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Brooke Simmons 03-19-2006 09:10 AM

Hi all,

I actually feel that it's a bit premature for me to introduce myself -- I wanted to stick with this until I had finished the beginner's workout from the Crossfit Journal before posting here. *But*, I have a question that may or may not be pressing.

When I hurt my right knee years ago (torn ACL plus a few smaller things), there were some complications after surgery, and my right quad muscles atrophied significantly. I have never been able to get them to completely come back (and to be completely open about it, I haven't really tried that hard). If I measure the circumference of my thighs, my right measurement is an inch smaller than my left.

So my question is: will this naturally correct itself as I build up my overall strength, or do I need to be actively working to promote using my right quad more than my left in certain exercises? I'm worried that if I continue as though there's no disparity, I'll unconsciously favor the right leg and make the difference between the legs larger by using more of my left leg.

I was thinking of adding in some exercises, e.g. one-leg squats, but I don't know if that will be useful or not -- and maybe there's something better to do instead -- so I was hoping to get some advice on that.

More general stuff about me, if people are interested:

I'm certainly what you would call a total beginner. I considered myself moderately athletic in high school (played softball, worked out somewhat regularly etc.), but was never in good shape from a Crossfit perspective.

After my knee injury, which was at the end of high school -- 10 years ago! -- I frankly have never gotten back into shape. I'm more than a little ashamed to admit that my attempts at fitness since then have been really half-hearted. Certainly they've been dominated by standard ideas of cardio and weight machines, and the standard low-fat diet filled with pre-packaged chemical-rich meals. I have lost weight on those diets, and gained it back, and never really built significant muscle from working out. A general lack of making-fitness-a-priority has led to me gaining about 60 pounds since high school, and I'm sure gaining more than that in fat, since I'm in worse muscular shape now than I was then.

About 6 weeks ago, I stumbled across the Crossfit website (via Gym Jones via a promotional video about the movie "300"), and was very, very intrigued. I love the theory behind all this, and even if you all scare me sometimes with your fervor :-) I very, very much want to be physically fit -- again or for the first time in my life. I like the way you all think, and I think that with a lot of work I could eventually call myself a Crossfitter.

I downloaded several back issues of the Crossfit Journal (and also subscribed) and have been reading the boards and the WOD posts every day, and I've started the beginner's workout detailed in journal #9. I work out at home using equipment I scrounged from craigslist (I'm a grad student, so budget is limited). I've just finished with week 4. It's getting a little monotonous, but my carrot is that after I finish week 12, I will be ready to start doing scaled versions of the ever-varying WOD. I was tempted, after reading the boards, to start a GTG regimen for push ups and pull-ups, but I'm trying to be patient and not rush into everything all at once.

This seems like a great community, and even though I don't have the same fitness history that so many of you do, I hope that in 18 months or so (I have a long way to go from a bodyweight standpoint, so I hope this is a realistic goal) I'll be able to post WOD times that won't make me want to hang my head in shame!


Tony Young 03-19-2006 04:17 PM

Welcome! You're making a great start. It's never to early to ask questions.

Feel free to move on to modified WOD's before the 12 week mark. There's no benefit to doing the whole beginners program if you get bored and quit. I think at four weeks if you feel ready, give it a go. Watch your form, listen to your body so you don't overdo (ramp up slowly)and have at it. There's nothing magical about the 12 week thing.

Do the work like both legs are the same. Since the body isn't perfectly symetrical anyway I don't think there's anything to be gained by finessing something like that. Yes, the (slightly) smaller leg will probably catch up. (Do you know for sure that your legs were the same size before your surgery?) And if it doesn't so what? You'll be so awesome nobody (including you) will notice anyway.

Larry Lindenman 03-20-2006 05:53 AM

I'm going to take a slightly diffrent tack than Tony and suggest a little extra work on your lagging limb. We want the work to be functional though. So after your deadlift and squat I think you should do 1 legged squats ("healthy leg behind you on a bench) and 1 leg deadlifts (with 1 dumbbell or KB). 5 X 5 would be a decent rep range. 5 sets with a weight you could do your first set of 5 reps. As you continue to crank off sets, you should not be able to get to 5 reps. Once you could get 5 reps for all sets, increase the weight. Normally I would agree with Tony, but because of the large diffrence I think you need some extra work to prevent future injuries. DO NOT do this with non-functional leg extensions or curls.

Brooke Simmons 03-20-2006 08:13 AM

Tony and Larry,

Thank you for the advice! Good point about the WOD -- if I ever feel that I'd rather not do the beginner's workout because it's getting too routine, I'll try a scaled version of the WOD instead. Definitely better to start that early than to quit out of boredom! And I will try the leg exercises, too. I doubt that I could finish a 5x5 rep 1-legged squat set with even bodyweight right now, so that's where I'll start.

"And if it doesn't so what? You'll be so awesome nobody (including you) will notice anyway."

I love that attitude! :-) True, I don't actually know that the legs were the same size before the surgery. In fact, I doubt they were, since was a pitcher in softball, and the motion is so asymmetric with respect to the legs. If I had to guess, I would say that my right leg was actually the stronger one before the injury... but I'm not sure.

Thank you both!

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