T Nation

Training Through Bicep Tendonitis


Hi guys Im new here , and before I ask My question I will like to say that I have read all the posts related to tendonitis in this forum.Also I have to say that this is the most information I have read anywhere about bodybuilding .

I developed pain in my left shoulder , diagnosed as bicipital tendonitis about 2 months ago.I stopped lifting went in for ultra sound etc ,NSAIDS, Animal flex and the rest of the drill.

It felt better.So I resumed training and It came back with a vengeance.I took some more time off and have resumed training 2 weeks ago and its there again but i can train with limited volume.Then I was suggested by a friend that it takes months to go away and that I should train through it.

So my question is has anyone in this forum successfully worked through it or taking months off is my only option as I have already lost upto 30% of my size and strength ??

Also I have seen that I can deadlift real heavy but it gets really bad with shrugs and bench( Isolated bicep work is out of question can someone tell me why???

Any help is greatly appreciated, as Iam really feeling down with all this,and any success stories will motivate me.

Thanks Guys.


My suggestion would be to focus on just your legs for the time being. It seems that you are capable of doing certain lifts with your upper body (IE deadlift,) so when you are resting your legs, do workouts that won't bother your tendonitis.

You will probably lose strength in that area for the time being but who cares, it won't take too long to get back to where you were. Tendon problems can be a nightmare if you don't treat it with care. So basically in short, I would stray away from exercises that irritate it until it is healed.


k, but what exercises should be totally avoided???


Obviously direct bicep work, but also anything else that YOU find makes it worse. I've had issues, where even after training legs, I came home and iced my bicep tendon (armpit area) down because of the strain of my arm being pulled back during squats.



Yup Im ICIng after every workout and have reduced my load by 50% on all exercises.BTW mighty Stu did u train ur upper body through ur bicep tendonitis if so how much time did it take to heal???

Im just trying to get a basic idea of recovery time.


I'd say train through it too but as Stu said find what bothers you and avoid it. For me pullups are out. I can pound the hell out of chins or rows but a month of pullups and one of my biceps will be injured for months and months. For me it could take 2-6 months to clear up totally. I've found light curls with very strict form help me recover.


I've been working through bicep problems for around 3 months now. Lower than yours though, down near the elbow. Have tried totally avoiding training it for about a month but nothing improved, so I've been working through it for a couple months and it isn't getting worse. Not better either. Giving me the major shits.

Have found some good alternatives that work for me though. Neutral grip chins and neutral close grip lat pulldown gives no pain during or after and I actually feel it much more in the back. So was forced to find this goodie through an injury. Have to deadlift/rack pull overhand grip. With curls I've found you gotta reduce your range of motion at bottom. Also drag curls seem to be pain free. Also positioning wrists so they are facing up instead of towards you at the top of the movement works wonders for me. Those are my workarounds. Also if you have access to machines with those super fat handles (like plate loaded nautilus ones), pain free pushing of any sort in them.

Of course icing etc. What I've also found often I sleep with my arm straight, leaving the bicep in a stretched position. Very sore if I wake up like that. Just something to consider. Might not be relevant to you though.

It's a real bitch of a problem. It just feels the same always. But at least it isn't getting worse.


I've had recurring tendonitis pain in my right shoulder. The first time it happened I was doing db flys and when I hit failure the right db twisted out of my hand. I felt the twinge in my shoulder immediately and benching was painful for a while. I saw a doc and quit lifting for about 3 weeks and it went away, but came back after a while. For me, the problem was shitty shoulder stabilization. When it came back the second time, I worked through it and it finally went away on its own after I really focused on my shoulders, especially the rear delts.

I hope this helps, but it sounds like I had a very mild case compared to what you guys are describing. It was only painful while I was lifting and it was never so bad that I felt the need to ice it.


Tendinitis freaking sucks.

Anything that causes you to feel any semblance of pain there should be avoided. Try to work around it. These kinds of injuries never go away if you keep pissing them off.

I'm not sure if massage helps, though I've read it does. Tendons get very little bloody supply, which is where the issue comes from.


Switch your grips about i.e thick grip work or neutral grip (hammer curls, pinwheel curls).

I have had it lasted a couple of months, massage from my physio cured it.


Well, I couldn't perform flyes, overhand pullups,.. a bunch of things. What I was able to incorporate...

Scapular retraction for midback (and I've since kept these and its made a huge difference in my back detail), Bent rows with 2 DBs (better squeeze, more of a bent over shrugging motion, really keeps arms out of it), DB presses with the 'bells scraping your rib cage (so no excessive stretching of the bicep/delt area, but a real good chest stretch!). EVentually, after a month or so, I was able to work up to non support curls with dumbells for biceps, but only performing 'holds' with my injured arm. Week by week, I was able to slowly increase the ROM, until I was able to perform the full movement. Of course everyone will be different as far as recovery time goes, but this was my last experience.



Cissus might be worth looking into.


Great Input from all of you guys , I was really feeling depressed about all this.I will attempt to train through this,Albeit with lesser volume.Below is the limited volume workout I Am trying to follow can anyone help me any changes i should make or exercises that might be dangerous.

3 day split

Day 1 Chest,Shoulder,Abs

Flat dumbells
Incline Flies
Decline Cable
Side laterals(Shoulders)
Front Raises
Rear Deltoids

Day 2 Legs

Day 3 Back and tri's

Bent over rows( More like bent over shrugging) Limited ROM
T-Bar Rows
Skull crushers
Tricep Pushdowns.

Thank you very much guys.!!!!!!!! I really appreciate it.


A friend of mine says that Cissus masks the pain so it might be difficult to assess the recovery.
Also what about MSM, Glucosamine etc.... I use animal flex for this.

Does that help??


Do you mean the Scapular retraction while hanging on the bar or the grounded retraction using cables.Also can u better elaborate the Db press method u mentioned as its painful for me.

Also did u have pain /soreness after ur workout , coz i don't feel the pain at workout but sometimes it kind of kills me the next day.


Does your left elbow "float" around when you bench or do any kind of pressing? Are you pulling in your shoulders when you bench?


No it does not but it feels that way , i mean my bicep kind of feels funny.


Your elbows feel like they are kind of either floating or moving out of the "grove" and your biceps feel funny? Or you do think you pull your shoulders in? I apoligize for asking this again; Im not sure exactly what you meant.


I understand ,No my elbows don't float around or move out of the groove , I get this kind of itchy, mildly painful feeling in my biceps and where my biceps meet the shoulder( proximal bicep tendon). Also no I dont pull my shoulders in( not sure what that means though).Plz elaborate.


I've had bicep tendonitis for over a year. Here's what helped:

-Find a person in your area who does Active Release Techniques (ART)
-Work on shoulder mobility and flexibility. Find articles on this website, especially those from Eric Cressey
-Don't do exercises that inflame the tendon. If it hurts, avoid it. You can't work through it.
-Start taking the following:

3 grams of MSM
Fish oil -about 12 grams a day