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  1. #1
    Registered User m314's Avatar
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    Recovery log after biceps tendon surgery

    I ruptured my left distal biceps tendon on June 4 while deadlifting. I described the injury here:

    http://forum.bodybuilding.com/showth...#post894092391

    I had surgery to reattach the tendon on June 12. I spent the first 2 weeks after surgery with my arm immobilized in a hard splint. During this time I exercised at home, doing things like body weight squats, body weight calf raises, crunches, etc.

    I spent the next 4 weeks in a full arm cast. I started going back to the gym 6 days a week doing an improvised machine style of workout. Upper body 3 days a week, lower body 3 days a week, and cardio every day following the weights. I described that workout plan here:

    http://forum.bodybuilding.com/showth...#post919187663

    I had the cast removed at 6 weeks post op. That's when I started doing light machine presses and rows along with squats and good mornings. Last week (week 8), I started using dumbbells instead of the machine presses and rows.

    As of now (week 9), I'm almost back to my old workout plan. I'm still not doing deadlifts (deadlifting just the bar causes pain), and I'm using extremely light weights for everything involving the upper body. I'm able to fully flex and extend the elbow, but I still have wrist and forearm pain from my arm being immobilized for so long. I don't have full range of motion yet for pronation and supination, which means I can't do barbell bench / incline bench / overhead press yet. I'm doing physical therapy twice a week to work on the range of motion.

    This was my workout yesterday, 8/13:

    Dumbbell bench
    25 pounds - 3 sets of 25 (I was doing 14 reps with the 120s before the injury)

    Dumbbell one arm row
    25 pounds - 3 sets of 25 (I could do 8 or 9 at 120 preinjury)

    Dumbbell incline bench
    25 pounds - 3 sets of 25

    Dumbbell shrugs
    25 pounds - 3 sets of 30

    Dumbbell curls
    10 pounds - 3 sets of 25

    Cable pushdowns
    40 pounds - 3 sets of 20

    Cable external rotation (rehab for an old shoulder injury)
    20 pounds - 1 set of 10

    Cable internal rotation
    20 pounds - 1 set of 10

    Today I'll do squats and calf raises. Tomorrow I'll do good mornings (in place of deadlifts) along with weighted crunches and back extensions. Thursday will be assisted dips, assisted pullups, db overhead press, upright rows, curls, and cable pushdowns. Friday will be leg day #2, probably a mix of lighter squats and leg presses.

    My goal is to get back to my old size and strength. I can't push things too quickly, since it's supposed to take a full 16 weeks before the tendon / bone connection is 100%. I'm planning on staying with mostly higher rep workouts for now while gradually increasing the weights. At some point I'll be lifting heavy again in the 8 to 12 rep range.
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  2. #2
    Registered User m314's Avatar
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    8/14

    Squats (ATG)
    135 - 10
    185 - 10
    225 - 10, 10, 8

    Hammer strength seated calf raises
    450 - 20, 20, 20, 20

    Elliptical machine (holding the stationary handles)
    level 4 at 130 strides per minute - 20 minutes

    Calf raises are the one exercise where I didn't lose strength. I'm still working up to my old squat strength. I was doing sets of 6 at 305 a few months ago.
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  3. #3
    Registered User m314's Avatar
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    I was going to use the assisted dip / pullup machine today, but some other guys were occupying it for a while. I figured "what the hell" and decided to try regular body weight dips. The first few hurt my wrist, but after that they felt great. It's an awesome feeling being able to do regular dips again.

    This was today's workout (after 90 minutes of physical therapy):

    db shoulder press
    30s - 25, 22, 20

    ez bar upright row
    40 - 20, 20, 20

    dips (real body weight dips at 235, counting my clothes / wallet / phone / etc)
    9, 11, 11

    close grip lat pulldown machine
    60 - 50 (yes, 50 reps)
    75 - 25, 25

    rope pushdowns
    45 - 16, 16, 16

    db curls
    10 - 35, 25, 25


    In other news, my supination and pronation is getting worse despite the aggressive physical therapy and stretching. I'm 90% sure I have heterotopic ossification blocking the range of motion, even though I haven't had this confirmed yet. My physical therapist thinks I should go back in for an x ray if the ROM hasn't improved by next week.

