Opinion on Programming?

Hey C.T.

Big fan of yours and big reader of your work since I started lifting a year ago.

I’ve been dealing with shoulder (and bicep) issues for the past 5 months, and after numerous visits to the chiropractor, doctor, physical therapist and some X-rays and physical therapy have still not led to any relief of pain or decisions about what for sure my issues are.

Started off by noticing the pain in my right shoulder, then right bicep, then left shoulder. Started cutting out shoulder work, then chest work, then arm work, then back work, then back squats have been the latest thing to go.

I have been looking at what exercises don’t bother me and I am trying to figure out how to turn them into a program. I am 17 years old, so I still consider myself a beginner and am homeschooled and only work 2 hours a day, so as far as time to workout I am good on, and also have lots of recovery time available.

Here’s what works (so far) for me:

front squats
safety bar squats (front and back)
safety bar good mornings
any type of deadlift [conventional, sumo, trap-bar, RDL (dumbbell/barbell)]
reverse hypers
back extensions
almost any type of loaded carry
the “first” part of a face pull (just the retraction of the shoulder blades)
prowler (pushes or pulls)
kettlebell swings
sprints (running or biking)
any type of cardio for that matter
tire flips
almost any “ab” work
(also will be joining a new gym with atlas stones and am hoping to incorporate those)

That’s all I can think of right now. Leaves out any pressing, rowing, pushups, dips, pull/chin ups, arm work, etc. Upper body work seems to only be ok if I don’t bend at the elbows. Which limits things.

Does anyone have any ideas or tips on how I can program those movements? I am very open as far as length of workouts and how often they occur. In fact, I enjoy getting in the gym as often as possible. Does anyone think that those movements could be contributing to my shoulder issues? Maybe I just haven’t noticd them yet. Let me know!

I know I’m basically looking for someone to make me a program, but I’m desperately wanting to continue training and getting stronger, so if you can help, I’d appreciate it. I will continue meeting with the physical therapist and see what happens in the future with my shoulders. Thanks for any help.

You’re young. Shouldn’t be having these issues yet. I’m not a professional but your issues could either be form, or, you haven’t built enough strength and you are training to heavy. Search YouTube. Look for professional powerlifters (I like Chris duffin) who is really great at teaching powerlifting. Try to fix your form. Could be that you are out of position, lats are not contracted, shoulders not shrugged. There are many things to consider to give your shoulders a safe place to lift from. So find out what sucks about your form. Then test yourself. Start with an empty bar and work up slowly with plenty of rest between sets and find out your 3 rep maximum weight. Once you have that number multiply that by .85. Once you have that number do a 5x5 routine (there are many sources, including tnation articles). So if great form plus working with a proper weight (forget ego if you want to get strong) doesn’t help then I don’t know what to tell you. There are also shoulder mobility routines by Dr. John Rustin on this site, they could help as well. Hope this helps.
Cheers bro

Thanks for the advice.

I’ve worked with trainers, although I guess that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re good. Also with fairly decent powerlifters at my gym. I’ve asked for tips on form, I’ve watched countless videos and read tons of articles on form. I’ve never been one to care about how much is weight on the bar, instead I prefer to make sure I’m doing it well. I started benching just the bar for 5x5, and that was actually my first program. Then I bounced around a bit, just seeing what I liked, then made the move to 5/3/1. After about 9 months of actually benching well and with a purpose, I got to a 1RM of 185 (bodyweight for me). I work my back and rear delts quite often, I have decent form according to those much more experienced and stronger than I, and I don’t bench more than once a week (besides the 2 months of 5x5, that was 1-2 times a week) so I doubt it’s overuse. I also do mobility quite often and yes, have read every shoulder article I can find by Rusin, Gentilcore, and Cressey. So I will continue to work with those more experienced than me, and do my own homework to try and remedy the problem. But until then, I would like to get stronger in other areas and besides, benching has never been something I’ve enjoyed or found necessary. Pushups are more my choice. Thank you for the advice though:)

You could always ditch the barbell in favor of dumbbells if you do want to get stronger. But if mobility is the issue it seems like those push-ups would give you problems as well. You said yourself no bending at the elbows

I meant when I was not having shoulder issues I preferred pushups. I have not done any for the past few months.