Get Lean Even With Injuries


BY CJ MURPHY Men’s Fitness

You don’t have to train for long before you realize what your favorite exercises are. Maybe you relish the ego boost of a heavy bench press, or love what deadlifts do for your overall power. And pullups? You’ve been the king of those since high school. But now ask yourself: What if you couldn’t do those lifts anymore—would you quit working out altogether?

If you’ve been training for a few years, chances are you’re no longer able to do all your favorite lifts, due to injury or age. But that’s no excuse to bail on hard training entirely. Instead, with a few exercise substitutions, you can continue to challenge yourself, build muscle, and burn off the fat to see your abs inside of a month. Our routines work the whole body with joint-friendly movements that help you burn more calories and see your six-pack. This won’t hurt a bit.

When your joints are beat up or you lack flexibility, continuing to perform conventional strength exercises like the squat, bench press, or deadlift can make matters worse, as they’re relatively unforgiving. But there are variations that allow for safer lifting without sacrificing gains.

For instance, you can squat onto a box, which will take pressure off your lower back and knees but still work your quads and hamstrings. To go easier on your shoulders, you can perform chest presses using a neutral grip or while lying on the floor (to cut down the range of motion). And deadlifting with a trap bar instead of a straight one puts you in a stronger pulling position, biomechanically, lessening your risk of back pain while increasing the amount of weight you can lift. Of course, you can make these substitutions to prevent injuries, too. Chances are you’re about to discover a few new favorite exercises either way.

Perform each workout once per week in the order shown. Exercises are performed as straight sets, so you’ll complete all the prescribed sets for one move before going on to the next.

Sets: 3 Reps: 8
Set a box behind you so that when you squat down on it, the creases of your hips are a little above your knees. Grasp the bar with hands as far apart as is comfortable, and step under it. Squeeze your shoulder blades together and nudge the bar out of the rack. Step back and stand with feet shoulder-width apart and toes turned slightly outward. Take a deep breath and bend your hips back, then bend your knees, lowering your butt onto the box. Pause for a moment but don’t relax, then come up.

Sets: 3 Reps: 20
Attach a band to a sturdy object and loop the other end around the back of your knee. Stand back from the anchor point so you feel tension on the band and allow it to pull your knee into a bent position with your heel raised, toes still on the floor. Extend your knee and plant your heel on the floor.

Sets: 4 Reps: 15
Attach a rope handle to the bottom pulley of a cable station and straddle it, facing away from the weight stack. Grasp an end of the rope in each hand and stand far enough in front of the machine to put tension on the cable. Bend your hips back, allowing your knees to bend slightly, until you feel a stretch in your glutes (keep your lower back in its natural arch). Squeeze your glutes and extend your hips to come up to standing.

Sets: 3 Reps: 8
Set the J hooks of a power rack low to the floor, then lie on the floor on your back beneath it. Grasp the bar just outside shoulder width and pull it out of the rack. Lower the bar until your triceps touch the floor, tucking your elbows 45 degrees to your sides. Pause for a moment, then press up.

Sets: As many as needed Reps: 75 total
Wrap a band around a sturdy object or around your back and hold an end in each hand. Open your arms so you feel a stretch in your pecs. Keeping your elbows slightly bent, bring your hands together in front of your chest as if you were giving someone a bear hug.

Sets: 2 Reps: 15
Hold a dumbbell in each hand at shoulder level with palms facing each other and elbows pointing forward. Brace your core and press the weights straight overhead.

Sets: 2 Reps: 15
Hold a dumbbell in each hand with palms facing each other. Keep your upper arms at your sides and curl the weights up.

Sets: As many as needed Reps: 75 total
Attach a band to a sturdy overhead object and grasp the free end with both hands. Tuck your elbows into your sides and extend them to lockout.

Sets: 5 Reps: 5
Use a trap (hex) bar. Stand with feet hip-width apart and bend your hips back. Grasp the handles. Keeping your lower back in its natural arch, drive through your heels and extend your hips and knees to stand up.

Sets: As many as needed Reps: 25 total
Use a pullup bar that has handles so you can grip it with palms facing each other. Or hook a V-grip handle over a straight bar. Pull yourself up until your chin is over the bar. If that’s too hard, loop a band around the bar and stand on the loop on the other end for assistance.

Sets: As many as needed Reps: 50 total
Set a barbell in a power rack (or use a Smith machine) at about hip height. Lie underneath the bar and grasp it with hands just outside shoulder-width apart. Hang from the bar so your body forms a straight line. Squeeze your shoulder blades together and pull yourself up until your back is fully contracted.

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