Long term plan for suprascapular nerve recovery

At the end of 2014 I injured my suprascapular nerve. I had it operated on 6 months later, which consequently caused me to miss out on competing in 2015. Anyone that knows me, knows that I love programming and I spent most of 2015 planning my return. I have outlined the events I chose and why I chose this sequence. In a nutshell, I chose the long cycle event (less volume overhead) working from light & long to short & heavy. Following this I started working on biathlon.

Phase 1 (Pre op) – my goal was to maintain muscle mass and general fitness. The only squat I could perform was a one legged squat so I set myself a goal to perform 100.

Phase 2 (post op, general strength & endurance + body composition) -even though I was training, I still lost muscle mass and gained some body fat. So the goals of this phase were to build back up my muscle mass, and do front squats, running and kettlebell exercises. I worked hard on different types of strength and strength endurance that I thought would transfer to GS and to the strength endurance goals I was working towards – 25 set of 4 rep with 100 kg in 25 minutes, and 100 reps in ten minutes of 1/4 box squats with no pause at the top.

Phase 3 (strength general strength and specific endurance) -the first competition back was in March 2016 where I performed double 20 kg half marathon. I chose this event because long cycle involves less volume overhead, compared to biathlon. Additionally, the longer event requires higher reps with a lower weight. This would serve as a base for heavier events. I was able to hit 230 reps in training and 213 in competition.

Phase 4 (specific strength & endurance) – in this phase I introduced 10 minute long cycle (and worked up to 32s) and one arm long cycle half marathon with 32 kg. At the end of this stage I hit 53 reps with long cycle in 10 mins (which was better than expected) and 275 reps of OALC half marathon. These competitions were done a day part in NZ which was my first international competition.
Phase 5 (long cycle) – from here I started to focus on peaking long cycle with 32s and was able to hit 58 reps. I also integrated some additional jerk and snatch only sets, in preparation for the next phase of training.

Phase 6 (biathlon) – biathlon has much more volume overhead, so I started off focusing on 24 kg biathlon, before moving to 28 kg, and then to 32 kg. I had a few elbow issues on the way as snatch was pretty hard on my shoulder at first. However, over time I was able to balance out my training load, and things all came together well.

It wasn’t an easy path to get back to where I was or improve. That said, I think some of the half marathon events may be useful tools to set you up for success down the track, especially if you are coming back from some injuries. I think it is also useful to focus on the process of training regularly and within your limits, rather than focusing too much on ranks.


My name is James Ross, I’m a qualified personal trainer, strength & conditioning coach and sports scientist. I am a founder and coach at The Richmond Gym in Melbourne and started the website www.gsscience.com.

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