    If that's the case, I'll have to either go in for a second surgery in a couple months or decide to live with the limited range of motion. That would mean I'll never be able to do barbell bench press, overhead press, barbell rows, etc.
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  4. #4
    Registered User m314's Avatar
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    8/16
    Good mornings
    135 - 5 sets of 11

    Hammer strength crunch machine
    155 (maxed out) - 16, 16, 16, 12

    Elliptical machine
    level 4, 130 strides per minute - 20 minutes
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  5. #5
    Registered User m314's Avatar
    Join Date: Apr 2008
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    8/17

    db bench
    35s - 4 sets of 25

    seated cable rows
    60 - 4 sets of 25

    db incline bench
    35s - 20, 20, 20, 18

    db shrugs
    35s - 4 sets of 25

    cable internal rotation
    20 - 2 sets of 10

    cable external rotation
    20 - 2 sets of 10

    elliptical machine
    level 4 at 130 strides per minute - 20 minutes

    I feel like I can do a lot more, but I'm holding myself back. The arm isn't fully healed yet, so it's risky putting too much stress on the tendon this soon.
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  6. #6
    Registered User m314's Avatar
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    8/20

    db shoulder press
    40s - 20, 20, 18

    ez bar upright rows
    40 - 25, 25, 25

    dips
    12, 13, 13

    close grip lat pulldowns
    75 - 35, 40, 35

    cable external rotation
    20 - 10

    cable internal rotation
    20 - 15

    db curls
    10 - 25

    rope pushdowns
    50 - 15

    elliptical machine
    level 4 at 130 strides per minute - 20 minutes
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  7. #7
    Registered User m314's Avatar
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    8/21

    squats
    135 - 10
    185 - 10
    225 - 11, 11, 10

    seated calf raises
    450 - 4 sets of 20

    elliptical machine
    level 4 at 130 strides per minute - 20 minutes


    8/22
    good mornings
    135 - 4 sets of 12

    hammer strength crunch machine
    155 - 3 sets of 18

    elliptical machine
    level 4 at 130 strides per minute - 20 minutes


    8/23
    elliptical machine
    level 4 at 140 strides per minute - 20 minutes


    Some friends on a different forum are telling me I'm being too aggressive with the weights this early. The tendon / bone connection isn't supposed to be 100% until the 16 week point. I'm still at week 10. I'll probably slow down a little with the upper body work to give it more time to heal. I don't want to risk damaging the surgical repair site by lifting too heavy too early.
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  9. #9
    Registered User m314's Avatar
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    Smile

    Thanks. I've been talking about this with some other people on a different forum. Hopefully it's one you'll never be interested in joining. It's an exclusive club.

    http://tendonsurgeryinfo.com/distalbiceps/index.php

    The recovery isn't going exactly as planned. My range of motion for supination and pronation (turning the hand palm up and palm down) is very limited, and it hasn't improved after a month of aggressive physical therapy. I'm seeing a doctor to get an x ray on Monday to see what's blocking the motion in the elbow.

    It's starting to look like I'll need another surgery if I want to get the full ROM back. They don't usually consider that until 4 or 5 months after the first surgery, so I'll have to wait a couple more months. Right now I'm planning on sticking with light weights for upper body stuff so I don't risk damaging the tendon while it's healing.
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  10. #10
    Registered User m314's Avatar
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    I didn't have time to work out yesterday, since I spent half the day at the doctor's office. The recovery isn't going as planned.

    The x rays from yesterday show heterotopic ossification between the radius and ulna. The new bone growth (ossification) is spreading from the site of the suture anchor. That's what has been blocking my range of motion ever since they took the cast off.







    No amount of stretching or physical therapy can fix this. A second surgery can fix it. They'll have to chisel away the new bone growth, use radiation to stop the bone from growing, and then keep my arm moving for a few days with a continous passive motion machine. I can't keep the arm at rest this time like I did after the tendon surgery.

    I'll have to stop doing upper body lifts for a few more months, but I should be able to start up again next year. I'll eventually get my old strength back. For now I'm planning on continuing with the lower body lifts and cardio up until the time of surgery. I don't know exactly when that's going to be. From what I've read, they have to wait 16 weeks after the first operation so the tendon will be fully healed. That would put the second surgery somewhere in October.

