Have you noticed that after doing a hard set of incline barbell presses, you feel the urge to pee, even though you recently relieved yourself?

And when you go to the toilet, only a trickle comes out – but you then feel relief.

However, the relief may not last long. Soon, you feel some urgency once more, and only a little urine comes out.

For some strength training enthusiasts, this happens almost exclusively following a set of incline barbell presses, though it may also occur with dumbbell presses or the flat bench press.

You may wonder: What on earth does upper body work have to do with the bladder?

Feeling of a Full Bladder After a Chest Workout

“When you do a chest press the pressure inside the abdominal cavity increases,” begins Dr. David Beatty, MD, a retired general practitioner with 30+ years of experience and an instructor of general medicine for 20 years.

“The bladder is like a balloon filled with urine,” continues Dr. Beatty.

“The more it’s squeezed, the more likely it is to empty.

“Think of an upside-down, washing-up liquid bottle with the top closed.

“It won’t usually leak, but if you give it a squeeze the liquid comes out.”

Intense and heavy chest pressing raises the intra-thoracic/abdominal pressure.

This pressure is close enough to the bladder to “squeeze” at it, and that’s where the urge to take a leak arises.

“You can reduce the chance of needing to pee by going to the bathroom before exercise,” says Dr. Beatty.

If this doesn’t solve the problem, at least you’ll know that – despite the sensation in your bladder – you don’t really need to go, because it’s just a sensation.

“Some people don’t completely empty their bladder with one pee.

“If this is you then try to go a second time — double micturition.

“Reduce fluid intake before the workout and avoid caffeine for a couple of hours pre-exercise.

“Pelvic floor exercises are good to strengthen the muscular support for the bladder outlet.”

Pelvic floor exercise. Hold the top position for two seconds, getting in as much of an arch as possible, then lower. Do 8-12 reps, three sets. Credit: Mangostar

When Women Do Barbell Chest Presses – and the Urge to Pee


“The urge to pee is more likely to be a problem in women, and the chance increases with age,” continues Dr. Beatty.

“Obesity can also be a factor because more fat increases the visceral pressure on the bladder.

“Smoking also increases the risk — each ‘smoker’s cough’ increases the pressure on the bladder.”

You’ll want to quit smoking and continue with the chest workouts rather than keep smoking and avoid the chest workouts.

“Pregnancy and previous childbirth are other reasons why the bladder may be weaker.

“An ovarian cyst can irritate the bladder. and bad constipation can also be an issue.”

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.