Rule number one in the gym is that no one gets hurt. In fact, the artificial (gym) training should do the opposite: it should “injury-proof” the individual. But if a sport involves substantial risk it is almost impossible to make an athlete immune to injury.

The fighters at Gym Jones often deal with injuries. On any given day at least one person in the group is suffering from some kind of injury so we must often adjust programming to work around it.

Being injured doesn’t necessarily mean training must be avoided. Some people find it a convenient excuse but the dedicated find a way to maintain fitness while recovering and rehabilitating. Doing something is better than doing nothing (in the majority of cases).

When I blew my left shoulder I had to choose between taking six months off or spending six months working on every other physical capacity possible. I started moving around a few days after the surgery. I did a lot of squats, lunges, single-leg press, and cycling on a stationary bike. Later I incorporated other movements including working my right arm as much as I could in the gym: one-arm military press, one-arm pull-ups with an elastic band for assistance, and one-arm seated bench press on the machine (the only time you should ever be on a machine). I came out of that six-month period much further ahead of the game than had I just wasted away and felt sorry for myself.

I have also suffered from three separate knee injuries. After each I didn’t stop training. I went to the gym (sometimes on crutches) and did as many pull-ups, seated military presses and bench presses that I could. I came out of those recovery periods much further ahead as well.

This program is an example of what one could do to maintain strength and fitness while recovering from an upper body injury. The work is not written in stone. Make adjustments based on individual work capacity and the specific nature of the injury. The program is lower body dominant. Add some light upper body work if the injury can tolerate it. If the left arm is hurt add remedial exercises for the right arm. Include doctor-prescribed rehab exercises if it’s a blown a shoulder (do them with both arms). The load and volume one can tolerate varies from case to case. Assume responsibility. Assess accurately. Act accordingly. Above all, be smart about it.

This program lasts one month and requires the participant to train six times per week with one rest day. 

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