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Evaluate My Split

Disclaimer: I have something called Elhers-Danlos Syndrome. Basically, my joints are overly mobile genetically. Because of this, I couldn’t even jog or do wall pushups for the past 5 years. But after 2 hip surgeries and a lot of total body rehab, I’ve been cleared to lift weights again.

However, I still need A LOT of rehab exercises weekly, so I have to base my program and its length around that. I’ve lifted weights before for high school sports, so I’m not new to the principle of progressive overload.

Goal: Build basic strength and look like I lift again

The Split: (Choosing a once-a-week frequency to ease my joints into lifting again)

  • All exercises ramped to one top set
  • Plan is to gain strength for reps in each lift until I stall, then switch it out. When I stall out again, I’ll go back to the original exercise.

Day 1: Chest/Biceps (+ Rehab exercises)

  1. Dumbbell Bench Press
  2. Incline Dumbbell Press
  • Given my joints, I’d rather avoid barbells with incline and flat pressing
  1. EZ Bar Curl
  2. Hammer Curl

Day 2: Legs (+ Rehab exercises)

  1. Leg Curl
  2. Front Squat
  • All my squatting has to be done to a box per my surgeon’s orders to prevent me from going below parallel
  1. Romanian Deadlift
  2. Bulgarian Split Squat
  • I have to do some unilateral work
  • Calf work is part of rehab exercises

Day 3: Shoulders/Triceps (+ Rehab exercises)

  1. Overhead Dumbbell Press (Seated)
  2. Lateral Raises + Rear Delt Raises
  3. Close Grip Decline Press
  4. French Press

Day 4: Back (+ Rehab exercises)

  1. Barbell Row
  2. Seated Row (with cable or machine)
  3. Lat Pulldown
  4. Rack Pull

So what do you all think? Goal is to get strong as hell for reps on each + focusing on my rehab exercises to ensure that I can keep lifting.

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That looks pretty reasonable.

Which subtype?

how old are you now?

what is your height and weight?

how long ago was your last surgery? Is the limited range of motion dictated by this surgery a permanent issue, or is it something that will not be an issue in time? (specifically speaking to your squat depth)

to me this is counter-intuitive. what’s your reasoning behind this? Hypermobility should be more problematic with a dumbbell, given that it allows for increased range of motion. Plus it’s harder to get into position on pressing movements, and allows for the possibility of injury just getting ready to press. A barbell, on the other hand, inherently limits your mobility, fixes your planes of movement more than dumbbells, and provides increased stability versus dumbbells. Just some things to think about.

I don’t necessarily like the french press for your condition, that’s an easy one to over-extend on if you’re hyper-mobile. I’d prefer a cable push-down.

Don’t be afraid of machines either. For your condition, machine-work could be very beneficial, specifically for your pressing. Don’t listen to the nonsense out there about machines not being sufficient for getting big and strong. Weight is weight, resistance is resistance. The fixed planes that machines offer, specifically in the pressing movements, could be good for your situation.


Why? My surgeons and PTs all told me things like that. I listened to them for my first knee, not for the second. Guess which one is better five years later.

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I still haven’t gotten the results of my genetic testing back yet, so I’m not sure about the sub-type.

I’m 25 years old, 6’1" and 205lbs. No clue on bodyfat percentage, but I’m definitely chubby. Have at least 25lbs of fat to lose.

My surgery was this May. Luckily, my range of motion isn’t limited anymore by it. I can squat to below parallel without much pain, but my surgeon said it’s best for me to stick to parallel to prevent me from tearing my hip labrum again.

Interesting points about barbells vs. dumbbells. I chose dumbbells because I didn’t like how barbells made my shoulders feel at the bottom of the lifts, but I can definitely revisit them once I get my rotator cuffs stronger.

Thanks for the pointers!

