Here are four handy tips for managing knee pain and sculpting your legs:
#1 Include more hip dominant work.
This strengthens weak glutes and hamstrings, which contributes to knee pain, as muscular imbalances between the quads and posterior chain will lead to excess pressure being placed on the knee joint, and therefore knee pain.
Include more glute bridges, hip thrusts, leaning lunges and donkey kicks to strengthen the glutes.
Utilise seated or lying hamstring curls, deadlifts and glute ham raises to target the hamstrings.
#2 Swap walking or forward lunges for reverse lunges.
Reverse lunges place less stress on the knees than forward or walking lunges do.
Another knee friendly lunge variation is reverse land mine lunges, as these allow you to maintain a virtually vertical tibia- putting less stress on the knee, something which is not as simple with other loading methods.
Both can be used as accessory movements after squats or deadlifts, simply perform 3 sets of 8 to 12 reps on each side.
It's also effective to complete your hip dominant work before the quad dominant work, when you're fresh at the start of a training session.
#3 Try Reverse Sled Drags
The weight will vary massively depending on the surface you're working with, for example you'll get a much lower weight on a surface like rubber, but aim for 25 metres for 4 sets. This works best at the end of your workout, or superset with ab work to save some time!
No sled? Get creative and make one!
If that's not an option due to space/equipment in your gym, try walking backwards on a turned off treadmill set to a slight incline. Feel those quads burning!
#4 Use training systems that increase the intensity without requiring heavier weights.
This reduces the weight placed on your knees, but still allows you to apply progressive overload to the leg muscles.
Try eccentric training, matrix 21's, supersets and dropsets.
Eccentric training: Use body weight negatives, two up one down negatives or partner assisted negatives.
Matrix 21’s: 7 full reps, 7 reps at the top half of the movement, followed by 7 reps at the bottom of the movement.
Supersets: performing two or more exercises back to back without rest.
Drop Sets: when you reach failure at a certain weight, reduce the weight and continue until you reach failure again. Rinse and repeat.
Do you have injuries but still want to lose weight? Find out how I can help you by clicking the button below.
(A.K.A. How To Track Macros)
What Are Macros?
The problem with restrictive diets such as the paleo or clean eating diet is that they ignore the most crucial factor when it comes to losing weight; the energy balance equation. If you're consuming fewer calories than you burn then you're guaranteed to lose weight. The problem with this is that it is too simple- weight loss doesn't necessarily mean fat loss, and this is where macros come into play.
Macronutritents (or macros) are the amounts of protein, fats and carbohydrates that we should consume to minimise muscle loss and maximise fat loss, this ensures that an 'aesthetic physique' will be gained.
For example, a 70kg weightlifter may have 2122 calories when in a cutting (weight loss) phase. This would be made up of 140g protein, 284g carbs and 47g fats. He/she then needs to select food which meets this criteria, a good rule of thumb is 80% 'clean' foods and 20% 'bad' foods.
This makes sure you maintain your general health whilst still losing weight and having a balance which allows you the odd alcoholic drink, chocolate bar etc.
Therefore, if you wish to have fish and chips for dinner you simply reduce your total calorie, fat and carb intake slightly for the rest of the day. This can be as simple as having a smaller portion of pasta with your lunch!
This approach allows you to have 'bad foods' daily, providing they are in moderation.
How To Calculate Your Macros
1) Use myfitness pals Baseline metabolic rate (BMR) calculator. Note: I am not part of their company this is merely a recomendation to a useful free tool!
2) Multiple your BMR by your physical activity level (PAL).
This is 1.2 if you’re immobile, 1.4 if you have an inactive job e.g. office worker, 1.7 if you have a reasonably active job e.g. shop assistant or 2.0 if you have a highly active role e.g. bricklayer.
For example my BMR is 1,162kcal and I have a reasonably active job so 1,162 x 1.7 is 1,975kcal. These are my maintenance calories- for if I don't want to gain or lose weight.
3) Decide whether you want to gain or lose weight.
For weight gain: To minimise fat gain we will be conserative with our extra calories and add 10% to our maintenance calories. E.g. for me this is 1,975kcal x 1.1 which is 2,173kcal. This is the amount of calories I will consume on the average daily whilst on a muscle gaining phase.
For weight loss: To avoid muscle loss and make sure it's just fat we are losing, we will put ourselves in a 500 calorie deficit each day. To do this simply subtract 500 from your maintenance calories. For example my maintenance calories are 1975 so my calories for weight loss are 1475.
4) Calculate your macronutrients.
Protein: 2g per kg of bodyweight. E.g. I weigh 70g so need 140g protein per day.
Fats: 20% of your calories should come from fat. So if you're consuming 2000 calories per day you should be consuming 400 calories from fat, divide this number by 9 to get the grams of fat you should be consuming. So in this example 400 divided by 9 is 44.4, so consume 44g of fat.
Carbs: The rest of your intake should be in the form of carbs. To work out how many grams this is multiply your protein intake by 4 (e.g. 140 x 4 = 560) and add this to your calories from fat (e.g. 560 + 400 = 900). Then subtract this from your total calories ( 2000 - 900 = 1100) and divide this number by 4 to get the grams of carbohydrates you should be consuming (1110 divided by 4 = 275g).
So in this example the person will be consuming:
How To Apply This To Your Diet
The easiest way to actually track your macros is by using my fitness pal. Some foods are easier and you can scan the packet and add the quantity consumed, whereas other like restaurant meals can be more complex and you'll need to search for them in the app.
It works best if you track throughout the day, rather than waiting till bedtime to find out you've already overeaten.
Sources of each macronutrient are detailed below:
- Protein: Chicken, turkey, beef, pork, lamb, eggs, yoghurt, cottage cheese, protein powders/bars.
- Carbohydrates: Pasta, rice, potatoes, rice cakes, bread, oat cakes, fish, popcorn.
- Fats: Avocado, cheese, nuts, seeds, nut butters, coconut.
Laura Ciotte is a personal trainer and tutor/assessor for trainee personal trainers. She is based in Worthing, West Sussex and likes travelling, motorbikes and good food.
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