Starting strength and Ehlers Danlos Syndrome Starting strength and Ehlers Danlos Syndrome

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Thread: Starting strength and Ehlers Danlos Syndrome

  1. #1
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    Default Starting strength and Ehlers Danlos Syndrome

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    First off, I searched the board, and only found one thread mentioning EDS but there was no information in it, only someone doing some oddball program and Mark asking if he had even read the book. I'm going to add a bit of background here and get to my question and I am hoping Mark himself will respond, and if anyone else has anything to pitch in I would love to hear it.

    I have Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (EDS) of what I believe to be the classical type. In short my body doesn't properly make collagen and as a result my soft tissues, skin, tendons, ligaments, etc, are weaker than normal. I bruise very easily and often find joints feeling 'out of place'. Thankfully I am more on the mild end of things, I don't suffer the horrors youll read about if you look up EDS on the net, but I have dislocated both shoulders a few times, most recently in March at a metal show (just got smashed the wrong way in the shoulder from behind with my arm extended.. not fun.. made it back from the hospital for the headliner though) Doctors told me not to lift weights at all as a child (I was 12~ when I was diagnosed). There is basically no information on working out with EDS, as patients vary considerably. In any case, like many people here, I've given the finger to the doctors and I am working on strength training.

    I began in March with the SL5x5 and since then I have put on 35lbs and am upto 165lbs going from probably 10% upwards of 20% bf. Ive been working out at home without a rack so Ive had to sub in power/squat cleans to front sqauts for my squatting. I've been eating about 3500-4k cals a day. Now, when I started I couldn't squat my own body weight, I was actually crippled for about a week with doms, and each time I would squat I would seem to overly strain part of my quad or my glute and so on. Id say it took about a month before I was able to actually squat 3x a week and start adding weight. I believe that EDS affects my muscle strength to some degree. Even though I've put on a considerable amount of weight, my lifts havent increased by a very large degree,
    front squat: 0-95lbs (including the clean)
    bench: 30-80
    row: 30-80
    deadlift: 80-180
    ohp: 20-55

    Even though I have not been doing the program, my weight gain is in line with the program, however my strength gains are very far removed from what a healthy male of my age should have been able to accomplish. At the moment the 80lb bench is very tough.

    I guess my question is, do you think its simply the fact that I have not added in the extra 2000cals a day that has limited my strength progress, even though I have put on the mass (lbm and fat)?? Have you ever worked with anyone with this 'illness'? Like I said I am fairly certain it affects the actual strength of my muscles to a degree, but I try to ignore it and move forward.

    Having now read the book, I am going to begin the full SS program including adding ~2/3 gallon of whole milk to my already 3500~ cal diet which will put me up to about 5300cals, and join a real gym so I can low bar backsquat and do the SS program as intended. I plan to deload to about 60% of my current lifts and start in at the gym, but I don't see myself being able to add 10lbs a workout to the squat or 5lbs to the other lifts each workout - I will attempt it.. but is the extra 2-3k cals of milk really going to be the answer?

    All of this said, my joint health is my #1 priority, and while I try to increase the weights as I can, exercises like the bench press especially, I refrain from doing so if my last workout didnt go 100% smoothly. I know that soft tissue strength should be building at the same time, but I know my soft tissues are compromised because of my illness.

    Any advice would be great

  2. #2
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    It seems to me that a guy with a condition such as yours would take extra care to do the program correctly, including the use of the proper equipment so that your delicate connective tissues don't get injured. Until you are equipped to train properly, i.e. squatting properly out of a rack, I see no point in 5300 calories. But I think that proper training may allow you to eventually mitigate most of the instability and reduce your chances of injury over the long run.

  3. #3
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    Would be great if you posted a log so we could follow your progress. congrats on your efforts.

  4. #4
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    Thanks for the quick response.

    You'll have to forgive me, I did not know of the program when I had started. Believe me, taking care is my #1 priority. While I have not had perfect equipment, I have done my best to ensure my form is as best as I possibly can make it, making adjustments to what I was doing as I read through your book further and making sure I have no joint pain or soreness whatsoever. While I don't have an olympic set, the only thing that I am currently held back on has been the squat, which I do realize is a big factor, and is one I am remedying in the near future. For the record, I feel a lot more solid and my joints more stable since I have started lifting, especially my shoulders, and the only lift that causes me any issue of any sort is the bench press when my form degrades. Often I just rerack the bar as soon as the breakdown occurs, regardless of the reps.

    This is why I am somewhat hesitant with the increasing of the weights in the manner you specify in the book; I realize there is a "go for it you may surprise yourself with what you can lift" aspect, but at the same time I feel like (if my muscles aren't weakened as a result of the syndrome) perhaps it is the connective tissue itself that needs the most regeneration time, and that perhaps that will be my limiting factor more than anything. Can my connective tissue handle the same ramp up in stress as a normal person? I would think not, and I don't want to be lifting with the tendons rather than the muscle so-to-speak.

