I’ve always experienced some sort of off-and-on joint pain or muscle ache throughout my years of weight training, especially as I’ve gotten older. One of the pains I started noticing several months ago was my knees hurting during my leg workouts. It seemed to have hit me all of a sudden and leg day had become almost unbearable. I was thinking, great, my lower back issues (which have gotten better) have caused me to shy away from heavy free weight squats. However, I’ve learned to work around that and have still been able to get solid results from my leg workouts. But there’s no way to get around knee pain on leg day.
Many experts (so to speak) advise staying away from leg extensions so I did that for a while but my knees continued to hurt. I had also stopped doing hack squats as I thought that could have been contributing to my knee pain. I had found myself doing excessive sets of leg presses and using random techniques (such as 10 sets, drop sets, 20-30 rep sets, rest-pause training, and the list goes on). None of that matter as my knee pain was still prevalent. Of course I kept training my hamstrings as it was only quad exercises that sparked my knee pain.
I’m not quite sure how I came to this solution but it seems I remember a long time ago someone showing me a technique that put more focus on the quads and glutes. He told me to press with my heels on all of my quad exercises of my leg workouts. I guess I had gotten away from this for whatever reason but one morning I decided to use this on the leg press. I was quite amazed as I had absolutely no knee pain. It was almost like I had taken a miracle pain pill or something. Needless to say I got in an extremely brutal quad workout that day (the good kind of brutal). Something else I noticed by pressing with my heels was enormous pumps in my quads like I’ve never had before. I’ve been seeing more striations in my quads as well.
Some may say press with your heels on the positive portion of the exercise but I keep the pressure on my heels throughout the entire movement. This actually forces the quads and glutes to work harder and I feel no strain on my knees or my lower back. You may have to lessen the amount of weight but trust me, your legs will be pumped and they will grow. I felt the difference immediately on the first set of leg press when I started implementing this technique for my leg workouts. Since I’ve started pressing with my heels I’ve moved other quad exercises back into my leg training. I train legs with high reps for the most part but I do go heavy at times, and I haven’t experienced any knee pain at all since I’ve been using this technique.
I must also note that I do leg extensions and have never experienced any knee pain from doing leg extensions. I think it’s a misconception that leg extensions are bad for your knees. However, I don’t go super heavy on them either, and usually do anywhere from 12 to 20 rep sets. Now here’s another tip if you’ve had knee pain from doing leg extensions; raise the starting position of the leg extension machine. There’s no reason to start with your legs at more than a 90 degree angle. All this does is place stress in unwanted places and it does nothing for your quads. You may catch some flack from people saying your not using full range of motion but that’s okay because your knees will not be in pain. Move the leg piece out some. Make sure you flex your quads at the peak of the movement as this is where you’ll get the pump and develop your quad muscles. I usually end up doing leg extensions in the beginning of my leg workout to warm and again at the end of my leg workout after all the heavy work is done.
I wanted to share this article because this method has helped me tremendously and I know a lot of you have experienced (or experiencing) knee pain. Pressing with your heels will not only help eliminate knee pain but you’ll also notice better pumps and more muscle growth from this technique.
Train with Passion,