Wedding Dress Pull Up
The classiest pull up of all time?!

Week 5 of ACL recovery progressed much as Week 4, with daily incremental improvements in pain reduction, stiffness, strength and mobility. Those goals outlined at the start of the week were completed including 3 gym sessions, daily ‘little and often’ physio, observing Friday class and the chin up challenge of 3 consecutive chin ups. The interval between sessions with my Physio has lengthened and we’ll meet again in Week 7, so there’s been no alteration to the exercise plan to report.

While there remains notable swelling in the knee and stiffness, it almost has a complete blend at this point; when laying on my back with my knees tucked to my chest the heel of the operated leg almost touches my bum as the non-operated leg does. However, when standing and bending the operated leg up, there is still significant weakness in the back of the leg which inhibits range of motion; though the restrictions on mobility from swelling are dissipating slowly but steadily. The reduction in swelling and increased mobility is also apparent in descending stairs, which I can do now with some speed and high levels of confidence. At the end of each day there may still be fatigue and swelling in the operated knee, and a couple paracetamol before bed are needed most evenings.

To keep things spicy, I added chin up challenges to my weekly conditioning. Downtime from normal training is, after all, best viewed as an opportunity, as Julia Johansen is discovering for herself with some pretty troubling back issues related to a herniated disc that she’s working through; send her your best wishes! My chin up abilities are pretty limited (and haven’t yet raised ambitions to pull ups!), so time to remedy that weakness! Over the last week the goal was to raise my baseline of consecutive chin ups by one, to 3 consecutive chin ups, and am delighted to have realised that goal! Hope to add a 4th rep in Week 6 and, indeed, my Coach has challenged me to be able to perform 10 consecutive chin ups by our ‘training date’ for my return to the mats on 17 March, which we agreed in Week 3. I’m up for it! Hope to also be able to perform some pull ups by then.

Been a big fan of conditioning all my life and was around my dad’s free weights since I was 5 and ‘bench pressing’ dumbbells in our basement while he did his workout. As noted in a chat with a friend of MegJitsu on Facebook, really dig body-weight conditioning as the recovery time isn’t so intense – in my experience – and the risk of strain or injury much lower. Conditioning work is such a mental game with oneself. If you go into an exercise with a numebr of reps in your head, it is so difficult to go beyond that number even when you simultaneously feel there’s something left in there! That’s been my historical experience, anyhow, and, just like with BJJ or running or other forms of physical activity, the nexus between the mind and body always leaves me fascinated.

For Week 6 the plan is:

  • continue to work the rehab in the gym with 3 sessions over the week while repping different rehab options at home
  • increase to 4 consecutive chin ups
  • 3 reps of 10 on 10kgs dumbbells for curls

Haven’t yet decided about whether I will observe Friday class this week. Frankly it gets me down a bit, especially watching the sparring, and it pressurises my Friday gym rehab work (somewhat impractical to complete the day’s work obligations and have time to hit the gym then make the commute to class, which is double from my gym than from my home). Usually like to structure my goals as the week starts, but going to float this one…

Week 5


  • Wall sits – 3-5 reps, hold for 10-15 seconds, 3 times per day
  • Bridge – 3-5 reps, hold for 10-15 seconds, 3 times per day
  • Prone hamstring curl with flexed foot – 3-5 reps, 3 times per day
  • Hamstring push backs – 10 quick reps, 3 times per day
  • Hamstring push back with weights (gym rehab sessions)
  • Squats – two-legged, shoulder-width stance, 10 reps 3 times per day
  • Reverse lunge – sets of two at a time, holding for 5 secs for each rep, repeat 5 times each leg, 3 times per day
  • Balance – stand one-leg ‘little and often’, e.g. brushing teeth, waiting for a Tube, standing in queue
  • Stationary bike – 15 minutes, 80-90 RPMs, 7:10 perceived exertion level
  • Elliptical/cross trainer – 15 minutes, 80-90 RPMs, 7:10 perceived exertion level

No change in exercise options since Week 4. The aim is to ‘mix and match’ different exercises throughout the week.


  • 3 consecutive chin ups
  • Near full knee bend in a prone position


Every ACL op and recovery will be particular to the person. The thoughts and experiences recalled in this series of posts is in no way intended as medical advice or as a replacement for seeking medical attention for any injury. This information is presented merely as a record of one person’s experience with ACL operation and recovery.