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Lifting heavy weight is NOT good???

Dec 28, 2010

Hi Mr Nelson. I have a question I wanted to ask you. I have been lifting heavy weight for almost 8 years now. I became infected earlier this year and about to start the med soon. I was told that lifting heavy weight is NOT a good idea in HIV patients. Is this true? I am worried about the fat change (I will be on Atripla) and general health and want to maintain my look as much as before. But I do not want to put my health at risk if I were to continue lifting weight. I do intermittent cardio but I life more weight. I'm 36, 5'6 and at 138 lbs. asian. I have always been healthy and with no health problem. I eat right and take protein after my work out. Also, is taking pre-workout formula before lifting weight a bad thing to do?? Thanks!

Response from Mr. Vergel

Healthy HIV+ people have no limitations to exercise compared to HIV negatives. Exercise can be good for the immune system if done properly, but too much of it can be suppressive of immune function. Here is a great article on this topic: Is Too Much Exercise Bad For You?

Working out for more than an hour can cause overtraining that can destroy your muscles, decreasing your strength. Overtraining is probably the factor most ignored by exercise enthusiasts. In order to build muscle, the body has to receive a stimulus, a reason, to grow bigger, or hypertrophy. It's really very simple: the body only does what it needs to do, what it is required to do. It isn't going to suddenly expand its muscle mass because it anticipates needing more muscles. But if it is challenged to move weights around, it will respond by growing.

Another way to look at it is, if you take any body builder and put him in bed for weeks at a time, he'll begin to rapidly lose muscle mass because the body will sense that it doesn't need the extra muscle any more. So, one needs to deliver the stimulus to begin muscular hypertrophy (growth) and that's what lifting weights does. However, overdoing exercise stresses out the body and initiates the process of actually breaking down muscle mass as the body begins to burn its own muscles to use for fuel. This is why so many people don't grow at a satisfying rate. Even worse, often times these people will think they aren't training hard enough, and increase their exercise routines, thinking they just need more stimuli! And this is where the biggest error is made -- more is not necessarily better! It seems paradoxical that you could work out less and grow more, but this is very often the case.

Therefore, any exercise beyond that which is the exact amount of stimulus necessary to induce optimal muscle growth is called overtraining.

On another subject related to exercise, I am becoming very concerned about one of the side effects that some of us are encountering with the newer HIV medications. Some of us have increased CPK blood levels.Creatine phosphokinase (CPK) is an enzyme found mainly in the heart, brain, and skeletal muscle.Normal blood level range is Exercise can also increase CPK levels. High CPK may indicate muscle destruction. I am not sure how exercise will affect those of us with high CPK induced by HIV medications like raltegravir, maraviroc, or others, but I am very concerned about muscle destruction (or heart muscle issues) in the long term. I have had high CPK since I started my last combo ( twice the normal) and have more muscle aches, but I still work out 3-4 times a week and have been able to hold on to muscle. I believe that resistance exercise with weights and machines can probably help us retain lean body mass even in the presence of higher CPK, but I would love to see a study that actually proves this theory.

Some HIV positive people may also have muscle weakness, muscle pain, neuropathy or other issues that may get in the way of effective resistance exercise. I have seen improvements in those three problems in patients who exercise at the Body Positiver Wellness Clinic in Houston. The key is to exercise smartly to avoid injury in patients who may be frail or have pain issues.

So, in conclusion, there is nothing that will impede your work outs if you remain healthy with HIV. I would caution to use weights that will get you to momentary muscular failure at 8-10 reps and avoid super heavy weights that can increase risks of injury or overtraining.


P.S.: I am including Michael Mooney's weight training recommendations here:

Weight Training Recommendations by Michael Mooney

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