Don’t Neglect Potassium When Pumping Iron

Over the past few months, my workout partner and I have been increasing the amount of weight we are lifting, specifically when doing bench presses.   We have been alternating between a traditional bench press with a barbell, a reverse incline bench press and unstabilized bench and shoulder presses using kettlebells or their dumbbell equivalents.

About 2 months ago, I changed my vitamin and mineral routine to take my minerals (including the pills with trace minerals) at night instead of in the morning.  About a month after doing so I began noticing some irregularities in my heartbeat and fluttering in my chest.

The chest fluttering was not painful nor did I have any shortness of breath – but it was noticeable enough that I called my doctor.  After I told him about my symptoms and that I had been working out with heavy weights he reassured me that my issue was likely not cardiac in nature and he suggested that I may be experiencing a potassium deficiency.

At his suggestion I ate a bannana prior to working out and a bannana in the afternoon and immediately my heartbeat returned to normal and I have had no issues since.

Now, obviously not ever instance of chest pain or fluttering heartbeat is benign and if you have any questions you should seek medical attention.  In my case, however, it appears that a minor potassium deficiency was at the root of my experience.  This also explains why a number of long distance runners I know carry a bannana with them in their workout bags.

Our bodies don’t need a lot of potassium or trace minerals, but take them away and strange things happen.