7 Ways to Fix Your Shoulders


As you may know by now I suffered a torn rotator cuff and labrum that required surgery. The injury was a long time in the making and the destruction of my shoulder began many years ago when I was doing stupid things like isometric training in the power rack and other high risk, low reward methods.

Before surgery I was sitting at about 227 pounds. After several months of being incapacitated and eating like a normal human I was down to 179! Like I’ve always said, my hardgainer genetics are freakishly bad. Hell, my wrists don’t even measure seven inches around.

Anyway, the comeback has been long and frustrating. Because I have the undying urge to go heavy whenever I get near iron and the fact that rational thought processes go out the window after I start warming up, I have reinjured my shoulder a couple times throughout the rehab process. Needless to set these setbacks have been incredibly stressful and annoying to deal with.

While training together at CJ Murphy’s gym in Boston once, my friend Dave Tate commented, “You think Jay’s a smart guy until you see some of the stupid shit he does when he’s training.”

And he was 100% right. I do stupid shit. Often and with reckless abandon. It’s my greatest downfall in life. Has been for as long as I can remember. Whether it be flipping dirt bikes, jumping off cliffs or trying to do heavy cleans with an injured shoulder, I just lose control of my rational thought processes when the adrenaline kicks in.

Anyway, the purpose of today’s update is to let you know that after 20 plus years of training I seem to have finally smartened up and have been a bit wiser with my decision making in the gym as of late. As a result my shoulder is feeling a lot better and I’m regaining size and strength pretty quickly.

I’m now back up around 220. It’s a little smaller and softer 220 than how I used to look at this weight but I’ll take it for now. At the rate I’m going I’ll be gaining a lot more size back over the next few weeks and months and I can lean down when I decide the time is right.

After I completed the Triple Threat Muscle program and made great gains, I decided that I was back closer to an advanced level and needed to change my training back to what I used to do pre-surgery. The only difference was that there would have to be major modifications due to the shoulder injury.

So what have been the biggest changes that have made all the difference as of late?

1)    I always do a general warm up lasting at least 10 minutes. This consists of various mobility drills and isometric holds for injury prone areas. Years ago I might have walked into the gym in a rush and skipped my warm up entirely. Now I would never dream of it.

2)    I do more specific shoulder warm ups. After my general warm up, on an upper body day, I do specific shoulder warm ups. These consist of YTWL’s or something similar. Instead of that sequence I may just do bent over Y-raises, lateral raises, bent over rear delt raises, standing front raises, standing external rotations, all in a row for ten reps each with a pair of fives. After that I will always do two sets of external rotations lying on my side for 12-20 reps. Another great one is to take a medicine ball and place it against the wall. With your hand pressed against it you do the alphabet. I got this one from my friend,  Keith Scott and it works like a charm.

3)    Shoulder dislocations with a broomstick. These are part of number 2 but are so important that they need an individual mention. Nothing has helped my shoulder more than these. I do 25 reps before every workout and 25-50 reps another couple days per week even when I’m not training. I can’t recommend this drill highly enough. I only wish I had known about it years ago.

4)    I do higher reps on my warm up sets. In the past when I was ready to start my work sets I would minimize the reps on warm up sets only because I couldn’t wait to get to the heavy sets. I just wanted to get my warm ups over as fast as humanly possible and load the bar up with heavy weight.

Big mistake.

Let’s say I was going to pull 455 for 10. My warm up sets would look like this:

135 x 5

225 x 5

315 x 1-3

405 x 1

455 x 10- work set

In retrospect that just seems silly to me now. There’s no way you’re adequately warmed up doing that.

Last night I did barbell military presses. I know I probably shouldn’t even be pressing a bar at this point in my life but I love it and need it. It’s an addiction. My warm ups went like this:

45 x 20

75 x 10

95 x 10

115 x 10

135 x 12- work set

Here’s a video of that last set:

(turn down your speakers, the music’s kinda loud)

The difference this made was immeasurable. I can’t even begin to tell you how much better I felt doing this than I would have had I done my old style warm up where I got zero pump or blood flow and felt the sets more in my joints than I did in the belly of the muscle.

Does this limit the amount of weight I can do on my heaviest work sets? Maybe a bit. But I don’t think the extra few pounds is worth the risk of injury. The body will adapt.

5)    I don’t go below eight reps on upper body exercises. And most of my sets fall in the range of 10-12. I will actually only go down to eight reps only after an adequate warm up and maybe a few work sets at a higher rep range. Now, this isn’t to say I will never go below eight reps because I’m sure eventually I will. But right now I have no intentions of doing so. It’s just not worth it.

Having said that, what I do is not necessarily what you should do. Hardgainers who try to train solely in the range of 10-12 reps will remain skinny and weak forever. This rep range is better suited for advanced, stronger lifters.

6)    I stay far away from failure. I have always recommended this and have practiced what I preached for the most part. But in all honesty, I would let myself get a little out of control in the heat of battle. I rarely ever miss a weight in training but in the past I have come too close too many times. I never, ever allow this anymore. All of reps are piston like, smooth and fast, with control and picture perfect technique, and I never come near failure.

7)    I use a limited range of motion. I know, I know you are always supposed to use a full range of motion on every exercise you do.

Except for the fact that it’s unnatural and dangerous I guess that old rehashed advice makes some kind of sense.

