As is the case with most of my articles, I am drawing from my adventures and misadventures in the world of workouts. I have had a lingering right shoulder rotator cuff issue and have had to work around it for several years. Recently, the pain increased to the point that my workout routines had to be radically changed or ceased altogether.

My guiding principle was to avoid rotator cuff surgery and to keep exercising my body as much as I could. Changes were necessary.

My solution was to make the following changes:

  • Incorporate doorway stretches into my routine
  • Eliminate movements directly involving my shoulder
  • Reduce the resistance of movements indirectly working my shoulder
  • Increase reps of movements with reduced resistance
  • Maintain my cardio

There are several reasons to vary our workout routines, aside from my choice to do so because of injury. Here are a few:

  • To break through plateaus. Doing the same workout movement will eventually allow your body to become so accustomed to it that changes become necessary for progress.
  • To build a more balanced physique. Or to be able to be better balanced in a sports activity. Don’t be happy with a strong upper body and weak legs. Exercise all of your muscles and in different ways.
  • To avoid boredom. The same routine will eventually become monotonous for anyone. Exercise can be fun, but it also requires discipline. New routines, new equipment and new techniques keep us motivated.


These were important parts of my physical therapy for my sprained shoulder. I could do them as easily at home as with my therapists. The objective was to increase my range of motion and to heal my shoulder without surgery.

I would use three hand positions, as roughly shown below. The higher the hand positions, the more difficult the stretch. I would step through the doorway with my upper torso and feel a stretch in my chest, shoulders and back. I hold the stretch for one minute for each hand position.

This rehab is now part of my routine every day. It precedes the weighted resistance and I do some arm circling before even starting the stretches.


It would be unwise to change your workout too quickly or without sufficient reason to do so. Consistent progressive overload is the key to building muscles. Changing a workout every three weeks just for the sake of doing so does not allow enough time for positive changes to be made.

My most recent workout change has been to establish a “workaround” because of injury. This was to enable me to keep any type of workout intact.

I have also changed workouts due to “burnout” with a routine. This was easily recognizable, since I would be less and less enthusiastic about doing the same program over and over. I needed mental freshness.

Another reason was to concentrate more fully on weak physique parts, to strive for balance. This was not unlike my tennis practice, wherein I would work on weaker strokes to try to develop an all court game. At times, these weaknesses would become strengths because of this emphasis and I would then work on other parts of my game.

General guidance, with which I agree, is to allow 12 weeks before making significant changes in basic routines. Small changes may be made along the way. For example, reps and sets may be changed through experimentation. Also, the order of movements done may be changed, as may the amount of rest time.

More significant changes may include the following:

  • Substituting new forms of resistance for the same movements – resistance bands for dumbbells, for example
  • Changing the method of resistance – bench presses instead of push-ups
  • Changing the focus – cardio work vs. muscle building or muscle definition vs. strength building
  • Preparing for sports – doing sports-specific movements vs. physique building


Amazon can certainly accommodate any of our equipment needs. Some are listed below. As an Amazon affiliate, I may earn from qualifying purchases. Click on the links and then scroll around as you wish:

Bullworker fitness – for high quality home workout tools. I use these several times each week.

Dick’s Sporting Goods – for a huge selection of fitness and sports equipment, now with winter specials

Goli nutrition – healing and highly nutritious gummies and bites. I use these every day, since I want to assure that I get enough fruit and vegetable benefits (with my sometimes sketchy diet)


Along with my specific workout changes, I am making more general lifestyle changes. I am now working out for muscle maintenance over muscle building. 

This means higher reps and less weight, more resistance band movements in lieu of barbells or dumbbells, and using lighter springs on my Bullworkers. As we age, we lose muscle mass and become more susceptible to injury. This is no excuse to stop training and is even a compelling reason to continue. Both strength training and cardio are important, so we would be wise to continue enthisiastically with both. Hopefully, it doesn’t become “either or”.

I am facing facts. I am a senior!

But, after more than 60 years of workouts and sports participation, I see no reason to abandon my fitness goals now or to lapse into the world of couch potatoes.

Please leave me any comments or questions in the “Comments” section below. Or email me, richard@myworkoutathome.com.

Be well and stay safe!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *