5/3/1 and Destroyed Shoulder

Hi Jim, I’ve been doing 5/3/1 for three years now. I really like the program, especially that anarchistic feeling of tweaking assistance to my goals and state of my body. Had some great success with it (especially last year, when I easy up on alcohol and started eating right).

But I fucked up, and everything went to drain. Six months ago I got into fight I could easily avoid, and because of this macho bullshit (and friends of the other guy) I ended up with - among other things - torn rotator cuff.

Doctor send me to MRI to check if it’s partial or complete but in Poland you have to wait at least six months to get this under insurance, had some problem with it and the effect is I will not know what’s going on there until February.

I regain full mobility in that arm, and started to train again couple weeks ago but it really hurts when I try any pushing movement. I tried press once and I couldn’t move my arm for couple of days. Close grip bench is better, it hurts during training, and the next day but after that there is significantly less pain.

Right now I switched press to barbell rows as a main exercises and during bench day main 531 sets are the only pushing exercise I do. But I’m really not sure if I should do that at all.

Any thoughts? Should I just throw away any pushing movements and do something else on that days (loaded carries? another squat day?). Right now I have really fucked up period in my life and I need to train. But I don’t want to make my self a cripple.

P.S. Since everyone else writes something about music… I don’t know what’s your stance on grindcore but if you by any chance be in europe during summer you really should check Obscene Extreme festival in Czech Republic. Most insane and brutal festival I ever been to. They actually doing american edition now, in Mexico but I don’t know if it’s the same

Could I rip off your dclxvi tattoo? I really like the idea of this number written in latin numbers but I don’t want to feel like I’m stealing your idea.

I just went to a sports medicine doctor regarding with rotator cuff issues too. Mine aren’t nearly as bad as yours.

This is what he’s having me do:

  • no overhead pressing at all for now
  • no bench pressing where the upper arms go any lower than parallel to the floor; higher pin presses are fine
  • take 600mg ibuprofen twice a day with food, for two weeks (to reduce the inflammation of the tendons)
  • do YTWLs for 10-15 reps throughout the day (to strengthen the rotator cuff muscles themselves) you can google how to do these; also make any adjustments necessary to avoid pain
  • do sets of 10-15 rep scapular retractions – pull shoulder blades together – throughout the day

The basic approach is:

  • to use the YTWLs and retractions as activation exercises, so that the rotator cuff muscles are called into play better when needed. This is especially important when the upper arms are parallel to the ground when [overhead] pressing, and at lockout of the press.
  • to use the anti-inflammatories to reduce the inflammation of the tendons
  • to not inflame/damage the tendons any more, by limiting some exercise selection and ROM
  • to keep lifting with everything else

Maybe that will help you some. I laid off of all lifting for 6 weeks and things didn’t get better, so this is what he’s having me do.

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, so take everything for what it is. It may not work for you and could make things worse.

Also, fair warning, if you’re currently still drinking a lot, higher-dose ibuprofen (Advil/Motrin) may not be right for you. I’d speak with a pharmacist for alternatives that are less likely to cause stomach issues. Paracetamol/acetaminophen (Tylenol) may be a better choice. It’s not as good of an ant-iinflammatory but is somewhat gentler on the stomach lining.

You have to train what is trainable (to quote Buddy Morris). What you can do and cannot do is going to be up to you - you are going to have to experiment with various exercises to see what is tolerable. This can take quite some time but anything worth a shit takes a lot of time.

Once you do that, you develop a program based on those lifts. If you can only squat, row, clean and deadlift, you are golden. Just train 2-4 days/week using those movements. The key is finding out what you can do - and only YOU know that. When I fucked up my shoulder, I just squatted, pulled, cleaned and did some rows. There were a few little things I could do but nothing of value.

Just use this time to get your legs strong as hell and then get your shoulder fixed. That’s about all you can do. Squat and pull and do whatever else you can.