T Nation

Ruptured Bicep But Can't Stop Lifting


Been reading here forever, finally had a reason to join. 37 years old, been training off and on for 20 years. Pretty hard 4-5 times a week for past 7 years. A lot of the posts here have been helpful.

Anyways, last week.....doing some heavy preacher curls I ruptured my left bicep. Complete tear, good times. I was lucky enough an additional connector (forget the name) remained in tact so there was just partial retraction (about 5 cm).

Anyways, I'm pretty damn big so my left arm looks a bit odd to me but not noticeable yet unless you look closely.

Going for the repair surgery in a week at NYU Hospital for Sports Medicine with a great doctor. Had an option to have no surgery, but F that! I need to get back to full strength.

Here's my issue.........despite having all the excuses in the world I refuse to stop going to the gym. I was back in the gym 3 days after rupture. Of course can't do much upper body due to the rupture but thus far have been doing...

  • Smith Machine Squats......luckily not a problem hoisting 45 pound plates as high as possible with right arm.
  • Leg presses.
  • Hack squats.
  • Calf raises
  • Calf machine shrugs
  • Tons of ab work
  • Lots of walking around NYC. Might as well make this a serious cutting period.

Anything else you guys can recommend in terms of creative ways to work the chest/shoulders without hitting my torn bicep? Also keep in mind as of the 30th I'll be in a sling in my left arm for 14 days.

Thanks much, yes I'm OCD but no fucking way I'm stopping working out. If anything, I see this as a period to really focus on unique leg and ab exercises.

Thanks, and Ill be posting quite a bit more often now. Just never had a reason to take the plunge.


I've also had mine repaired, I waited 12 weeks before I even used my arm to do anything other than moving it under it own power, and to do that I waited 6 weeks. Tying to use it too soon is a good way to tear it back off. Even working legs can cause you to flex your arm if you're going heavy enough, I would be very weary of doing much of anything.


Doc said I was good on leg stuff and abs, just to keep arm in sling. Gotta do something.........

Will double and triple check with some other docs however!


I had my surgery in Sept-09. I was 46. Rehab was 16 weeks without any upper-body work at all. An additional 4 more before direct bicep work. Once I got started it was another 8-12 before I was doing anything more than ROM work, and a full two years before my strength levels returned to pre-injury status. Leg work is very difficult without your upper body to hold/stablize. You are more likely to re-injure your shoulder than you will be to get any significant work in. I worked the treadmill up to a decent 5k to start with. The hack-squat was the first real work I could do for quads and I used a tie-down strap sround my neck with each end attached to the bar for straight-leg deadlifts. If you really are one of those 'I can't stop lifting' guys you are going to really screw your shoulder over. Nothing is more important than a proper rehab. If you really give a shit about your lifting you will take this serious, discipline yourself, and spend however much time is needed to properly heal after your operation.
Best Of Luck!


Not sure if it's lucky, but i tore it at the elbow. So my shoulders completely in tact and both surgeons/sports medicine guys gave me the 100% OK to workout legs. Only caveat was they suggested plate hack squat and leg press machines/calf raises. Ab work is obviously fine, and lower back extensions.

That's pretty crazy it took two years to get to full strength, but from what I understood I should be happier I tore it in the elbow than shoulder. One of my docs is currently a sports med guy for the Jets, and formerly for the Eagles. J Both docs said I'd be back in the gym bench pressing in 10 weeks, albeit at light weights and limited ROM while undergoing PT on my arm

They showed me multiple NFL players with the exact same injury who were back playing in 4 months under their care.....and back in the gym doing light weight in 8-10 weeks. I'm confident in these guys. Even better, considering my age, and ability to pay for top treatments I've opted for general GH therapy and "platelet rich plasma" injections. Guys like Kobe Bryant have done the plasma stuff over in Germany, and i'll be getting it done here as well. The GH would be an issue if i was a competitor or athlete but they confirmed it does indeed heal up the body much quicker than normal.

So if all goes well, they stated one case where a man my age completely ruptured his ACL underwent surgery/GH/plasma treatments and instead of 5 months of recovery he was back in the gym nearing 75% strength in 8 weeks.

All that being said my days of benching 350, leg pressing 1000 and squatting 400 are behind me. I'm maxing out at 225/700/275 in the future.

Wish me luck fellas. I'm dropping a ton of cash on this to heal faster, and will even go to Germany for certain treatments if needed. Nothing else to do, former dot com geek turned exercise nut.


This is strong motivation for one to get a well paying job.


What were you symptoms? Does it hurt to turn your hand up? Did you doctor or you reform a hook test, if so can you still feel the tendon in your arm? Any bruising at all?


No bruising at all, tendon not there at all......there is one thing still attached but it's not the tendon, areo something. That typically ruptures but stayed in tact on my arm so my bicep didn't fully retract on one side. Confirmed by two doctors via MRI my distal bicep tendon completely ruptured.

Doesn't hurt to turn my hand up, did the first few days. They did do a hook test, and prodded me all over.

Any suggestions appreciated, going in tomorrow for pre-admission...surgery this coming Monday. If anything sounds weird in your experience please let me know.

Doc did do some supination testing, it's crazy without an attached bicep supination strength is pathetic. Pushing up/pushing down felt strong as a bull. Turning my wrist as he was holding it? Right arm I could almost flip the little guy over. Left arm? The little 130 pound man could have broken my arm. We bodybuilder types have such damn strong triceps/forearms/shoulders it's pretty damn hard to find a major strength issue on our own even with a ruptured bicep! That test found it. It's crazy. Day after before I saw the doc I did 20 pushups with no problem. No supination - no pain.

My understanding is if I wasn't in such good shape, this would have been a much more devastating injury/surgery. I'll keep posting during my surgery/recovery to suggest stuff to do....

I put in a call to Dr. Joseph Purita down in Boca Raton Florida today as well. He is the leader in stem cell and platelet rich plasma treatment for healing up tendons and bones. He has saved a few careers the past 5 years in baseball. Check out the story on Bartolo Colon. He LITERALLY REGREW a tendon with stem cell therapy. Each injection is around 900 bucks, need 5 or 6. With everything I've read it's well worth it....

Between legit GH, great diet, plasma injections, stem cell injections I'm basically doing what major athletes do to recover. When these guys get back on the field 2-3 months after major knee surgery/ruptured biceps/torn rotator cuffs etc this is what they do.........



Okay so as of now there is little to no pain turning your palm up ? Everything looks good. Sounds like your being the proactive patient.