I got the above question from one of my followers who is suffering through a spinal injury and can not train for an extended period of time.
So the question is: How to you make it through recovery without gaining too much fat and losing muscle?
The first thing that needs adjusting is your diet. Since your activity level is probably less, you need less fuel aka carbs think 50% less. Fats can also we cut albeit not so drastically, more along the 30% line.
Protein should stay high since we need to keep muscle on.
What about training?
Glad you asked. If we only injured one joint such as a knee or shoulder, we still have options.
A shoulder injury is your chance to get your chicken legs up to par with your upper body.
With a knee injury you still be able to do light straight leg work such as deadlifts or banded deads. As for the upper body , you should per from most exercises seated to avoid additional stress.
But what if you encountered a catastrophic injury that forces you to stay in bed for days on end? This is where isometrics truly shine. Flexing your muscles, along with a sufficient protein intake, will give your body the inventive to keep most of it. Plus, you get to pose in bed so thats cool. You will not believe this but this is one time electro stimulation has a place in bodybuilding.
Remember the electric pads for the abs? That does not work but a quality electro stimulation device used properly once a day will prevent atrophy.
Of course the best rehab is not get injured in the first place so be watchful for muscular imbalances in your body as they can be a sign of an injury to come.
Simply run the following five tests at your next workout and see where you are.
1. The rotator cuff test:
Sit one a bench, with one foot elevated. Then grab a small dumbbell, prop the elbow against the knee and rotate the weight upward for 10-12 reps. If you can not use 8-10 % of your incline bench weight, you are on the fast track for a blown out shoulder.
3×10/10 barbell pullovers and pushes on the floor. Lay on the floor, grab a small barbell, perform 10 pull overs and 10 overhead presses, where you simply roll the barbell away from your head. The goal is to keep the shoulder blades and elbows close to the floor.
3×10 inward rotations at the cable
3×10 outward rotations at cable
3×10 reverse shrugs. This exercise is set up as follows: sit at the lat pull down, medium wide overhand grip. Pull the shoulder blades down for about 2-3 inches without bending the elbows. The goal is to work the lower part of the traps, without involving the latissimus or the biceps too much.
2. The wall slides test:
Stand leaning against a wall, while raising the hands above the head. If your shoulders come off or can’t stay close to the wall, your shoulder flexibility is impaired and an injury is on its way.
3×10/10 barbell pull overs and overhead presses on floor ( basically rolling a small barbell up and down)
3×10 reverse shrugs
3×10 face pulls
30 towel /band rotations
3. The push/pull ratio test:
If your bent over row does not match your incline bench, add 10-20 pull ups every workout in order to avoid a shoulder impingement.
4. The Box squat test:
You should be able to squat 70% of your regular squat for about 5-6 reps. If your strength is substantially lower, your knees and lower back are at risk.
2×10 overhead squats
2×30 seconds wall sits, watch out if the knees are buckling inward
3×5 box squats, push knees out, heels planted
3×8 single leg press
3×6 stiff legged deads
5. Overhead Squat test:
Perform ten overhead squats, ideally have someone tape you on the cell phone from all angles . Watch for the following issues:
a. Knees buckling inwards
b. lower back collapses
If either one occurs, you have weak glutes and a tight (and most likely) weak lower back
3×30 supermen lower back raise
3×8 pull throughs supersetted with light overhead squats
You can perform the warm ups before each workout for about four to five weeks. Those 8-15 minutes will save you month of rehab time!
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