    I'll have to go back to leg press and other machines after surgery (can't do squats or good mornings with one arm), but only temporarily. With luck, I'll be able to deadlift again next year. With luck I'll also be able to do barbell bench press and overhead press again. I haven't been able to do those since May.
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  11. #11
    Registered User m314's Avatar
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    8/28/2012

    I didn't sleep last night, so I didn't feel like pushing myself today.

    squats
    135 - 10
    185 - 10
    225 - 10, 10, 10

    calf raises
    450 - 20, 20, 20, 20
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  12. #12
    Registered User m314's Avatar
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    8/29/2012

    good mornings
    135 - 4 sets of 13

    decline crunches
    35, 30, 30, 30

    cable external rotation
    20 - 10, 10

    cable internal rotation
    20 - 10, 10

    elliptical machine
    level 4 at 130 strides per minute - 20 minutes
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  13. #13
    Registered User m314's Avatar
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    8/30/2012

    dips
    12, 13, 14, 10

    assisted chinups
    115 pounds - 14, 14, 12

    cable rows
    75 - 20, 20, 20

    hammer strength bench press machine
    160 - 10, 10, 10
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  14. #14
    Registered User m314's Avatar
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    I'm going out tonight, so today was a light workout. Had to save some energy for Friday night fun in the city.

    good mornings
    135 - 3 sets of 10

    squats
    135 - 4 sets of 10

    hammer strength calf raises
    450 - 4 sets of 20

    elliptical machine
    level 4 at 130 strides per minute - 20 minutes
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  15. #15
    Registered User m314's Avatar
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    9/4

    db bench
    40s - 3 sets of 25

    db rows
    40 - 3 sets of 10

    db incline bench
    40s - 3 sets of 20

    ez bar upright rows
    40 - 3 sets of 20

    cable internal rotation
    20 - 10

    cable external rotation
    20 - 10

    rope pushdowns
    50 - 3 sets of 10


    I'm seeing my original doctor first thing tomorrow morning. I should get a better idea of the timing for the next surgery then. I'm hoping to get it over with ASAFP, but from what I've read I might have to wait another month or two.
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  16. #16
    Registered User m314's Avatar
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    9/5

    squats
    135 - 10
    185 - 10
    225 - 12, 11, 10

    hammer strength calf raises
    450 - 4 sets of 20

    elliptical machine
    level 4 at 130 strides per minute - 20 minutes


    I saw my original doctor again today. He confirmed what I already knew, that I'll need surgery to get the range of motion back with the arm. I'm waiting on an appointment for a new MRI so he can see exactly what needs to be done.
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  17. #17
    Registered User m314's Avatar
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    9/6

    good mornings
    135 - 10
    155 - 4 sets of 10

    hammer strength crunches
    155 - 20, 20, 18, 10

    elliptical machine
    level 4 at 130 strides per minute - 10 minutes
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  18. #18
    Registered User m314's Avatar
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    Age: 39
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    9/7

    Another short workout today.

    dips
    3 sets of 16

    assisted chinups
    70 pounds - 3 sets of 10

    db shoulder press
    45s - 3 sets of 12

    db shrugs
    45s - 3 sets of 20
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  19. #19
    Registered User m314's Avatar
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    9/10

    dips
    17, 17, 14

    assisted chinups
    70 - 12, 12, 10

    db shoulder press
    50s - 12, 10, 10

    ez bar upright rows
    50 - 18, 18, 18

    cable external rotation
    20 - 10, 10

    cable internal rotation
    20 - 10, 10

    elliptical machine
    level 3 at 130 strides per minute - 20 minutes


    9/11

    The squat rack was occupied for a while, so I did my first 4 sets out in the bench press area. I got some strange looks.

    squats
    135 - 10
    185 - 10, 10, 10
    225 - 10, 10, 10

    hammer strength calf raises
    450 - 21, 21, 19, 20

    elliptical machine
    level 4 at 130 strides per minute - 20 minutes


    9/12

    good mornings
    135 - 10
    165 - 10, 10, 10

    Romanian deadlifts
    45 - 20, 20, 20

    decline crunches
    30, 30, 25

    elliptical machine
    level 4 at 130 strides per minute - 20 minutes

    The last time I tried deadlifts was about 5 weeks ago. It felt uncomfortable with just the bar, but I did a few sets anyway. I couldn't sleep for a few nights after that since my arm hurt so much. Today felt 100% better. There was no pain or discomfort this time.
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  20. #20
    Registered User m314's Avatar
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    9/14