Do me a favor. Hold your hands up in position to do a barbell military press. Now draw an invisible line connecting your two hands. I’ll bet the invisible bar is not sitting on your upper chest. If it is chances are you’re incredibly skinny. Which isn’t a bad thing if you’re a beginner. I’m just making a point here.

For most of us the invisible bar will a couple inches above your chest. If you hold a broomstick in this position, without intentionally trying to bring the bar to your chest, it will probably be around chin level, and that’s where you should be pressing from.


Because it’s natural. Bringing it down to your chest would place a lot of undue stress on your shoulders.

Now if you want to count a strict press and compete against someone or whatnot you would technically have to touch your chest. But since there aren’t too many military press contests around I would opt for the safer range and keep the bar somewhere around chin level in the bottom position.

Dead hang chin ups and full extension barbell curls have the same type of destructive effect on the joints. This discussion in itself requires a full article but for now we’ll leave it at that…

No extreme, unnatural ranges of motion.

One final point I would like to make is that I always start my workouts with long sleeves or a hooded sweatshirt unless it’s a minimum of 80 degrees in the gym (and preferably closer to 90). I don’t peel a layer off until near the end, when all the heavy lifting is done. If it’s in the 60’s or 70’s in the gym I stay bundled up throughout. This is nothing new as I’ve always done that. But I thought I’d mention it because it’s a great way to stay healthy. Sometimes people are scared of sweating and want to open the door or turn on the fan or complain about the heat. Little do they know it’s actually helping them stay injury free.

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About Jason Ferruggia 7 Articles

What’s up, fellow non-conformists and Renegades?

Are you’re looking to rise above the status quo? To stick a knife in the heart of mediocrity? Seeking a better way to train, eat and live life on your own terms? Then you’re in the right place.

I’m Jay Ferruggia. My work’s been featured in Muscle & Fitness, Maximum Fitness, Men’s Health, Men’s Fitness, ESPN, CBS, Fast Company, The Huffington Post, LiveStrong, and Details.

I don’t believe most of the typical training and nutrition advice being espoused all over the internet. I think it’s bullshit.

I don’t believe anyone has to be unhappy or lead a life that’s anything less than completely fulfilling.

I write, make videos and podcast about those things in an effort to help you become the strongest version of yourself; a certified badass, if you will (say that last part like Dusty Rhodes. Only 5% of you will get that. Whatever.)

I’m a strong proponent of the 80/20 rule and try to simplify everything down to what is truly essential.

The Beginning

As a kid, growing up in small town New Jersey I was infatuated with superheroes and desperately wanted to be one.

Unfortunately, I was a skinny-fat dork with a retainer and the WORST feathered hairdo you’ve ever seen. If that wasn’t enough my mom sent my brother and I to school in matching outfits. Brutal.

I know it sounds cliched like the 98-pound weakling story, but in my case it’s 100% true.. I was always the weakest, skinniest kid in school. I was also painfully shy and insecure, always struggling to fit in.

In 8th grade I decided I had to change my situation so I started lifting.  At the time I was doing what I read in the muscle mags and it got me nowhere. After five hard years of training I graduated high school weighing a whopping 147 pounds at six feet tall. Things didn’t get much better in college.

But finally, after many years of trial and error I figured out what really works for genetically average, steroid-free guys like us.

In 1994 I started my own “superhero training academy,” which was my private, underground Renegade Gym where I helped guys completely transform their bodies in record time. Since then I’ve helped thousands of people get bigger, leaner, more confident and become the strongest version of themselves.

How I Can Help You

I’ve overcome a lot of obstacles and demons; many of which you may be struggling with right now. I can relate and I can help.

If you’re reading this you’re probably something like I was/am…

    • Genetically cursed when it comes to building muscle & losing fat
    • Skinny-fat (very little muscle, but zero definition and a pot belly)
    • Or just fat with no muscle (been there)
    • Narrow shoulders and wide hips
    • Small joints and a pencil neck
    • Pipe cleaner arms and string bean calves
    • Always getting injured
    • Always getting sick
    • Always stressed out
    • Never getting anywhere in the gym
    • Shy, insecure and lacking confidence
    • Possibly struggling with addiction and bad habits (like I was)

Katherine Cowgill by Teren Oddo Oct. 2015

I’ve been coaching people for over 20 years and have worked with high school to pro athletes, firemen, armed forces members, CEO’s, weekend warriors and fitness enthusiast of all kinds. When they follow the Renegade Method of training, they get big, they get strong, they get jacked, they get lean and they get in shape. Period.

In addition to the physical aspect I spent years studying and developing mental strength techniques that completely changed my mind state.

Through this website I’ve been able to help over 300,000 regular readers make amazing physical and mental transformations.  And I can help you completely transform your body, mind and life.

The good news is it won’t take you anywhere near as long as it took me. You can learn from my mistakes and experiences.

I was born with zero gifts or talents. If I can do it anyone can. There is no reason to be average.

There is no reason to settle for mediocrity, to fall in line with the status quo, to conform. There is no reason why you can’t be jacked, strong, fit, happy and healthy.

There is no reason why you can’t have the body, the girl, the dream life. That’s what this site is all about. Helping you get better every day. So pour a cup of coffee, turn up some Public Enemy or Henry Rollins and dig in…

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