    Nonetheless, I am going to get in a real gym using the proper equipment, jump onto the larger calorie surplus and start doing the program as you have laid out. I am just wondering if you have any input on the loading of weights for someone in my condition - if I should halve the weight increases for instance or what you may have done with others with other joint or connective tissue issues. I don't want to sell myself short at the moment, but I really don't feel like I will be able to sustain the same strength increases as a 'normal' person. I mean my weight gain seems to be on par with someone who has increased their strength by about double what I have, so this leads to some of my doubts in my strength, even though I realize I have not been doing the program. And while I realize I have not been on the program entirely as you specify, the time period I have been training and my weight gains seem in line with what you speak of, but my strength gains are grossly out of proportion.

    Can switching to the proper back squat and the caloric surplus truly be the key missing with my strength gains?

  5. #5
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    If your bodyfat% is accurate, you've gained 15 pounds of LBM and 20 pounds of fat, not the typical result of this program. Why? Because front squats do not work in this program. EDS aside, do the program correctly, as it is meticulously described in both books, and stop trying to be special.

  6. #6
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    They were estimates, crude ones, probably closer to 15% but nonetheless I see your point. I am not trying to be special, but I am not the same as your normal average male by a long shot. Special, no, different, yes. I realize you've worked with tons of people who've thought they don't have the strength so you're quick to doubt my claims, but I truly believe mine is compromised because of the EDS (I dont have the same muscle tone, elasticity and so on). Just to give you an idea my knees have bruises from the bar simply rubbing over them as I deadlift, and there are bruises on my delts from catching the bar in the clean position. No pain no gain right?

    Anyway I am going to give it a shot, as described exactly, that is my intention and that's why I am here. I like your attitude and I'll refrain from casting doubt on myself from this point forward and will be back if and when I come to the point that I cannot add weight to the bar as described in the book, or something else goes horribly wrong, and I suppose I'll update the thread as I progress for anyone else who stumbles upon your website with EDS.

    Thanks Mark.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by EDSweakling View Post
    I realize you've worked with tons of people who've thought they don't have the strength so you're quick to doubt my claims, but I truly believe mine is compromised because of the EDS (I dont have the same muscle tone, elasticity and so on).
    You have not done the fucking program. That is all.

  8. #8
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    I train with someone with EDS, she is doing ok, no injuries yet after about 7 months on SS. She benches about 85, SQ about 160 (not full depth though due to knee issues related to EDS) and deads 135, OHP 55. She doesn't want to gain weight though (she's a girly girl) so she is not seeing big strength gains but some.

  9. #9
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    I think you need to go to a proper gym, and at the very least get a training buddy, and it would be extra useful to have a coach.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Rippetoe View Post
    You have not done the fucking program. That is all.
    Thanks for the insight Rip. I just figured you might have some advice for me for proceeding through the program given that I have a legitimate medical problem that means all the shit in my body that is used to move it around is significantly weakened. I mean, doctors have told me to avoid strength training in the past, quite largely because of their ignorance, but because my shit wears down faster. I thought maybe you might advise 5/2.5lb increments over the standard 10/5 for a normal healthy male. I guess I'll use my discretion here and I'll feel how my body reacts to it and report back. I just don't want to blow out a tendon or a muscle attachment point or some shit like that because I am hammering on it trying to load on the weight no matter what.

    Quote Originally Posted by Calgacus View Post
    I train with someone with EDS, she is doing ok, no injuries yet after about 7 months on SS. She benches about 85, SQ about 160 (not full depth though due to knee issues related to EDS) and deads 135, OHP 55. She doesn't want to gain weight though (she's a girly girl) so she is not seeing big strength gains but some.
    I'm not even trying to be a sarcastic jackass here, but she is not doing the program if everything you say is true. I don't know the extent of her EDS but the book specifically states that not squatting to full depth is actually worse on the knees than squatting to full depth.. In any case, those numbers are pretty depressing for me, I guess aside from the dead

    Quote Originally Posted by tertius View Post
    I think you need to go to a proper gym, and at the very least get a training buddy, and it would be extra useful to have a coach.
    I definitely do and it is my intention. As I said, I started out a few months back without much knowledge of the book and have since read it, and I realize where my current program isnt working (even though I am still gaining weight and strength steadily) and plan to jump onto the SS program in its entirety very shortly. A training buddy is out of the question, I don't have any friends to train with, but I have considered looking up one of the SS coaches in my area just to make sure everything is spot on. To be honest with you I didn't join a gym in the first place because who wants to be the dude benching 30lbs or not even able to squat the bar? Even still at my point now where I am stronger than I ever have been an 80lb bench is fucking pathetic lol!

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