Upper Body Program After ACL Tear

I have been an avid reader of T-Nation articles since the summer and have made a lot of progress in the gym since then as a full-time college student. I have been lifting for 4+ years but have really increased the quality of my training / diet / recovery since finding T-Nation.

I was playing pickup basketball yesterday when I came down from a layup on my right foot and sprained my ankle. When my weight shifted to my left leg, my knee bent at some horrible angle and i heard a popping noise. Long story short I went to the hospital and it seems likely that I tore either my MCL or ACL.

My regular training program was put on hold for most of December since I came home for winter break and I was looking forward to going back to the gym this month with my training buddy. Unfortunately, I can hardly walk, and the possibility of being unable to train properly (i.e. squats, deadlifts, cleans, etc.) really bums me out. I was wondering if anyone had any ideas for training programs that I could follow to keep my upper body mass in shape so that I dont lose too much LBM or strength during the lay-off. I was thinking that I could focus on upper body pressing exercises, pullups, and arm routines but I am having trouble coming up with ways to properly strengthen the core. The problem is that so many of the effective core exercises rely on the hips or legs to generate force. So does anyone have any ideas?

It looks like the most-recommended cardio is swimming with the legs supported and immobilized with a pull buoy. Upper-body cardio has a host of benefits, anyway: clubsolutionsmagazine.com/10_Reasons_for_Upper_Body_Cardio.htm

Many exercises will transfer directly, (Seated DB cleans, Military press, Bench Press, etc.)

Stability work and heavy singles (single arm bench, perhaps single arm row/fly?) should minimize core losses. Leg lifts may also help, but adding weight to the legs may be impossible.

I’m sure the T-Nation gurus/coaches have other suggestions (High frequency upper body traning!) to avoid losing too much musculature during recovery.

If you ripped your ACL, you should be rehabbing it and not immobilizing it(unless you did other damage to your knee besides just ripping the ACL. I had access to a trainer at my school when I ripped mine. You should probably have the same at urs. Talk to one about rehab.

A ripped ACL sidelines you from heavy weight(ie in squats and deads), and pivoting motions. In other words, after a couple weeks of rehab you should be able to start swimming(except breaststroke) and running pretty quickly. I was back to active workouts after about 2-3 months. By running I mean straight line jogging. No sprinting, and no cutting motions. Although I didn’t start squating and deadlifting again till after my surgery because the DR said my knee could destabilize during a squat, so I just stuck with running to keep my legs in shape.

You can do any upper body exercise except any O lifts or anything that requires a lower body explosion(like cleans or any power movments). Just take the legs out of your old routine.

You won’t lose a lot of muscle because rehab is not that long for an ACL rip. Rehab takes a while post surgery, but not just after you ripp it. I wouldn’t worry about losing muscle, just keep doing upper body stuff…Bench, Seated rows, shoulders, etc.