T Nation

A Fresh Start


I have a second chance. I'm one lucky c**t.

Dr has cleared me to exercise again 6 months after my heart attack of unknown cause. I've been training gently for a 5k and can now get back to the gym.

I am not aloud (yet) to do any less than 15 reps so I'm gonna have to go quite light. I am hoping to get back to heavy lifting in the future, just waiting for some final decisions re my anomalous LAD and future management.

My goals are to build my muscles back. Strength (as in beast mode strength) isn't such a big issue for me anymore as I'm plenty strong enough for anything life will throw at me. I just want to look sexy(er) seeing as I'm now single due to all the bullshit of the last 6 months.

I was used to doing low rep, heavy weight squats, deadlift and overhead press. That's off the cards now and I am only training for the exercise and vanity now.

Any suggestions on programmes to follow? I'm wanting to lift twice a week as I'm running or swimming 3 days a week.

Weight 83 kg
Height 5, 10
I'm carrying a little bit of fat due to the last 6 months of inactivity but it's nothing major and I'm losing that now I'm exercising again.



Complexes a good way to get a decent workout with light weight...

Could just do a standard upper/lower split and keep the reps at say 3x20 -will put back on a bit of muscle and lean you out pretty fast


Geez, man, sorry to hear what you went through. Glad you came through it and are getting back on track.

Did the doc say why you need to train light? As in, are you not allowed to strain with weights (to avoid the valsalva maneuver's temporary spike in blood pressure) or do you need to keep your heart rate below a certain threshold?

I'm wondering because it's totally possible to use a light weight (15RM) and go through an intense workout with complexes, like Badger suggested. Or you could train with a 15RM but work in sets of 10-12, keep rest periods supershort, and use techniques like drop sets or rest-pause.

But if you're supposed to keep overall training intensity low until you get the all-clear, then "boring" bodybuilding with 3x15 per exercise, 2-3 exercises bodypart, might be where you're at for now.

Again, the program would depend on exactly what you can and can't do for now. These are a few 2/wk routines that you might get some ideas from:

You might also want to check some of Paul Carter's stuff, particularly the 350 Method discussed here, for ways to build muscle without focusing on going super-heavy:


yeah the 15 reps thing is kind of weird sounding considering it's very possible to bury yourself in a number of ways doing sets of 15.

I think if I were in your position I'd be trying to cause the most metabolic damage with the least amount of strain. So I think I'd probably pre-exhaust whichever body part I'd decided to train, then hit it with a couple of compound exercises done mega slowly and controlled.

So for chest, something like:

-3 sets of 20 on a cable crossover
-3 sets of 15 on bench with like a 5 second negative, 2 second pause at the top
-3 sets of 15 dumbell bench, same super slow negative and pause

You'll get a pretty gnarly burn doing that and it shouldn't involve too much actual strain.

That's how I'd approach it, anyway. I'd also get my diet super squeaky clean. If you can't push yourself hard enough to force some serious growth, might as well rock some serious abs


I think random people don't quite understand how painful a set of 20 with the squat can be.


Well, I'm a complex case haha, not just because of my age. The reason they think I had an MI is because I have a dilated LAD which might have caused sluggish blood flow allowing an occlusive clot to form.

I have to stay light at the moment because they are considering a CABG to bypass the dilated area. The rational is any sudden and severe spikes in BP could ut too much pressure on the possibly weakened walls of the dilated artery causing it to burst!! Not cool haha. I do honestly think the Cardiologists are being very conservative and the bursting blood vessel is just a worse case scenario but i suppose its better to play it safe for the meantime.

Thanks for the advice. I had my induction at my new gym yesterday and my first workout - Result as the personal trainer there is a foxy lady.

I phoned my cardiologist and he says to keep away from squats (Loaded) and deadlifts at the moment and do upper body stuff.

So I've decided to do a 2 x a week upper body workout and started out nice and light and just played about with some of my old favourites.

3 x 20 DB bench press with 16KG
3 x 20 Bent over rows with 16KG
3 x 20 DB curls with 10KG
3x 20 Pushups
3 x 30 crunches
3 x a shit ton of band pull - aparts

followed by a mile run at 8:30 pace.

It felt good.


Yeah... um... don't let that happen.

If you have to avoid blood pressure spikes, then like I said, make sure you avoid valsalva'ing (holding your breath through each rep). Deliberately breathe like the old "exhale on the positive, inhale on the negative."

If you can, I'd also consider doing some unweighted squats, lunges, or single-leg RDLs between sets of upper body stuff so you're not doing zero lower body work for however long this'll be.

Other than that, for sure play it conservative with any of the training. It's not like we're talking about just working around a sprained ankle or some tendinitis flare-up.


there is one thing to consider though, which is that you are definitely reserved a place in Valhalla if you bench so heavy it causes your heart to burst!


Cheers for the advice. Taken it all on board (especially the breathing, I'm terrible for holding my breath when lifting).

I forgot to mention I do some ATG body weight squats everyday just to keep those legs limber.


Haha, I've always liked the thought of Valhalla.

I think I've already got a spot reserved seeing as I went 3 days, drove 500 miles and completed an aerial assault course all with an ejection fraction of 25% (now 60%) before ending up in hospital nearly dead.

If this does end up killing me... I intend for it to kill me whilst I'm on my own two feet. Odin better have a seat saved at his table for me :stuck_out_tongue:


Yeah, not to be a downer but I don't think this is so funny.

I think your doctor has curls with pink dumbbells whilst sitting on a Swiss ball in mind rather than anything resembling a compound movement.

Run your program past the doc. Your Valhalla is 6 feet in the dark, cold ground chased with an eternity of nothingness. That may not bother you but you don't live in a vacuum.


Nah you're completely right, I don't live in a vacuum and I'm fully aware of that, and that is why I'm being careful; but, I have to live with this hanging over my head and as strange as it sounds literally being on deaths doorstep once has taken away my fear of death (and life) and made me savour living and the things I enjoy.

I use humour (even if it's only funny to me) as a way to handle the creeping stress something like this can cause and live with the mindset that I would MUCH prefer a shorter life doing the things I want to do (even if I have to make slight modifications) than a long life sitting in fear on the couch. I've spoke to my family and friends about this and they understand and respect this view.

Don't worry I'm not going to be trying to set any 1 rep max PRs anytime soon :wink:

Specific orders from the doc were to use a weight I can easily get 15 reps with; "No sets of heavy 5 reps... For the moment" he was actually very happy I am so eager to exercise again.
So to start I'm easing in at 20 reps with a 'hard' last 2-3 reps and I prefer this to heavier lifting, it gives a good burn.