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Can I Still Workout With A Rotator Cuff Injury?

By Amanda Reck / April 10, 2018

You’ve got questions, we’ve got answers. Every week, the BuiltLean Team addresses your fitness and nutrition questions. Read on to find out more.

  1. Can I still workout with a rotator cuff injury?
  2. Do L-arginine and glutamine help decrease fat and increase lean muscle?
  3. Will the v-ups abs exercise help me burn fat? (V-up exercise youtube video)
  4. What’s the body fat % where most chest fat is gone?
  5. Why are there no arm exercises in the BuiltLean Program?

Question #1 – Can I still workout with a rotator cuff injury?

Question: Any suggestions for workouts that can be done while waiting for a rotator cuff injury to heal? Also, in your opinion, after a rotator cuff injury are people ever able to really get back to the workouts / weights they were used to? – Sheri
Answer: Sheri,
If you are concerned about losing fitness during your upper body injury, I would recommend using a stationary bike as an alternative to running, or swimming, or any exercise using movement of your shoulders. Lower extremity body weight exercises such as lunges, squats, can also be implemented. As far as getting back to workouts after a rotator cuff injury, it all depends on the extent of the injury. With most Physical Therapy offices, after the rehab is over, it means that you are cleared to perform daily physical activity, which mainly consist of low intensity movements. High impact activities such as lifting weights takes a lot longer for you to regain the same strength you had prior to the injury. I would speak with your Physical Therapist and see what he/she has to say about your rotator cuff injury. Hope this helps!

Kwesi (Kwesi Peters, CPT, Community Manager)

Question #2 – Do L-arginine and glutamine help decrease fat and increase lean muscle?

Question: I have a question about L-arginine and Glutamine. Do they help to decrease fat and increase muscle mass? Do you have any experience with these supplements? – Markku
Answer: L-arginine and Glutamine are two types of amino acids, which means they are two of the 20 building blocks of proteins. Consuming them in supplement form can help build muscle mass, but they can also be found in natural foods. Also, nutrition or supplements are only part of the entire puzzle of building muscle. You need the necessary stimulus to start the process, which is accomplished through resistance training. While we have written a lot of articles on the efficacy of supplements, we will add glutamine and l-arganine to the list!

Kwesi (Kwesi Peters, CPT, Community Manager)

Question #3 – Will the v-ups abs exercise help me burn fat?

Question: Question: Will doing this v-up abs exercise help me burn more fat? Thanks – Christopher
Answer: Any form of exercise is more effective when you have your nutrition dialed in. Nutrition typically has the biggest impact on your exercise goals, particularly if your goal is to lose body fat. Strength training helps to shape your body and encourage your body to preserve lean muscle while instead using fat for fuel. In short, this exercise will be most effective as part of a complete workout and nutrition program. Hope that answers your question!

Kristin (Kristin Rooke, CSCS, CPT)

Question #4 – What’s the body fat % where most chest fat is gone?

Question: Thanks for the article, Charlie!
In your experience, what’s the body fat % where most chest fat is gone? I’m aware that every body stores fat differently, but is there an approximate target range to strive for?
I’ve gone down from 25%~ to 14%~, and while I feel great and have very little stomach fat, the chest fat remains stubborn. It has definitely been reduced, but it’s still enough to make me uncomfortable. I am planning on dropping down to 10% anyway, but having an idea of where the goal-post lies would be comforting. – Andreas
Answer: Great question, Andreas. I wish I had a definitive answer, but as you said everyone is different. But since you asked, here are my thoughts:If you have very little stomach fat at 14%, then it is likely that most of the remaining extra fat is in your chest. Therefore, it is reasonable to assume that a significant portion of every pound of fat you lose will come from your chest. Let’s look at how much fat would be lost if a 200 lb. person went from 14% to 10% (and I am using this number because you didn’t mention how much you weigh) using the builtlean calculation from this article: http://www.builtlean.com/2011/08/24/lean-body-mass-definition-formula/

Lean Body Mass = Body Weight – (Body Weight x Body Fat %)
Lean Body Mass = 200 – (200 x 14 %) = 172 pounds (28 pounds of fat)

Now assuming your lean mass stays the same, we can use the same equation but this time the variable is the body weight:
172 = x -(x)(10%)
172 = x – 0.1x
172 = 0.9x
body weight = 191.1
Subtracting the lean body mass from the body weight will give you the fat mass.
Fat mass: 191.1-172 = 19.1 pounds.

Thus, to get to 10% from 14%, a 200 lb. person would need to lose about 9 pounds of fat (28-19.1). If most of this came from the chest (and it should as you have said your belly fat is minimal), I suspect our example would be very happy at 10%. If your weight is significantly more or less, then plug in your weight and see what comes up. If you want to post those numbers I would be more than happy to comment. Let us know!

If my math is wrong, I truly apologize.

Charlie Seltzer ( Charlie Seltzer, MD, CES, DABOM)

Question #5 – Why are there no arm exercises in the BuiltLean Program?

Question: Are there no arm exercises in the BuiltLean Program? – Brook
Answer: Arms exercises are in the program, but they are optional. I haven’t done many arm exercises in over 2 years and my body looks and feels better because of it. If you have small arms and want to get them bigger, then doing some extra arm exercises makes sense. If not, I just don’t think they are necessary!

Marc Perry ( Marc Perry, CSCS, CPT)


  • Jonathan says:

    I have completed quite a few marathons in the past. I have also had a slight achilles tendon tear as well, but this summer it's gotten much worse. I really want to run the marathon I signed up for in two months. Is there anything I can do to strengthen it so I can still run the marathon?

    • Marc Perry, CSCS, CPT says:

      @Jonathan - An Achilles tendon tear is a very serious injury that usually takes a long time to heal. For the very little I know about your predicament, it sounds like the marathon may not be a smart idea for you. I would check in with your doctor asap and see what he says. On the bright side, you can be stronger and fitter the next time around. When prepping for a marathon, it's key to foam roll a ton, drink a bunch of water, and strength train => Strength Training For Runners.

  • Brian says:

    Does blanching almonds take away all the nutrients that you get when eating almonds? I've been trying to incorporate more almonds into my diet and I was just curious as I prefer blanched almonds if it doens't take away from the nutrients of the nuts.

    • Marc Perry, CSCS, CPT says:

      Brian - blanching almonds does not take away any of the nutrients you get when eating almonds. The purpose of blanching almonds is simply to get the skins off. If that's what you like and it's easy for you to do, go for it! Almonds are a great fat loss food with a solid nutrient profile and interestingly, our bodies are inefficient at absorbing the calories.