Have you ever heard that “Squats are bad for your knees?” Let’s bust that myth RIGHT NOW because it is FALSE!
Where did this come from?
First of all – there are NO studies to support this statement. Zero. None. There are a number of studies that look at the loading forces on the knee through various squat depths, however, none of them conclude that squatting is “bad for the knees”. This is just one of the studies I found.
“Contrary to commonly voiced concern, deep squats do not contribute increased risk of injury to passive tissues.”
There is some talk about a Dr. Karl Klein who back in the 50’s looked at the rising knee injuries in college football players. He concluded that deep squats were what was causing the issues. Hmmmm….could it have been maybe that players played both offense AND defense? This story then got picked up by Sports Illustrated after he released his findings in 1961. Then the American Medical Association came out with their position stand on squat – stating that squats were bad for your knees and should be avoided.
And that folks…was the early death of squatting. Thanks to Dr. Klein, SI and the AMA we, as trainers, had to listen to our clients tell us how bad squats were for your knees..for the next 50 years. All this was based on NO SCIENTIFIC STUDY. That’s an important point to remember.
Squats aren’t bad of your knees…the way you are doing them is bad for your knees.
Saying squats are bad for your knees is such a silly thing when you think about it. Every time you get out of a chair/take a dump/get out of your car – that’s a squat. As human beings we were MADE to squat!
From an evolutionary perspective – if we couldn’t squat, we wouldn’t have been very good hunters. Ever try hiding standing up? Also…did you know that the first firing position initially taught to rifleman in the military was to fire from a deep squat? That’s right!!! It’s much easier for you to drop down into a squat position and get back up into a run then it is to lay all the way down on the ground, sight, fire, then get up. Maybe not in hunting a deer, but certainly in a fire fight against an enemy.
The reason this was taken out was because people were complaining of knee pain. I’ve worked for the military, they don’t just throw out an idea and hope it works. This was a position that was used for hundreds of years that had to be changed in the mid 20th century due to people sitting more and not having good mobility and/or strength to perform this task.
Then you have the biomechanics perspective – our knee joint is a hinge joint, it’s made to go from a full straightened position to a fully flexed position. Black, red, brown, white no matter your skin color, we are all built the EXACT SAME WAY. So, explain to me why entire continents of people can squat ass to grass (that means all the way down in fitness talk) with no pain? Often times when I throw this out to people, the answer I get the most of is – “because they do it often.”
Where does the problem lie?
The problem that arises when people try and squat, i.e. the reason why people’s knees hurt when they squat is three fold:
Their form sucks.
They have poor mobility in their ankles and hips which leads to their knees getting beat up.
They have an underlying pathology of pain like arthritis (even if you have arthritis you can still squat safely and effectively) or a torn meniscus or something along those lines
Bad form folks. Don’t be like Jonny “I don’t know Squats”.
That’s it for part one. In part we will go over the two different ways to squat as well as how to fix tight ankles and hips AND when you seriously just shouldn’t squat.
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My buttfession this week is a little bit different than the last 2, I want to talk about the safety of having a strong butt. Yes! If your ass is weak you are in some real danger. Danger?! That may be a little dramatic but we take glute strength pretty serious around here.
That’s why we tell all of our members to squeeze their glutes as much as possible!
So what do I mean by that? Think about it, the glutes are the largest muscle in the human body according to the library of congress. Not in some of you…in some of you those glutes that are supposed to be big and strong and round…are flat, small and weak.
What do the glutes do?
They are responsible for:
Hip extension (moving the leg behind your hip)
Hip abduction (moving your leg to the side)
Hip external rotation and internal rotation (pointing your foot internally and externally)
Raising the body up from a forwardly displaced position (think deadlift)
Lifting the body out of the stooped position (think squat)
Femoral, patellar and tibial alignment (knee pain? check the butt!)
Stabilizing the lower back and sacroiliac joint via its attachment into the thoracolumbar fascia (Back pain? check the butt!)
