Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
JoeFraser

Lifting With Limitations

Recommended Posts

I had my wife on Stronglifts with me for awhile as she is in the long process of losing weight after gaining weight over the last 6 years after being diagnosed with terminal cancer. The good news is it ended up being curable once they found out what exact type it was (not until the 5th year) they were able to change treatment and it is now 100% gone. It has been almost 1 year cancer free. Since she started her weight-loss journey she has lost 30lbs overall!. Maybe 15-20 more and she would be at a healthy weight.

She was progressing on all the lifts except she could not do a squat anywhere near the proper form without falling over and without knee pain. I substituted her squats with hack squats. Not really what i prefered her doing but some squats is better than no squats in my book. Once we got to somewhere around 80lbs for the bench press she started having issues with her hands. She actually had a pencil tip size bone spur come thru her palm. This stems from her other aliment Rheumatoid Arthritis, which is totally different than the typical Osteoarthritis. RA attacks the joints specifically of the hands and feet and causes them to be brittle and inflamed at times. After seeing her doctor she was told to continue strength training but to keep weights low enough where they do not cause pain. Her Dr is the one whom suggested losing weight and exercising would help deal with pain from the arthritis which it has. Where the strength training is an important part of her goals we have continued it with some adjustments. It has been a few wasted months as she was on 3rd shift for a while so we are starting all over again.

Here is where I need some brainstorming from the group. Here are the limitations we have (from trial an error).

-Bench and overhead press weight can not exceed 65lbs. I can think of no way to take the weight off her hands when pressing. Her arms could bench 80lbs but her hands couldn't. Right now she can do about 7 reps for bench at 65lbs. At some point this will become to easy. What then? What I have though of after increasing reps as high as 12 is doing pause sets or partials to make the movement more difficult. OHP is not going to be an issue for awhile as she is nowhere near 65lbs yet.

-Squats she can still not do. I figure we start the hack squats back up and build up strength. After building up strength we can try working into barbell squats. I have shown her goblet squats with a dumbell but she bends her body forward to much like a goodmorning. Goblets may be a possibility if I video it and she can she what she is doing wrong.

-Pendlay rows, deadlifts,and leg presses are a no-go. The grip on the bar kills her hands on the rows and deadlifts and leg presses are to much weight on her feet. I've had her substitute to DB Rows and they seem to do ok for awhile. After 8 reps is an issue on her left side. She had some shoulder pain a while back and it still is affecting strength. She did 12 reps with her right arm and just 8 with her left at 25lbs.

So far I have this as a plan:

Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday Rotating A-B-A-B etc

Workout A

Hack Squats 5x5

Bench 5x5-12

DB Rows 5x5

Bicep Curls 3x8

Workout B

Hack Squats 5x5

OHP 5x5

Back Extensions 3xF

Light close grip pulldowns

Any ideas? That was way longer then intended and all over the place. Congrats if you made it this far!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If she doesn't already have wrist braces/wraps, you should probably get her a pair. On squats, hip belt squats have caught on a little here and they'd probably work well since the loading is different. With the upper body stuff emphasize reps rather than weight and use rep pr as a gauge of progress.

If she isn't taking fish oil already, that would probably help with inflammation. Vitamin D and Calcium in fairly high quantities would be helpful for bone health.

The weight training should also help since it makes the bones stronger as well. Her body should adjust with time if you do it carefully and microload.

I hope that's helpful at least a little.

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

+1 to Mathiah.

Also, you might want to look into lifting hooks. They'll move the stress of holding the bar to her wrists instead of her hands, and might allow her to be more comfortable during rows.

If holding the bar was no longer an issue, could your wife do things like good mornings or romanian deadlifts? I know they're not on the traditional SL plan, but some direct posterior chain work would be beneficial since she can't do traditional deadlifts. (Also, women tend to be quad dominant, making increasing posterior chain strength especially important for knee health.)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I like the hook and/or strap idea. Never thought of that myself as I have never used them. Hooks may make deadlifts doable. I think she was up to 85lbs or 115 can't remember. If the hooks can take the pressure off that reason that would be within reason.

For posterior chain work, good mornings maybe if Romanian is the same as straight legged deadlifts than no (maybe with the hooks). We have a really good glute machine at the gym. No not the yes/no machine:) One where you glide the legs straight back while standing. I have tried it and it works.

