T Nation



I check the forums for information but don't really say anything but now I need some help.

I'm on crutches after jacking up both my knee and my ankle playing hockey.

Does anybody have any suggestions as to how to keep any kind of work level with the good leg?


I suggest you stick to machines. I know you probably cringe at the thought...I do too...but it would be horrible if you were doing one leg squats and fell on the bad leg. ouch

You could try:
Leg Ext
Leg Curl (Prone, Supine)
1 Leg Back Extension (Please have someone help you)
Leg Press
Hack Squat


I know, it's pissing me off.
Fucking one leg hack squats. Did them Saturday and felt nothing.
This blows.


Ian King said not to work only one limb while the other was injured or you'd just develop a big strength imbalance that you'd then have to deal with when you're healed up. And if you don't deal with it, then you could risk another injury because of the imbalance. This was in t-mag a while back.


Even if it is only on machinces, keep working the good leg. Most of the literature I have read says to train the uninjured limb while the other one is healing. I have been told this by more then one instructor while in school as well. I trained my good leg when I blew out a knee and I believe my bad leg made a quicker recovery because of it. I have never had any strength imbalances either. Leg press, leg curls and single leg RDLs were my friend.


I had a client that had ACL surgery on one leg. We kept working on the good leg and when she was able to leg press with the bad leg, it quickly matched the good leg. Her ortho was amazed at how fast her recovery went...said it was the quickest he had ever seen.


See now I was always under the impression that you should work the bad limb. Maybe it came from reading about TC's torn pec a while back.

One thing is that I find that is seems like my good leg isn't as strong right now. It could be fatigue from hopping around on it.


The stength in an immobilized limb comes back quickly (~2 weeks) to about 80 or 90% of max after you've started training again. However, if your other leg has been trained during this time it likely has main gains beyond this. The end result could be a muscle imbalance. What about just doing some maintenance work with the good leg. OR take some time off legs and focus on lagging parts in the upper body.


Kinetix...I don't believe that at all. I've seen it happen in numerous clients. I'll have to do some more research, but I think there may be a neuromuscular reason that the weaker leg catches up quickly.


Not working your good leg is a mistake! If you simply wait until the bad leg is ready again to work the good leg, whether it is simply staying off of it for a few weeks, or actually undergoing surgery, you're just going to make everything weak.

Go ahead and do what you can with your good leg with unitlateral movements such as 1 legged presses, etc. When the other is ready to go again continue unilateral work only now with both legs, the bad will quickly catch up and you can go back to traditional training.

There's a deeper science and explanation but it basically involves the "rumor" that the body attempts to balance itself (ie left/right arm, or even upper/lower body).

just some thoughts...


If you think that increasing hypertrophy in the uninjured leg is easily matched by the injured leg when it comes back then I suggest you try this.

Train your right arm for 2 months WITHOUT training your left arm. Don't worry about any size imbalances though. If your theory is correct then the left arm will catch right up as soon as you start training again. Please post measurements and pictures at the start and finish of this routine.

Strength is a different issue. There is probably a neurological learning effect that crosses to the untraining limb. Muscle size will probably not work the same way.



lol! I'm not suggesting balls out, intense GVT increased protein and calorie diet, and a cycle of mag10!

What I am saying is that continuing with training to some degree on the good leg will keep you from losing too much size and strength in it, and allow you to quickly catch the bad leg back up after it's healed up. By using this approach you'll recoup size and strength much more quickly after recovery than if you just simply stop training.

I have an idea! Why dont' you totally STOP training your arms for a few months, hey make sure to take some pics and measurements for us ; ) Hey! And then you can start training them all over again, only starting out much smaller and weker than you were to begin with! Great idea!


If you'll read my initial post all I said that maybe the focus should be on maintenance of the good leg as opposed to increasing strength/size. The notion of dropping legs altogether was my second option.


Maintenance. I hate that. I don't want to not work the good leg though.


Kinetix...you're theory is screwed...we're talking about an imobilized atophied leg here, not a free moving, healthy leg. I could work my left arm for two months, no problem, but the results could not be compared here unless I injured the right arm and immobilized it in a cast...you see? I promise you, I do a lot of rehab for ACL surgery and I guarantee you that I have seen first hand the improvement from working the good leg in a scenario like this. I wish I had a client that I could evaluate at the moment, but I don't. My gf is about to have double knee surgery, so it won't apply here. However, everyone please pray for me b/c this is going to be a tough one. She wants to try out for Dallas Mavericks dancers this coming season...yikes!


Ahhh, I just see what you posted...sorry, have a couple bottles of wine flowing through me. Yes, I see your point about mass vs size. I'll admit I have never measured a client in this scenario...but the strength went up. So, I eat my earlier statement, I have absolutely no idea what happens when mass is concerned. My main duty is to increase strength in my line of work, not mass. Sorry for the confusion, I stand paritally corrected


I'm surprised that I stumulated this much conversation. I really appreciate it. I know some of the people here don't take to people that don't post a lot.

In case you were curious: Saturday I did some single leg presses and single leg hack squats, which I'm convinced are useless. I'm going to try to figure out how I can do one leg front squats in that Smith machine. Since I've never actually used that machine it could be interesting.
I'm going to get at that hamstring and calf too. Although I suppose unilateral good mornings are probably not a good idea.

Thanks everybody.


I had a level 3 sprain in my ankle last year, where all the major ligaments had been stretched too far. Anyway I kept training with both legs using machines, as well as whatever else I could get away with, with a reduced load. I think that if you can train without too much pain, then go for it. Also intense visualization of your leg workouts also helps a bit.


Work the injured leg using open chain exercises....ie, you may not be able to do leg press, squats, etc, with your foot in contact with the ground. Work the hip and thigh muscles using open chain exercises such as leg curl, cable hip extension, hip abduction and adduction, etc. Notice, I don't suggest leg extension, this is because I don't know the extent of your injury. These exercises will allow you to maintain a base of strength in the muscles and will make it easier for you to return to weight-bearing, open chain exercises. Hope this helps.

Btw, are you seeing a therapist for rehabilitation?


That's a good idea. The knee is still pretty weak. My doctor thinks it's stable, but possibly cartilage or the meniscus.
Unfortunately his staff fucked up the referral and I didn't realize it until I was in for my appointment with the orthopedic specialist. Gotta love managed care. So I don't really know how bad the knee is yet either. Monday, I'll know more. Though it's probably moot because the ankle is still pretty sore.