Working out with a shoulder injury

This is a great example of what to do with an injury. I could sit back and just say that with my lame shoulder I “Can’t” workout, nope! Do what you can! First lets look at what I was doing before I lost use of my shoulder:

Weights Cardio
Monday 60min chest workout & abs indoor cycle 1hr
Tuesday 60min lat workout swim 1hr
Wednesday 60min shoulder workout run
Thursday 60min arm workout & abs swim 1hr
Friday 60min leg workout heavy indoor cycle 1hr
Saturday swim 1hr

Now lets cross out the things that the doctor has forbidden me to do:

Weights Cardio
Monday 60min chest workout & abs indoor cycle 1hr
Tuesday 60min lat workout swim 1hr
Wednesday 60min shoulder workout run
Thursday 60min arm workout & abs swim 1hr
Friday 60min leg workout heavy indoor cycle 1hr
Saturday swim 1hr

Hmmm, doesnt look good. So where does that leave me? Well for cardio, although I cant swim, I can still run and bike – thats fine, I can just alternate days with that. Now with workouts, technically speaking I cant do arms but I know that I can do biceps without activating my shoulders at all so thats fine. I think I can find a triceps exercise that doesnt use any shoulder. Chest is completely out of the question. Lats technically I shouldnt do but, I think I might be able to do those without activating any shoulder also. So where does that leave me? Lets take a look at my modified workout to avoid exacerbating my shoulder problem:

My Non-Shoulder Workout Schedule:

Weights Therapy Cardio
Day 1 60mi quads and abs Shoulder PT cycle
Day 2 60min calves (and lats?) Shoulder PT run
Day 3 60min hamstrings and abs Shoulder PT cycle
Day 4 60min biceps Shoulder PT run
Day 5 60min triceps and abs Shoulder PT cycle


Looks like Scooby is going to be doing lots of legs and abs!!!!! Use injuries to focus on other body parts that you may have neglected in the past. Your injury might be the best thing that has ever happened to your physique :) Before I did legs on one day, now I have spread them out onto three different days, I’m not going to be able to walk!

16 thoughts on “Working out with a shoulder injury”

  1. disqus_h44lvydsOO

    Scooby, can you give a brief timeline of your shoulder injury and its progression or regression?

  2. hey scooby may be old post i injured my trap looks like ill be doing this kind of excerise too. you think i could do legs or know. thx for the help

  3. I'm wondering so your doctor told you not to do pushups either? I was told those are ok for exercising the scapula* shoulder blades *. Yikes I've been doin those with no rotator cuff inflammation you might want to just try that out. My circumstances are different I cannot put my arms down like in a reverse pushup position. It will feel good for a couple of workouts maybe for two days but then after healing for two days I have inflammation and I absolutely cant put my arms down again.

    I'm really anxious to see if it works out for you so far its been two weeks of just doing what you recommended my PT and also this


  4. Scooby, I'm 32 and going thru the same Rotator Cuff issue and being like most guys, ignored the early signs of the injury. Thankfully, I have learned a valuable lesson and I'm much more aware of my form.
    The MRI indicated possible partial tear, which technically can heal thru P.T. Let's hope it works.
    Thanks for putting up your modified workout routine, because I'm certainly going to give it a try.

    Wishing you a speedy recovery and take good care of yourself.

    Huge fan!
    Santa Clara, California.

    PS: You have been such a positive source of inspiration and knowledge in my life and I'm sure hundreds of thousands of individuals feel the same way. I hope you know what an incredible job you are doing and the countless lives you have touched.

  5. For hamstrings you can also do back extensions and good mornings. And when you are really tired you can do some leg press with feet high on the pad.

  6. I got injured in martial arts about 3 months ago and my right knee has had problems since. I am actually getting surgery in a few days to see if they can hopefully fix the problem. In the meantime I realized that I totally sucked at push ups and had a weak chest. So since then I've been really hitting a lot more on my chest, biceps, triceps etc and it's helped a bunch!

  7. Also I got myself a shoulder injury. Probably not as bad as yours since I can do slow push ups.

    But I can do Dumbbell presses and raises only with 1/4 or so of my pre-injury weight. Great for rehab, but useless for muscle development.

    What kind triceps/biceps are you doing to isolate-out the shoulders?

    thanks :-)


  8. @Arnar well for hamstrings I can do stiff legged deadlifts and hamstring curls – for 60 minutes. I'll just alternate, it will be interesting.

    As far as how to do lats without activating shoulders, maybe I'm fooling myself but I seem to be good at fully relaxing everything and pulling with the lats. A big part of it is in holding the shoulders stationary and in the fully-extended "hanging" portion of the pullup, not to allow gravity to dislocate your shoulders – use the lats to hold them motionless.

  9. Now you are just doing the same amount of leg work as I do every week ;)

    60min of quads will give you some serious doms especially if you do a lot of squats. But what hamstrings workouts can you do other than leg curl? Does your shoulder allow you to do stiff leg?

    There is one other thing i'm interested in. How are you going to workout your lats without activating your shoulder?

  10. Hey Scoob. Ok, suffered from the same problem. And yes, did quite the same exercises. More than that, I found out that running IS fun when you run at a normal paste. I suffer from shoulder and puls problem that cannot be operated, so yes, I could give up, but instead I'm using elastic bands and they give me all I need wothout killing my joints.
    I used two types up untill now, those from the Decathlon store (a huge sports supermarcet we have in Europe) and the SUCK. And those of the American SPRI. The SPRI are really good, but they can't give you too much resistance after some point. I read about the Bodylastics and they seem ok, never tried them though. But some famous footbal Player claims to train with tham.
    Brrrr, that's too long :-). Anyway, I belive in the elastics.

  11. Good on ya Scoob. No excuses. I'm sure you're aware of this but also they say if you keep training your legs hard with an upper body injury for example, the release of growth hormones or whatever helps to maintain your overall size anyway.

  12. Looks good Scoob, and I like the spirit.
    I have worked myself out of a bad lowerback situation over a period of 2 years. Your site have helped me a lot.
    Specialist said I could never workout or even walk normal anymore. I have proof them wrong

  13. Great! I'll just use scooby's schedule because I'm too lazy to make one myself. Plus Scooby is a professional so this is awesome even though I'm sure I won't last that long but I'll try.

  14. Hi Scooby, thanks a lot for all the great quality material on your different sites. I'm a huge fan. One thing I couldn't find though: your opinion on keeping training logs… Danke schoen!

  15. Scooby- I’ve been reading you for a few weeks and you’re really helping me fill holes in my understanding of how fitness/ bodybuilding and nutrition work. Now you’re inspiring me to find ways to workout around my dislocated rib (happened unrelated to working out). Keep it up man. I dig it!

  16. Scooby I admire your positivity and no excuse mindset here…I know tons of people who in your circumstance would give up and stray away from fitness. You however still try and make the best of your situation. You truly prove that life is not what happens to you, its how you react to what happens to you. Great inspiration.

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