If I've said it once, I've said it at least 10 times the back squat is the one exercise you should be doing to get stronger, bigger, faster, live longer, and look sexier. It's that simple.
But sometimes our damn knees don't seem to agree. Luckily there's a lot you can do to make your knees a happy member of your lower body family.
First, let's go over how to make some on the spot corrections and then talk about what you can do to make your knees strong and resilient.
You’ve got lazy glutes and your knees are paying the price.
The valgus knee collapse, yes, you read that correctly. It's that brutal-looking event that happens when your glute medius doesn't know how to pull its weight.
If your knees are caving in when you squat, fix it by focusing on twisting your knees out and engaging the upper outside corner of your glutes AKA your glute medius. For some of you that simple correction will be enough to relieve your knees and clear up any pain.
Give your glutes a reminder.
In between sets of squatting perform 12-15 reps of the glute bridge. Really focus on squeezing your glutes at the top of the movement and keeping your knees pointed out while bridging. This will cue your glutes to stay on when you get back to your sets of squatting.
Give your hips a reminder.
It's not always the glutes' fault; sometimes the hip flexors are just as guilty. The majority of us spend all day sitting down with our psoas muscles and the rest of the hips flexors gang shortened and disengaged. It's not totally their fault for not taking part in the squat.
By engaging your hip flexors, you'll find it easier to sit back and down rather than crumbling forward into your knees like you may be doing currently.
Give your hip flexors some resistance between sets with your hands and force them to actively close your hip angle.
If that simple cue doesn't work for you, use a resistance band to give you some errr…. resistance. Hang it up high and hold onto it with both hands. Then actively pull yourself down into the squat position by engaging your hip flexors.
Maybe, you’ve got bad form.
Patterning issues aren't uncommon in the squat. It's a complicated exercise. That's why if you haven't yet committed it to memory you need to reread the 5 Steps to Back Squat Perfection.
You aren’t sitting back.
Squat TO A box. Don't box squat.
The box isn't there to make your life easier. It's there to help you make the squat as efficient and gainful as possible. Put that box behind you and stick your ass out and back to the box. Just touch it with your butt and stand back up. Don't linger down there relaxing.
Your depth is not deep enough.
The funny thing about squat depth is it helps you actually engage the muscles you want to. If you're only doing half or quarter squats your hamstrings are getting left out.
When your quads are completely dominating the squat, they are also putting a lot of anterior stress on the knee. The hamstrings job is to be engaged and supply an equally opposing force on the knee.
If you aren't getting your hamstrings involved your quad is crushing your knee. It's as simple as that.
You need more ankle mobility.
Simply stand with your heels on a 1-inch board. Boom! More ankle mobility and less forward knee travel in the squat.
Now that's a life hack! Silicon Valley biohackers ain't got nothin' on my Back Squat Hacks!
The stronger and happier knees prescription.
Foam roll your thighs. Hit them from every angle after you finish squatting or on your off days.
Take 3-5 minutes per leg. Any more than that is just masturbation.
Lying Side Clams
Get your Fit-Chick-Gym-Shark pants on and practice opening and closing your legs. Seriously, don't wear short shorts when doing these.
Do 2-3 sets of 10-12 reps at the end of your leg workout.
Add them to the end of The Mighty Fit Plan as well!
Thrust it out!
These will wake the sleeping giant that is your ass. After 4 weeks of hip thrusts you'll find yourself walking different in a more efficient and stable kind of way.
Hip thrust once a week, program in the same reps and sets scheme as your deadlift and back squat. Consider them your 3rd major lower body movement.
Hit your Core
Hit your obliques and rectus abdominis. Chops and ab wheel roll-out will do the trick here. Throw them at the end of any workout and go for 2-3 sets of 8-12 reps. They will make your core so stable that your knees won't ever feel the secondary effects of a weak spine ever again.
Consider your Squat frequency
Only squat once per week. Unless you love squatting or are competing you don't need to do it more than 1 time a week. You have 3 major lower body movements; the squat, the deadlift, and the hip thrust. There's no need to squat, especially if your knees bother you.
Do your knees hurt when squatting?
That's it yo! If you haven't yet watched the video that I made to go along with this article, you're missing out. That's where the nitty-gritty details are.
If you diligently apply these fixes to your back squat, you will very quickly find that your knees are no longer bothersome.
By combining these fixes with the programming of the Mighty Fit Plan, you'll be unstoppable.