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recovery after resistance training
Jan 18, 2011

It takes me almost 4 days to recovery after excercise with weights. My T cell counts average about 450 and on Atripla. I know it is not that I am old (57) I hope. :)

Response from Mr. Vergel

It is not normal to need 4 days to recover from exercise with weights.

There may be some possible explanations to this (it could be one or a combination of several):

1- You are over training for your conditioning. You are either using weights that are too heavy for your training level, or you are exercising for too long.

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.

2- You may have higher than normal CPK (creatine phosphokinase). Some people on HIV meds may have increased CPK. The normal function of CPK in our cells is to turn creatine into phosphate, which is burned as a quick source of energy by our cells. When muscle is damaged, muscle cells break open and spill their contents into the bloodstream. Because most of the CPK in the body normally exists in muscle, a rise in the amount of CPK in the blood indicates that muscle damage has occurred, or is occurring. The type of CPK found in the blood determines what has been damaged (i.e. heart, brain, muscle).

3- You are taking statins or fibrates (Lipitor, Tricor, etc) which may be causing muscle breakdown.

4- You may be dehydrated a lot more than you think. Dehydration can cause muscle weakness and soreness. Make sure that you are drinking 6-8 glasses of water a day. Be specially aware of this if you are taking diuretics to treat blood pressure.

5- You may need a post work out recovery drink. Supplements like glutamine, creatine, and whey protein may be a good thing to consider. A shake containing one heaping tablespoon of glutamine, 5 grams of creatine monohydrate, one or two scoops of whey protein, frozen fruit, and milk (if you are not lactose intolerant, otherwise almond or rice milk, though not soy, since it has been shown to increase estrogen in both men and women), provides a good balanced meal after a workout.

6- Split your work outs so that you exercise different body parts. If your chest is sore from the previous work out, you can exercise your legs, and vice versa.

7- Although no one has really looked into this issue, we know we have mitochondria dysfunction in fat and muscle cells due to effects of HIV and its medications. Mitochondrial dysfunction may be related to increased levels of lactic acid, the stuff that makes us feel sore. I wonder if your muscle soreness would improve if you took 2000 mg of carnitine and 200 mg of coenzyme Q-10 a day along with a baby aspirin. These two supplements have been shown to improve mitochondria function, so it would be interesting to see if they have any effect on your problem.

8- In a separate email, you said that you are taking Androgel to maintain normal levels of testosterone. That is good to know. Low testosterone can also lead to longer recovery times after exercise. Just make sure that your total testosterone is between 500 and 1000 nanograms per dl. If not, you need to increase the dose.

Let me know if any of the listed suggestions works for you.



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