Leg Exercises

Leg Training for Weak Knees

Don't let joint pain get in the way of a good workout. Here's how to train your legs on bad knees.

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Rule #2: Know the Mechanics

The knees will take on more or less stress depending on the angle at the shin while lifting weights. The further forward the knee tracks over the toe, the more quadriceps (and by default, the more knees) you’ll hit in your exercise. Doing your best to keep your shin's perpendicular to the ground while training the lower body is important when it comes to keeping knee pain at bay. Here are some exercises to help with that idea.

Box Squats

This movement encourages a lifter to keep the knees where they start, and “reach back” with the hips to allow for more posterior chain activity. It’s okay to lean forward slightly to facilitate the movement. If typical barbell back and front squats give you a hard time, it may be a good idea to switch to box squats.

Lunge Backwards!

For the same reasons, lunging forwards can cause unwanted knee stress. It takes an activation of the quad and hip muscles to start the motion by stepping forward, so it makes more sense to make the opposite happen. Initiate the movement by making the glutes and hamstrings start you off in a step backwards. It may be difficult to do walking lunges backwards, so instead, here’s a great exercise that will kill the glutes and quads. 

Think “Posterior Chain” Whenever Possible

This is a simple, yet effective rule for leg development. When it comes to leg training, 9 times out of 10, lifters spend too much time thinking about the quads. Even exercises that are compound in nature can have plenty of emphasis on the quads – especially if the lifter already has an existing muscle imbalance or dominance issue in favor of the quads. Posterior chain movements like deadlift variations, glute bridges, and GHRs are all great ways to hit the glutes and hamstrings to make your wheels grow, without having to put a ceiling on how much you can lift due to bum knees. Here’s my favorite PC movement. 

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