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.
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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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