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TakingTheWheel

Knee Friendly Quad/Glute Exercises?

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Hello fellow Rebels!

 

I'm two months into my fitness journey and I'm steadily making progress. Learning as I go has been exciting and motivating. Each workout is a challenge and so far, I've been able to meet that challenge head on. I'm also trying to think creatively (and smarter) when something doesn't quite go as planned. That being said, I'm coming up empty trying to work around some achy knees.

 

Earlier in my still young quest for fitness, I did machine leg extensions. They seemed to place some excess stress on my knee caps and I didn't like the range of motion prescribed by the machine. I felt like I was locked into a position that didn't quite match my anatomy and figured that was why I felt some knee discomfort. So, I switched to machine leg presses (in the free weight section of my gym - the machine where you lay on your back and extend your legs at roughly a 45 degree angle). I liked the improved range of motion but my knees still weren't entirely happy. Finally, I adopted the tried and true, old-fashioned back squat for working my quads and glutes (among others). Not knowing how I would handle the weight, I started squatting in a Smith Machine rack and I just about fell in love. The movement felt good and I started seeing better, more consistent results. The best part, though? I felt a huge decrease in my knee cap pain. So, I moved on to squatting in a regular rack just to up the ante and keep improving. It took a few workouts to truly get the hang of things - I didn't realize how much the Smith Machine was helping me control and stabilize the weight! Now, a few weeks later, while making gains and slowly increasing the weight, I'm noticing some knee cap discomfort again. Mind you, the motion of squatting doesn't hurt. I only feel discomfort AFTER my workout. Odd, right? Sure, my thighs are sore but I also feel some tightness and discomfort behind my knee caps a few hours after I complete a round of squats.

 

Since I'm worried squatting might be causing or will cause some long term damage to my knees, though I do love the exercise, I'm thinking I need to dial back and/or find an alternate quad/glute exercise. I've heard deadlifts can be friendlier to one's knees but also murder on the lower back if proper form slips at all. Aside from that, can anyone recommend other knee friendly quad/glute exercises? I don't want to have to skip "leg day." :smile-new:

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I have arthritis in my knees, and they tend to collect fluid.  They can grind like rice krispies and snap/pop pretty much every time I stand up.  I'm also prone to patellar tendon tendonitis (jumper's knee).  That said, they have never bothered while squatting.  In fact, even when my knees are pretty bad or more recently during an LCL sprain, squatting is still fine.  However, I also found that squatting does not fully relieve some of the looseness or tendonitis pain I get.  For that, I just do some high step ups onto a 24" box, just bodyweight.  My knees bother me the most going down stairs.  The concentric/eccentric action on the box is a little more quad dominant, and you can't use your other leg to stabilize.

 

So that's my current plan - squat for gains, step ups for maintenance here and there.  Also, the leg extension exercise I to be a nightmare.  At lock out, it puts shear into the knee and causes my knee to grind and pop excessively.  Leg press was pretty good for knee maintenance.  I also wear knee sleeves to keep the popping to a minimum.

 

Squatting with good form does not damage your knees.

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41 minutes ago, Grymm said:

I have arthritis in my knees, and they tend to collect fluid.  They can grind like rice krispies and snap/pop pretty much every time I stand up.  I'm also prone to patellar tendon tendonitis (jumper's knee).  That said, they have never bothered while squatting.  In fact, even when my knees are pretty bad or more recently during an LCL sprain, squatting is still fine.  However, I also found that squatting does not fully relieve some of the looseness or tendonitis pain I get.  For that, I just do some high step ups onto a 24" box, just bodyweight.  My knees bother me the most going down stairs.  The concentric/eccentric action on the box is a little more quad dominant, and you can't use your other leg to stabilize.

 

So that's my current plan - squat for gains, step ups for maintenance here and there.  Also, the leg extension exercise I to be a nightmare.  At lock out, it puts shear into the knee and causes my knee to grind and pop excessively.  Leg press was pretty good for knee maintenance.  I also wear knee sleeves to keep the popping to a minimum.

 

Squatting with good form does not damage your knees.

Thanks for the reply, Grymm.

 

I, too, suffer from arthritis -- psoriatic arthritis. Thanks to a prescription I'm taking, the psoriasis is remarkably well managed. The impact of the arthritis on my lifestyle is also significantly lessened.

 

I started weight training a little over two months ago as a way to reduce the load on a lot of my joints by strengthening the muscles surrounding them. I'm also lifting to maintain the mobility I still have with the hope that I'll safeguard myself for the future. So far so good. Except for my knees.

 

As I said before, the actual squat exercises do not hurt. In fact, I feel pretty great doing them! I suppose, though, that the repetitive motion of squatting aggravates my lingering arthritis and creates some temporary joint inflammation? It does subside about a day later. However, I do notice some extra popping and grinding in my knees since starting to exercise regularly.

 

It's also comforting to know that your body doesn't respond well to the leg extension machine. I much prefer the adaptable range of motion permitted by either the leg press or squat rack.

 

I think my form is pretty good while squatting, too. If it wasn't, the exercise itself would be painful. It's not. Still, I'll pay extra attention to my form over the next few workouts and see if I can further minimize my post-workout knee discomfort by making minor adjustments as needed. Thanks again for chiming in!

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Are your knees caving in? That's a pretty common squat issue, especially with beginners - fixes include strengthening your posterior chain, improving ankle mobility, lifting lighter weight until you can maintain proper form, etc.

 

This is a cool video on one way to see what your 'natural' squat stance is, which could help prevent you from too narrow or wide a stance: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GaX5sc30GKo

 

On the same topic: https://themovementfix.com/the-best-kept-secret-why-people-have-to-squat-differently/

 

You could also use a resistance band just above the knees, as a physical reminder to drive your knees out. Depending on where your weakness is, even your shoes can help prevent some of that knee pain.

 

Between the shoulder and knee twinges you've mentioned recently and your preexisting condition, you may want to schedule a few appointments with a physio with strength training background or trainer with a physio background - to help troubleshoot form and prevent you from damaging anything long term!

K3---Front-Squat-KB-(band).JPG

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23 minutes ago, Defining said:

Are your knees caving in? That's a pretty common squat issue, especially with beginners - fixes include strengthening your posterior chain, improving ankle mobility, lifting lighter weight until you can maintain proper form, etc.

 

This is a cool video on one way to see what your 'natural' squat stance is, which could help prevent you from too narrow or wide a stance: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GaX5sc30GKo

 

On the same topic: https://themovementfix.com/the-best-kept-secret-why-people-have-to-squat-differently/

 

You could also use a resistance band just above the knees, as a physical reminder to drive your knees out. Depending on where your weakness is, even your shoes can help prevent some of that knee pain.

 

Between the shoulder and knee twinges you've mentioned recently and your preexisting condition, you may want to schedule a few appointments with a physio with strength training background or trainer with a physio background - to help troubleshoot form and prevent you from damaging anything long term!

K3---Front-Squat-KB-(band).JPG

Thanks, Defining. You're probably right. Though, I think I'm pretty aware of my form on every squat (the rack is in front of a mirror) and my knees do spread wide and slightly angled outwards in line with my shins but slightly over my toes like in the above photo. Glutes are thrust backwards with a neutral spine. My knees definitely do not angle inward towards each other. That being said, I will definitely seriously consider setting up an appointment or two with a physio/trainer. Thanks again!

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