T Nation

Bench Injury, Torn Pec?

I was benching yesterday and felt great. I’m 38yo, 5’4" and ~ 165lbs. I pushed 275lbs and it wasn’t a problem. Went for 285lbs and stalled out and felt a tear, heard a nasty noise and dropped the bar.

Lots of pain. Went to the ER. They did nothing. No imaging, and the bastards wouldn’t even give me pain killers. ER was a complete waste of time and money. All the sports medicine and ortho places here are booked out 4-6 weeks.

Any good resources you guys can recommend? Peck, arm pit and inner tricep are sore and bruised up.

The mental “what if” worry/stress is honestly as bad as the pain.

That’s big weight to be benching at your body weight mane. Unfortunately from what you’ve said it sounds textbook pec tear. The question isn’t “what if?,” anymore it’s “how bad?” and “what next?”.

Firstly do whatever you need to do to go see someone who gives a shit about you even if you have to go around to all the GPs in your area or travel an hour to see a specialist. It may not be a single consult kinda deal so better to get on it early as possible.

Secondly, while you’re waiting for that to go through, read up on pec tears online via google. There’s different kinds, some being more severe than others, with different prognoses. It’s usually a long arduous road back most of the time but it’ll help the process if you know what you are getting into.

Bit early given you’ve no diagnosis or started a rehab/management plan but if you chuck us an update on how you’re doing in a few weeks it’s probably a good idea to have a think about contributing factors to your injury so we can avoid it in future.

Good luck.

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Thank you for the reply. Yeah, I got a response on another forum that was “I don’t see how you could get injured with 285lbs, let alone a serious injury.”

I wanted to say “dude, I’m 5’4”, 38yo, should weigh ~150lbs but am overweight and weigh 165lbs, and you don’t think 285lbs is enough to injure me?"

I look around at the gym and most dudes a hell of a lot bigger than me are struggling with 285lbs.

Anyway, hoping for the best, expecting the worst. Fawk me…

My cousin tore a rotator cuff pointing at something… people have zero idea.

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*never points at anything or anyone ever again

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Always remember, in the end nature will punish those who are not polite

Just got back from the consultation with the surgeon. Full tendon tear off the bone confirmed. Surgery scheduled for next week.

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Dunno if you’re doc told you this but a full tendon tear off the bone (humerus/at the shoulder) is probably the best major pec injury you can get (sounds funny I know but is true). As opposed to muscle belly tears or off the sternum tears which may not even be repairable what you got is relatively easy to fix and has decent functional outcomes with many building back to pre injury strength and beyond.

Target your research/reading/viewing towards your kind of pec injury and follow your surgeon’s instructions exactly. If they suggest any “optional” extras e.g. physical therapy then consider it not optional.

It’s gonna be a long hard process but the prognosis is good so far.

In the mean time discuss getting clearance from your doctor to hit the gym. Even if you just train legs or spin on the bike a bit it would probably help prevent you from going insane.

Probably too early to discuss contributing factors / stuff to address to prevent re injury in future but let’s bookmark that discussion for another day.

Good luck

Thanks for the response. From what I understand the first month to six weeks is the worst. Immobilization and then recovering ROM seems to suck. I’m hoping to get back to doing limited legs (leg press, curls/extensions, lunges with a dumbbell) pretty quickly.

One thing I can 100% tell you is that I won’t be using that gym buddy as a spotter ever again. He wasn’t paying attention and when I stalled on the way up he didn’t assist at all. He was totally zoned out. I held as long as I could and then it gave way.

I don’t blame him at all but if he’d been paying attention I don’t think I would have torn.

Well big legs have been built with just leg presses before. You might end up looking like one of them cyclists/skip upper body day guys by the time you get back.

It’s good you’re thinking about contributing factors and such.

As far as learning from the experience I’ma say it’s better to take away that maxing randomly is usually a bad idea and maxing appropriately with adequate preparation is risky at best. Plenty of guys making gains without failing a rep for months on end until a power lifting meet comes around.

You’re spot on with the maxing assessment. I was making fairly steady gains over the past six months and was probably not resting/recovering enough while pushing the limits of what my body could take given poor genetics, age and lifestyle (3 kids five and under, working 50-60hrs a week, very little sleep).

