Working Around Injuries

Everyone gets injured at one time or another, and more active people tend to get injured more. Because you read my section on avoiding injury, you didn’t get injured by doing anything stupid in the weight room.  Part of bodybuilding is learning how to train around injuries, if I avoided the gym every time I had an injury I would only train 10 months a year.

Don’t give up, do what you can!!

Doing what you can helps your recover faster and can reduce or eliminate muscle loss. OK, so you’ve been injured and gone to the doctor.  Because you read my section on what to do after an injury before you went to the doctor you have discussed with them what you can and can’t safely do at the gym, my suggestions below are generalities so make sure and follow your doctors advice!

Injured PartPossible ExercisesCardio you can probably do
Foot, AnkleAll upper body exercises and abs,
Possibly hamstring curls, possibly leg extensions.
Possibly electostimulation
Hand-bike. Possibly swimming, or stationary bike
KneeAll upper body exercises and abs
Possible hamstring curls, possibly calve raises.
Possibly electostimulation
Hand-bike. Possibly swimming, or stationary bike
Hand, Wrist, ElbowChest: pec deck (where pads press against biceps/triceps)
Back: hands free pull-ups done using hanging ab straps.
Arms: Possibly electostimulation
Legs: all lower body exercises
Jogging, stationary bike. Possibly swimming.
ShoulderLegs: all lower body exercises
Possibly electostimulation
Stationary bike, elliptical machine. Possibly jogging.


The trickiest injury to work around is a shoulder injury because all upper body exercises use the shoulder, for this you really need to work with a physical therapist to keep from aggravating your injury.  If you get injured, view it as an opportunity to focus on some body part you have neglected. Below is a video showing how you can work around a hand or wrist injury. No situation is identical. You need to be creative in your thinking and ask yourself how you can work out the target muscle without putting any strain on the injury. Walk around the gym looking at all the machines and ask yourself how they might be used for your purpose, for example, if you have a broken hand could you find a way to adapt the leg curl machine to do hands-free biceps curls? Put on your thinking cap and don’t give up!


If you have a gym membership you have a lot of options for working around injuries. Lets take a hand or elbow injury for example. For chest you can use this machine:
working out chest with hand injuries

Or if you want to workout shoulders with a hand injury you are pretty much out of luck if all you have is a set of dumbbells but at the gym you have this machine that lets you workout shoulders without any strain at all on the hand, wrist, or elbow:

workout out shoulders with hand injury

If you have a hand, wrist or elbow injury and workout at home you are pretty much out of luck but if you have a gym membership there are a kazillion machines you can use to do legs. For many injuries, moving plates is not possible so the selectorized machines are a godsend. For example, here are a leg extension machine and a leg press machine that you can easily do with an arm injury:

workout legs with hand injury

workout legs with hand injury