Simply one of the most challenging problems for the over 40 and especially over 50 guy is, how to train legs effectively when knee problems/pain is derailing leg training constantly.
Off course you must work with your doctor and specialist and if surgery is the only way out then, well that must be done. But unfortunately, there are always risks and chances are that even after surgery the knee would still be far from perfect. This is what is happening to nearly all the guys who has gone this route. The surgery might have helped but it did not provide a solution to the problem.
Same here, I had my knee surgery a while back and ever since then I still struggle, sometimes badly, with my one knee.
But how is it that I got such decent leg development then? Ok I am not massive and NEVER will be, but my legs got good size and great shape and are actually increasing in size, albeit slowly. Actually, I am very proud of my wheels!
In this document/video I am going to let you in on my secret approach on how to grow and shape the legs while struggling with weak or painful knees.
My approach is unconventional for the most part but it makes sense from a science point of view and I am proof that it makes a positive difference.
My leg training approach.
First you need to take the necessary precautions to ensure the knee joint is stabilized enough. There are various ways to do it. I’ve tried them all and they are definitely NOT all equal.
The options are:
- STRAPS wrapped around the knee to support the joint. These are long straps that one can actually wrap very tightly to keep everything in place, but it is quite a bit of effort since you must wrap them before each set and unwrap them after each set because they easily cut off the blood-flow due to the tight wrapping. Try and keeping it on will result in a lot of leg pain because of problematic blood-flow.
- Flexible KNEE GUARD. This I have tried and can honestly say that if you got any significant knee issues…this is far from sufficient. It simply does not provide the correct support to stabilize the knee.
- KNEE SUPPORT BRACE with metal hinges on both sides. This might not look sexy and it might even be a bit uncomfortable, but this is the only knee support that keep the knee stabilized and aligned while training legs. The metal hinges on both sides is the key.
I still got a new one in original packaging so here is a photo:
However, it is something that don’t last long. I find every 2 months I have to buy a new one. There are definitely superior products out there but off course also at “superior” prices. I spoke to a girl the other day that had a great (sexy) looking and strong brace on. She orders it from the USA and every part can be replaced. Unfortunately, I forgot the name of the brand…sorry! She mentioned it is about $500 US. But I reckon it should last you for a looong time plus the fact that it looks sexy, well that counts a lot!
Either way the one I got currently is cheap, $30 US and does the job well.
When the knee is fully stabilized then you will find that you will be able to do significantly better leg training than without the stabilization. The knee joint of older people has too much “looseness” and thus applying any significant pressure on it can very easily harm it or result in serious pain.
So, the first step is to, every-time you train, to put on a KNEE SUPPORT BRACE WITH DUAL HINGES, even though you do not train legs that day. This keeps the knee stabilized and aligned and prevents damage. Remember when you do standing bicep curls, for example, you plant yourself with your feet and lift fairly heavy weights and without realising it, the slightest wrong move with the legs can be disasterous for a problem knee.
Forget about looking sexy. Leave that to the youngsters. Just keep the brace on while training, after that take it off. Although I must admit, I found that when we recently visited Thailand I had to do so much walking (!) that I had to wear the brace otherwise I would have had severe knee issues.
But this brace is just part of the solution. The problem is that because of your problem knees and pain you have unknowingly weakened the tendons and muscles supporting the knee because you could not train legs effectively. So even with the brace on, there is NO WAY that you can now all of a sudden do heavy squats, etc…!
Here is my rehab training I followed (with the knee brace with hinges) to allow the supporting knee muscles and tendons to strengthen. It is a slow process because one must follow the golden path of doing enough to strengthen the muscles and tendons but not too much to place undue strain on the knee. Off course it might not be exactly the same for everyone. Rather steer clear from moving at faster pace (with increasing weights), but rather be wiser to move even slower if you experience any kind of knee discomfort or pain. You are not allowed to do a dedicated upper leg training day until such time that this program has reached week 21. Calve training can resume as normal. But be aware even calve training when done too heavy and without a hinged knee brace can place undue strain on the knees. So even here you need to take care and always train with a hinged knee brace and slowly work up the weights. Every rep must be slow and controlled.
This program is just about squats which builds up the supporting knee muscles and tendons effectively. Feet shoulder width apart and knees pushed outward. Never move lower than a 90-degree angle between the upper and lower leg (this prevent strain on lower back). Squats have the ability to strengthening the supporting knee muscles and tendons but also have the ability to destroy a knee when done too heavy or wrong!
Having problem knees mean you will never again be able to do serious heavy squats. This routine is as far as you can go. The key of this routine lies in the frequent squat training. It only works because legs muscles are of a different muscle fibre type than upper body muscles which mean they actually do respond good to frequent training.
The upper legs training regime for problem knees:
- Week 1-4: Before training, 5 days a week 2 sets of squats (20 reps each set) without any weights – just bodyweight.
- Week 5-8: 5 days a week 2 sets of squats (20 reps each set) with a 5kg training bag on your shoulders.
- Week 9-12: 5 days a week 2 sets of squats (20 reps each set) with a 10kg training bag on your shoulders.
- Week 13-14: 5 days a week 2 sets of squats (20 reps each set) with a 15kg training bag on your shoulders.
- Week 15-16: 5 days a week 2 sets of squats (20 reps each set) with a 20kg training bag on your shoulders.
- Week 16-18: 5 days a week 2 sets of squats (20 reps each set) with a 30kg training bag on your shoulders.
- Week 19-20: 5 days a week 2 sets of squats (20 reps each set) with a 40kg training bag on your shoulders.
- From week 21 onwards: 5 days a week 3 sets of squats (20 reps each set) with a 40kg training bag on your shoulders. Do always before training as part of warmup routine.
You will be surprised how this regular warm up squats can add to upper leg growth. A case in point is the track cyclists. They have massive upper legs and they train for hours every day 7 days of the week!
If squats, even in the above fashion, is completely out due to knee pain, then a very good alternative is cycling. If you have a good knee doctor then cycling is usually the first post op knee training he will suggest. Use a stationary gym bike and then according to above program gradually (!) increase training intensity over a 21 week period to strengthen the knee supporting muscles with cycling. Don’t forget to wear the knee brace.
Here is a sample clip of such squat training with weight bag and hinged knee brace:
DON’T do any other squats even on leg training days. You will never be able to do serious squats if you have problem knees. But believe me these 5 day a week moderate squats with a 40kg bag on your shoulders is going to result in good growth of the upper leg muscle, over time (!) – don’t be over eager.
But from week 21 you now have clearance to start with other non-squat leg training so now you can actually have a dedicated leg day: Legs press, machine leg curls, hack squats-be careful, preferably not lunges. Take it slow when you start from week 21 with a dedicated leg training day, very slow and build up the weights. Initially increase weights only every 4 weeks. Later-on one you can add small changes every 2 weeks. DO NOT PUSH LIMITS! Accept that you will never have massive legs but this way you can have decent well shaped legs.
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The above will help greatly to strengthen all supporting muscles required by the knee. You will find that you will start to have significantly less knee pain as you progress with above training. But do not for one moment be fooled. You got problem knees and you need to take very good care of them if you want to grow your legs. ONE wrong move and you are back to square one! Although I must admit my knee is significantly better because of this training process.
So, there you have it. This is what I do. My legs has responded well and my knees are drastically better. I’ve been to knee surgeons, sports doctors, physio therapists and biokineticists trying to find solutions, and this one has by far produced the best results.
And off course if you are interested in my training system for the older guy – you can signup here: https://gertlouw.com/my-transformation-secrets/
Happy training everyone!