My legs could certainly use some love, as could my cardio and waistline. I’m not happy about the amount of upper body muscle loss I’ll suffer, but I’m determined to focus on controlling what I can control and not letting the things I can’t control drag me down.

Skimmed some stuff you were saying in the other thread about keeping on top of diet. Does this mean a surplus, maintenance or a deficit for you and what’s the thinking?

I’m around 15lbs overweight and ~ 20% BF at the moment. I’d like to get down to low to mid teens. My thinking was that since I won’t be lifting like I normally do and will suffer muscle loss, it’s a good time to clean up my diet so I don’t get fatter than I already am.

Life is very busy these days between 40-50hrs a week at my 9-5, wife running a full time business, my side work, and my 5,4 and 2yo kids. I’ve been good with finding time and focus in the gym, averaging a fairly intense regiment ~ 8-10hrs a week but sleep and diet have been lacking.

During the first month or two I’m honestly probably going to shoot for maintenance to a slight surplus because from what I understand running a deficit can hinder tendon repair. After that I think I’ll start moving into a slight deficit.

Sounds like a plan. Just remember to eat a fuck tonne of protein and be awared that being in a deficit without the stimulus to retain muscle from training is going to hit your gains pretty hard. FWIW I’d go the live with getting fluffy route to retain max muscle cos it’s easier to lose the fat you’d gain than put back on the muscle lost the other way. Up to you though.

Stop making sense! When it comes to protein, how much are you talking? And would the addition of BCAA’s be beneficial?

In this case can’t say I’m particularly sure of what advice to give tbh. Probably worth a google or Google Scholar search. Best case you’d get it info from your surgeon or a dietitian. Some thoughts tho:

  • Probably want to try and hit the 2.2g/kg or 1g/lb BW or a bit more but significantly more will probably be of no benefit besides the extra calories. As important is energy balance where a small surplus or maintenance is indicated.

  • During recovery from injury/surgery energy needs and BMR increase especially during the acute phase of injury repair. So a small surplus may be appropriate early on. Probably less than a “growing” or full on surplus that’d you’d have when you were fully training but higher than maintenance levels pre injury which may be inadequate.

  • As far as BCAAs go I’m usually the first one to dismiss them as not worth time/money but that’s usually in training populations vs injured with adequate nutrition. When you’re coming back from an injury… not so sure.

Along with BCAAs there’s probably gonna be many many little things that can make a small difference to how you go but remember that as cool as all these things sounds their total effect may well be small say 10%. Focus on the stuff that makes up the 90% before you consider the other 10%


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Surgery on Wed went well. I’ll be in a sling for the next three weeks. Pain isn’t horrible isolated but movement or getting bumped by one of my kids is pretty bad.

I’ve been doing bodyweight lunges, squats and calf raises at home. Dr. said no gym for at least the first month because it’s very easy to pull the tendon back off the bone even if doing non-related exercises. He specializes in shoulder repair, mainly treating athletes and said he’s had many guys back under the knife because they tried to work around the injury and get back into things too quickly.

Being told not to lift at all is depressing but having to have surgery again would be horrible so I’m going to take it easy and let my body heal.

Just a few weeks…uh months lel in a journey of years you’ll be alright. Maybe pick up a new hobby or catch up on all the movies from the last few years.

You get prescribed any specific exercises while in the sling or nah?

How’s sleeping with the injury/post op? Found a comfortable position?

I have some ROM exercises while in the sling I do 6x a day. In a few weeks we’ll increase the ROM stuff.

As long as I’ve got painkillers in my system I sleep pretty good. I have five pillows stacked behind me and I sleep upright.

I’ve been watching a LOT of movies and tv since I can’t return to work for at least a month. I’m bored out of my brain stuck at home with the kids, lol

On track then…

So are you a TV Series kinda guy or nah? Picking up a few complete series and binging them will make the time fly by. There’s adapters you can get to hook up your devices to the TV and with all the high quality stuff online these days it makes for great viewing. I just caught up with season 3 of Lucifer myself.

Just stay on your doc’s back about going back to lifting ASAP.

Any problems/issues? Anything at all? Even trivial random shit?