Slowed Down by Shoulder Surgery

I have been a long time “lurker” on this site. Reading almost every article and trying to soak up as much knowledge as possible. I started training in high school and got more serious about lifting in college. Now I’m 26 and in the Navy and part of Naval Special Warfare. I tore my labarum on my most recent deployment and had surgery 6 weeks ago to reattach it. I am unable to any sort of upper body lifting and the past month of sitting on the couch in a sling I have noticed a lot of unwanted changes in my physique.

I was wondering if anyone had any tips. I was able to get in the gym and do a few sets of squats finally today (the rotation of my shoulder in order to grip the bar was not possible till now) and that was killer after 6 weeks of doing basically nothing. I’ve been able to do some intervals on the stationary bike and did some incline walking on the treadmill but I cant do any sprints or anything for “cardio” (which is my preferred method of burning fat).

Im trying to really dial in my diet to compensate for the lack of activity these days but I was wondering if anyone have any ideas for possible workouts? I’m really just trying to “maintain” as much as possible and also not gain unwanted fat until I’m off of physical therapy and able to work out like I used to. If anyones been through this before any advice or insight would be greatly appreciated.


Last year when I was returning from knee surgery I worked mostly on machines. Pounded my upper body and hit the good leg with single leg machine movements.

I’ve had a couple shoulder surgeries and they are no fun. All I did was train legs every other day, and also do some unilateral stuff for the other side. I know this might sound weird but I’ve been through 2 surgeries and the first one I didn’t do the unilateral and the second one I did; I rebounded muuuuuuch quicker the second time around.

Also, are they letting you do isometrics with your hurt shoulder? I did these the second time around as well and noticed a HUGE difference.

Yeah the therapist has me doing some internal/external rotations with the bands and today i was doing some raises with the stupid pink 3lb dumbells but thats about it so far… not too much. he said that hes gotta “save me from myself” cause I’ll feel better than I really am. So it looks like just a lot of leg training for the time being which is ok with me

I just got my second surgery (opposite shoulder, not same) for a labral tear about 7 weeks ago and have been doing lots of leg presses for the time being b/c my shoulders would not be able to bear the load of squatting. When I got my first surgery I was able to return to front squatting at somewhere after 3 months but back squatting was still out of the question b/c of load and the way it torqued my shoulder back.

As far as conditioning I’ve been using that stair climber, the one that looks more like an escalator and not a stepper. You should be fine to run at 2 months and sprint probably only a little after that, it really depends on how your shoulder can take the jarring from running. Note that my protocol said I shouldn’t do these things but I did get my orthopaedist’s approval and he okayed it b/c of my progress.