    db bench press
    50s - 25, 25, 25

    db rows
    50 - 12, 12, 12

    db incline bench
    50s - 16, 15, 15

    db shrugs
    50s - 20, 20, 20

    cable external rotation
    20 - 10

    cable internal rotation
    20 - 10

    elliptical machine
    level 4 at 130 strides per minute - 20 minutes


    I spent the afternoon at the doctor's office yesterday. This is the one that did the x rays for me, not my original surgeon. I think I'm going with this one for the next operation. He has fixed injuries for several professional athletes in the area, and he seems like he really knows what he's doing. He had actually read the same studies I read on PubMed about radioulnar heterotopic ossification, what he's going to fix surgically.

    He recommends waiting until December to do the next surgery. I'll have 3 months to get back into semi-decent shape by then. I can't do any barbell lifts for now except squats, good mornings, and ultra light deadlifts. I should be able to do barbell bench and overhead press next spring, with relatively heavy deadlifts again maybe next summer.
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  21. #21
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    Just passing through and I saw biceps tendon - that caught my eye as I have bicep tendonosis.

    Your determination is remarkable, I don't think you ever learned the word "quit." I'm impressed.

    I'm a little surprised at the lack of responses, but I'll subscribe and follow along.
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  22. #22
    Registered User m314's Avatar
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    Thanks. I used to have issues with tendonosis myself. The issues usually came from going too heavy on curls or bent over rows. It seemed to clear up when I'd use lighter weight / higher rep sets for a few weeks. I didn't have any tendon issues at the time of the injury; it just snapped without any warning. Lesson learned, no more heavy mixed grip deadlifts.

    I've been lifting weights since I was 14, so it would take a lot more than this to make me quit. It would be nice to lift heavier weights. Right now I'm planning on going up 5 pounds a week with the dumbbell exercises until I get to the 10 to 12 rep range. It will be a while before I'm benching the 120s again.
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  23. #23
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    Originally Posted by m314 View Post
    Thanks. I used to have issues with tendonosis myself. The issues usually came from going too heavy on curls or bent over rows. It seemed to clear up when I'd use lighter weight / higher rep sets for a few weeks. I didn't have any tendon issues at the time of the injury; it just snapped without any warning. Lesson learned, no more heavy mixed grip deadlifts.

    I've been lifting weights since I was 14, so it would take a lot more than this to make me quit. It would be nice to lift heavier weights. Right now I'm planning on going up 5 pounds a week with the dumbbell exercises until I get to the 10 to 12 rep range. It will be a while before I'm benching the 120s again.
    I'll be looking forward to seeing that! I pretty much healed mine with the help of a PT. Also I just dropped direct bicep work for quite awhile. TBH when I dropped the direct Bi work, I saw very little change in the size of my arms.

    How much were you pulling when you got injured? Were you good and warm?
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  24. #24
    Registered User m314's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Bando View Post
    I'll be looking forward to seeing that! I pretty much healed mine with the help of a PT. Also I just dropped direct bicep work for quite awhile. TBH when I dropped the direct Bi work, I saw very little change in the size of my arms.

    How much were you pulling when you got injured? Were you good and warm?
    I dropped direct biceps work for a long time too. I added it back in around the beginning of the year, but only lighter weights. I'd do some combination of rows and chinups first, then a few sets of db curls with the 40s or 50s afterwards when my arms were tired. That didn't bring back the tendon pain, but curling the 60s would have.

    I was pulling 500 when the injury happened. I got 495 the first time a couple weeks earlier, so it wasn't a big jump in weight. I tried 500 with my right hand supinated at first, and I got it. 5 minutes later I tried it with my left hand supinated. The left distal tendon snapped when I was about halfway up. I had only been using a mixed grip for a few months prior to that. I got up to 435 with a double overhand grip with chalk, but I couldn't hold on to the bar long enough at 440. I switched to a mixed grip and went way up in weight in a short time. That's probably one of the reasons for the injury.

    This was my deadlift workout that day:

    225 - 3
    315 - 2
    405 - 1
    500 - 1, 1/2

    I had to count that last half rep. I don't know if warming up more would have helped anything. I had been keeping my warmups minimal so I'd have more energy for the heavy sets. If the injury hadn't happened, I would have done 3 more sets of 3 at 405 to finish that part of the workout. I'm done with those kinds of workouts. I'll stick to 8+ reps per set once I'm able to deadlift again. I'm not competing in powerlifting, so I'm not going to go for one rep maxes anymore.

