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The link between weightlifting and bladder leakage

Discover the link between weightlifting and bladder leakage and how you can prevent it. If you experience urinary incontinence whilst lifting weights then you may benefit from our urinary incontinence pads range.

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Weightlifting is an excellent way to burn calories, increase muscle mass, and build overall strength. More and more people are discovering that weightlifting is a productive and enjoyable routine to add to their fitness plan. That said, when you regularly lift heavy weights for exercise, there is a chance that you will notice a weakening of your pelvic floor muscles, potentially leading to bladder leakage.


Bladder leakage and incontinence, ranging from mild to severe, is a real problem that weightlifters of all ages face. In this article, we explain the link between weightlifting and bladder leakage and explain how you can avoid and manage it.

What Is Incontinence?


First, we need to start by defining precisely ‘what is bladder leakage?’. Bladder leakage or incontinence is a medical condition that causes an involuntary loss or leakage of urine (wee) from the bladder or faeces (poo) from the bowel (bowel incontinence). It’s usually associated with infants, the elderly, and individuals with certain medical conditions. However, the National Health Service (NHS) estimates that between 3 to 6 million individuals in the UK suffer from some form of urinary incontinence. Additionally, "major faecal incontinence" affects approximately 1.4% of Britons over 40 years of age. 

 Incontinence can be a minor problem, just a small leak here and there, to a complete lack of bladder and/or bowel control, even during the night (Nocturnal Enuresis). One of the most important factors of incontinence is the strength of the pelvic floor.

What Does The Pelvic Floor Do?


First, we need a little understanding of the pelvic floor, and of muscles in general. Your pelvic floor is a group of muscles, just like your quads or your triceps. Our quads allow us to jump and squat, and to explode with leg drive in a snatch or clean and jerk. On a more practical level, they also let us sit with control and to walk down the street. 

 The pelvic floor also allows you to control the flow of urine and waste from your bladder and bowel. And of utmost importance to weightlifters, it’s the stopper at the base of your body that allows you to maximize intra-abdominal pressure when you’re executing a lift.

The Link Between Incontinence and Weightlifting


Stress incontinence is defined as when urine leaks from the bladder during times of stress, such as when laughing, coughing or lifting heavy objects. 

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Which Exercises Are The Best For Strengthening The Pelvic Floor?


Personal trainer Sam Higginbotham explains some of the best exercises for strengthening the pelvic floor. His advice, without a doubt, is compound exercises. 

Compound movements are so called because they use or “compound” multiple muscle groups during the exercise, which is why they are primarily used in programmes due to the fact: 

  • Activates more working muscle, leading to more calorie burn during training. 
  • Requires more neural control, improving functional performance and maintaining proper posture and muscle control. 
  • Allows lifting of higher weights, engaging more muscle fibers and building more muscle tissue, resulting in quicker performance improvements. 
  • Better represents daily life activities, leading to faster improvements in mobility and overall quality of life.

As with any type of training, there are specific considerations you need to have in place, even more so with compound movements, as more muscles are used. If you do compound movements incorrectly, you can damage your body – and specifically your pelvic floor muscles.

Manage bladder leakages during exercising using these strategies

Train Your Pelvic Floor: Compound Lifts Explained

Now that you have the tips of an expert, you are ready to apply them across three types of compound lifts detailed below. 

Remember, before trying any of the compound lifts detailed below, it is imperative that you warm up properly. A warm-up aims to increase body temperature so that muscles and joints move more freely and you lower the risk of injury. 

Below are a handful of compound lifts and some tips to help you execute them: 


  • Use a squat ramp or plates under your feet for more fluid movement 
  • Perform the exercise slowly, 3 seconds on the lowering phase and 2 seconds on the lifting phase 
  • Start with light sets and build up to a weight that challenges you but maintains technique


  • Use an assisted pull-up machine to build up to full pull-ups 
  • Engage your lats and keep your shoulders pinned back
  • Exhale as you lower yourself down for each rep 


  • Use a trap bar instead of conventional deadlifts to reduce stress on the lower back and promote good posture 
  • Warm up properly and increase weight gradually over time 
  • Use a hammer grip to keep shoulders in a neutral position.

What Else Can You Do To Help Control Incontinence & Urinary Leakage?


If you are experiencing bladder leakages due to weight lifting (or any other reason), you do not need to be ashamed. Try some of the compound lifts described above, and consider trying pelvic floor exercises. These simple exercises are specifically designed to strengthen the pelvic floor, and you can do them at any time – some people do pelvic floor exercises while brushing their teeth, or their morning commute, or while watching TV. 

 You can also find discreet absorption products that will keep your clothing and skin clean and dry in the event of any leakage. These products are hidden beneath even tight work out clothing, and wick away moisture from your skin.



If you are struggling with bladder leakages caused by heavy weightlifting, you don’t have to suffer in silence. By following these tips above and taking this expert advice, you can stop this problem dead in its tracks.