Challenging Fitness Situation


I’m sorry to do any cut and pasting, but I wanted to share this message with everyone, and get anyones general response. The following is an email I sent to Dr.Berardi, but he was, understandalby, too busy to reply to it personally and an employee of his replied with some general suggestions pointing back towards his own products (Precision Nutrition, etc). A fair reply, but I’m hungry for anyone elses opinion, as I’ve got a pretty rough situation on my hands…literally. Here goes:

I’m coming to you with a difficult situation concerning an injury I don’t hear mentioned much in the fitness
arena, be it lifting, sports, etc.
I’ll try to make my explanation as short as possible, as I know you’re busy.

I am 21, and have, for about two years now been dry-humping, non-successfully at health-fitness. Many reasons contributed: school, moving across the
country, work-hours, a freelance industry, injury, and a troublingly slow metabolism that seems inherent in my family.

However, things have finally started to turn around for me, as I’ve managed to really drive home some disciplines, and not let those cravings and addictions
run free and control me like they have for years. So, here are some numbers…

21 years old
5’ 9"
200 lbs

I hope it doesn’t enrage you that I’m not including BF %, max lifting numbers, etc… but you’ll soon see why the latter of which I don’t have.

I’ve always been heavy, carrying around quite a bit of fat… covering a wide, muscular build. This has started to get worse even as I reach the young age of
21, ie kyphotic posture changes (I’m an audio engineer so I sit quite a bit…) and more health complications.

I invested in, for what it’s worth, the Abs Diet book, from Mens Health. Despite the undeniable truth that a
book is not the key to your physical transformation, I still love the books simplicity and lack of proprietaries… other than the book itself. Alas, it
doesn’t really give advice to someone with injuries.

How am I injured? I seemingly have RSI-repetative strain injury, caused by years of piano playing, drumming, computer use, bad posture, and possibly
genetics. The research in the area of
hand-pain/joint-pain is definitely not concrete coming from every area of medicine, so the search for specifically
hand-related information has been a
quagmire, but I’ve found some great resources.

The issue is this… I seek a lean, muscular physique, nothing-insane, nothing BB style, but
strong-lean-functional. I am a musician/travelling engineer… so a healthy, clean body is what I’m
looking for. My hands, they are getting better. I’m going to a Hand Rehab Center in USC soon… (I’ve already been through a small gamut of chiros/etc…) and we’ll see what happens. Though weight isn’t ALWAYS linked with hand-issues, being over-weight and the typical kyphotic/nonaligned posture can affect the thoracic outlet, reduce bloodflow to the hands/etc… I’m sorry if you already know all of this. Alas, my
hands are lookin’ up… Moving on…

When I hit my peak of bad-health, I was 228 lbs. Over the course of probably 4-6 months, I dropped down to 194!.. Pretty crazy, unexpected. Alas, a 3 month road trip brought me back to 200,
but I’m hard-focused on the road again now, great consistancy with diet and
exercise. My problem arises, in exercise.

Massive weight lifting, just isn’t possible for me.
My hands get very fatigued in the weight room, and in general the joints in my hands feel ‘lax’ and sensitive. For instance: holding a dumbell, rotating
your arm upward to get it above your head for military press, and at that point where your fingers are parallel to the floor, and the weight is bearing down heavily on the ‘knuckle’ joints, feeling them almost pull out of socket!! Not TOO dangerous, but I bet you
if I tried with a 45 lb dumbell, it’s possible

During pushups, my carpals feel like they’re compressing, and cause uncomfortable pains that limit
me from doing more. A very similar thing happens during bench press (of which I haven’t done a traditional, non-machine-style in a long time… due to how uncomfortable it feels on my
hands). It kind of goes on and on… apply sensitive, lax-joint, fatiguing
hands… to most weight related workouts, and it
definitely limits the poundage I’m lifting.

So, I’ve taken a general approach of a more fast paced, low-weight approach to lifting… shorter rest time, jumping back and forth between exercises, that
whole thing, and it feels great. However, I still hit speed bumps sometimes, and hate that I can’t straight up bench, among other things (like awful bone pain!).

