master Your Form with the Big Three

We can’t emphasize proper form and execution enough. If you’re new to fitness, hire a trainer for at least a month and review the fundamentals of weightlifting, emphasizing the big three: squat, deadlift, and bench press.

Even if you’ve been lifting for years, doing a semi-annual form checkup is essential. Put your ego aside and ask a trainer or a well-trained friend to watch your form during exercises to ensure you’re still performing the exercise correctly.

This is important here: Maybe you skip a few days of stretching and develop tight muscles without even realizing it. This progressive muscle tightness can lead to muscle overcompensation – again, without you realizing it.

If this occurs, muscles can grow weak. If this includes your abs, you will increase your risk of developing a hernia while completely oblivious to it.

It only takes a few minutes, but we recommend having a trainer watch your form for the following exercises:

  • Squat
  • Deadlift
  • Bench press
  • Shoulder press
  • Bridge

Eat Your Vegetables

Constipation and trying to force bowel movements can also increase your risk of developing a hernia. To alleviate constipation, include plenty of fiber-rich foods. This fiber-focused diet can support healthy bowel movements, decreasing the risk of excessive abdominal pressure and developing a hernia.

Consider including more of the following foods in your diet:

  • Psyllium husk
  • Lentils
  • Beans
  • Oats
  • Dark leafy greens
  • Artichokes
  • Avocados
  • Pears
  • Apples
  • Chia seeds
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Almonds
  • Walnuts

Do You Follow a Hernia-Prevention Workout?

How do you lower your risk for a hernia during a workout? Do you stretch or perform a specific core workout? Let us know on our Facebook!


Dabbas N, Adams K, Pearson K, Royle G. Frequency of abdominal wall hernias: is classical teaching out of date? JRSM Short Rep. 2011;2(1):5. Published 2011 Jan 19. doi:10.1258/shorts.2010.010071.

Zendejas B, Hernandez-Irizarry R, Ramirez T, Lohse CM, Grossardt BR, Farley DR. Relationship between body mass index and the incidence of inguinal hernia repairs: a population-based study in Olmsted County, MN. Hernia. 2014;18(2):283‐288. doi:10.1007/s10029-013-1185-5.