Tag Archive: Squat



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.

Click here to watch video “LEG TRAINING SECRETS FOR PAINFULL KNEES”

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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: brace

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…!

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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!

Gert Louw


Yes, it is possible to have amazingly shaped muscular legs without resorting to weightlifting.

This article is for the person who wants aesthetic shaped legs without excessive muscle size.

The program being suggested here, is also great for cardio fitness and might initially be difficult for the novice due to the rather high fitness level required.

If so, start of with less reps per set and shorter distances for lunges, etc.

Here is a quick overview of the program:

Frequency: 3 times per week.

exercises:

  1. Walking forward lunges (with weight on shoulders) – 4 sets of +- 30m
  2. Sideways lunges (with weight on shoulders) – 4 sets of +- 30m
  3. Medicine ball throwing squat – 3 sets of 30
  4. Standing Knee-ups (elbow height) – 3 sets of 30
  5. Knee-ups and squats combined – 3 sets of 15
  6. Standing squat – 3 sets of 20

Points of note

  1. This program will suite both guys and girls.
  2. Lunges are an amazing aesthetic leg shaper – do not substitute it with something else.
  3. All squats must be performed going not lower than 90 degrees with lower/upper leg angle. This puts strain on the lower back and also more pressure on knees.
  4. The knee-up and squat combined is rather intense and you might initially struggle with it. But it is a GREAT exercise for balanced growth. Even if you just do 2 reps per set the first 2 weeks, then up the amount of reps by small steps every 2nd week until you reached your desired goal.
  5. Hydrate well during this training – you are going to sweat.
  6. Start of with no weight on shoulders and lightest medicine ball possible and work it up very slowly by increasing in smallest portions every two weeks.
  7. The knee-ups is also a great abdominal shaper.
  8. Eat correct for growth (every 3-4 hours), rest enough for growth (do NOT overtrain) and train HARD for results.
aesthetic leg training

aesthetic leg training

Wish you success! Cheers…

Gert Louw


How to grow legs when you struggle with your knees?

Sounds impossible, but it can be done.

Your will never have freakish size legs but you can add very good size by following these basic principles.

Note – I am proof of this, my knees are genetically “bad” (many in my family had knee replacement surgery) and I cannot take much weight before they start aching severely, but I have managed to add decent size to my legs. They are not nearly as big as I want them to be but they are one of my best assets and pain-free.

OK, let’s get down to business…how must you train those legs?

1. Focus on your calves. You can train them very hard and very intense without any knee related pain. The bigger the calves are the bigger the legs look. Be wise…grow what you can grow. And don’t worry…your calves will never look oversize…calves is a difficult muscle to grow at best!

2.When doing any upper leg workout, wrap your problem knee/s very (!) tightly with an elastic wrap. I found that this allow you to lift safely up to 40% more weight. But I have to unwrap them after each set to allow blood flow again. Yes, it is a bit tedious, but nothing good comes without effort.

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3. Your main mass building exercise for the upper legs should be the leg press machine. It places far less strain on the knees and you should be able to press a fair amount when the knees are wrapped tightly. Slow, very controlled movements and place the legs up high and wide. Do not jerk, that is knee injury territory. I always start my leg session of with this exercise and sometimes even finish it off again with it.

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4. The normal squat is a killer for the knees. But I still do it pain-free. First of all, those knees must be wrapped very tightly. Secondly go light, very light. I only do 20kg plates on each side. Thirdly do high reps…I do between 30-35 reps per set. It is gonna drain you (I nearly puked the other day) but with that light weight your knees can cope. If not, go even lighter and increase the reps even more per set. Slow controlled movements. NO JERKING! (For those that want to read up a bit more on squat technique: http://www.precisionnutrition.com/all-about-the-squat )

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5. A GREAT leg shaper is lunges, especially when you put some weight on your shoulders. But the normal lunge is also a knee killer. Four rules must be followed here to make it pain-free. One – wrap those knees tightly. Two – Do NOT let the lower and upper leg angle be smaller than 90 degrees, maybe even a bit bigger. This is one of the main reason why lunges kills knees. Three – do not step out straight to the front, but step out at a 45 degree angle with each lunge.  Four – do not step out and back again at the same place, but step forward each time. Staying in the same stationary position for lunges is not knee friendly.

