PROBLEM: Nerve pain, numbness and general pain in the upper back/neck plague him. He cannot do anything that involves his upper traps, neck muscles and shoulder (oh yeah, he has a rotator cuff tear too). Just to clarify, squats with a barbell, deadlifts, farmers carries, pull ups, rows and presses… are out. And so is wearing a weight vest because it presses on the brachial nerve. Bummer.
Such is the price of Superhero-ness.
First, eating well (whole foods, LOTS of veggies, fruits and lean proteins) will be of the utmost importance when it comes to the weight management aspect. The diet (as in “style of eating”) needs to be pretty spot on. Also, eating lots of vegetables (KALE!) and fruits will help calm down the inflammation due to injuries and hopefully, help the healing process speed up a bit.
So what can Mr. Superhero do?
Well, for now, upper body training is out. Everything from the ribs up just needs to calm down for a while, then some pushups and rows can be added back in. But for now… just chill out up there.
All is not lost! We know that Mr. Superhero can’t hold any external weight (this would cause him to use his traps, neck and upper back) so bodyweight it is! Squats, single leg squats, lunges (and their variations) single leg RDLs and of course, weighted glute bridges!
Now how do we construct a workout?
A1 Weighted glute bridge or hip belt squat (see below)* 3 x 8
A2 Plank, elbows elevated (depending on shoulder) 3 x :30-60sec
B1 Single leg squat to box or step back lunge 3 x 8/side
B2 Banded Ws 3 x 15
C1 Squat iso holds (hold bottom position) 3 x 5 with :05 sec hold
C2 Single leg lowers (lie on back with both feet in the air and lower one leg at a time while keeping the low back pressed into the floor) 3 x 8/side
OR… he could do a circuit to get the heart rate up a bit.
Squat x :10 isometric hold at bottom then 10 reps
Jog in place x :30
Single leg RDL x 8/side
Ws x 15
Alternating step ups to a small box x :30
Plank x :30
Step back lunge x 8/side
3-5x through the whole thing. Rest 2-3 minutes between rounds.
The key to training around injuries (I speak from experience here) is not to focus on what you can’t do (it’ll just depress you) but zero in on what you can do. You’ll have to think outside the box a bit, but there’s always something you can do.
*this is the hip belt squat. You can stand on two aerobic steps or benches. Just make sure it’s high enough so the weight doesn’t whack into the floor.