Squats get a bad rap as knee killers. Here’s how to make them joint-friendly.
Whenever someone mentions that squatting hurts your knees, ask them to show me how you squat.
Ninety-nine percent of the time, a little piece of my soul dies as I see them. I tell them: “Squatting does not hurt your knees, what are you doing right now knees hurt.”
It is a concept that other strength coaches and try to pass on to our customers. There is a right way to squat that will not cause harm, and then there’s everything else. Unfortunately, I rarely see them executed in the proper manner.
Let’s make one thing clear about how squatting, though: There will always be some forward movement of the knees when squatting. Telling someone that the knees should not go beyond the toes, it is dangerous is an archaic myth of fitness. He has to die.
That said, allowing your knees to move excessively forward so that your heels come off the ground you can get into trouble. That’s when you end up putting more stress on the knees.
I see this happen a lot. So I use the squat box. They not only help one solid squat groove pattern as a rock and keep more vertical shins so your heels remain on the floor, they also carry voltage knees and puts more load on the hips.
And that’s important because your hips are larger than your knees together prominent. They are designed to handle larger loads.
If squatting hurts your knees-and you are not suffering from an injury, it is because you are making your knees do the work over the hips. Learn how to use the hips during a squat is important if you want to be more friendly joint. Box Squats can do that.
Box Squats also keep people honest with their depth squat. Some will tell you squat more than 90 degrees is dangerous and puts more stress on the knees. That is another myth. Squatting over a full range of motion is healthier for your knees and makes them stronger.
1. Start with a box that’s 14 or 15 inches high. Note: The box height can be adjusted depending on your body type. As a rule of thumb, your thighs should be just below knee level when you’re in the bottom position of the squat.
2. Perform the move without weight first. Once you get a hang of it, place the box in a squat rack, unrack the bar, and stand in front of the box with your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart.
3. Your toes should be rotated out at 15 to 30 degrees.
4. Begin your squat by breaking with your hips. Sit back while simultaneously pushing your knees out and trying to spread the floor with your feet. You don’t need to push your knees out to the point where all of your weight shifts to the outer portion of your feet. You just need your kneecaps to stay in line with your middle toes.
5. Gently touch the box—don’t plop—with your butt.
6. Reverse the movement back up to a standing position, squeezing your glutes at the top.
In order to master the pattern, repetition is key. Do box squats twice a week for six to eight weeks. On the first day, do body-weight box squats only. Perform three sets of 10 reps. After a couple of weeks, you can add a light load for two or three sets of eight to 10 reps. On the second day, use a heavier weight. Do three to four sets of four to six reps.