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How To Train Around A Hand Injury

Close up of doctor bandaging one hand after an accident

So you’ve sustained a hand injury, and you can’t grip anything with that hand.  Would you still be able to complete an upper-body workout?

How to train around a hand injury

Many people would be forced into a training layoff in that scenario.  If you are unable to grab a barbell, dumbbell or machine handle, how can you possibly work out?

Funny, you should ask :).

At Rock Solid Fitness, we have a “No Hands Workout.”

So if you came in with a hand injury, the only upper body muscles you would miss would be the muscles in that injured hand.  The rest of your upper body muscles would get a full workout with no drop-off in intensity.

(By the way – we can also train around foot/ankle injuries, knee injuries, shoulder injuries, or practically anything else.  We jokingly say to our clients, “if you’re in a body cast, come in anyway; we will prop you up in our neck machine and train your neck.”)

We accomplish this primarily in 2 ways.

First, we have specifically selected certain exercise machines to allow training around a hand injury.

For example, we have several upper body machines that allow you to train your chest, back or shoulder muscles without using your hands.

hand injury
No hands, upper back and shoulder workout on the Nautilus rear delt machine


hand injury
No hands – back training on the Nautilus pullover


hand injury
No hands training for the chest and shoulders on the Nautilus pec fly

For our Virtual Training clients, we often have them use exercise bands or a swiss ball (available on Amazon) for a no-hands workout.

First, tie one end around a doorknob and shut the door (watch a quick video).

Next, loop the other end around your wrist.  From a seated position, keeping your wrist straight, move your arm from in front of you out to your side to train your shoulders and upper back muscles (watch a quick video).

To train your chest and frontal shoulder muscles using a swiss ball, place the swiss ball between your wrists and watch a clock or have someone time you.  Press your arms together into the swiss ball for 1 minute as follows:  1st 20 seconds minimal pressure; next 20 seconds moderate pressure; last 20 seconds maximum pressure (watch this video).

The second way we can train around a hand injury is using a technique known as manual resistance.

Manual resistance is when a second person, in our case, a Fitness Coach, provides the resistance instead of a free weight or machine.  The coach does this by applying pressure with their hands to the limb that will be moving during the exercise.  The Coach is able to adjust the resistance so that the trainee can complete a given number of reps and reach muscular failure by the last rep.

Muscle Groups & A Visual Demonstration Of Manual Resistance Training 

There are manual resistance exercises for virtually every muscle group, so it is a great method if you have a training partner but limited equipment.  As mentioned, it’s great for training around injuries, but also for variety.  It’s a great way to mix things up if you’re getting a little stale with the same old exercises.  And since you only need another person to do it, it’s very versatile.  For example, a football team could perform a manual resistance workout by pairing up right on the practice field.

So whether you have a hand injury, you need to work around or just need to “shake things up” in your workout a little to rejuvenate your motivation, ask your Fitness Coach about adding some manual resistance to your workout.

But remember, it’s not an “easy way out” – be ready for a challenge! Check out this video.

You are only limited by your imagination when training around a hand injury.  Give some of these techniques a try, and you’ll stay in great shape while waiting for your injury to heal.

Rock Solid Fitness is the Premier personal training Dunedin gym.  Our unique data-driven fitness program helps our clients feel better, look better and function better, all in only 30 minutes twice a week. 

And now you can train LIVE with a Rock Solid Fitness Coach from ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD using our Virtual Training Program!


At Rock Solid Fitness, we pride ourselves on being the gym for busy people. We understand that you don’t always have time to drive across town for a workout, which is why we’re conveniently located on 580 (just off Belcher). Whether you’re looking for a Dunedin gym or a Clearwater gym, we’re within easy reach. Plus, we have everything you need to meet your fitness goals. We’ve got all the latest equipment, and our knowledgeable staff is always happy to help you get the most out of your workout. So come on in and see what Rock Solid Fitness can do for you! Ready to reclaim your health and get REAL fitness results? Contact us today to get your free training session.

About the author:

Dave Durell has been improving the quality of people’s lives through strength training for over 38 years.  He is co-founder (with wife Patty) of Rock Solid Fitness Personal Training in Dunedin, Florida, a former Collegiate and NFL Strength Coach, and a licensed Physical Therapist Assistant.  He also operates the popular website . 

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning we get a commission if you decide to make a purchase through our links at no cost to you.

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