DB-45-Degree-Lunge-2

This is my bit to help those with bad knees adding some size. It can be done…. Be wise, do controlled and slow movements and make sure your technique is perfect.

Here is my latest (2 weeks ago) comparison photo from the day I started bodybuilding to my current shape…nearly 9 years ago. In 7 months I am 50 and want to be even in better shape!

gert b&A 1Jan2014

Wish you all a blessed 2014 and may the peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you!

Gert Louw


squats-exercise5 Reasons Why Squats Are Killing Your Lower Back

Try finding a Squatter who has never experienced lower back pain at least once during his Squatting career. There was a time where I had to stop doing Squats completely for several months because I couldn’t do them painlessly anymore – too much sitting was my culprit. Maybe that sounds familiar to you.

Fast forward today and I’m not only 100% free of lower back pain, I also Squat 400lb raw at 165lb bw. From my personal and coaching experience, here are 5 reasons why Squats might kill your lower back, and what to do about it.


1. The Bar Is Too High.
When you Squat high bar don’t try to sit back like when Squatting low bar. This is a guaranteed way to stress your lower back because the barbell is too far away from your body’s center of gravity. Either Squat high bar and keep your torso upright, or put the bar lower and sit back.

I am NOT against high bar Olympic Squats, but when you’re doing StrongLifts 5×5 I recommend you to Squat low bar because that gives you much better leverage (you’ll lift more weight, and thus gain more muscle/lose more fat)


2. You’re Squatting Too Deep.
First, you can not Squat “ass-to-grass” low bar or your lower back will round at the bottom – you need the high bar position for that. Next, if you’re going to Squat rock bottom with the high bar position, then make sure you’re flexible enough for that otherwise your lower back will round at the bottom, and this will hurt once you’re Squatting weights heavy enough.

The fact is that most guys do not have the hip flexibility to Squat “ass-to-grass” because they’re too sedentary (not your fault, I’m also a desk jockey). That’s why I advise you to Squat low bar and stop when you hit parallel. It’s safe on your knees, safer on your lower back, and you’ll Squat more weight.


3. You’re Not Staying Tight.
So you’re not Squatting too deep, but your lower back is still rounding at the bottom, now what? Well make sure you’re not losing tension in the bottom of the Squat. Here’s how to stay tight:

  • Tilt your tailbone back – Squat down by sitting back with your hips, and keep your lower back tight by pushing your tailbone towards to ceiling.
  • Pinch your psoas – this will automatically pull your lower back straight, pinch the muscle between your belly and your upper-thighs.
  • Tighten your upper-back – you can’t keep your lower back tight if your upper-back is loose. Lift your chest and keep your shoulder-blades tight.

Be warned, this position will not feel that comfortable if your hips are all tight from sitting a lot. Just keep practicing, you’ll quickly improve if you stick with it.


4. You’re Not Using Your Glutes.
If you’re a desk jockey like me, you’ll tend to Squat with your lower back too arched. But hyperextending your lower back is as bad as rounding it at the bottom. One trick to keep your lower back neutral is to engage your glutes when you Squat. Here’s how:

  • Push your knees out – make sure your stance is at least shoulder-width and then rotate your hips outwards as you Squat.
  • Grab the floor with your feet – this creates a hollow in your feet and allows you to push your knees out better (wear the right shoes).
  • Stand tall – finish the lockout portion of all your Squats by moving your hips forward and contracting your glutes hard.


5. You’re Not Using Your Abs.
Never Squat with your belly pulled in to activate your TVA like some of those idiot personal trainers will tell you to do. This is a guaranteed way to suffer a hernia because your lower back will round.

You should always take a big breath before you Squat, fill your belly with air, and then push your abs out. This increases pressure in your belly, adds support to your lower back, and will automatically boost your Squat.

One trick to learn how to use your abs correctly is to wear a powerlifting belt when you Squat. Wear it one notch loose, pull air into your belly and then Squat while pushing your abs against the belt. I own the Inzer Forever Belt 10mm single prong and highly recommend it (no affiliate link, not paid to say this).

It should be clear that if your lower back hurts on Squats, it is almost always a problem of technique, not of the exercise. Don’t be one of those Squats-hurt-my-back-whiners. Tape yourself, fix your technique and pass on the word.

More info at: http://stronglifts.com/squats-exercise-lower-back-pain/

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