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Strength Loss Without Atrophy

Wesley Pittman

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Wesley Pittman


I'm looking for a little help from the community about overcoming medical issues affecting training.

I joined the GBST community way back in 2016 and saw phenomenal progression once I started doing the exercises, especially the mobility work which I terribly needed. In early 2017, I had a really strange health incident that still hasn't been adequately diagnosed. The first day I noticed it I was doing my push up progression (in February) and realized it was incredibly difficult to get the 5 lbs weight overhead for my Xiaopeng. The next day I was crazy sore, like way more sore than I had ever been before from just doing the Foundation exercises. Both of these things were weird because I was on the planche push-up progression and at that time I was able to do large sets of regular push-ups (like 4x45). 

I started working out less frequently because I wasn't recovering. I then noticed that the reps and sets I was capable of doing started dropping which was really scary. My bicep insertion points at the elbow became wildly tight all the time and I felt soreness throughout my whole body. By June things were really dire, and I had stopped working out entirely. I had a lot of bloodwork done - no meningitis, no Hep A, nothing they could find on the panels that was really to notable. I saw an oncologist, rheumatologist, GI doctor, and a sports medicine doctor. Eventually, the rheumatologist did hit something. I have some auto-immune conditions with a gene called HLA B27 which can cause reactive arthritis and a condition called ankylosing spondylitis. 

It took about a year-in-a-half for me to get to the point that I could start regularly using the GBST programming and actually recover from the workouts in a reasonable time. By then I was way back on my progressions - weaker than I ever remember being as an adult and I had lost all of my mobility gains. As of today, February 2021, my health has "recovered" to the point that I feel I'm at about 80% of where I was prior. I'm further back on the progressions and have less mobility, but I recover from workouts and can still do most of the activities and sports I enjoy - albeit perhaps at a slightly reduced level. 

In the midst of all of this, I really didn't experience any atrophy. Body weight when I started Thrive in 2016 was 158 and I'm still pretty close to that today. I'm inclined to believe that the condition has something to do with the auto-immune or perhaps even - scary to say it out loud - neurological conditions.

I'm committing myself to reinvestigating the issue to make sure I understand it as best as possible. I've also "started fresh" with my GBST training and recommitted to "beginner's mind" with it. I have a lot of unhelpful narratives and baggage from the experience that have probably subconsciously sabotaged me from making progression additionally because I've believed that something is fundamentally wrong with me which may translate into a self-fulfilling prophecy. 

I'm reaching out to the community because I'm committed to my GBST programming and health. I want to see if there is anybody that has had similar experience or may have ideas about this health problem that could help me continue to regain my physical strength and continue with progression using GBST. Any resources to consult are welcome! I plan to investigate this further and share whatever knowledge I gain for GBST posterity in case anybody else encounters a challenge like this.

Thank you so much for your help!

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