T Nation

Spinal Surgery Recovery and Then Some...

The main purpose of this log is to document my recovery from a recent back surgery and hopefully help some people with the same ailment and surgery with their recovery in the future. Searching the Internet and threads on this site really showed me there isn’t too much info on recovering from the type of surgery i’ve had. The one exception was a poster named Ironbear who gave me some good info in the link at the bottom of this page. Most google hits gave the advice of “Don’t lift weights ever again” or just do “light weigths and cardio the rest of your life”. That’s not for me.

Since the last episode of back pain in January and surgery in February, I lost whatever muscle I had and am fatter than I ever been. It’s been a mixture of not being able to move train or do any real activities, medication, and a shitty diet. I’m a fat 238 with a 42" waist and 16" arms. For comparison, I had a 40’ish waist back when I was 250 in June 2011.
I’ve been doing physical therapy and am almost 4 months post surgery. I’m ready to start off light in the gym and do select exercises. It’ll be alot of experimenting but I think I’ll find what exercise work and how to adapt to the situation just like after my ACL recovery.

More details on the surgery are in the link below. Summary is I had a disc removed from my spine and it was replaced with a plastic spacer and titanium rods. I didn’t want surgery but it was to the point where it was a necessity. I couldn’t stand up straight and had severe pain in my spine and balls. The best way to desribe it would be like a bad toothache throughout your spine and the feeling of getting kicked in the nuts 24/7.

Link to my original training log:

http://tnation.T-Nation.com/free_online_forum/blog_sports_body_training_performance_bodybuilding_log/sneeds_training_and_nutrition_log?id=3392369&pageNo=0

My short term goal is to get to 220 lbs by September 1st. 18 lbs in 3 months, very achievable. I’d like to be 200 lbs by January 1st. The weight loss should be good for my back and aching knees.

I’ve found single arm movements took pressure off my back and forced my abs to stabilize my core and body. This is win/win for me because a strong core makes for a stable back and I don’t have to use as much weight. I had a couple light workouts in the Hotel in Maui on my honeymoon but today is the 1st official workout that I’m documenting. I’m keeping weight light and reps between 10 and 20.

6/14/12 Chest/Triceps:
1 Arm HS Decline machine: 45x10 70x10 90x10
Life Fitness tricep extension: 50x20 65x20 80x20
Pec Deck: 85x20 85x15 85x20
tricep rope pushdown: 30x20 30x20 30x20
Smith close grip bench press (bar=0): 50x15, 100x7 , 100x10 (can’t believe how hard these were)

Edit:
Cardio: 2.67 mile walk in the park. All while dribbling a basketball.

BAM!

Bird has arrived.

tweet

[quote]theBird wrote:
BAM!

Bird has arrived.

tweet[/quote]

Thanks for checking in Bird!

6/18/12 Back/Biceps

Lat pulldown 85lb 320
Lat underhand pulldown 100lb 3
10
Db preacher 20lb 312
Life fitness machine curls 50lb 3
10
1 arm pulldowns 70lb 3*20

Light and easy for my 1st back/biceps workout. I’m having trouble recruiting my back muscles with such light weights. I guess I’ll have to get used to it. Preachers felt decent for such a light weight. I’m going to gradually bump them up to 20 reps before I increase weight.

I have physical therapy tonight and possibly a 1 or 2 mile walk. I’m on track for keeping under 3,000 calories for the day. I’m not sure what my maintenance calories level is yet since I’ve never been so inactive, but 3,000 is my guess.

BW: 238 lbs

Chest

1 arm ISO wide HS press 45#*20 70#*20,20
Peck deck 85#*12,12,12
1 ARM Db bench press 40#*10,10,10
rope tricep pushdown 30# 20,20,20 (too easy, 40# next)

I feel like a tool using these light weights with weird technique but it’ll do for now.

Going to do a 2 mile walk while dribbling a b-ball after work for cardio. Possibly some core and tricep stuff too.

6/21/12 Shoulders (work)

1 arm db lateral raise 10#x20 , 10#x20, 15#x12
rear delt flyes: 55#*20 70#*20,85#*20

Got called off to work, cut workout short. Sucks.

6/22/12 Chest/Tris (Retro)

1 arm flat HS bench press:45#x12,55#x12, 70#x12
tricep rope pressdown: 20#x20, 35#x20,35#x12,35#x15
DB skull crushers:20#x8,20#x10,20#x12
Life fitness tricep machine: 65x20,80x20,80x20
Bench Press with feet up: 135x10,155x8
1 hour physical therapy.

