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5/3/1 Training for SFAS with a Shoulder Injury


I'm looking for any advice for training with or around a shoulder injury. I have no idea what the problem is but I can't bench, or press overhead without a sharp shoulder pain, and sometimes when doing pullup's or Chins I feel it there too. I'm a strong believer in Face pulls and still do them through the pain, hoping it'll have some rehab effect I guess.

I stopped training with barbells for pressing movements for a solid month, things are feeling better, but If I try to do pushups, or any pressing movement its clearly there and hinders me from going any higher in weight.

I'm leaving for SFAS in January, and this has always been my dream even since before I joined the military, and I'm not sure I can afford to miss any training session. I dialed back my volume immensely, and started resting more. I do my 5/3/1 work, and im active with rucking, running, or some type of easy and HIIT cardio typically 4 sessions a week. My strength has suffered from this injury, I can't even hold a barbell in back comfortably. and Im pretty pissed. I started eating more, resting more, and this stupid shoulder problem is driving me crazy. But I can't hold off on this career opportunity.

My numbers have decreased as such

Bench: 305 to 235 if I'm lucky.
Squat 415x5 to 315x5
Deadlift: Its stayed generally the same i'm at 505 for 6.
OHP 155x12 to 135x5

Also im 5'11", sitting around 210.

Any advice anyone?


I've never been to SFAS, but I looked into it in my younger days. I had a team leader years ago that was former SF and had two buddies that tried out. Both of my buddies were dropped due to injuries, one of them had to have surgery on his knees and was medically discharged. The injury rate in SFAS is pretty high, so my advice is as follows (which you are welcome to ignore or take with a grain of salt).

  1. Go to a doctor. You have an injury that is causing you pain when training and directly affecting your strength, it is not a minor strain. If you ignore it and go to SFAS with this issue unresolved, you stand a good chance of damaging yourself permanently. I'm a former 11B, so I am very familiar with training through the pain and now have scar tissue inside my left ankle that has caused me pain off and on for 18 years I also have two vertebrae bolted together.

  2. When this injury is properly evaluated by a medical professional, properly rehabbed and properly healed, get the book "Get Selected" by Major Joe Martin. He's been there, done that and specifically wrote a book on how to physically prepare for SFAS.

  3. When following the program Major Martin laid out forget about 5/3/1 and how much you can lift. No disrespect to Mr. Wendler's excellent program, but he does not specifically train people for SFAS and would probably agree you should defer to a subject matter expert who has already designed a program for it.

Good luck.


Also, if you cannot overhead press without pain, how do you think you are going to be able to handle the log PT?


It sounds like you've torn something in your rotator cuff. Possibly a complete tear if you can't bear to even hold a barbell on your back.

To put it simply, I know this is your dream, but how in the hell do you expect to get through SFAS training if you can't even do pushups or hold a weight on your back? And even more importantly if this is your dream job coming up and you can't do what's required why have you not got this checked out? You said you stopped lifting with barbells for a month and it was clearly there before that, the fact you haven't seen a physio or at the very least a doctor, which there would be access to even if you are on base is ludicrous.

I'm not trying to be rude but what you've described is an ongoing thing that you haven't really done anything about and now theres only two months left before it could determine your career.

1: See a physio, I tore my rotator cuff (subscapularis and supraspinatus) last year, all the same symptoms, got it rehabbed immediately and took care of it now it's better than my other shoulder
2: Do your own stretching/myofascial release. Trying to strengthen something that is clearly torn with face pulls etc. to some extent will do nothing except reinforce the problem or possibly make it worse. Get a lacrose ball in there, will work wonders. You are going to have to break apart scar tissue and rebuild.
3: THEN start the strengthening and mobility. And start with a bar and build up. You're in a bad position. You won't be able to retain strength. But fixing it and being able to do some and get through SFAS will be better than nothing at all


Hey guys. Long and I mean very long lurker and first time poster.

I'm rehabbing a partial supraspinatus tear at the moment. My recommendation is to see a doctor ASAP. I tried massage, phsyio, chyripractic, multiple forms of accupuncture and whatever else there is. This was over a span of a few years trying to fix a problem that was not fixable by any of those methods in my particular case. Among the people I saw, some have worked with elite athletes, including Olympians, so they were not without qualifications.
However, when I finally saw a sports doctor a month ago, he sent me for an ultrasound and told me of my partial, interstitial tear. Tried physio for a few weeks(shockwave therapy and manual therapy) but no relief. I just had a cortisone shot on Monday and I realize I should have seen a doctor(preferably a sports doc) years ago.
Don't try to train through a shoulder issue. Get it looked at by a doctor and go from there.Otherwise, you'll likely just spin your wheels and make shit gains like I did for years.