T Nation

Told I Shouldn't Lift Heavy Anymore


I was told today that I shouldn't lift heavy any more. I've been out on sick leave for over 2 mths recovering from emergency retina detachment surgery in my rt eye. went in today to see the doc and was told when I get back to the gym not to push it. I've got a thinning in my left eye that might let go or it might stay fine.

it changed the rx in the eye. I can see but things still look a little like a funhouse mirror. I'm probably going to have to get cataract surgery within a year because of what they did to my eye. if it doesn't heal right I might lose my job. as of now my depth of field is still shakey.

I love to lift heavy although I'm not in the category of most of the people here. before the surgery I was dead lifting 505, squatting 465, and benching 365 for reps. not bad for 56 but nothing special. the doc I saw today told me I should probably not go over 315. got to figure out a whole new program and any suggestions would be welcome.

I mean WTF, I'm going to be one of the ugliest cardio bunny's in the gym. and yes, I'm going to get a 2nd opinion.

if you go to youtube you can see the type of surgery I had. it's rough to watch.


If your numbers are real I think you're giving this site and the people on it waaay too much credit, you were a strong ass dude.

Good luck with the eye surgery, and there is nothing wrong with backing off a bit as you get a bit older.


appreciate it. the numbers were real. a trainer at the gym that competes in power lifting told me I should try it but I never thought I was strong enough. I see the numbers that people post here and I do ok for an old guy but I didn't want to be laughed at.
never thought I would have to slow down because of my eyes. haven't had any problems with the knees, back, or shoulders. sometimes life just sucks.


What's even more impressive is keeping that strength into your mid life age, at 56 I would be fricken ecstatic if I could still keep that level of strength... Jim wendlers 5/3/1 program works pretty well, mainly for you it's the way he sets it up which is important.. You do the the three lifts and overhead press etc.. But he always emphasizes keeping it LIGHT.. Which will help wars off injury and lead to greater strength gains over time.. Because you slowly add progressional weight over time.


I'm wondering were this doc came up with a 315 limit? He must lift if he knows 315 is a round number when it comes to weight lifting.


DO NOT fuck with this.

Unless you are fine being blind in that eye.


In the O-35 section there are several heavy lifters with medical backgrounds, including one with the handle "eyedentist." You might want to post in there.

Edit: Derek is one of them. He beat me to posting.



But really. The vessels in your eye are so much more sensitive to pressure then you realize.


x1000 Your eyesight isn't worth compromising in the slightest. Take a layoff from lifting and any tough excercise until your eyesight is normalised and build back up super light.


I know I gotta watch it and be careful but it still sucks. I've always enjoyed pushing myself. I'll cut the load and work out other ways.
I've already decided a few things. give up the tires except to beat on them. drop some weight and head back to the climbing tower. how about sled work? any recommendations on weight or if pushing is worse than pulling? this is getting into an area that is really gray to me. I mean have you heard of any research in this area?


I am an ophthalmologist. The "thinning" you mentioned--do you happen to know if it's global retinal thinning (which is usually secondary to being very nearsighted), or is it a focal thinning (usually secondary to a condition called 'lattice degeneration')?

Re your surgery--was it a 'vitrectomy' (instruments inserted into the eye to cut and remove the intraocular gel), or a 'scleral buckle' (a silicone band attached to the outside of the eyeball)?


Thank you for your interest.
I am near sighted and the thinning is lattice degeneration of peripheral retina.

surgery was vitrectomy and scleral buckle. had the gas bubble so I got to wear the green armband.
any weightlifting tips besides not holding my breath while lifting?


Bottom line: more volume, less rest, lighter weights. Talk to your doctor about this option.


Suggest you use a fat bar or Fat Gripz too. And when you use these ultra light weights, do eight to ten second reps with a minimum two second hold at the peak. Think isometrics rep after rep. It works.

Seven years ago (at age 59) while doing DL's of multi-12 rep sets with 465, hemorrhaged the vessels in the eyes, one eye at a time. Doc said my choice to lift lightly or learn Braille. Best to listen to the voices and lift light. Now, in addition to subsequent health problems, I am lifting very light.


Nearsighted + lattice degeneration + RD in one eye + Valsalva maneuver = significant risk of RD in the fellow eye. Note that, of these risk factors, there's only one over which you have control, that being whether you choose to Valsalva. So for now, I suggest you avoid it.

As for your lifting career going forward, if you are dead-set on lifting heavy again: Explain to your doc how important this is to your quality of life, and ask whether prophylactic treatment of your lattice would reduce your RD risk. (I have to stress that I am NOT recommending this, because even with prophylaxis you will still have a higher-than-average risk of RD. That is, there is nothing your doc can do that will reduce your risk to the population baseline.)

Unfortunately, I suspect your doc will say you're not a candidate for prophylaxis (lattice is often not amenable to prophylaxis, especially in the context of nearsightedness). As you observed above, sometimes life sucks.


I've given up on the idea of ever lifting heavy again. do you think the 315 would be pushing it or would it be an acceptable max?


I would stop thinking about numbers all together. It'll just mess with your head. The way I see it you can either:

1) Become a bodybuilder and go by feel and reps with minimal if any regard to actual weight
2) Become a pirate powerlifter with an eyepatch over your blind eye and lift heavy as hell


Take a look (google around) at what Dave Tate is doing with John Meadows. From what I gather he shifted from heavy to just plain crazy because his body just couldn't take heavy anymore and he's looking jacked as shit now. Hard training doesn't have to mean heavy.


I'm not sure how your doc came up with 315# as a hard-and-fast cutoff. I suggest you ask him to clarify his recommendation; I think it will boil down to avoiding significant Valsalva-ing, no matter what weight is involved.


I wondered about that.

I mean the right exercise can make someone valsava with pink dumb bells. Pushing a sled as hard as he can similar to a sprint, would be easier then him doing 365 a few times on a squat.

I wonder if his doc gave him that recommendation as something general considering his age. In that case he may just be trying to say be careful.