Maintaining decent shape with ACL injury


I used to come to this site all the time in high school as a training reference, and as I left for college I stopped my training and focused mostly on school and beer. It sounds bad but I had a great academic year and I met tons of people, so I have no problems with that. I was about 5’10 160 coming into college and at after my freshman year I am about 6’0 180. The 20 pounds have definitley come from pizza and beer, not training.

Anyways flashing forward to the beginning of April, I was playing basketball and tore my ACL. I have knee reconstructive surgery May 22nd. I was planning on seriously training all of this summer and getting back into the shape I was once in. With the knee injury, it seems as though I can do nothing but sit on my butt all day.

Is there any form of cardio, circuits, strength exercises or ANYTHING that I can do with a hurt knee? I am going to stick with my rehab plan and not follow my doctors guidelines strictly, but I don’t want to have to sit on my butt for 6 months and turn into a fat ass. Any help you guys could give me on low intensity exercises or even a form of carido while sitting down (preferably) would be amazing. Sorry for the long post and ANY help is appreciated.


My friend just got off a torn ACL, she wasn’t able to do alot besides walk on crutches.

What has your doctor said?


Some Drs recommend strength stuff before, others don’t. My first athlete I trained was a female coming out of rehab fro mACL. When she was released, she could barely jog. It took her about 6 months post op to sprint again, and there was usually pain following. 1 year post op there was still pain, and at around 18 months she was pain free. Pain would be the typical pain associated with tendonitis etc.

Well, as i said earlier, I have surgery on the 22nd. Right now I am pretty mobile on it and could probably get away with jumping rope and similiar low impact activity (but i dont want to risk further injury).

After the surgery I cannot run for 3 months and cannot play sports for 6 months. I just dont want to lose too much endurance and put on the pounds because of the injury. I was thinking I could do some swimming with a flotating device between my legs and only use my arms. Also possibly some resistance tube work while sitting down. Maybe somebody else had a similiar injury and has some suggestions?

How about that machine that looks like arm cycling? We used to have that at our university and all “ACL kids” used it during their rehab, and they looked pretty sweaty doing it too !
It’s basically like a bike, only your legs don’t do anything > each hand grips a pedal and they cylcle; you can also monitor resistance, and it also works the core if you keep good posture.

The “Arm Bike” is called a UBE- upper body ergometer- and you can do interval training at relatively high intensity on it. It is, however, BORING- do it in front of a TV so you don’t die from boredom. Any interval thing you would do on a bike or running, you can do time-wise on a UBE.
Upper body lifting will be fine within a couple weeks- everything seated or lying- drop your rest intervals, you may not be lifting as heavy due to not being able to support yourself on both legs.
Modern ACL rehab dictates as fast return to full ROM. once you have that, a regular bike will be a great option to get some HIIT/ cardio done.
Good luck

Just an update:

I had surgery on Tuesday and it went pretty well. I have been laying in the same couch every day since then, trying to rehab as much as possible. The day after surgery was the worst pain of my life but I was able to go through it and it has all been uphill since then.

Once I am cleared to walk, I am going to start lifting upper body a couple days a week. I am going to check to see if our university rec center has the “Ube”, but if they do not I will do whatever I can (treading water, one legged stationary biking, upper body rowing, etc). I have been eating clean and I will continue this the rest of the summer. I am just looking forward to walking again as well as lifting weights with the upper body.