Lifting Heavy with Pain

I’m finally at the point in my lifting progress where I am working HARD in my workouts. I am sweating buckets with weights alone. I have to do breathing exercises and keep a steady rhythm going. And while breathing mindfully is normal in lifting, I’m noticing there are aspects that are unique to chronic pain.

It’s a lot harder for me to regulate my breathing. And I was a professional bassoonist for 15 years so my lungs are already way better than most! I think the reason is that straining like that with my constant background pain makes my heart race a little faster, making breathing a little more erratic. When I’m at rest that background pain can easily be pushed aside for me mentally. But when I’m in the squat rack, close to maxing out, my whole body is screaming at me for so many reasons.

I’m noticing that I also can lift heavier than I do my sets but I choose to do lower weights and more reps because the pain is too overwhelming. Every now and then I will do heavier weights and less reps to mix it up and to condition my muscles to variety, but for the most part, lower weights and higher reps are going to be what I’m stuck with with my illnesses. It’s really not so bad though, lifting lower weight and higher reps is better for strength anyway. If I were looking for size, I would be more interested in the opposite. I’d like both, to be honest, but strength is most important.

I also get really winded and at times a little light headed after lifting particularly heavy. I don’t get dizzy, otherwise I wouldn’t go near weights at all because that shit is dangerous. But after my PRs in the squat rack today, for example, I was just so winded and my heart was racing so much that it took me a while to calm down enough for the next exercise. I did my sets safely and comfortably enough but I guess with pain as an added element, weight lifting becomes a cardio exercise for me too.

I’ve had so much less pain in general though! I had some minor leg flaring today and I did leg day regardless. It was also my best leg day. I did my first uninterrupted sets of deadlifts and I squatted that pesky 95lbs again. I made sure I ate plenty before my workout, I even got a nice nap, and overall I had a great fucking day. I got a tremendous nosebleed randomly before my workout though, that was gross. I had a big blood clot that was sitting up there for a while, I guess, probably from the very dry, 100 degree days we’ve been having. The clot came out and poured for a little while but once it passed, the bleeding stopped right away. And my nose is so CLEAR. Gross, huh?

I’m turning in for the night but I had a new thought about my progress so I wanted to share it. Thanks for reading 🙂

-Elle

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