T Nation

Rehabilitating from Illness, Looking for Tips

Hello T-Nation!

I am looking for some ideas in regards to improving my conditioning and strength/muscle mass.
Currently I am recovering from a health problem. My problem does not allow me to do any exercises in a standing position currently. I get a very fast heart rate standing in the upright position, so I have to do all exercises seated or laying down. Therefor I am unable to follow existing strength programs.
I am working on improving my conditioning and my strength/size.

Currently I am doing cardio 3x a week 40 minutes and 2x strength.
It goes as following:
Monday -

  • 40 minutes recumbent cycling/rowing at heartrate 140.
  • 3x12 chest press
  • 3x12 pull-down (it is a machine, but it works similar to if it were a lat-pulldown)
  • 3x12 leg press

Wednesday -

  • 40 minutes recumbent cycling/rowing at heartrate 140.
    no strength yet (looking to add this soon)

Friday -

  • 40 minutes recumbent cycling/rowing at heartrate 140.
  • 3x12 chest press
  • 3x12 pull-down (it is a machine, but it works similar to if it were a lat-pulldown)
  • 3x12 leg press

I train in the hospital currently, the machines they have use a hydraulic air resistance system. It has a monitor with which u can set resistance. I am writing down the numbers and using progressive overload to increase whenever I am able. The machines are Keiser brand, like these: http://performbetter.co.uk/product-category/performance-strength-training/keiser-air-resistance/

I know that free weights movements (squat/deadlift etc) have the preference to machines here but I am just not able to preform these currently. I am just looking to improve with what I can do right now. Hopefully in the future I will be able to do those exercises!

My stats are:
22 y/o
170 lbs
~8% bodyfat I’d estimate

My calorie intake is around 3500+. I try to eat as much as I can all day and monitor my weight/strength to make sure it rises every week.

Thank you!

If you are looking for strength and size gains, 5 sets of 5 with more weight might be better than 3 sets of 12. 12 reps is fine for size, but doesn’t increase maximal strength as well as 5 reps. Give it a shot. I’m partial to intervals over steady state cardio, so try something like 30 seconds fast and 2 minutes slow for 20 min on the recumbent bike or rowing machine.

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Hello halvorsen, thank you for your reply!

Is such an interval possible to do 3 times a week? (Can it be done in the same frequency as steady state cardio?)

And do you think just these three strength exercises will produce some result? Or should more be added?


You should consider adding an overhead press of some sort, otherwise that seems pretty good. And yeah 3 times a week on intervals is just fine. However, it’s best to do the intervals after you lift. This will ensure that you have enough in the tank for your strength training.

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vary the rep ranges, monday do one excercise for 5x5 and the rest 3x8-10. wed do everything 5x12-15.

Also change the seat position on chest press so one day it is like a flat bench press the next high incline

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Thank you for your reply Rampant Badger!

May I ask what does changing the amount of reps do? Is the reason for it so I target different goals? (Lower rep more for strength higher more for hypertrophy?) And am I correct in assuming on the 5x5 day I should aim for higher weight and the 10/12-15 lower weight?


Also, forgot to ask, should I add in any core/ab exercises? (Crunches/planks/etc?)

Question…is your health issue Cardio vascular related and has a physician by chance given you the green light to physical exert yourself?

This part bothers me

It will stop you plateauing too soon and will mean you are hitting a variety of muscle fibers. Yes heavier weight one day, lower the next

Hello bulldog!

The problem is most likely cardiovascular/autonomic nervous system related. Basically when I lay down my heartrate is normal, like 80, and if I would go upright and stand still it can go to 150 within 1-2 minutes. I was given green light by a physician yes, I have been training for about 2 months in the hospital where they monitor me because of this. They had never seen a person with the problem that I have yet, so basically it is trial-and-error aswell there (no “standard treatment”).

The long-term fix for this problem is improving my cardiovascular conditioning and muscle size. The goal of this is to improve my circulation, and increased muscle size also helps to improve venous return so my heart can receive more blood to pump around. They see this problem aswell with astronauts who have been deconditioned from spaceflight.

The idea is that I start training seated/laying down and with the coming months that I can gradually start going more upright. The suspicion is that I am “vulnerable” to this kind of problem, and the hope is that with improving my conditioning the problem will go away over time.

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Hi all, just thought I’d post an update.

No longer training in the hospital anymore, but in a normal gym the last few weeks. I am also able to do standing exercises like the squat now :slight_smile:.
Climbed from 155 lbs in january to 192 lbs now in weight (6’6 height).

Currently doing following weight:

  • 3x7x110 lbs Bench Press
  • 3x8x110 lbs Back Squat
  • 2x10x110 lbs Bent Over Row
  • 2x10x120 lbs Lat Pull-down

Since I am still so weak I am not doing the low/high rep variation yet (5x, 8x, 12x). I will implement this once I get a bit stronger, so somewhere in the next months.

Deadlifts don’t suit me well yet, I feel dizzy after doing them, so I do not do them currently.

Right now it is basically 3x a week:

  • 3x7 Bench
  • 3x8 Squat
  • 2x10 Bent Over Row
  • 2x10 Lateral Pull-down
  • 3x10 Back Extensions
  • 3x Planks or Leg Raises

Looking to add in the Overhead Press also soon.

Critiques are welcomed, also wondering if the volume seems okay?