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Training Advice for Exercise Intolerance Due to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?

Hi Coach, I have been Dealing with exercise intolerance due to Chronic Fatigue syndrome. I was wondering if you have coached anyone with these issues and found a way to workout and build some muscle without causing further issues? Thanks!

What are potential causes of your chronic fatigue?

Yeah, I wonder the same thing because it can affect my recommendations.

Thanks for your replies! I have not been given a specific reason for the diagnosis but the assumptions are that it was developed from Mono when I was younger, being put on a tricyclic antidepressant and then being taken off of it without being weaned off and getting sick from it (about 7 years ago now), and / or chronic stress from diagnosed Obsessive Compulsive Disorder that was very stressful on my body before I was diagnosed and given therapy techniques / medication to help cope. It could be any of the above or a combination.

If you’re working to cope with it versus working to treat it, it’s going to be much harder to reach your goals than if you can identify and treat the root cause first. But obviously coping is important until you can treat it.

In times of high stress I’ve found a 3x/week push/pull/legs split to be easiest to adhere to and stay motivated with.

First, I’m only training 3x/week, so there’s lots of time for recovery. Second, I find it less mentally draining to be focused on complimentary muscle groups on the same day. At first I thought that 1x/week was too little and that I’d lose strength between sessions, but that’s not the case. I’ve actually continued to progress even with low frequency.

Here’s what yesterday’s pull day looked like. I’m also using a few more machines than usual since they’re easier to load and set up.

  1. Machine Row: 1x10-12, 1x6-8
  2. Kneeling 1-Arm Lat Pulldown: 1x10-12, 1x6-8
  3. Cable Reverse Fly: 2x10-15
  4. Incline Hammer Curl: 2x6-8
  5. Hanging Leg Raise: 2xAMAP

That’s it. All sets listed taken to failure. I have cleans on leg day so upper back gets hit again and sometimes I’ll throw in curls on leg day too.

Pretty simple, but it works.

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Thanks for the reply! “Cope” wasn’t the best use of word. My therapy has helped me improve a lot and is helping me treat my OCD.

As for the training, thank you for the explanation and sample program. However, I have found lately I can’t even workout 3 times a week without feeling the crash.

This is a great question!

Based on some, though limited, professional experience of this syndrome - I am thinking a well thought out balance of low volume, low intensity and moderate frequence would be a method for evaluation. Probably a body split into short workouts.

Exactly how this theory is put into practice, is where the coaches here come in. I am most interested to hear how Christian responds to this. There must be a great variety in personal tolerance, which is why there should be room for a trial and error approach.

If it’s that bad then you might even consider doing the bare minimum to maintain your mass so your system can recover. A single full body workout every 5 days is probably enough for maintenance.

I’ve got this Fitness Watch that monitors my heart rate. And it has this little “Stress Bar” where it shows changes in my heart rate (Heart Rate Variability) on a graph.

After an easy workout my heart rate might increase a few beats, showing my system is “stressed.” And and the needle will move on my little stress bar on my watch.

If I overdo it and mess myself up in the gym there will be a bigger disruption to my heart rate, and my watch will show that I’m “stressed.”

After a few meals and a night or two of sleep my heart rate returns to normal and my watch shows my “stress” returning to normal. Then I know I’m ready to workout again, without rushing back into the gym and overloading my system.

So by keeping track of how much work I do in the gym and following this little Stress Bar I can figure a pretty reliable “base line” of how much lifting to do. This helped me skip the trail and error (how much to lift and how often) when I was adjusting to a new program and style of training.

Maybe you could use some kind of fitness tracker to help figure out how much exercise you can tolerate. Then once you know that you could do a little bit less than that for awhile to build yourself up.

Hope your doing better now I just want to tell you I really feel you because I face the same issue but I have been in the lifting scene for like 15+ years

Back then I did everything you could imagine with to much volume to much HIT to much pre workout drinks I had a great physique with feeling healthy for a while then everything fell apart from stress levels to restless sleep to lowering my food intake you name it I went down the sink

Have been doing my best to see my recovery the days I workout I don’t sometimes sleep that good and on rest days it’s better try to do your best with sleep,Diet,and doing something that is more enjoyable I don’t think there is a Golden split or a workout that could ease these issues you sometimes have to face your own Head and fight your Anxiety try to play with your mind and see how it goes

And wanted to ask the peeps here if one is under a lot of stress and have these issues and will be in the gym how should he approach his split fo the best recovery and not stressing the body that much is it
FULL Body
Upper/Lower
Push/pull/legs

Does each one of these splits effect you neurologically if your under stress

Thanks

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Thanks to everyone for the replies! I definitely notice I am worse when my heart rate goes up during the workout. If I can control my heart rate I have a better chance of recovering and not crashing.