They said going too low could risk tearing my hip labrum again.

subtype is characterized by a set of symptoms, not just genetic testing. I would imagine that, given how greatly the subtypes vary, you have some idea of what yours is. Are you actually clinically diagnosed with the condition, or is this a self diagnosis?

if it’s any pain at all, it’s not worth it. I would assume that means you’re still in the healing process to some degree. When I tore my pec, I was VERY cautious with any loading until I was truly pain free. Assuming you’re doing rehab with full range of motion, I would think you’d get to full range squats eventually. Surgery shouldn’t prevent that indefinitely.

It’s a good point. This isn’t necessarily a ‘you’ thing. Pressing, specifically bench pressing, can be uncomfortable for a lot of people. Proper form for shoulder health is essential. I had problems for a long time with bench press, and form adjustment helped tremendously. This can involve degree of back arch, grip width, range of motion, speed of descent, bar path, etc. A lot of variables that can certainly lead to pressing issues.

When I was younger, I tore my shoulder labrum getting a dumbbell into position for a pressing set. That’s part of why I’m very cautious with dumbbells today. It’s so easy for a heavy dumbbell to get out of place when preparing to do the exercise, and tears can happen.

I’ve had a few close calls and that’s why honestly I just do single hand overhead pressing with DBs. Getting DBs into place to bench/incline is just too risky for me.

My orthopedic doc said I have it after evaluating my joints. All my physical therapists have also said things like my joints are very lax and that I’m hypermobile. The genetic testing is to rule out Marfan Syndrome. Do you have you it, by any chance? Just curious since you seem to know a lot about it.

And does that torn labrum reduce your ability to press nowadays?

yep. I do almost all single-arm pressing. Great for core stability, and translates well to circus dumbbell. my injury was with, I believe, an 80 lbs dumbbell. which is fucking stupid. That was like 10 years ago, when I wasn’t even bench pressing 300 lbs. Now I can put 300 overhead, and I don’t press heavier than maybe 60 lbs dumbbells. Generally I’m using like a 45 or 50 for 1 arm presses.

I do not, just familiar with it, and I know its manifestations vary tremendously in symptoms. Which makes a difference in how you train around it.

no. that injury goes way back, as I mentioned, like 10 years… maybe actually longer, I’d have to think about it. My overhead shoulder mobility really sucks, and that tear could be relevant, but kinda doubtful.

I’ve actually had worse injuries, and more recently, that don’t affect my lifting today. The first one that comes to mind is a pec tear that i suffered in April of this year. I’m 100% over that, but it really sucked when it happened. I’ve had a bicep tear as well, and that DOES affect me from time to time. It’s at one of the 2 shoulder attachments, and when I do things that really stress the biceps, like stone lifting, sometimes I can feel it and I have to back off. I strain it kinda regularly so I have to be careful. That being said, I’ve lifted a 360 lbs atlas stone, so it’s not THAT debilitating, lol. Just something to be mindful of.

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I do not, just familiar with it, and I know its manifestations vary tremendously in symptoms. Which makes a difference in how you train around it.

Based on my symptoms right now, I can tell that I’ll have to get creative with my pressing movements. Pulling movements don’t really bother me, and once I’m a few more months out from surgery, leg movements will be fine too. A few more months of guided physical therapy should tell me what I can and can’t do pressing-wise.

Also, since I have to do literally dozens of rehab movements for the foreseeable future, I’m thinking of changing my 4-way into a 3-way and keep a whole day just for rehab stuff. This way I’m not spending 30 min on rehab, then doing my core lifts, and spending another 30 min on more rehab.

EDIT: Just had my follow up with my doc today. I don’t have Marfan Syndrome or Ehlers-Danlos. However, my joints are definitely hypermoblie. Definitely a relief, though I’ll still have to figure out what works and doesn’t work with my body.

This is good news.
Some degree of hypermobility really isn’t a bad thing. There aren’t THAT many ways to really get into trouble with this. Mostly just avoid really, really heavy weights on certain movements. one in particular is leg press. if your lower body joints are hypermobile, you have the potential to destroy yourself on a heavy leg press at lockout. Just don’t do it.

