T Nation

Torn ACL, Training Upper Body Hard?

i tore my acl a few weeks back and have to wait for a few weeks for my insurance to kick in so i can get my surgery. i was wondering what peoples thoughts were on starting to train hard on my upper body until. until now, ive been just doing some maintenance 2x a week. i was debating whether to continue this, or to start blasting my upper body.

i wonder because my bench strength and size has always lagged in comparison to my upper back and deadlift/squat. any suggestions/advice would be greatly appreciated.

You can and should be training your upper body right now. You do need to be careful that you don’t unnecessarily stress your knee while you are doing it. For instance, bent over rows and military press are probably out. When benching, you won’t want to get a real tight arch and use a lot of leg drive. Basically, just use common sense.

If you are not doing it, you should also be training your uninjured leg with single leg movements. You shouldn’t have any trouble doing a leg press or reverse hyper with one leg. Studies have shown that training your uninjured leg results in far less strength loss in the injured leg than not training at all.

Tedro is spot on, that is basically what I did when I had a broken ankle several years ago, a lot of bench work with no leg drive, chest supported rows and pulldowns, and really hit the seated good mornings hard (had to do them in a power rack with the bar behind me on the rack). when I could finally train lower body again I had lost very little on my deadlift, and squat came back within a month or two as well.

[quote]fhhdsf123 wrote:
i tore my acl a few weeks back and have to wait for a few weeks for my insurance to kick in so i can get my surgery. i was wondering what peoples thoughts were on starting to train hard on my upper body until. until now, ive been just doing some maintenance 2x a week. i was debating whether to continue this, or to start blasting my upper body.

i wonder because my bench strength and size has always lagged in comparison to my upper back and deadlift/squat. any suggestions/advice would be greatly appreciated.[/quote]

I tore my ACL about 3 years back, it sucks alot!! Tedro is right in what he says, some sound advice there…definitley keep training your uppper body, but just always keep in your mind your knee!!! after surgery, begin rehabbing it, and get back in the gym and start strengthening it…it took me awhile to get my lower body strength back up, but i am not looking to squat 500lbs RAW by the end of the summer…when i first started squatting after my surgery, i was barely able to do 185 for 6, and they were super shitty half reps haha…but over time it will come back…after surgery, start moving your knee as much as you can, little by little each day, you dont want it to get stiff and loose more ROM than necassarry…begin straightening your knee as soon as possible and bending it little by little as i said…good luck on your surgery and have a great recovery!

I’ve been in your position twice, once each leg. In addition to upper body, I was still able to run and do simple exercises for my legs… such as different variations of calf raises, bodyweight squats & lunges, etc… Of course that all depends on the condition of your knee and meniscus, use caution. Anything you can do to stimulate the muscles right up til surgery will put you ahead post-op. Be prepared for some serious atrophy!

I pretty much agree with everyone else here, just because 1 knee is messed up it doesn’t mean you should be a wuss and not train your upper body hard.

But just as important, make sure that you hit your rehab hard. For ACL tears you can and should start rehab basically the day after surgery. It will make your make your recovery go a lot quicker if you really attack your rehab from day one.

What is the degree of the tear? Complete? Partial? Any other damage? Meniscus? MCL/LCL? I ask this because if it is just a tear to your ACL I would continue doing certain exercises, even with your injured leg. Like another poster say, bodyweight squats and lunges are good. There are some people who naturally don’t have an ACL or have a partially torn ACL and perform well in most activities.

Also, start doing quad sets where you are laying with your leg straight, contract your quad as hard as you can, and do a straight leg raise. It will all be about getting as hard of a contraction as possible. Depending on the condition of your knee, you can even do some single leg balance work in, TKEs, etc. Ask your ortho and the therapist you will work with for a copy of the rehab they are planning and start on those exercises as well.

Repeating what everybody else said, you still have 2 healthy arms and 1 healthy leg, train them hard without putting your injured knee at risk.

Best of luck with your surgery and recovery! Out of curiosity, what type of surgery are they performing? Autograft or allograft?