T Nation

Evening out leg strength

I am now almost fully recovered from a ACL knee surgery I had. My doctor gave me the okay to start training again. My left leg is much smaller and weaker than my right leg. I was wondering if anyone could give me some advice or suggestions on equaling out my leg strength in both legs so i can start doing barbell squats again.

Check out Ian King’s limping series for one-legged movements and also use a different rep scheme for each leg. For instance, if doing lunges, do 2 reps for the weak leg then 1 rep for the strong leg. Your weaker leg needs a larger training stimulus to bring it up to speed.

I had my own ACL reconstructed in November of 2000 and had to do exactly what you’re doing. Here are some things that helped me: 1) No bilateral exercises until the very end of the workout, 2) When you do use bilateral exercises, especially squats, keep you legs wide so its more difficult for your strong leg to cheat and check your form in a mirror (or have your spotter check) to make sure you’re not leaning to your strong side (your body will try to do this in spite of your best efforts) 3) Always train the weak side first, 4) Use more weight, more reps, and more sets for the weak side, 5) Throw in some extra training sessions for your weak leg on off days or upper body days. The exercises which worked best for me were one-legged good mornings, one-legged straight leg deadlift, and split squats. Good luck, you’ll be surprised at how fast it comes back. And stay away from heavy leg extensions for a good year at least, you’ll stretch out your graft.

I head the same surgery. My doctor told me to stay off heavy lifting on the leg, but my friend whos a personal trainer told me to jump back in. I actually healed in half the time i was told it would take because i went back to working out, without worryiing about the knee.
Just Do It.

Been in the same situation, had mine reconstructed in summer 1999. It takes a while, but if you are persistent and diligent it will come back very quickly. I remember being depressed that my leg had shrunk so much in so short a time, especially compared to my upper body! Just pay close attention and put in the time, and you will be ok. I pussyfooted around with not squatting for a long time, making sure that my leg was ready, and when I did start squatting again it was fun to literally watch my quad grow an inch or more every week (for a while anyways :)) Good luck!