T Nation

Return Of The Athlete...

Ok, so I need some help. I am 26 years old and consider myself in “decent” shape. I lift 3-5 times per week switching on and off from full body training to do training splits i.e. I have been lifting for eight years now.

My training has evolved over the years, but I generally stick to the core lifts i.e. front squats, back squats, bench press variations, rows, pull-ups, shoulder presses etc. I consider myself to be in decent shape, but have realized (or finally admitted to myself) that my training and diet is not ideal.

To make a long story short, I have had three knee surgeries on my right knee (two ACL reconstructions and a medial meniscus repair) since the age of 18. I am three years removed from my last surgery, so theoretically everything should be functional.

Having sustained the two ACL tears, I have been scared the last five years to train a certain way and return to sports. That was until a month ago, when I decided it would be a good idea to dust off the cleats and play softball. Let’s just say it’s not going well.

After the first game, I could barely walk due to sore hip flexors, quads, and low back. I strained my quad in the second game trying to run 60 yards to first base. My body is just not doing what my mind thinks it can right now. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised seeing how I haven’t played sports in five years.

So, I am pissed. I am tired of feeling like a cripple when I am only 26. So I stand today a humbled man, finally willing to admit I need to make some changes in my training and diet if I want to regain any sort of athleticism.

As I search for a workout program, I have fallen victim to the “analysis paralysis” syndrome. Between the abundant information provided by Precision Nutrition and T-Nation, I am not sure where to start in choosing a workout.

Basically, my goal is to become an athlete again. I’d like to build strength, improve flexibility, and improve agility. One of my main goals is, of course, to keep my knee healthy. To accomplish this, I want to work on a combination of building strength, endurance, and agility, while improving flexibility. I recently ordered Magnificent Mobility to attack the flexibility issue.

So what do you guys think? What is the best workout for improving athleticism? I realize that I also need to get the diet dialed in as well, but thought I?d start with finding a workout program.

Sorry for the long post. Any advice you would be willing to share is much appreciated.

Regards,
Paul

Hey,
I would be sure to shoot PM’s to Eric Cressey and Mike Robertson, they could help you out alot. Good luck man.
-Greg

If I were in your shoes I would slowly introduce myself back into competitive athletics. Maybe you could start with mobility drills such as form running or using an agility ladder. Jump rope may help improve your coordination. Running sprints couldn’t hurt. You’ll figure it out. Good luck getting back into it.

Also, you could throw some olympic lifts into the mix. I always have tight hips so before I lift I have to do high knees and some bodyweight squats to loosen them up. At 26 your still pretty young.

Just wondering what kind of squats did you do?Maybe pulling a sled could help your knees and legs.But were your squats deep?

[quote]jit07 wrote:
If I were in your shoes I would slowly introduce myself back into competitive athletics. Maybe you could start with mobility drills such as form running or using an agility ladder. Jump rope may help improve your coordination. Running sprints couldn’t hurt. You’ll figure it out. Good luck getting back into it.[/quote]

Thanks for the advice. I used an agility ladder when rehabbing after my first ACL reconstruction and found it very helpful. It’s been a while, so I can’t remember all the drills. Do you know where I can find a good ladder workout program?

[quote]jit07 wrote:
Also, you could throw some olympic lifts into the mix. I always have tight hips so before I lift I have to do high knees and some bodyweight squats to loosen them up. At 26 your still pretty young. [/quote]

This has been something I have considered for quite a while. Did you teach yourself how to do the lifts or did you have a strength coach instruct you?

[quote]Peter1984 wrote:
Just wondering what kind of squats did you do?Maybe pulling a sled could help your knees and legs.But were your squats deep?[/quote]

I do front squats and back squats. On the advice of my orthopedist though, I try not to go past 90 degrees. He says anything past 90 puts too much pressure on my meniscus, which has been repaired (not removed) three times now.

I play college volleyball and I follow the Westside template. I think it is a great template to work with and very easy to make adjustments as you find out what works for you. For example, instead of doing traditional powerlifting dynamic work, I do various med ball throws and jumps as I feel that’s more applicable to my sport.

I’d suggest really working on the mobility work, 20-30 minutes every morning of mobility work, foam rolling and static stretching can do wonders. I do mine every morning after I eat breakfast. My knees can get bad from all the jumping and I’ve always had back problems, but I’ve found that when you do mobility/flexibility work in the morning, you aren’t tight during the day and it puts so much less strain on your body.

Other than that, I definitely second the advice to get a sled. It is great for working around injuries as you will almost always be able to find a movement that is painfree. Additionally, you can go lighter and longer with the sleds for some great conditioning work.

I don’t care how strong you get, or how many drills you do. If your not doing any form of running throughout the week your highly likely to injure something while playing a sport that requires running.

It would even help to increase the speed a little.

Just don’t jump in it too much too fast or else you will end up with an overuse injury.

[quote]MizzouDawg wrote:

This has been something I have considered for quite a while. Did you teach yourself how to do the lifts or did you have a strength coach instruct you?

[/quote]

I taught myself. It took me a long time to get comfortable with doing power cleans and power snatches. I just used an empty bar. I also emphasized exploding with the bar. In the beginning I would try to jump as high as I could to train myself to explode maximally. I also used paused box jump squats.

I sat on a box and then exploded up, it helped with my acceleration. I also did front squats and overhead squats with the bar constantly. When I taught my self to do full cleans and full snatches I did two drills. I would hold the bar in front of me and duck under it without pulling the bar. This taught me to properly catch the bar. For full snatches I did an exercise called drop snatches. I hope this helps.

MizzouDawg wrote:

Do you know where I can find a good ladder workout program? [/quote]

I always did the ladder drills that I learned from football practice. I don’t know of any resources that would provide drills, maybe someone else knows of a site where you could find some descriptions?