Hi Persistence - I caught your thread and thought I’d add in my experience as this can be an issue, contingent upon your desired levels, as well as type of activities. I’ll try to keep it brief.
Here’s an outline of my experience:
1988 - detached my left acl while playing basketball, as a HS Sophomore had to sit out a year of sports. Of course the docs wanted to operate, but I and my parents didn’t feel comfortable with the physicians, and it was a clean detachment, with no cartilage damage. I rehabbed by doing low impact activities, tons of bike riding as well as hamstring work. After 2 months or so the swelling was down, and the joint was ‘tight’ again.
1989-1990 - Competed in sports, and was ‘acl’ deficient. Did experience two slight dislocations, but was able to get my vert up to 36" and lifted aggressively, squats, deads etc.
The issues came in around '93 as I trained like a mad man, and didn’t have the knowledge to periodize my workouts. Throughout the 90’s I continued to squat aggressivley, but also played a great deal of basketball and tennis - which as we know requires a great deal of lateral movement, as well as stop/start explosiveness, which placed chronic strain on the joint, which is a huge issues as the ACL is responsible for forward stabilization of the joint. Even though I had no cartilage damage, the microtrauma’s of hard training began take their toll, and I began experiencing cartilage degeneration, as well as severe patellar tendinitis, which in turn caused a reduction in my muscle tone/integrity in my vastus etc…as such the joint began to get lax, and acute pain resulted.
In 2001 I finally had the surgery, and have had a great recovery, as I was at the point where I couldn’t squat or even take stairs without pain.
If you’re going to move forward with an ACL deficient knee, here’s what I would recommend, based upon my experience:
1 - Avoid extensive sporting activities that place strain on your knees. The sporting activities are what caused the micro-trauma/shifts in the knee (due to the acl deficiency) which also led to cartilage damage…then acute pain…then surgery. Most importantly, was the fact that I was unable to lift heavy or compete anymore, which drastically affected my body comp and motivation for a couple of years.
2 - I did not experience any knee issues or exacerbations of the defiency by doing conventional squats and deads, as I always used solid form, and stayed within my ‘techical’ max. My top squat lift in my mid twenties was 585 lbs - without an ACL, so that’s not a problem. The issue lies in sports, as well as ballistic activities such as vertical jump training, plyos and jump squats - which were also included in my training.
So with that said, provided that you don’t have any more structural damage than the ACL Deficiency, I would say you could move forward with powerlifting, as long as you avoid the activities that can and will shut you down. I would also spend extra time on posterior chain development, as that will greatly assist in your knee stabilization.
Also ensure that you take glucosomine/chondroiten as well as Flameout for inflammation issues, and joint health.
Let me know if I can assist, as I can relate to your issue. But Cressy would obviously be the subject matter expert on this topic.