Shoulder-Safe Chest and Back Workout
For those of you who don’t know, back in the first week of February I injured my shoulder while bench pressing. At that point, I was able to easily put up 135 pounds for a few reps without a spotter. I had been mostly using the benches at my gym at work but ended up in my Crunch gym for that particular chest day…and I didn’t listen to my body during warmups when the weight felt heavier than usual. Turned out, I was using an unmarked heavy bar (without a spotter) and went for what I thought was 135 pounds…and it was actually 145 pounds. I managed to get the bar up to the low bar catch but not without seriously straining my right bicep and rotator cuff. Luckily I didn’t tear anything but I was in a sling for about a week and a half and could barely use my right arm without a lot of pain. Getting injured sucks, there’s no question about it. I lost a lot of hard earned muscle during my recovery, including my progress toward a bar muscle up. The silver lining? I learned my lesson…and learned a lot about shoulder health during physical therapy (not to mention my improved posture and mobility). Although hunching over a keyboard in grad school these last few months has not done me any favors in the posture and mobility departments…but I digress.
In case you haven’t been reminded lately, it’s best for your body if you check your ego at the door when you walk into the gym. It doesn’t matter how much you’re lifting compared to the person beside you, as long as you’re pushing yourself to your own limits in a SAFE way. BTW, the gym was mostly empty the day I hurt myself but I had been feeling strong and wanted to just go for it…oops.
Anyway, I was finally cleared to start lifting again in May, so I wanted to put together a workout that would incorporate some of my physical therapy exercises along with strength building exercises that wouldn’t re-aggravate my shoulder. Since a lot of that has to do with balancing your chest and back muscular development, I combined two workout programs from Bodybuilding.com along with my home PT exercise program for this month’s Workout Wednesday. Here’s what they are:
- Andy Speer’s Shoulder-Saving Chest and Back Workout
- Shaun Stafford’s Shoulder-Friendly Chest and Back Workout
- Parts of my physical therapy exercise program
What does it tell you that it was so easy to find these shoulder friendly routines?? My shoulders aren’t the only delicate ones out there, so don’t forget to take care of yours 😉
- By focusing on mobility and engaging the shoulders in a safe way, you’ll be better prepared to lift heavy while staying healthy.
- This workout is suitable for beginners and helpful for more advanced lifters. It scales easily by adding or removing weight to the exercises.
- If I’m short on time, I can easily remove one of the supersets.
- The first time you go through this workout, you’ll probably be referring back to the videos and demos quite a bit since there are several moves you probably aren’t familiar with.
- This workout is focused more on functional/mobility exercises than slinging around massive amounts of weight…for some that’s a good thing and for some it’s a bad thing.
- Going through the full warmup, workout and stretches at the end takes some time and patience. It’s worth your while to help avoid injury though!
Time Needed: Approx. 1 hr to 1 1/2 hrs
- Lacrosse ball massage
- Dynamic shoulder warmup on a foam roller
- Straight arm scissor
- Air punches
- Note: I couldn’t find a good video of this exact sequence, but this video is a good alternative if you don’t want to bounce around to 4 different videos.
- Y T W exercise – can also do this on an exercise ball if desired
- Incline batwing row hold
- Push up with hand release at bottom and scapula pushup at top
- Paused bench press – 4 sets of 8-10
- Neutral grip lat pulldown – 4 sets of 8-10
- Dumbbell incline bench press – 3 sets of 8
- Bent over barbell row – 3 sets of 8
- High cable chest fly – 3 sets of 10
- Single arm cable row – 3 sets of 8-10 per side
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