I regularly perform the squat, bench press, deadlift, and strict press on a weekly basis, and have done so for many years. And while my back and hips are holding up just fine, my shoulders, well, that’s another story.

Let's roll back the last eight years:

  • 2008 — Right full pec tear/rupture, surgically repaired
  • 2013 — Left SLAP repair with bicep tenodesis, partial RC tear (arthroscopic repair)
  • 2016 — Right SLAP repair with bicep tenodesis, full RC tear with surgical repair

So that’s three surgeries but only two shoulders — I’m still trying to figure out the math on that one!

I’m well aware that there are probably many pro lifters that have experienced even more surgeries than mine. As a high-school and college athlete strength coach, it is my responsibility to ensure that none of my athletes have to experience the same injuries.

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So, in the spirit of Christmas 2016, I offer this list of must-have training tools for all of us washed-up meatheads, who want to continue to train hard and heavy, even after experiencing multiple injuries and surgical repairs.

1. Thompson Bowtie by Spud, Inc

The Donnie Thompson Bowtie definitely goes at the top of the list. It works like, well, Christmas magic! It gives compression and realigns the shoulder joint like nothing else can. Happiness is...pain-free shoulders!

2. EliteFTS Shoulder Saver Pad

For the past several years the only way I could bench was to floor press or use a 2- or 3-board with a mini-band wrapped around my chest to hold it in place. Now, the Shoulder Saver Pad has come to my rescue and I can bench with dignity once again (it says EliteFTS right on the pad!)

3. Boomstick

Enter the world of body tempering. This tool takes SMR (self-myofascial release) to a whole new level. Use the Boomstick, follow with donning the BowTie, and even surgically repaired shoulders can feel, and even function, like (almost) brand new!

4. SS Yoke Bar

Wait, you can’t squat because your shoulders hurt?

That’s just wrong on so many levels. With the SS Yoke Bar, we can once again squat, and squat heavy, without sending searing-hot knives of pain into our shoulders.

5. American Gridiron Bar

For some of us, a straight bar is no longer an option for pressing. Not pressing is also not an option for the true, hard-core lifter.

The angled handles on the American Gridiron Bar should allow even the most wrecked shoulders to press more comfortably. It is in fact so versatile, that this bar is not only great for benching, but also rowing, overhead pressing, triceps extensions, and bicep curls.  Ahhh, music to my ears!

If you’ve been nice this year and not (too) naughty, I hope that some or all of these items end up under your Christmas tree! Merry Christmas!

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Brian DeFiebre (known as Coach D by his athletes) is a PTA and a small school strength & performance coach at Valley Christian Academy High School in Roseville, CA. It is the home of The Lions Cage Strength Club (semi-private training) and the annual VCA’s Strongest Lion Contest. Our motto: If you’re not strong, you don’t belong.