T Nation

Starting Strength w/ Shoulder Injury


Hey guys I am a relatively new weightlifter, 18 and in highschool. I started doing rippetoe's starting strength program in October.- 3x5 squat, bench or military press, 1x5deadlift or 3x5clean(with barbell rows instead of a clean since I have no coach and was told not to fuck around with that lift).

I ended up messing up my shoulders. I did a lot of reading and I may have an impingement in both, partially from wrestling, bad lifting before I started rippetoe's, and also from a year ago's shoulder problem. I was told by a doctor to do certain stretches and avoid benching.

As it stands, I am still squatting, deadlifting, and rowing depending on the day. Instead of bench I have been doing some tricep pushdowns(I think they are called that) on a cable machine, just to have something that doesn't hurt but works triceps.

My deadlift has gone from 125-205 and my squat from 135-225. (Yeah I squat more than I deadlift, I do squat below parallel but maybe I am using too heavy a weight since I push it up pretty slow on the last reps. My deadlift form is also probably bad)My row is at 135 right now and my bench went from 115-135 but it feels way too uncomfortable to seriously consider doing.

I would really hate to discontinue this program or take a long break from lifting since I want to get bigger and stronger, but as it stands if I can only do 2/3 lifts each session so maybe it isn't worth it.

What should I do? Are there exercises I could do to help the chest and the triceps without setting off my shoulders? Even if they are not big lifts I'd rather do something than nothing.

Ty for the help if anyone manages to read this long post.

edit: didn't think about it but this might belong in the beginner's section.


Can you miltary press?

Incline bench, decline bench?

Floor press? (bench press lying on the floor - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2XjaRk6q9YQ&feature=related )

dumbbell variations?

Point is, figure out what you can do. I have some issues too. I can't do most bench variations but can military press and floor press heavy without problems. So that's what I do.

Also, do more research on how you can get yourself benching again, and do the necessary rehab.


I had tried light incline and decline barbell and it was a no go. Military press' are actually the worst for me, but I can't believe I didn't think of swapping in a flat bench dumbbell press.

Just tried it (with a 20lb dumbbell and a really old bench, but that's all I have in my house which is why I lift at the gym) and there was no pain at all.

Ty for the help, I will keep looking for what works and what doesn't, and I will just replace the bench with a 3x5 db bench press instead.


Is there an athletic trainer at your high school who could look at your shoulder?


Nope, public high-school, no good sports teams.

The weight training teachers advocate curling and triceps isolation exercises over anything else and know less about the big lifts than kids who have been lifting for a few weeks.


Have you tried doing the broomstick rotator cuff stretches?

I hurt my right shoulder putting my kids carseat up in our truck and went from a 295lb bench max down to a 185 max. I started doing those stretches about six weeks ago (hurt real bad at first) and went from a 170X5X5 and now I'm doing 205X5X5 on my way to 300... I do them before each pressing set. Including Pushpresses.

It was bad. I couldn't lift my are to parallel with the floor at all, now there's only a certain position I can't do that with but I can't think of anytime I actually do it that way. (forearm flexed across abdomen like I'm showing off my bicep and then try to bring my upper arm to parallel)


Thanks for the response, I will try and look into those stretches when I get back to my house. The one stretch you describe at the bottom gives me just a tiny bit of trouble so I may try stretching like that too.

I think I may be very shoulder and triceps dominant in my barbell bench so that explains my lack of progress. Sorry to hear about your injury but I am glad you found something that worked for you and are on your way to a new PR! I'll keep on looking till I find a good fix for myself too.