Some of the bench press was paused reps. I’m not used to it. My right shoulder was bothering me even with this light weight. I think my max on bench press is 205 right now. Last year it was 345. Depressing.

I saw the surgeon yesterday. He said my spinal x-rays look great and officially cleared me to workout with light weights. I still have pain and spasms in the back but he said it’s par for the course 4 months post surgery.

in

as someone who is hoping to avoid getting to the point of surgery, as im definitely on that route if i dont maintain/ re injury, i will be following this log closely. Good luck with all the goals, i lost almost 50 pounds when i was last hurt, helped my back pain a shit load, so dfefinitely do that up.
Stay strong.

Thanks for checking in spar4tee

[quote]bignate wrote:
as someone who is hoping to avoid getting to the point of surgery, as im definitely on that route if i dont maintain/ re injury, i will be following this log closely. Good luck with all the goals, i lost almost 50 pounds when i was last hurt, helped my back pain a shit load, so dfefinitely do that up.
Stay strong. [/quote]

Thanks bignate. I wish I had some good advice on how to avoid the surgery but in my case nothing helped. My discs are all genetically degenerative so it was a matter of time before it came to a head. I’m hoping the weight loss helps too. 40 lbs of the back and knees can’t be a bad thing.

I haven’t been able to post in a few days but have been logging workouts:

6/23/12 Biceps/back (retro)

DB preacher 20#*15,15,15
Lat pulldown 100#*20,20,20
Lat pulkdown 1 ARM 85#*12,12,12
Lf machine curls 70#*10,10,10
Lat underhand 100#*12,12,12
Db preacher curl 30#*10

Pandora played “Eye of the Tiger” on the Megadeth channel during my workout. Asshole.

6/24/12 Legs (retro)

seated Leg extensions 55#12,7012,8512,10012
unilateral leg curls 30#*12,40#*12,12

I tried 5 different leg exercises and these are the only 2 I can do. Oh well. Next time going to load up the volume on these and just do 20 sets combined. Better than nuttin’.

6/25/chest triceps (work)

1 arm HS ISO Wide bench press: 45x20, 70x20, 80x20
HS ISO Wide bench press: 160x10 (to test the waters . my old PR was 360x6 I believe)
Life fitness flyes: 70x12,70x12,90x20,90x15
Tricep rope pushdown: 40x12,40x15,40x15
1 arm db bench press: 40x11,40x11,40x11 (last set with feet up:harder)
overhead tricep cable extensiosns 30x12,35x12,35x12

I felt more comfortable working out today. Probably the most comfortable since I got back to the gym. My back is a bit tender but I got physical therapy tonight so stim and a massage should help.

[quote]sam_sneed wrote:
Thanks for checking in spar4tee

[quote]bignate wrote:
as someone who is hoping to avoid getting to the point of surgery, as im definitely on that route if i dont maintain/ re injury, i will be following this log closely. Good luck with all the goals, i lost almost 50 pounds when i was last hurt, helped my back pain a shit load, so dfefinitely do that up.
Stay strong. [/quote]

Thanks bignate. I wish I had some good advice on how to avoid the surgery but in my case nothing helped. My discs are all genetically degenerative so it was a matter of time before it came to a head. I’m hoping the weight loss helps too. 40 lbs of the back and knees can’t be a bad thing.
[/quote]

youll feel fucking great when ya do, im dealing ‘degenerative’ discs as well, started from a buldge in football but now they are just the whole no fluid and all flat and shit, been doing a shit load of core, lots of single leg stuff and slowly brinigng back the squats and deads.

I havent had a back spasm in a year and half, which is longer than since i first started getting them by a long shot. Hoping i can just keep them happy till im out of school. Dont really wanna deal with surgery and recovery at 20 years odl…

[quote]bignate wrote:

youll feel fucking great when ya do, im dealing ‘degenerative’ discs as well, started from a buldge in football but now they are just the whole no fluid and all flat and shit, been doing a shit load of core, lots of single leg stuff and slowly brinigng back the squats and deads.