As I mentioned before, machines and barbells will keep your joints mostly ‘in line’. When you open the movement chain and use dumbbells, there is more room for error, and you can more easily ‘lose’ a weight in the wrong direction due to hypermobility. Just do things that keep you more or less on a fixed plane.

Something else to consider: As your muscles get stronger, it’s quite likely that your hypermobility will eventually become limited due to added tension on joints due to muscular gains.

if your lower body joints are hypermobile, you have the potential to destroy yourself on a heavy leg press at lockout

As in, if I avoid the lockout portion of the legpress I should be fine? I’m just confused why this is since the warnings from my surgeon have been about the bottom portion of squats and legpresses.

As your muscles get stronger, it’s quite likely that your hypermobility will eventually become limited due to added tension on joints due to muscular gains.

I can confirm this already. I’ve been given a lot of curls to do recently to treat elbow tendonitis caused by the instability and it’s done helped tremendously. My PT wants me to start off doing basically whatever I can for my shoulders, chest and arms to build muscle (so only isolations like lateral raises, triceps pushdowns, and curls for now). That, plus a crazy amount of band pull aparts, rows, lat pulldowns, rear delt work, and face pulls should allow me to start pressing by next summer.

Also, thanks for all the help!

well that may be more related to the surgery itself rather than necessarily the hypermobility condition. I cannot speak to this for certain, but it may be that the stretch of the bottom portion of those movements may be the issue, and that it could interfere with longterm healing.

but yes, the lockout is the issue on that particular movement. If you hyperextend the knee joint at lockout, you have the potential for the leg to essentially collapse in the ‘wrong’ direction and have the whole platform come down on you. hyperextension of the knee is problematic on heavy carries as well, but I didn’t mention that because as far as I know you don’t do those.

excellent. I’ve done this as well, I’ve had pretty serious elbow tendinitis in the past. Super high rep curls, like a set of 100 at the end of each workout, can be tremendously beneficial. My tip on these would be not to squeeze the bar super hard. The weight will be light for sets this long, so that shouldn’t be an issue.

all the rest of your rehab stuff sounds like what I would expect to see prescribed. That’s excellent. Keeping up with that will do you wonders. I also do face pulls at the end of most workouts, I think they are awesome for shoulder health.

hyperextension of the knee is problematic on heavy carries as well, but I didn’t mention that because as far as I know you don’t do those

Well, guess legpresses are gonna be a constant tension movement for me then. And by carries do you mean stuff like Farmers walks?

Also, might as well ask now: Any other movements or positions I should try my best to stay away? I know the answer depends on the individual, but there might be some general “rules” I don’t know about.

yea, stuff like that. yokes are especially tough. I mention these because carries are a big part of what I do as a strongman competitor.

nothing wrong with constant tension leg presses, that’s how I’d do them anyway! great way to perform accessory movements imo.

It’s really anything that puts your joints in a compromised position at extension under a heavy load. I know that’s super vague, so I apologize for that.

One thing that comes to mind is overhead lifting. Your mobility could actually have some benefit translating to olympic lifts like clean and jerk, and snatch. Those movements require a high degree of shoulder mobility. but for more ‘static’ overhead pressing, you have to stay cognizant of not allowing the bar to travel too far backwards as it passes your head so you don’t drop it behind you. or at least be ready and able to bail if things go wrong.

Overall though, if you’re not doing crazy movements with crazy heavy weights, you’ll likely be safe. If you do a movement and ‘feel’ like you could very easily lose the weight in a wrong direction, just be cognizant of that and adjust as necessary.

Overall though, if you’re not doing crazy movements with crazy heavy weights, you’ll likely be safe

Hope so.

Thanks again for all the help! I’ll probbaly make a new thread once I heal up and am ready to go.

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