You’re straining for the last few reps of your heavy bench dips when suddenly, you leak urine. You feel the wetness in your underwear but must do the last rep.

Not too many people at a gym do bench dips with more than 45 pounds on their lap.

But on occasion, you might see someone doing this: a stack of plates on their thighs, while their legs are extended out in front, feet on a second bench.

Dips are a great exercise for building the triceps, while the shoulders are secondary movers.

One day I was bench dipping with three 35-pound plates on my lap. Before I was done with the grueling set, I felt a little urine leak into my panties as I strained on the “positive” phase of a rep.

I can’t be the only person to have experienced this. I’m sure it’s also happened to people doing heavily weighted bar dips as well.

Urine Leaking During Lifting Weights

“This is a type of stress incontinence,” says Dr. David Beatty, MD, a retired general practitioner with 30+ years of experience and an instructor of general medicine for 20 years.

“In a susceptible person anything that raises intra-abdominal pressure can cause urinary leakage.

“Coughing, sneezing, jumping, straining or lifting heavy weights can all do this.

“When doing heavy bench dips the abdominal muscles tense, raising the pressure around the bladder, sometimes squeezing out some urine.”

Look at the bright side: At least this doesn’t happen while you’re out with friends or in a movie theatre.

Who gets stress incontinence?

“Stress incontinence is much more common in women,” says Dr. Beatty. “Women have a much shorter urethra — the tube draining the bladder to the perineum.

“It occurs with weakening or damage to the pelvic floor muscles and the urethral sphincter.

“Pregnancy and vaginal delivery are often responsible.” However, a woman who has never had a pregnancy can still experience incontinence during a heavy lift.


Dr. Beatty also points out that higher susceptibility can result from prolapse of the uterine or vaginal wall.

“The bladder neck can be dragged down by the altered anatomy, changing the position of and weakening the urethral sphincter,” he explains.

“Doing bench dips will tend to force the uterus and bladder downwards, simulating this. Prolapse can also make it harder for the bladder to empty completely.”

Other Risk Factors

A fistula, which is an abnormal channel that runs from one’s bladder to elsewhere such as the vagina, may be present since birth.

This can make a person more prone to a little episode of incontinence while pushing hard to complete a bench dip repetition.

“Obesity increases the risk of incontinence,” says Dr. Beatty, though it’s extremely unlikely that an obese person would be doing weighted bench dips or even body-only bench dips.

“Neurological problems, like MS, can affect the nervous control of bladder emptying.

“Incontinence becomes more prevalent with advancing age and is more likely with a family history.

“Structural problems. like large fibroids, ovarian cysts, tumors or even very severe constipation, can affect bladder control.”

If you leak urine while doing particularly difficult weightlifting exercises such as heavily loaded bench dips, you should not jump to the conclusion that you might have a tumor.

Incontinence from straining during a heavy workout can occur in a perfectly healthy individual.

In fact, nobody knows just how prevalent this is, because it’s not something that’s going to be readily discussed in the locker room or between two people warming down side-by-side on treadmills after their kickass weight workout.

Few people will go, “Hey bro, I peed in the middle of one of my sets.” Instead, affected individuals will usually quietly head to the bathroom right after the set.

Solutions to Peeing from Heavy Lifting

“If you are prone to this problem I would advise passing urine before your workout,” says Dr. Beatty.

“Maybe even try going twice in the 15 minutes or so before exercise — double micturition — then, if you are one of the people who doesn’t completely empty the bladder, you have two chances to drain it fully.”

You may also want to wear a panty liner for the offending exercise.

Dr. Beatty has worked in primary medicine, surgery, accident and emergency, OBGYN, pediatrics and chronic disease management. He is the Doctor of Medicine for Strong Home Gym.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.