I am probably one of the most routine people when it comes to my day to day life which is almost ironic considering how I love my workouts always being different (and that is why I will always be drawn to CrossFit=, just sayin’). I like having varied programming and being introduced to new movements and combinations. It keeps me feeling challenged and motivated. Having this variety makes it easier to focus on all the things I can do again and less on the things I can’t. It is helping me to not have pity parties.
What is even more important than the pity parties I am missing is the physical proof that by having certain movements on the no-go list is not inhibiting my overall fitness. I am not one to weigh myself so I rely on how clothes fit and just by looking at changes in my body. I have noticeable gains in the last month that proves I do not need squats or lunges to get fit.
Probably a month after surgery, I was squatting again (full depth!), lunging and doing box jumps. Some days were great and others left my knee hurting. At my second post op appointment with my surgeon, he basically scolded me for doing these things. It was too premature to be doing them. He also has very strong opinions on box jumps (which in a nutshell he feels they have too much room for error and injury for most people that are older than 20 and I absolutely should not be doing them). Ok, no sweat. I have had my share of slipping on boxes when I had two good knees to really argue the point. He did not want me squatting heavy by any means and advised I should be performing them at higher reps with pristine form.
I relayed this information back to my trainer/physical therapy aide and he adjusted my programming. I’ve stopped squatting to full depth and instead we focus on perfect form for every rep. When a rep is not perfect, we analyze it and I try to fix it for the next rep. His plan for me right now is to squat as low as I can go without hitting that point of pain (which for me, is slightly above being in a sitting position). Since I am not throwing heavy plates on the barbell and trying to get my ass to the grass, I can focus on using the right muscles and having perfect form. The more strength I gain in my hammies and quads, the less strain I put on my knee. By slowly working my way back and gaining that needed strength, I have faith in my trainer’s expertise that I will in due time be squatting at full depth SAFELY. This whole process builds strength which builds muscle which makes me stronger which makes me happy.
All the training I am doing including half squats, I can not only see it in my legs but I am able to benchmark myself in cycling classes. When I started back after surgery, I would swear I was pedaling fast like a maniac. This image would be quickly shattered when I would catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror and realized a 95 year old person could jog faster than I was pedaling. Now, I can crank up the resistance far more than I did before and sustain that longer (and no knee pain!) This is all due to training smart and being patient with a process that is intending (and is succeeding!) to get me fit again.
With having such good form (not just squatting, in everything I do like cleans and pull ups for example), I am having more consistency with my knee. I rarely feel pain which is allowing me to work things back in. By not overdoing my knee’s limits, it prevents that lingering pain. I had days a month or so after surgery where I would do too much and go into a workout the next time and end up having to seriously scale down due to pain. Now that I am truly being smarter, it brings consistency and makes it less of a guessing game how my knee will feel after a workout. I am able to do so many things again, like rowing and running. By staying away from certain movements, it actually allows me to be highly functioning at the movements that I do perform. That in short means I have ass kicking workouts that are helping me reach my goals, particularly getting fit again.
Being able to see muscle definition again supersedes any fleeting moment of nostalgia I have for the movements I can’t do… right now.
In case you are curious of a workout I have done recently that left me breathless and hating life (thanks,BJ!), here is one:
EMOM 12 (so every minute on the minute I had 1 minute to finish a round of…):
6 Thrusters at 65# (I only squatted about half way