If you haven’t suffered some sort of knee pain yet, consider yourself very lucky. I was fortunate enough to avoid it over many years of heavy leg training, but eventually my luck ran out. While I don’t pretend to have the prescription for healing the various types of knee injuries (I leave that to physical therapists), I’ve found a way to train around the knee pain and still get a great leg workout. As you might imagine, quite a bit of preexhausting is involved.
‘Begin with a 10-minute cardiovascular warmup on the stationary bike or treadmill. Try to get a little sweat going; the objective is to bring plenty of heat and blood into your knee area.
‘Start your workout with leg curls, preferably the seated variety. They take the pressure off the knee while at the same time helping to strengthen the tendons and ligaments around it. Always take time to do a couple of light sets of 15 to 20 reps before starting to pyramid up in weight for four work sets of 10 to 12 reps.
‘Next, move to the leg extension machine. Do two sets of 20 reps with a light weight, being careful not to bounce out of the bottom position (often more dangerous to a bum knee than squats). Perform three work sets of 20 reps with a weight that’s a bit more challenging. Now you should be ready for a press exercise.
‘Squats and hack squats are usually out of the question when you have a knee injury, but you can often do leg presses with no problem. You want to set your feet fairly high on the platform to minimize shearing force on the knees. Do two warmup sets of 20 to 25 reps, then four work sets of 15 to 20 reps. Don’t try to use the heaviest weight you can. Rather, strive to make a moderate weight feel heavier with little tricks. First, pause at the bottom of each rep before slowly driving it back up. Never lock out your knees at the top. Besides being a bad idea for an injured knee, not locking out keeps constant tension on the quads so that they don’t get a break until the set is over. When you can no longer do another full rep, lower just halfway for a few partial reps.
You should be pleasantly surprised to find that in spite of your knee pain, you can still blast your legs and keep making gains. Remember, where there’s a will, there’s a way. IM
Editor’s note: Check out Ron’s Web site, www.RonHarrisMuscle.com.