I havent had a back spasm in a year and half, which is longer than since i first started getting them by a long shot. Hoping i can just keep them happy till im out of school. Dont really wanna deal with surgery and recovery at 20 years odl…
[/quote]

Damn, you’re a big dude for 20. I thought you were older than that. When I was in my 20’s I had a back spasm every 2 years and be out of commission for a week and then fine again. I thought “no big deal”. Then when I was 32 I had a permanent one. My back has been in spasm for 4 years and still is. It’s good that you’re on top of it because I just ignored it. I think if I knew a herniated disc caused all those early spasms in my 20’s, surgery could’ve been avoided. So keep up on the prehab.

you two are depressing

6/26/12 Back/Biceps (work)

Lat pulldowns : 85x20, 100x15, 100x15
Lat pulldown underhand: 100lbs 12,12,12,
DB preacher curls: 20lbs 16,16,18
1 arm overhead cable curl: 5lbs x15, 10lbs x12, 15lbs x 12
1 arm pulldowns: 100lbs 12,12,12

The weights and reps are going up so I’m happy. I feel like I’m getting into my old groove. I may add more volume per exercise since my selection is so narrow. I think more volume is a little safer than heavier weight until the bone in my spine fuses.

[quote]spar4tee wrote:
you two are depressing[/quote]

lol, no glory in rehab.

7/2/12 Chest/Triceps(work)

1 arm HS ISO Wide bench press: 45x20,70x20,85x20
LF flyes: 70x20, 90x20, 90x15,90x20
Tricep rope pushdown: 40x15,15,13

7/3/12 Back/Biceps(work)

DB Preacher curls: 20lb x 20,20,20
Lat Pulldowns: 85x15 100x15,15
V Handle pulldowns: 100lbs x12,12,12

7/6/12 Shoulders/Triceps(work)

Rear delt. 100x12,12,12
Lat,raise,15123
Db skull 15x12 20x12 25x12
Overhead cable tricep extension tri 35#x15,15,12

7/9/12 Back/Biceps(work)

Lat Pulldown: 100x16,17,18
DB Preacher: 25lbs x12,12,12
Lat V Pulldown: 100x15, 120x12,12,8

7/23/12 Chest/triceps (work)

Bench Press 135x8(paused), 155x8(some paused), 185x6, 205x3, 225x3
LF machine flyes: 90x20, 90x20,90x12
Tricep rope pushdown: 40x15,15,15
1 arm HS ISO Wide bench press: 45x20,70x10,90x10

I’ve been logging my workouts but haven’t posted them. I’ll probably post a week at a time since I’m not on the site that often. I’ve had to take more days off as I suspect some workouts fucked with my back and put me back in some more pain. I had to toe the line between too much pain and recovery with my ACL rehab and using that experience here. 1 bad workout set me back 2 weeks in recovery. (7/9- 7/23)

sucks when that happens. Im debating how easy to take it on my back this week myself…hahah so hard to keep telling yourself

“do the pussy weight, you actually be able to walk in the morning…”
Our powerliftin mind dont wanna hear that shit

[quote]bignate wrote:
sucks when that happens. Im debating how easy to take it on my back this week myself…hahah so hard to keep telling yourself

“do the pussy weight, you actually be able to walk in the morning…”
Our powerliftin mind dont wanna hear that shit[/quote]

lol, yeah it’s tough to go against the ego and against the drive to lift heavier each session.

7/24/12 Back/Biceps(work)

Lat Pulldown: 100x17,18,13,13 (pain in front shoulder on last 2 sets)
DB Preacher: 25lbs x12,12,13
Lat V Pulldown: 120x12,12,11 100x12
Face Pulls: 3 sets of 12 light weight.

Weight: 236.4 lbs

7/26/12 Shoulders/Tricep

Db lateral 1 ARM 1513,13,13
Rear delt fly 100
12,13,13,13
Db skulls 2012 2512,12,12
Cgbp 1358 pause , 1558 pause , 1754 pause
Overhead tri ext 35
10,10,8

7/30/12 Chest/Triceps

Bench Press 135x8 , 155x8, 185x8, 205x3, 225x3 (all paused)
LF machine flyes: 90x15,110x12 , 12, 12
Tricep rope pushdown: 40x16,17,18,13
1 arm HS ISO Wide bench press: 70x12, 95x10, 105x12

Todays chest workout felt really good. My strengths is coming back even though I’ve started my diet and have kept carbs below 200 each day. It’s been 5 months post surgery. In another month I think I’m going to have a max bench press day to see where I’m at. I might only do about 90% effort to be safe but I’ll be doing it.

Macros for week of: 7/22/12:
Cal: 2636
Protein: 216
Fat: 99
Carbs: 198

Weight: 234.4 (34 lbs to go)

7/31/12 Back/Biceps

Lat Pulldown: 100x17,18,10 120x8
DB Preacher: 25lbs x13,13 30x10,10
Lat V Pulldown: 120x12,12,12,12
Face Pulls: 4 sets of 12 light weight.
seated LF curls: 3 sets of 8
1 arm overhead cable curls: 10x10,15x10,20x10

Slightly stronger than my last back/bi’s workout so can’t complain.