Some Training Issues

Hey people.

I’m trying to overcome some training issues perhaps there is someone here who can help.

First, I’m 45 and was in a bad car crash 3 1/2 years ago where I got pretty banged up.

As far as my torso goes,I broke my entire ribcage, my sternum and collapsed lung.

Two years of surgeries, pain killers and PT/ recovery have me 20 pounds underweight at 150.

Now, while grappling I can’t bear much weigh on my chest. It feels like my ribs are on the verge of snapping (pain) and any pressure really effects my breathing ability. This was never a problem in the past.

I would like to hear any advice in regards to exercise or rehab to help with increasing my resistance to weight on my chest.

I know that re gaining some weight will help in this regard, which is where the second problem arises.

I have not in the past needed any resistance training due to my active lifestyle, but now I desperately need it to gain some mass.

In March I started a basic 5X5 program.

I have now completely stopped progressing in my lifts, partially due to my injuries.

For example, my bench at 105 has stalled and my arms take completely different paths to lockout. My form gets really bad at 105 and shoulder pain is severe.

My right elbow was fractured and my left side has a reconstructed rotator cuff and reconstructed radius and ulna at the wrist (comminuted fracture ulna & radius).

Similarly, the push press is stalled at 90 and is very un even in the symmetry of the movement. My left shoulder is not dropping properly (pain) and right elbow flares out.

Squat at 130, stalled, my chest moves forward from knee pain near parallel at this weight. My knee (patella) and fibula ware broken on top of hamstring tendon strain and meniscus tear. But this lift causes pain on top of my knee, not where it was damaged.

Deadlift at 205 is the only lift which has not been effected by pain, only weakness in my wrist which I will improve.

My main goals are to gain weight and core strength for grappling and resisting chest pressure.

My question is, should I reduce the weight if my form begins to fail?

I’m not certain that I could even press just the bar symmetrically is why I’m asking.

Or should I push on, increasing the weight regardless of lacking symmetry and pain.

Thanks, and I appreciate any input.

Are you giving your lifts in pounds or kilos?

If they are pounds, I would perhaps recommend switching to bodyweight exercises and slowly building up with them. It sounds like you’ve really been through the grinder and I’d have thought it would be best to start with the absolute basics and build up slowly.

With bodyweight exercises you’ll be able to build up strength, but also improve your body control and you’ll be at a much lesser risk of re-injuring yourself.

I’m no expert! This is just what I would do myself.

Sento or Aragon would be better to ask, and you should also ask this in the beginner forum.

Firstly, do not just push through. Pain is our bodies telling us something is wrong. If I were you I would try to lighten the weight and focus on high reps (15-20). I don’t think jumping straight into a 5x5 strength program is a good idea.

You should see a physio though, surely you would have done a heap of physio work. Your physio will have a much better idea of what your body is capable of.

But in my opinion, it sounds like you might just not be able to do it. It sucks, but its reality. Especially after what you have been through. Maybe bodyweight stuff is more your go, push ups, pulls ups etc. After what your body has been through, I would expect there are exercises you just can’t do. Similar to ex athletes that can’t run because of injuries. The wear and tear on the body makes some things impossible.

Best of luck.

The figures are in pounds (I know, I suck).

As I said, I never needed to strength train due to an active life (mx, boarding, judo, physical labor, etc.)

Physio Therapy has said they have done all they can do for me (they are mostly concerned with Range Of Motion in my case), they have done wonders but I believe I can improve more.

Bodyweight exercises are no problem, although not symmetric I’m sure. Pushups (3X50), pull ups(3X10) plank rotations(1 min X6), weighted step ups (60lbsX20), weighted lunges 60lbsX20, DB rows (40lbs5X8).

Since I have lost weight from all this inactivity over the past while I feel really weak/small/ vulnerable. Add to that, the stiffness, pain and limited range of motion and I feel completely useless. I hate not having the confidence in myself that I have always carried. I will do anything to get it back.

Since I’m not working (or allowed to) I have the time to repair and improve whatever I can. Also I need the activity to fill my day.

I really just want to gain some mass back to be more competent. I doubt that will happen without increased resistance.

Thanks ppl.

Gaining weight is more a matter of calorie intake than what type of resistance you are using.

You can definitely gain quality size and strength with bodyweight exercises and a calorific excess. The key with the bodyweight exercises is to work towards increasingly challenging variations rather than just adding reps. In the examples you gave you seem to be doing easier exercises for very high reps which will never add significant size or strength.

If I were you I’d look into Convict Conditioning. It is an ebook on bodyweight progressions for strength. It does take a lot of strength to be able to do pistol squats and one-arm push-ups for multiple reps, so I’d work towards things like them if I were you.

To use the pistol squat as an example, it is excellent for building up lower body strength but more importantly for you also carries far less risk than the barbell squat if you are suffering from mal-alignment issues and all sorts of imbalances (if you find that your injuries prohibit you from doing the full pistol squat you can just do it to a box). To me trying to push yourself with heavy deadlifts and squats sounds like a recipe for disaster, at least until you’ve built yourself up more by other means.

