The workout regimen for "newbies" can usually be the same one as anyone else’s. People who contracted HIV today have the additional advantage of not being exposed to the toxic drugs that once were the only way to try to prevent full-blown AIDS. "We used to treat people early and hard, with toxic drugs," Vergel said. "Now we’re treating people with better drugs that aren’t as toxic. So for the young generation, life is a little easier, and they can have an undetectable viral load and work out and move on with their lives." That said, HIV and the meds that fight its spread can bring with them side effects that impact a solid workout regimen, like joint ache, fatigue, and pain and weakness in the feet in hands. The key is learning the difference between soreness and injury. Soreness is a part of any weight training, especially at the beginning. Pain that endures and affect your daily routine means you’ve overdone it. The best cure is usually a few days off. Anyone planning on hitting the gym needs to keep safety first. Stacking the barbells with so much weight that your form is terrible won’t impress anyone. Instead, concentrate on low-impact workouts: more reps, less weight, which focuses on gaining muscle tone. Fatigue is another potential side effect of HIV and its attendant meds. A jolt of caffeine may be enough to get you going. Aside from a Starbucks grande, there are plenty of "energy drinks" whose basic ingredient is caffeine to give you a proverbial shot in the arm. As for supplements, Vergel recommends vitamin D. It’s key for bone density, which can help ward off workout injuries. And some HIV meds reduce the vitamin D in your body.
Whey is a great source of protein, and studies have shown it can increase the body’s production of T-cells. Many commercial protein powders use whey as their base. Taking creatine, a naturally occurring substance in the human body, in powder or pill form has become increasingly popular in recent years as a legal and effective bodybuilding supplement. But know that at least one study suggests it has no benefits for people living with HIV. You should also be aware that the Food and Drugs Administration does not regulate protein powders, energy drinks and supplements. A controversial new comprehensive study found that many supplements not only contain only trace amounts of what is claimed on the label, but also some contain none at all and some even contain substances that are harmful.
Because of possible interactions with meds and for a host of other reasons, all pozzers need to consult their doctors before using any supplement. And, even if you’re healthy and your viral load is undetectable, you should probably still discuss it if you haven’t lifted weights for a long time. Chances are, your doctor will probably encourage you, because he knows that most people cannot only weight train safely and effectively but also derive a host of benefits from it, physical and mental. Today, there’s no reason why having HIV should prevent having the body you want.