Hey mattis, sounds like you are coming along pretty well. Just wanted to share my experience and offer a little advice.
I tore my ACL and meniscus playing basketball close to two years ago and had a hamstring graft and meniscus repair (Second ACL surgery for me, had the other on my other knee. I have torn both one time each, one with a patellar graft, the most recent a hamstring). I shared your same frustrations with my physical therapist taking things too slow. She was very knowledgeable and experienced, but it’s hard to find a PT who isn’t cautious with this injury. I don’t think she understood the itch to get back in the weight room that most people on this forum would experience.
That said, my recovery was a bit different because of the meniscus repair. I was not allowed to do any kind of load-bearing past 90 degrees for several months for risk of tearing the meniscus repair. Stretching the ACL graft was never a concern my PT voiced. She was much more concerned with the meniscus. I did, however, start a running program at three months which is a pretty standard timeline.
I hammered away on the leg press in place of squats for the first three months (at first high reps, but then sets of 8 reps with heavier weight). I moved on to box squatting to parallel once I began running. I started out very light, but after about one month of box squatting I began back squatting to parallel. I started out with very light weight after I removed the box, but in about two months I worked my way back to 225 for sets of 4-5. As a reference, before the surgery I maxed out at around 300 back squat and 350 deadlift.
The biggest problem in returning to heavy squats and deadlifts was the asymmetry in strength and size between legs. My surgery leg took a little over one year to feel “equal” to my other leg. You’ll find that when you start to load up your squat/deadlift, you can actively feel one leg working harder than the other as you reach the peak of the lift. You may be able to combat that for a while with lighter weight, but when the weights get heavy it’s just natural that your stronger leg takes over.
What I did to balance things out was to start my workout with a heavy bilateral compound movement, be it back squat or deadlift. I would go heavy on that, maybe 4x5 or something similar with an appropriate weight. After that, I would do a unilateral push and pull movement with 1-2 extra sets on my recovering leg. It went something like this:
Back squat 4x5
Single-leg RDL 3x8 left leg, 5x8 right leg
Bulgarian split squat 3x8 left leg, 5x8 right leg
I used the same weight for each leg on the unilateral movements. This was part of a full-body routine that I did 3 times per week. I usually paired the unilaterals with an upper body exercise. Not only do the unilateral movements build up strength in each leg independently, it gives you a good way to gauge how you’re progressing in your strength and balance.
On the off days (every other day, 3 times per week), I ran. That in itself is a different progression that you should check with your PT about. Too much running, and you’ll know about it the next day. I should also say that I never went into a workout without warming up my knee. I always rode the exercise bike for 10-15 minutes before I lifted or ran. I also iced my knee after EVERY workout, be it running or lifting.
I started jump training at around six months using box jumps, broad jumps and single-leg box and broad jumps (x1 and x3).
At the one-year mark, I decided to max out my squat. I hit a new PR, getting up 345. Four weeks later, I maxed out my deadlift and pulled 415.
The best thing I can tell is probably something you’ve heard 100 times already: be patient. The first six months is so mentally taxing because you want to get back in the weight room and start throwing the weight around. Don’t push it. The time between six months and one year after surgery is when your strength starts coming back. Once you have the training wheels taken off, you’ll be amazed at how fast you’re able to get back to where you were before the injury.
Good luck to you.