#HPStories: Debbie’s Journey From Shoulder Injury to Muscle Up

Trying to max up your best lifts everytime is a surefire way to ensure no progress and create a high risk of injury.

When Deborah Ko (Debbie) first arrived at Higher Performance, she had complaints of frequent neck pain with sub-optimal movement patterns. Together, we set out the following goals:

  1. pack on muscle mass,
  2. reduce body fat,
  3. & most importantly, help her manage her neck injuries by ‘bulletproof-ing’ her neck and back.

In addition, we also set out a BHAG (aka Big Hairy Audacious Goal) of achieving 10 pull ups!  

The first order of business was to get Debbie pain-free. It was important that she seek medical help from a physiotherapist to receive treatment for her neck. This also provided us with an accurate picture of her condition so that we could prescribe exercises that did not aggravate her injuries while we started on correcting movement patterns.

Debbie had an aberrant shoulder movement pattern where her right shoulder would shrug up and try to compensate. This was most prevalent during pulling patterns such as chin up, pull ups, lat pulldowns, etc.

The plan, reducing the load where she was able to do pulling movements without any compensations from her right shoulder. This initial training goal was aimed at cleaning up her movement patterns & to build strength without any compensations.  

Debbie’s initial pull-up

When given a rep range of 8-10 reps, Debbie will do 10 reps without hesitation. This perfectly illustrated Debbie’s training sensibility as she was someone who liked to be pushed to the limits. That was something we had to carefully manage throughout her training cycle.

There were days where she was pushed to the limits, but mostly she was challenged, but not “smashed” or “finished”. 

With these guiding principles and thought processes, Debbie was able to progress from 1 pull up to 12 pull ups within a year – crushing her BHAG goal!

By focusing exclusively on training the muscle up (incorporating accessories such as the false grip muscle up transition, false grip flexed arm hang, etc.) Debbie had impressively achieved her first rep as a wonderful Christmas gift!

False Grip Muscle Up Transition

False Grip Flexed Arm Hang

She was also able to achieve body recomposition (by reducing 4% body fat while packing on 2kg of lean muscle mass). These milestones were more importantly, all achieved without any aggravation to her previous injuries. 

Debbie’s Progress: From pain to pull-ups & muscle-up!

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