Getting Back to Max After Knee Injury

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Question: I recently finished physical therapy after knee surgery and have been released by the doctor as well. I still have not been able to return to hard training. The knee does not hurt but I am just fatigued and fail before I reach what I consider a training level. Any suggestions about how to return to training?
Answer: Since the injury has been repaired and the medical professionals have cleared you to return to the gym at full speed, but you can’t get to full speed, you need to pause for a moment and reflect about how long you have been unable to train. Consider the time you spent getting to the level of training intensity you were at before you were injured. Usually it is years of training and continually pushing the envelope that breeds success both in the gym and on the athletic field. That training was interrupted. Sure you were able to train your upper body, but did you continue with the same intensity? Probably not. Physically, you are capable to go there but mentally you are still injured. Once you are mentally ready and accept the pain and fatigue associated with training then you can take steps to return.
You need to strengthen your legs again. In the back of your mind you will hear a voice telling you that you are injured, so start light. You usually worked with weights far lower than your best while you were in rehab to get your range of motion back. Now begin to increase your training weight for the next 4 to 6 weeks by adding a little more each week. By slowly adding weight, you will restore both your confidence, strength and your ability to recover from the sessions. Once you have reached 80% of your best weight for 6 reps then begin to use intensity techniques like 10 x 10’s; 10 sets of 10 reps with a 30 second rest interval between sets. Use a weight lighter than you used before the injury just to restore your mental confidence and to get used to the physical demands of a hard core routine.
Each week for 4 weeks use a different technique and then do another heavy workout to check your new max. Now go back through another four weeks of intensity training routines but with more weight than the previous workouts. Mentally, you will again be motivated as you see the quick results and your strength levels return and exceed your pre-injury max. All this training may seem like a physical conditioning but it is more mental. As you train, your mind will begin to accept the pain associated with training, become more confident in the repairs to your body and respond to perform above your previous level. Enjoy the challenge.
God bless and keep training,
Daryl

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