Can Zoloft affect strength output somehow? Can Zoloft affect strength output somehow?

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Thread: Can Zoloft affect strength output somehow?

  1. #1
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    Default Can Zoloft affect strength output somehow?

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    I'm not sure if I've asked about this before, but I've been grappling with the conundrum of my really bad strength to bodymass ratio, and this seems to be the only factor I can come up with, other than the possibility of having just naturally REALLY bad levels of neuromuscular efficiency (which I can't really do anything about if that's the issue). I have seen and experienced evidence of a "slowdown" on this medication. I actually came across an admittedly small study that showed SVJ differences between people on zoloft and a control group were very noticeable. Again though, it was a small study, and they didn't seem to measure SVJ before zoloft was administered, which I would have liked to have also seen.

  2. #2
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    Height/Weight/Age/Sex/Lifts (SQ/BP/P/DL/Chins)?

  3. #3
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    6'2"/300 pounds/36/M

    Best sets on the main lifts were:
    Squat 295x5
    Bench 230x5
    Overhead press (seated, since I train in my basement right now) 140x5
    Deadlift 380x5

    Even though I weigh 300, no one thinks I LOOK like I weigh 300. That and really just cursory examination tells me I probably am not at this weight due to an abundance of bodyfat. There's some there, but the total's got to be 25% at the very highest.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by CommanderFun View Post
    I'm not sure if I've asked about this before, but I've been grappling with the conundrum of my really bad strength to bodymass ratio, and this seems to be the only factor I can come up with, other than the possibility of having just naturally REALLY bad levels of neuromuscular efficiency (which I can't really do anything about if that's the issue). I have seen and experienced evidence of a "slowdown" on this medication. I actually came across an admittedly small study that showed SVJ differences between people on zoloft and a control group were very noticeable. Again though, it was a small study, and they didn't seem to measure SVJ before zoloft was administered, which I would have liked to have also seen.
    I have not read the study you mention, nor have I seen other studies show association with worse strength or other outcomes. I also can't think of a rationale for how sertraline or other SSRI could impair strength, unless someone finds a specific medication sedating or had other physiologic side effects that would have the downstream effect of cutting into your gains (say it reduced appetite and therefore calorie intake, for example).

    You don't mention why you are taking the zoloft, but it is usually prescribed for depression and/or anxiety. It is well-known and frequently reported (though not exactly studied) that untreated depression and anxiety can interfere with motivation, energy, consistency of habit, etc., so generally I would think that zoloft would actually help your gains. If it was doing its job to help treat depression and anxiety.

    To determine if there is a physiologic interference with your training, you could try stopping it for 2-3 days to see if you notice a training effect, as it would be out of your body by then. Whether you want to try that or not, and how/when to approach it, is between you and your prescriber. If you found that it indeed was causing a problem, you could try an alternate SSRI, as we often see different meds in this family have different efficacy and side effects on individuals.

    It's probably more likely that you can adjust your programming, diet, rest, ie the usual suspects, to get back to making progress.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by CommanderFun View Post
    6'2"/300 pounds/36/M

    Best sets on the main lifts were:
    Squat 295x5
    Bench 230x5
    Overhead press (seated, since I train in my basement right now) 140x5
    Deadlift 380x5

    Even though I weigh 300, no one thinks I LOOK like I weigh 300. That and really just cursory examination tells me I probably am not at this weight due to an abundance of bodyfat. There's some there, but the total's got to be 25% at the very highest.
    It sounds like you have an even bodyfat distribution, which is likely why most don't perceive you as a 300 lb man. Keep in mind too that being taller you are going to have to work harder to get those ratios up vs someone who is several inches shorter. I think you can probably go down to 275 and still perform just fine but yes the heavier you are the more challenging the ratios are to achieve due to the sheer absolute load. If you want to put your mind at ease get a DXA done and look at your strength:LBM ratio. Your numbers aren't bad at all especially for a taller male. There is room for improvement for sure but this isn't terrible by any means. Are you still adding weight to the bar?

