A common question that I am getting asked is…
“It’s painful for me to do the Squat. What can I do for it to be pain-free?”
A lot of times, I recommend people to step back and build up to do the bodyweight squat. I would recommend doing these three exercises and building up on these exercises until you get to do the bodyweight squat.
3 Exercises to Improve Bodyweight Squat
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#1 – Knee Range of Motion
Work on the range of motion in the knee. If you can create full pain-free range of motion in the knee, that is a great foundation to moving to the bodyweight squat. I get people to go on the mat and go through a knee range of motion exercise. I will get Donnalee to demonstrate it.
Knee Range of Motion
She is going to lie on her back and she is going to bend both knees. She is going to go with the left leg and bring that knee to the chest and try to work on that range of motion in that knee and then straighten out and then come back again. Donnalee has got full range of motion. You might go to whatever level you can to the point before pain and then straighten out and then again to the point just before pain and then straighten out.
When it comes to sets and reps, I recommend like 5 to 20 repetitions of this and with time the range of motion will increase. If you go to that point just before pain, it might be a little uncomfortable and it might be stretching but that’s fine. What we don’t want is that sharp jabbing pain. We worked on that range of motion. We worked on this knee flexion exercise. We have done 5 to 20 repetitions of it.
#2 – Single Leg Tubing
I get a resistive band. I want to work on the strength around that knee. Donnalee grabs that tubing and she is going to hold this position. And then she is going to straighten out the leg into the tubing and then coming back. She bent this opposite leg to brace the bottom part of the body and put her back into a good position. Rest of her body is lying down and relaxed.
Single Leg Tubing
We are working on strengthening around that knee with the resistive band. With the resistive band, you can pick whatever level that you can. It comes through all kinds of different levels. If you don’t have one, you can cut up a tube in a bicycle tire which is an easy one to use. We are looking at going through 5 to 20 repetitions of this as we work on strengthening the knee.
#3 – Wall Sit
We are going stand up and we are going to replicate that bodyweight squat. You are going to rest up against the wall and move your feet away from the wall. And then you are going to squat down to whatever level you can comfortably. Hold that position and then come back up.
Start off with a short period of time. First time we are going to go with a couple of seconds so you feel how it is. By going into this wall sit exercise, we are working on isometrically strengthening the knee and the hip. Again, start off with a short period of time but then also have a short depth as you go through it. You are not going all the way, you are staying at the top and you are working on strengthening different ranges of motion in the hip and the knee and come back up.
You can slowly keep working further down. You can hold it for as long as you want but start off with that 2 to 5 seconds range and then you can progress to 20 or 30 seconds. But I really recommend playing around with different ranges of motions in the hips and the knees because we are isometrically strengthening the muscle and isometric contraction is a safe contraction for a joint that has been injured.
Working with those three different exercises lay down a good foundation for you to do the bodyweight squat and building up to the bodyweight squat. The first exercise is working on that range of motion in the knee. The second is working on the strength in that knee joint. The third is working on the isometric strength in that hip and in that knee in order to progress to the bodyweight squat. Give those exercises a go and work your way to doing the bodyweight squat.
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Now lastly, if you are looking for a solution to help you overcome your knee pain, then take a look at the resource called Fix My Knee Pain. It’s a program that I get my clients to go through and it’s a program that I recommend people to do in order to overcome their knee pain.
If you want to improve the activation, endurance and strength in your gluteus maximus, then check out the Best Gluteus Maximus Exercises program here:
Rick Kaselj, MS