Free E-book Forum Specific Routines Muscle building and PCOS- Help

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    I have been combating PCOS for the past six years and have managed so far to lose 35kg and develop a very strong and consistent low-carb, low-glucose and fairly low-fat diet. I also don't drink, smoke or binge eat, so my lifestyle is quite healthy. My biggest battle has been finding the right exercise plan for my particular condition. Unfortunately, a major symptom of PCOS is insulin resistance, which means my muscles are constantly being eaten away, while fat continues to be stored in its place. So far I have tried all of these different forms of exercise:


    -Weight training on a circuit with high weights, low reps (I have bad knees and I found this to have little effect on loosing fat, however it did damage my knees further)

    -exercise bike (to build up my muscles in my knees after the damage was done)

    -Fast-pace walking

    -jogging 2.5km every second day (once my knees were ok again)

    -swimming 1 km three times a week

    – I also instruct yoga and pilates at my school that I teach once a week


    Currently I am only swimming and instructing my class as I have found that the other forms of exercise have not appeared to work for me.


    I have been doing some research and have found that doing weight work is very important for insulin resistance, as well as the cardio work, however I have been a little bit reluctant to start this again after the first time I used the gym and did high weights with low reps. I also find that if my routine is too strenuous, my blood sugar levels drop too quickly and I end up fainting. As I cannot have sugar, carbs and glucose it is difficult to take an energy supplement after or during exercise.

    I was wondering if anyone could provide me with some tips about how I could improve my exercise routine and what particular weight training I should do? I've lost most of my excess weight and am now just looking at toning as my last step to victory! Please help if you have any ideas….


    Thanks in advance! :)



    The best advise I can give you is to do “the big 7” as Darrin would call it.  Lift heavy, and train for strength (maybe some bodyweight stuff as well).  I know you said your knees were bad, and it doesn't seem like flexability is too bad for you (or at least I would assume, since you teach yoga) so your issues with your knees is one of two things.   It's very common for women to have tight IT bands.

    First, You didn't have proper form.  i've met people who swear up and down the wall that they are doing it right and know what they are doing, then, after i watch them I see a million and one small things wrong.  Unfortunately, when you are lifting heavy it's the small things that count. 

    Second, being that you have some major muscle imbalances that are effecting your knees.  This is more of a common thing than you think.  For example, if you are jogging on an incline and your feet naturally point out it tells me that you have tight calves and are putting a lot of unneccesary stress on your knee joints.  Also, it's ok for your feet to point out on a squat (I'll argue against it on a technicallity from time to time, but it's fine from a saftey standpoint) but ONLY AS LONG AS YOUR KNEES FOLLOW THE ANGLE OF YOUR TOE.  What this means is that your knees should stay behind your toe and not bow out or cave in on the lift.  This is an all too common thing that causes many knee injuries.  As a rule of thumb, if you feel pressure on your shins during a squat you aren't positioning your weight right on your feet and are more prone to injury.


    I highly recommend reading this 2 part post on LeanLifters about foam-rolling.  It should help with your posture a lot.

    /what-is-foam-rolling/    pt. 1

    /how-to-foam-roll/        pt. 2



    I'm no expert on PCOS, but agree with Cameron's comments about knee injuries.  I don't know anyone who has injured their knees by lifting heavy with proper form.  I do know people who have trashed their knees from bad form (whether lifitng heavy or not) and also from some machines.  People oftent think machines are safer but they lock you into a specific path of motion which can damage joints.

    Now, reagarding your hormones and how lifitng might impact that…  It's been shown that the hormone profile of lifting in the 4-6 rep ranges (i.e. lifting heavy enough that the max weight you can lift is 4-6 reps) and using long rest periods (like 2-3 minutes) is a different hormone profile than lifting in the 10-12 rep range with moderate rest periods (like 60 seconds).

    So you might need to experiment with each protocol for 6-8 weeks and then decide which seems to be optimal for you.

    And lastly “toning” really just means building enough muscle and losing enough fat that you “look toned” but there is no such thing as toning.  It's only fat % and muscle mass.



    Darrin said:

    I'm no expert on PCOS, but agree with Cameron's comments about knee injuries.  I don't know anyone who has injured their knees by lifting heavy with proper form.  

    I do, but they were injured to begin with, and basically re-injured, or injured more…. :)





    Thank you so much for your advice. I'm sorry I didn't mention that I later found out that I have Chondromalacia which is why my knees are so bad. I used to play basketball and I had a few bad knee injuries from that which started off the condition and gradually grew worse and was then accelerated during the time I was using the gym. I am now on anti-inflammatories for when it gets really bad. I have started correcting the alignment of my knees through the use of exercise bike and orthopaedic shoes so they shouldn't cause me too much problems now.


    I am concerned about not using correct form next time I go back to the gym as I do actually build up muscle quite quickly (it just gets eaten away quicker by my condition) so I don't want to be building up the muscles incorrectly. Unfortunately, where I live there aren’t many experts who can help me out, particularly with my conditions that I have. I thought I was using the machines correctly when I was at the gym as the trainers said it was fine and on many occasions I was told to do certain classes and found that I just simply couldn't do them because my blood sugar levels are so low that I would crash about 20mins in. They just don't seem to really understand my condition.


    I guess all I can do is to keep trying. I don't have very much further to go. I am already size 12-14 AUS so I am very close to my goal. I will definitely take your advice that you have given here and see where it takes me.


    Thank you! :)



    I definitely understand your blood sugar dilemma.  For a couple things on that dilemma:

    1.)  Look up workout routines for athletes with diabetes.  You might be able to find something worth looking into.

    2.) Warm-up WELL since you have blood sugar issues.  Same goes for your cool down. 

    3.) Try not to put yourself in a position where your head is below your waist (ie. decline bench, decline push-ups,  handstands, etc.) for any prolonged period of time.  It's one thing in yoga when you are doing a down-dog or something along those lines, but it's a bit different when it's a strenuous activity.


    As for the knees and joint issue, try taking glucosamine, around 2000mg per day.  Depending on where you are you can find it easily, or not so much.  I know of some places online to find some too, if you would like those options.  Some studies have show that taking 1000+mg of glucosamine repairs joint/ligament damage.  This is controvesial a bit though, because it's only been shown to work sparadically, not on everyone.  So it's worth a try.  Glucosamine also isn't very expensive at all either.


    Look into Darrin's E-Book in the store as well called “Solid Preformance.”  that should help supplement you in your form.  Also, I know about 6 or 7 months ago Darrin, Greg, and myself had a rather long discussion on squat form/ flexibility on the forums.  Look into that as well… /forum/specific-routines/leg-presses-for-a-while/

    (related topic that might be helpful as well: /forum/specific-routines/self-assessment-physical-and-ufgs/)

    We asl had a topic on workout nutrition, this may help with your insulin issues.  I'm not informed too much about your diet, but I feel it's worth taking a look at.  (/forum/eating-101/meal-plan-for-a-skinny-guy/)


    These are probably two of the best, most informational topics on the entire website.  Be warned, they do get a bit in depth, so comment on them if you want us to elaborate.  Other than that, hopefully it's a big help.  And good luck. Laugh

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