Photo courtesy Matthew LeBaron
If you experience knee discomfort/weakness/pain when working legs, it’s most likely because (1) you’ve been careless or clueless in the past about doing your leg exercises properly and/or (2) you’re currently being careless and/or clueless.
There is no shortage of people at the gym who believe that their way is the only way. They have found security in their workout regimen and cherish the sense of control that strength training provides them in an out-of-control world. They have come to believe that they know all there is to know about working out. Some of these I-know-what-I’m-doing people are very resistant to the idea that their workout form might need improvement.
Our knees are HINGES only. They are badly designed, weak little mechanisms not meant to bear weight or to power any exercise whatsoever. They are not muscles: they are merely bone, cartilage and tendon. Their purpose is singular — our knees exist solely to allow our legs to bend, period.
When doing squats or leg presses, the engine for those exercises resides in your BUTT, or gluteus maximus — the MAXIMUS part providing the clue that this is a very powerful muscle designed to do the work that many people mistakenly assign to their knees. Next time you do squats or leg presses, pause immediately before you lift off to first flex and tighten and squeeze your butt, and keep it flexed through the entire set. Power up from the butt — not the quads and not the knees. Keep your mind in the muscle. Power up (the positive) using the butt and power down (the negative) using the butt to drive the entire exercise — both the negative and the positive — and every muscle from your core downward will benefit with minimal strain on your knees.
Despite what the many know-it-all lunkheads on youtube tell you, never sink below parallel when you squat, as this puts enormous strain on your knees that will greatly shorten their life. The ass-to-grass dive-bomb advocates and those who encourage bouncing up from the bottom of the squat are not only idiots, but they are all young and inexperienced. You’ll never see an older bodybuilder demonstrating such form because those who have advocated doing such crazy shit blew out their knees long ago and are now hobbled. No more gym for them.
Happily most young men grow out of the all-or-nothing, Jackass-stunts mentality without a disabling injury. A lot of those younger guys who used to think they ruled at your gym, but all of a sudden are “too busy” to work out? They’re hiding injuries caused by very poor workout form and an ego too weak to own up to their mistakes.
Don’t be that guy. You still want to be doing squats and leg presses well into your 70s and beyond, safely and sanely. copyright2017RichardSullivan