I’m curious what your overall reaction to this is.
Someone who uses their hands as a part of their life,
art, profession, meal-ticket, etc. with precision (not
that anyone doesn’t need their fuckin’ hands!). I’m heavy, stocky and trying to stay on track. Should I seek ‘fitness counselling’ ? Perhaps I should mention all this to the hand-rehab center…

My main incomplete part I admit fully to, is taking zero supplements. In
complete honesty, it’s just a
matter of money and discipline. I’m trying very hard to get that in motion though… looking at things like
Flameout (I get tendonitis type symptoms sometimes with swelling of my finger extensors at the wrist), glucosamine chondroitin, and ligaplex for ligament
health. I am humbly open to advice on that topic, if you have any. (EDIT: To all you T-Nation peoples, I have read this board thoroughly and am looking forward to another batch of Flameout being released)

So, if anything comes to mind, I would love to hear it. I apologize greatly for the length of this, but hand-pain is a longwided, winding, confusing area of medical health, I guess.

Thanks so much, if you made it through this.

You’re right, that is certainly a “challenging fitness situation”!

Here’s some “no-hands” stuff that I can think of:

Zercher squats
Bodybuilder-style front squats

Come to think of it, you can do almost any lower body lift by holding the bar either “zercher-style” (in the crook of your elbows) or “bodybuilder front squat-style” (resting on your shoulders, arms crossed over top the bar). Lunges, step-ups, split-squats, etc. Probably give you a wicked strong “core” while you’re at it.

You also have the standard machine stuff like leg curls, leg extension, leg press, 45 degree back raise, glute-ham raise, reverse hyper, etc.

Upper body is obviously a lot more challenging. Straps might be helpful here and as you mentioned, you’ll probably need to do a lot of stuff with machines so as to take stress off the hands.

Maybe have somebody strong hold your wrists and do pull-ups or fat-boy pull-ups? Strap ankle weights around your wrists for lighter stuff like front raises and such. That might be just as damaging, I dunno.

Upper body hypertrophy might be a little difficult, unless you’re able to use machines, but I would try to figure out a couple exercises you can do without pain and just blast the hell out of them, shorten the rest periods, more reps, more sets, longer eccentrics, etc etc. You can definitly build a great lower body without ever have to grip the bar and cardio shouldn’t be a problem for you.

Also something you might want to do that might help is “mirror training.” CT talks about this in his audio interview and how it’s a viable technique. Just basically flexing as hard as possible for 20-30 seconds, treating it like a normal workout, going through all of your muscles. Certainly not as good as doing, bench, chins and rows, but I suppose you gotta do what you can.

Good luck man.

You’ll proboly hear alot better opinions than mine, but things that pop in my head to do would be maybe change the exercises up a little, instead of doing barbell bench presses maybe to dumbbell press with a lighter wieght maybe strive for a 12 to 15 reps? I dont think that would be really heavy to wear it would cause discomfort.

Maybe get yourself some whey protein if your not useing it, cut down on the fats increase protein. Read some of the articles on here you’ll find what your looking for, pretty good stuff, maybe look in to getting something along the lines of Alpha Male, if you would like, b/c in my opinion its sounds like your t-levels are low. Go with the flameout for the inflamation, thats a good idea. Well thats some ideas from me, hope things work out.


I appreciate you guys reading through my long ass post and giving me your thoughts. I’ll definitely try some of the suggestions.

Coincidentally, I was also thinking that increasing my T-Levels couldn’t hurt, as I’ve always carried around too much fat, and had strength issues (though I realize diet and everything dictates the fat for a large majority).

Thanks again.

How about using lifting hooks for upper body stuff?
Like these;

Not sure if it would help or not, but they might be worth a try.


you could buy some of those padded things you hook onto chin-up bars and use your forearms to hang on and then pull yourself up.Sorry as I don’t know the name of said product.