Thanks for the responses. Maybe the hooks will he enough to do the movements she can't do now (pendlay rows, deadlifts varieties, assisted pullups etc.). Then working within weight limitations on pressing we should at least able to have a workable program. Barbell squats are more of a long-term goal. In the end it is whatever works to get in shape. She has no dreams of hitting a powerlifting stage.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I haven't got any suggestions but I would just like to say I'm glad to read that the cancer has been treated and removed.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It mat not be doable, but have you thought about some pads for her hands to spread the load on BP / OHP? or maybe weighted pushups on a thick mat would prtect the hands from the bone spur issues by spreading the load across the entire hand instead of one focussed point of presssure where the bar rests. just an idea or two

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for the sentiments Greg.

Art, I actually went out Friday and got her the most padded gloves I could find for lifting. The ones I got were from the brand bionic and said made from doctors. I was thinking the same as you with the padding. Spread the weight across more area of the hand and it will be less on any one area. Also the gloves have wrist support which seemed beneficial.

She isn't strong enough for pushups yet. We did a few workouts last week and I am pretty happy with what we could do. I actually had her do light leg presses (90lbs+sled) and that was no problem with her super thick shoes on. We played around with foot position and found higher up involved more glutes. We also did bench 60lbsx12. We didn't have gloves yet to go higher. OHP went fine at 45lbs. We did some hyperextensions for the back and flutes, and some cable rows (again without gloves....caused a little pain). It seems to be going halfway decent other then the fact she is in the middle of a flairup with the weather cold air moving in.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't have enough experience to help with the lifting side of things but just wanted to say how impressed at the work you and your wife are doing! I know how painful & debilitating RA can be.

My dad has had RA for some 30 years, he had very limited mobility for years and has undergone umpteen joint replacements but thankfully about 5 years ago he was permitted to start one of the drugs which resets the immune system, I think he's on Humira. He has a new lease of life now and can walk for miles without any pain. He hardly ever gets flare ups any more.

Sorry, perhaps not relevant to your situation...but I hope the lifting helps your wife - she sounds pretty strong already mind you :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Joe, there are progressions of pushups for those not strong enough to do them: against a wall, off a kitchen counter, off the seat of a chair or seight bench, on knees, and regular pushups, so there are ways around that, in case the gloves just don't do it.

Anyway, hope the gloves do the trick for her

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My wife hit some PRs today so I figure it is a good time for some updates.

Here is what she has been doing:

OHP DAY

OHP 531

Leg press (not to failure currently 255lbs) 5x10

Lat Pulldowns 5x10

DEADLIFT DAY

Deadlifts 531

Leg Press same weight as above 2-5 sets depending on feel

BENCH PRESS DAY

Bench press 531

Leg press (255lbs) 5x10

Wide grip T-bar rows 5x10

LEG PRESS DAY

Leg press 531 (max set low so lots of reps)

Leg press 5x10 light...175lbs

Back extensions

Today she set some awsome PRs.

Leg Press 315lbsx5 (she could have done 10 but was just warming up for deadlifts.

[Edit: actually it was 395lbsx5 addition error]

Leg press for reps (not today) 260lbsx22

Deadlifts 115lbsx8, 145lbsx2

Bench last week 75lbsx6

OHP have never been able to get to 50lbs. The other day we tried 50lbs and got 50lbsx9.

531 is working very well. Especially for OHP which previously had no gains. She still gets some pain occasionally we play everything by feel. We have found a closer stance leg press does not hurt her hips whereas a wider stance does. So she goes with about shoulder width. If her hips flare up we drop the remaining sets. Sometimes grip is an issue on t-bar rows but generally it goes well. She has done well with the gloves I got her but refuses to use the straps. Thanks to everyone who offered encouragement and ideas when we started all this.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Those are some nice PRs :) That OHP must have been especially sweet!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ya it was. I set her up for 50lbs which she had never been able to lift but knew she could do it based on the reps she got at 45lbs. I think I gave her a goal of 6 (we always try to add to the calculated 1 rep max) and she got to 6 and kept going. I was watching her knees to and there was no movement so they were clean reps.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Great job with overcoming the cancer and despite setbacks with RA, still sticking with this. Make sure she knows that she has every right in the world to be proud of herself and that you are just as proud of her accomplishments. Stand a little taller yourself for being a good husband to her.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks David. She is hurting a little today. T-bar rows hurt her hands. She did 65lbsx8. I got to convince her This use the straps to take some weight off the hands. She is fighting me on it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

glad some of the suggestions worked, hopefully she'll get past the strap hate

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

×