Bumping to give CT a chance to see these responses. Any input would be much appreciated!

Hi Coach, I just wanted to set up a new thread to give you a chance to see my question before it got lost in the shuffle. On the last thread you said you needed some more info before answering so I just wanted to put it all in one place for you. I have been Dealing with exercise intolerance due to Chronic Fatigue syndrome. I was wondering if you have coached anyone with these issues and found a way to workout and build some muscle without causing further issues? I was diagnosed and the assumptions are that it was developed from Mono when I was younger, being put on a tricyclic antidepressant and then being taken off of it without being weaned off and getting sick from it (about 7 years ago now), and / or chronic stress from diagnosed Obsessive Compulsive Disorder that was very stressful on my body before I was diagnosed and given therapy techniques / medication to treat it. It could be any of the above or a combination.

Anything that gets my heart rate up too high causes me to “crash” with post exercise malaise.

Any input would be great appreciated. Thanks for all you do!

Hi Coach (and/or anyone who can help), I was just wondering if you have experience working with someone with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. I am looking for a way to strength train / build muscle with this issue. I have been Dealing with exercise intolerance due to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. I was diagnosed and the assumptions are that it was developed from Mono when I was younger, being put on a tricyclic antidepressant and then being taken off of it without being weaned off and getting sick from it (about 7 years ago now), and / or chronic stress from diagnosed Obsessive Compulsive Disorder that was very stressful on my body before I was diagnosed and given therapy techniques / medication to treat it. It could be any of the above or a combination.

Anything that gets my heart rate up too high causes me to “crash” with post exercise malaise.

I have been lifting for about 12 years and do have a good strength base and a good amount of muscle built, but as time has gone on i have had to strength train less and less due to my chronic fatigued syndrome getting worse.

Any input would be great appreciated. Thanks!

Ask/Repost to the Christian THibadeau subforum -he is familiar with this kind of thing and has lots of good tips

Personally off the top of my head something with limited volume and not to failure, like this below might be of help…

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I get that you want answers, but three different threads in three weeks all asking the same thing, harassing Thibaudeau into answering (which is what “bumping” is considered), and overlooking the other replies you’ve gotten isn’t cool. At all.

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Ah balls, hate it when that happens! :imp:

CT posted on the thread saying he wanted some more information before giving his answer and then a few other people wrote responses so I was only making the new thread so that he would be able to see it and it wouldn’t get lost in the shuffle. I wouldn’t call that harassing. If he never responded at all I would understand your point. Also, I responded to everyone else who commented on the thread so not sure what you mean by overlooking them. Another user even said that he’d like CT’s input as well.

I posted in Jim’s forum because I was asking another coach if they had experience with the issue. Didn’t realize that was a problem either. If Jim or CT had their own website with a forum then it would be me posting to two different coaches. It just so happens they’re both under the T Nation forum umbrella.

I apologize for the misunderstanding.

Jim does, btw. It costs a little money though, so that’s probably a deterrent to many.

EDIT: I’m not trying to draw traffic away from TNation, just pointing out that if you particularly wanted to hear from Jim, you may experience success over there. He hasn’t posted on here in almost a year now. Jeez. I think he had some social media accounts (not TN) hacked or something last year, and it seems he’s maybe been easing off his online presence since then, unfortunately.

For what it’s worth, I had the same issue a while back. I couldn’t do even minor exercise without completely crashing. I thought it was from severe overtraining but it turned out that I had Lyme disease. Check it out and see if it matches your symptoms. It’s a symptom-based diagnosis by the way, Lyme blood tests are notorious for false negatives. It took about 18 months of antibiotics and I was running and lifting again.

For your information there is an extensive list of diagnoses to be ruled out before you may diagnose a patient with CFS - Lyme disease is one of them.