  6. #6
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    I'm not adding at LP rates anymore, no. I have to err on the side of caution with my squat since I don't have any safety setup. So when I very nearly lost a rep due to exhaustion, I decided that would be it for pushing the twice weekly PRs. Deadlift was absolutely not going up to 385. I was at the point where I was alternating it with power cleans and pulldowns (no setup for chins, plus I don't even know if I can at this weight), and that was as far as I could get it. I was never able to get the power clean very high, the best I could manage performing it correctly was 125 (this is another thing that makes me wonder if something weird is going on neurologically). Both pressing motions MIGHT have been able to go up for a week or two if I shrank the jumps down really small, but I decided to go intermediate with them along with everything else. I pulled the trigger on finally concluding the taper off the zoloft at the end of last week (been doing this slowly for months now), and there's minor withdrawals, but they get real bad when I lift, so I've kind of been in a "holding pattern" this week. I'm trying to keep the per workout stress under tolerance levels with a 4 day a week schedule, with one main lift per day done at my usual volume load, but only for 3 sets of 5. Hopefully they will fade in time to pick back up training normally in the next week. If not, I'll keep doing this until I'm good to resume training up.

    I know for bigger guys strength to body mass ratio goals are harder to hit. But I don't think I've set mine too high. It seems to me from what I've read LP should end with at least squat and deadlift loads being in excess of bodyweight.

  7. #7
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    Can you describe the withdrawals during your workouts? Any videos of these lifts? Are you training with bumpers??

    As for the ratio, it depends on body composition. I would expect more out of you at your body weight but without seeing the actual lift or knowing how your diet composition looks it's hard to say. Hopefully the med stops messing with you to eliminate that variable

  8. #8
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    The best way I can describe it is as a greatly reduced stress tolerance. When I tried starting my volume day workout last saturday every squat set took my mood off a cliff. It's like the neurological stress of heavy lifting was leaving me extremely depressed and irritable for no good reason. Eventually I was starting to shake a bit too. No videos of the lifts this week. If you meant in general, here's one of my corrected lighter weight power cleans from October. Here I was still working with deliberate slow acceleration out of the bottom. For reference, I was about 280 pounds when this was recorded.



    I do not train with bumpers, I use an old iron home gym set in my basement. I was able to do a pair of deadlift sets today without too much issue. I'm hoping maybe Saturday I'll be able to pick back up, and when I'm clear of withdrawals I'll be able to coax a bit more oomph out of my muscles, because everything has just seemed so sluggish this whole time.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by CommanderFun View Post
    I have seen and experienced evidence of a "slowdown" on this medication. I actually came across an admittedly small study that showed SVJ differences between people on zoloft and a control group were very noticeable. Again though, it was a small study, and they didn't seem to measure SVJ before zoloft was administered, which I would have liked to have also seen.
    Quote Originally Posted by CommanderFun View Post
    I pulled the trigger on finally concluding the taper off the zoloft at the end of last week (been doing this slowly for months now), and there's minor withdrawals, but they get real bad when I lift, so I've kind of been in a "holding pattern" this week. I'm trying to keep the per workout stress under tolerance levels with a 4 day a week schedule, with one main lift per day done at my usual volume load, but only for 3 sets of 5. Hopefully they will fade in time to pick back up training normally in the next week. If not, I'll keep doing this until I'm good to resume training up.
    I'm not aware (and on a quick search couldn't find) the study you mention about sertraline and SVJ. I don't know of a mechanism why sertraline or any SSRI would interfere with strength or performance, except that on occasion some people will find these types of medications sedating. In that case taking them at bedtime solves the problem. I doubt that's your situation: if taking the medication knocked you out directly after taking it, this becomes obvious and you would not be wondering about it.

    You don't mention why you were taking the sertraline. It's not necessary to disclose anything here, but the usual indications would be depression and/or anxiety. It is well known that depression and anxiety can interfere with energy, motivation, consistency of habit, sleep, diet/appetite, and any number of other things that can then interfere with training progress. In that case, the barriers to training progress would be the usual suspects discussed around here. I have more often seen that medications like sertraline are helpful in training: not that they make you stronger, but that they allow you to show up for your training.

    Since you have taken the step of coming off the sertraline, you should know already or soon whether it was really the culprit, as the drug leaves your body within a few days. There can be withdrawals, as you mention, but they are in the category of annoying, not dangerous, and should continue to taper off as you get farther from having taken the drug.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by CommanderFun View Post
    6'2"/300 pounds/36/M

    Best sets on the main lifts were:
    Squat 295x5
    Bench 230x5
    Overhead press (seated, since I train in my basement right now) 140x5
    Deadlift 380x5

    Even though I weigh 300, no one thinks I LOOK like I weigh 300. That and really just cursory examination tells me I probably am not at this weight due to an abundance of bodyfat. There's some there, but the total's got to be 25% at the very highest.
    The doctor wonít tell you this but if you look up Zoloft and weight gain there are a lot of people that have experienced that. Maybe it makes them hungry, I donít know.

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