Also, as the above poster said, use your common sense with these exercises and if something doesn’t feel right don’t do it. Pushing through pain is definitely not the right thing to do in this situation. Start low and build up slow is a good motto lol.

All the best with your recovery!

I agree with Furo that more of a bodyweight style workout might be a better course of action based on your injury history. Like was said above, provided that you are progressive with your exercises and eat a surplus of calories, such workouts will add muscle mass to your body. No, bodyweight conditioning will not give you a professional bodybuilder level of muscle, but if you are posting this in the Combat forum then I suspect that isn’t really an issue anyhow.

That said, there are better bodyweight exercise programs out there than Convict Conditioning IMO. Go check out Coach Christopher Sommer’s programs (Sommer is one of the most successful youth gymnastic coaches in the states and one of the only ones to have produced a truly comprehensive adult gymnastics program that I know of); they are designed to develop the foundational level strength, body control, and (probably most importantly in your situation) mobility required to progress to (and truly master) more advanced forms of bodyweight/gymnastics exercises.

I’m also a little suspicious of your form on your push-ups if you say that you can do 3x50 reps, but can only bench 105 lbs for a set of 5. Sorry, but those numbers just don’t add up.

As far as being able to take more weight on your chest, I would:

  1. work on your technique and defense, you should seek to not be flat on your back with the opponent’s weight bearing down on your chest in the first place (use your forearms/elbows to create a frame to support the weight, be on your side rather than flat on your back, tell your training partners about your injuries and to not be dicks, etc…)

  2. give your body more time to heal. Judging by the fact that you are still experiencing so much pain with this issue it may very well be the case that the connective tissues in your chest cavity have not yet fully healed

  3. once you are certain you are fully healed, very slowly and gradually build back up your tolerance to bearing weight on your chest/ribs. A good way to do this would be to either get yourself a duffle bag/sand bag, fill it with as much weight in sand as you can comfortable handle, place the bag on your chest for time (practice your breathing while doing so), and slowly add more and more sand as you are able, until you are around your average training partner’s weight in sand on your chest with no pain.

At that point you can start having your training partners lay on your chest with varying degrees of pressure and eventually movement. How long this will take you is anyone’s guess and will depend on how well you take care of your body in the meantime/your recovery abilities.

Being injured sucks and I know that often times we get impatient waiting to be back to full health and able to do what we previously could, but if you push too hard too fast or try to rush the recovery process you may wind up permanently damaged and forever restricted in your activities. If you take the slow, steady, intelligent path though you have the best chances of maximizing your recovery and regaining your pre-injury physical state.

Good luck.

Thanks for the tips about Christopher Sommer, I will investigate him!


Thanks for the responses.

Improving functional strength and mobility for grappling and MT is my goal and is the reason for posting here.

Thankfully I have good training partners who are considerate and the defensive techniques mentioned above which I do use are invaluable.

Idk why pressing a barbell hurts my shoulder while pushups (plyometric and yoga) are no problem. I have done pushups all my life but weight training is new to me.

The bodyweight training for gymnastics is also great info. and the sandbag idea is gold! That’s something I can see really helping me.

BTW this is a great forum, I’ve been lurking here for some time and it has entertained and helped me in many respects.

edit: I checked out Christopher Sommers’ Gymnastics Bodies website and the bodyweight exercises look pretty awesome, definitely going to start doing some, thanks again.

If you can still deadlift without pain I think you could go a long way with just deadlifts, push ups, and pull ups.


After checking out the bodyweight exercises I decided to try some today, static holds to be specific.

Man, this stuff is pretty hard, even the basic beginner prep stuff. You are not supposed to do anything to failure.

Here is how it went.

First I did my 5X5 stuff with reduced weights in my presses.

Then bodyweight gymnastics prep stuff-

1 ‘arches’ / superman. 30 sec intervals X 5
2 'hollow hold 30 sec interval X 5
3 parallel bar tuck hold 30 sec int. X 5 (this progresses into the L-sit but I could not do it with correct form for even 5 sec.)
4 planche lean 15 sec int X 5, (this one is tough with hands as close to waist as possible arms straight. It progresses into the planche where your feet are not touching the ground with horizontal body supported by arms only)

5 static hang, eye level 30 sec X 3 (wanted 5 but I was toast after 3)
6 dips, 5 sets of 6 at 70% rom (my shoulder felt pretty unstable going lower but I’ll work up to it.)

Except 1 and 2 These can all progress onto suspended rings once they are mastered. They become much harder on the rings.

I did intervals but from what I read, you are supposed to rest longer, like 3 min between these. I was just testing things and wanted to get through it and see where I’m at (I’m nowhere btw).

There are more basic exercises but I was pretty wiped after these and I still wanted to save some energy to drill later.

Take a way’s - These exercises really strain the wrists, I really need to work on my wrist mobility, I have injured both and they were very sore afterwards. Tendon and ligament pre hab is surely needed as well especially to strengthen the wrists.
I am amazed at the difficulty of these movements, they must take years to master but also be hugely rewarding.
I am also amazed on the progressions of the exercises, there are definite steps and each must be mastered before advancing to the next progression, the steps are much larger than adding 5 or 10 lbs. to the bar.