    What kind of physical therapy did you do for tendonosis? I hadn't heard of that before. I had heard the only way to fix it was to stop lifting (or lift lighter) while it heals.
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  25. #25
    Registered User m314's Avatar
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    9/17

    dumbbell bench press
    55s - 25, 23, 21

    dumbbell rows
    55 - 12, 12, 12

    dumbbell incline press
    55s - 15, 13, 11

    dumbbell shrugs
    55s - 20, 20, 20

    cable external rotation
    20 - 10, 10

    cable internal rotation
    30 - 10, 10

    elliptical machine
    level 4 at 130 strides per minute - 20 minutes


    I feel like I could go much heavier with db bench, but I need to be careful. Picking up the dumbbells and getting them into position for the first rep is the riskiest part. I'll keep going up 5 pounds a week for now. If everything goes as planned, I could be benching the 100s before the next surgery. Before the injury, I was benching the 120s and using the 100s for incline and overhead press. I should get back to that strength sometime next year.
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  26. #26
    Registered User m314's Avatar
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    9/18

    squats
    135 - 10
    185 - 10
    235 - 10, 10, 10

    calf raises
    450 - 21, 21, 20, 20

    elliptical machine
    level 4 at 130 strides per minute - 10 minutes
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  27. #27
    Registered User m314's Avatar
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    9/19

    good mornings
    135 - 10
    170 - 10, 10, 10

    Romanian deadlifts
    65 - 25, 25, 25, 25

    decline crunches
    30, 25, 25, 25

    elliptical
    level 4 at 140 strides per minute - 20 minutes
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  28. #28
    Registered User m314's Avatar
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    I'm getting sick with a cold or something, so today's workout was short. I'll skip tomorrow's workout if it gets any worse.

    9/20

    dumbbell overhead press
    55s - 15, 15, 12

    ez bar upright rows
    60 - 16, 16, 16

    dips
    16, 12

    assisted chinups
    70 - 12, 10
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  29. #29
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    Originally Posted by m314 View Post
    9/17

    dumbbell bench press
    55s - 25, 23, 21

    dumbbell rows
    55 - 12, 12, 12

    dumbbell incline press
    55s - 15, 13, 11

    dumbbell shrugs
    55s - 20, 20, 20

    cable external rotation
    20 - 10, 10

    cable internal rotation
    30 - 10, 10

    elliptical machine
    level 4 at 130 strides per minute - 20 minutes


    I feel like I could go much heavier with db bench, but I need to be careful. Picking up the dumbbells and getting them into position for the first rep is the riskiest part. I'll keep going up 5 pounds a week for now. If everything goes as planned, I could be benching the 100s before the next surgery. Before the injury, I was benching the 120s and using the 100s for incline and overhead press. I should get back to that strength sometime next year.
    I have a method where I bend over and just get them to my knees, then do a turtle roll to get them in position, for me it's safer than unracking a bar.
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  30. #30
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    Originally Posted by Bando View Post
    I have a method where I bend over and just get them to my knees, then do a turtle roll to get them in position, for me it's safer than unracking a bar.
    I use a similiar technique. I do a dumbbell deadlift off the floor in front of the bench, put them in front of my knees, and sit down. Then do the turtle roll thing for flat bench or kick them into position one at a time with my knees if I'm doing incline or overhead press.

    Picking them up is the dangerous part. I can feel the weight pulling at the surgical reattachment site when I'm holding something heavy in my hand. It's not bad with 55, but picking up a 120 might damage something at this point. I'll keep going up 5 pounds a week for now until I'm at the 8 to 12 rep range. I'm almost there with overhead press, sadly. I expect to get up to at least 80 or 90 with bench before it starts getting difficult. My goal now is to bench the 100s for reps before my next surgery. Next year's goal will be the 120s.

    Unracking a bar would be safer for most people at this point post-surgery. I can't pronate my forearm at all, so I can't grip the bar with my hand like that at the moment. I should be able to do barbell bench after the next surgery. I'll still probably stick with mostly dumbbells for bench and overhead press, but I'd like to do barbell bench and military press at least once a month or so.

    I'm skipping today's workout. I'll probably do a short workout on Monday, but no cardio until I'm over this cold.
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