By BJ Gaddour
I recently received the following question from an Men’s Health reader:
“Hey BJ, do you have a workout for somebody who broke his thumb?”
A broken thumb will mainly present challenges when it comes to grip-intensive exercises like deadlifts, rows, or moves where your hands are supporting your bodyweight like pushups. But you can easily substitute exercises to train similar movement patterns and muscle groups.
For the deadlifts, swap in moves like hip thrusts, stepups, or back extensions to still target your glutes and hamstrings with no grip requirement.
Related: 23 Best Biceps Exercises
For the rows, try hand-less row variations where you pulling from the elbows or bodyweight and band row variations gripping only with your fingers. (See the video above to see how to do these moves.)
For the pushups, try machine or cable chest flys or chest presses or do planks on your forearms to take your hands out of the movement.
Finally, here’s a brief list of exercises you can still do with a broken thumb:
Bulgarian split squat
Forearm side plank
Any exercise involving the other arm
Any cardio exercise that doesn’t involve gripping
Any lower body exercise that doesn’t involve gripping
Whether it’s a broken thumb or something else, whenever you experience an injury, it’s critical to focus on what you CAN do, not what you CAN’T do. Sure, it would be easy to stop working out until your thumb heals, but then you’d lose a lot of muscle mass, strength, and conditioning. And that sucks even more.
Related: The All Push-up Workout
An injury like this can actually be used to your advantage. I remember when I broke my right arm in the 5th grade, it forced me to dribble a basketball with my left hand all summer. By the time school started my arm healed and I could dribble just as good on both sides.
It’s all about mindset, baby. Try to maintain as much strength as you can for everything revolving around the affected area and focus on improving everything else that you can still train without limitations.