I perform 12 push-up series with 1 minute and 15 seconds break between them each day. After this session i feel my heart pounding like crazy for ~5 minutes. Even hours after, i feel the heart beating at a faster rate than usual.

I was wondering what effect does this have on the heart?


We are looking at ventricular hypertrophy here.

The human heart has a left and a right side. On both sides there are a ventricle and an atrium (1) (2). Basically the heart is just a bulk of muscle tissue responsible for circulation and blood flow.

As with any muscle contraction when there is a resistance against the working muscle this leads to muscle growth or hypertrophy. A bad example of such resistance is a high blood pressure. Due to the elevated blood pressure, the heart must pump and contract against a continuously present counter force and this leads to a heart muscle hypertrophy, or ventricular hypertrophy (3). When hypertrophy is due to, say, high blood pressure this hypertrophy or growth is pathological and eventually leads to muscle stiffness and heart failure.

In your case, there is probably also some heart muscle hypertrophy but it is non-pathologic and it can be considered as a healthy "heart condition". The principle is the same. When you workout your heart must work more efficiently compared to its resting state and pump more blood to the skeletal muscles due to increased demand for oxygen. Due to the advantageous heart muscle growth your heart is capable of circulating blood more efficiently.

Whether the heart muscle growth is pathologic or non-pathologic depends on the concept of afterload (4). In a healthy heart the afterload is minimal indicating that the heart "can rest" shortly after ejection or ventricular contraction. This results to beneficial hypertrophy. However, if a substantial afterload is present, which is the case in elevated blood pressure, the heart "can't rest" after contraction but instead is must maintain some level of muscle contraction which results in adverse muscle hypertrophy.

However, in extreme cases the workout can result in some health issues, called an athletic heart syndrome (5). This is still far less adverse than heart failure.

  • 1
    I'm not sure I see an answer in here. (?) – anongoodnurse Aug 4 '15 at 17:49
  • @anongoodnurse I italicized the key points in my answer and added ruler to separate the additional info. I can´t see this answer worth of a down vote. – arkiaamu Aug 4 '15 at 17:56
  • Downvotes can mean anything. In this case, I can answer, since it was my downvote. I think you're missing the main effect(s) that exercise has on the heart. – anongoodnurse Aug 4 '15 at 17:59
  • Still puzzled here. While doing pushups you work with your upper trunk. This results to increased blood flow in the upper body muscles. This increases the demand for oxygen. As a result heart starts to pump more intensively. This means that heart must work = contract more forcefully. This may result to heart muscle growth. I assume here that the OP have no basic idea of cardiovascular physiology. – arkiaamu Aug 4 '15 at 18:33
  • You're saying that when the heart works harder but afterload is normal, beneficial hypertrophy happens. So what about patients with atrial flutter, SVT and other supraventricular arrhythmias? They can sustain very high heart rates for hours, days, or even weeks at a time with normal afterload and yet never derive any benefit at all. In fact, they will likely experience pathological hypertrophy if their abnormal rhythm is allowed to continue for weeks or months. Therefore, there has to be more to it than afterload. – Carey Gregory Nov 15 '15 at 17:01

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