Hi Emu, welcome to the iron game & welcome to the boards. I also had surgery back in may. Only mine was a shoulder rebuild (torn rotator cuff, labrum and biceps tendon plus a bunch of arthritic spurring on my acromion, which acted like a cheese grater on my biceps tendon). I did 12 weeks of therapy and was cleared to begin lifting around mid Sep. Doc said to consider myself “normal” just weak.
Boy was he right! 2 days before my shoulder surgery I had benched 315 for 2 sets of 8 and finished on a triple with 365. That first bench session back I got freaking OWNED by 65#. lol. I did some incline benching on Tuesday and worked up to 185 for reps and was able to do 2 pull ups! ha. I used to do anywhere from 48-64 (8 reps, 5-8 sets per session)
I haven’t been able to squat with a straight bar since last January as the pain felt like I was being stabbed in the shoulder and the knife twisted. I’ve been using my EFS Yoke bar and spider bar - shameless plug-. The shoulder pads allow me to squat but the weight on the bar pushes the shoulder down and it hurts. I’m back up to around 400# last night with slight discomfort. I was able to deadlift finally too! worked up to 275 with a slight" pulling my arm out of socket" feeling lol.
I say all this to make the point of BABY STEPS. For me, I had to let go of all my past numbers, not that they were remarkable in any way. Those numbers don’t mean shit. I’m a different guy now with a different capability The ego has certainly taken a beating but I am committed to ease back into this. I also am committed to not let the ego make me do stupid stuff and injure myself again.
I probably won’t get a third chance and I’m not willing to bet on that. They say the longest journey begins with the first step right? Right now I’m limping along but moving forward. Before long I’ll be walking tall, then jogging, then running… you get the point.
I too am using 5-3-1 as my method of getting back into the game. I have chosen ultra conservative training weights and only do the “required” reps. Ultimately I go on feel. If it hurts, i stop or scratch that set and wait a few min. Try it again with a different weight. Purely instinctive with the 5-3-1 being a loose guide to hopefully make a steady linear gains. I’d recommend you do something similar to ease back into this thing.
Also keep in mind that your tendon is held in place by new (weak) tissue and string. It will take some time to strengthen it. Good luck man and I hope you reach your goals.