T Nation

Squats Only, No Upper Body Work, Due to Injury


hi.... so im possibly facing a situation where i may not be able to do any real upper body work for a long time.... maybe even the rest of my life due to having two badly messed up wrists. it would seem theres a split opinion that you can gain upper good body mass by doing just doing squats? is there any truth to this or is it just people getting over enthusiastic about the squat as an exercise?


You don't know that. Getting injured sucks but you don't know that. Also bear in mind that most doctors are looking from the perspective of preventing damage and will tell you never to use something again. That's what they told me about a finger injury. Never climb again. My "used-up" finger is stronger than it's ever been.

That being said, I am not a doctor. Find some medically trained people you trust to give you a realistic perspective on what's going on. Do whatever rehab exercises work for you. Above all, stay positive. That's the most important thing. And if you can squat, squat. You can probably deadlift with straps too.


Yeah, don't write it off quite yet man. Be optimistic and open minded.

In any case, squats are an incredible effective exercise. They can certainly keep your whole body muscular, but nothing will take the place of directly training muscle groups.


thanks for the encouragement guys. im staying positive and trying to do whatever i can. basically ive got some nasty long term tendon issues (over a year now) and the health care here in the uk arent too switched on with this kind of problem. its all about trying to rehab but im not sure how far it will take me with this kind of problem.


I'll just remind you of advice you've previously gotten:

"People deal with injuries all the time and do a very good job of working around them and finding a way. Most of us who have been doing this for a long time have had to deal with this a dozen or more times. Just find a way."

Squats are great. Lunges are great. Leg press is great. Smith squats, safety bar squats, cross-armed front squats, step-ups, leg curls, calf raises, leg extensions, all great. When Ben Bruno was recovering from knee surgery, he went crazy attacking pull-ups and become a pull-up machine because his leg was out of action. If your upper body work really is severely compromised, you'd have almost no excuse not to become a squatting monster.

But I can also think of a handful (no pun intended) of upper body exercises that don't involve putting a weight in the hands like the pec-deck, reverse pec-deck, and Thib pulldown to give the upper body more-than-nothing.

Did you ever get a specific diagnosis other than "some tendon issue"?

What are your exact limitations/restrictions? Can't close your hand to grasp a weight with full strength? Can't have stress downwards on the hand/wrist as in pressing?


thanks chris. i dont like coming on here just to procrastinate :smiley: just wanted to discuss people's opinions on the above question. no i cant be doing anything such as pressing down e.g bench... mill press etc. i have had the wrist x rayed and its not broke... so no its not fully diagnosed. either way there is plenty i could be doing.


Without a proper diagnosis, you are really putting the cart before the horse. And very few conditions will result in you never being able to properly train upper body again.

Also, the squat is one exercise that is really hard on my wrists. Just saying.

Good luck to you.


Do what doesn't hurt.

You are the only person on earth that can answer that.

I did water running for 6 months due to an injury once. 2 months without moving my arms...


yeah i understand... its just very hard to get the appropriate treatment for my problem of my health service and i havent the money for private treatment.


sorry to bump this guys. just seen the doc and he basically told me that theres nothing more to be done. my condition isnt arthritic my wrist bones are in place and thats it. what the hell do i do?


he seems tbe of the belief that i am not facing any degradation of the tissues in my wrist over time despite the fact i am in pain. it doesnt really add up.


Get on a Curcumin and fish oil regimen to get any inflammation under control, figure out whatever upper body exercises you can do (playing with grip width , hand position [neutral/semi-supinated vs supinated vs pronated], different volume/intensity techniques, thick bar vs DB vs machines vs cables, etc), and get right back to it, basically.

You've been dealing with this for, like, over a year. If the doctor has now said, flat out "there's nothing more to be done", then either start the search for a new doc or deal with it. Your wrist hurts when you press, it's not like you lose feeling in your legs when you stand up. You can work around it.


ok thanks for the advice chris.


So, you have nothing wrong with you and all you're dealing with is pain?

To me, that sounds like it's time to just nut up and train.

But I'm not the smartest person when it comes to self-preservation.


My fiancee has early onset arthritis in her wrist. She has admirable tenacity, but supplements her grit with wrist stretches and wrist wraps.


well yeah i generally just want to get going. you only live once i guess.


thanks man. good to hear how people are coping despite battling bad conditions.


I kid i went to high school with was born with no hands or feat . Got art scholarship to iowa they didn't know he was handicap, just good.
Any way he had special implements made for him and lifted religiously.
Be a problem solver , find a way.


Umm.... Im not a doctor so take it with a grain of salt . Have you tried wrist wraps?


My thoughts exactly..... Ive tweaked my wrist several times squatting.