Keeps the pelvis level for walking and running
Strong glutes basically help you cook better and look good doing it 😉
Weak glutes can cause hip pain, knee pain, lower back pain, shoulder pain…even neck pain! Research has shown that the glutes are the first muscle to become inhibited with lower extremity (ankle and knee) and lower back injuries. If you’ve ever sprained an ankle, had knee pain or lower back pain, it’s a good bet you have weak glutes.
That’s some pretty serious stuff! So if your glutes are weak or turned off then you will have some serious issues at some point.
About 4 years ago I injured my low back, I had a herniation at L4 and L5. It wasn’t from one specific incident. I competed in my first powerlifting meet months before, was continuing to train for my next meet, traveling a lot for work, and I just moved the wrong way one day and there it was. Ouch! It hurt to touch my toes, it hurt while I was sleeping, I couldn’t sit for long periods of time with out fidgeting…it really sucked!
It turned out that I was using my lower back muscles to do what my glutes were supposed to do.
And what a bitch it was recovering. No lifting, working out, running, or any of my day to day activites…for about 6 months. It was very frustrating! The truth is weak glutes are dangerous. The loss of glute strength can be debilitating.
6 months after my injury I started an intense 16 week glute program to strengthen my glutes and fix my back. My butt is stronger AND I can do everything I could do before, but better!
With that being said I still have to do those glute builders and sculpters, you cannot just do a strength program of any kind and then stop. You don’t just become strong enough, you have to keep it up!
In the next installment of buttfessions we are going to talk about how you can tell if your glutes are strong enough. But for now – do this exercise every day, shoot for 100 reps at a time. Follow the below progression
Week 1 = 10 reps 10 times per day
Week 2 = 20 reps 5 times per day
Week 3 = 25 reps 4 times per day
Week 4 = 50 reps twice a day
Week 5 = 100 reps every day
Do you think you might have a weak butt that is contributing to join paint? We have a perfect program for you, click the image below for more info.
We don’t just help people lose weight, we also help them feel better and get them out of pain. Sometimes that involves hearing second hand what their doctors have said to them using x-ray or medical imaging results to base their opinions off of. Often times we ask ourselves – do these x-ray and medical imaging results help or harm our clients?
We hear this a lot –
“my doctor said I am bone on bone”
“my doctor said I need a joint replacement”
“my doctor said…blah…blah…blah.”
First, understand our stance on Medical Doctors – they are not god. What they say is based on years of developing critical thinking skills in the medical arena. For the most part that’s what a doctor does – they look at the situation, acquire information, interpret that information and then use critical thinking skills to determine the best course of action. Their word is not gospel, they are human and therefore can/do make mistakes AND their bias (like everyone’s) plays heavily into their treatment plans.
A mechanic will often tell you your car needs work – a surgeon will often tell you that you need surgery.
Doctors are no different.
Of course they have your best interest at heart (hopefully), however, there is one hurdle all doctors must overcome – exposure.
What does that mean?
If you come to KDR 4 times a week every week for a year that’s 208 visits, that’s 208 times that we are exposed to you. How you move, how you carry yourself, how you respond to physical/emotional stress, how you eat, how easy it is to get you to change, etc. We have more exposure in one year to a single person then they will most likely have to the entire medical community in their lifetime.
So, we see the people that are “bone on bone” or “hip replacement candidates” and let me just say – it’s not as bad as the doctor makes it out to be.
This is a great video explaining that. Most doctors (excluding PT’s, but their job isn’t to interpret imaging results) have no idea of how the body works when it comes down to skeletal muscle systems impacting the whole body. Sure your knee might be riddled with arthritis but that’s because your glutes are weak, your ankles are tight and your hamstrings are locked down…all leading to your knee having problems with how it works with the rest of the body. Just because something is “bone on bone” doesn’t mean you’re screwed!
Take 6 minutes – watch this video. Please. If you’re going through a situation where you are in pain and the doctor has taken imaging of you to back up his explanation of why you’re in pain, you need to watch this. Don’t go that surgery route!
I think there are three classifications of working out that correspond to different parts of the year/your schedule – training, working out and exercise. If your super busy, then you probably shouldn’t be doing any training.
Training is goal focused, time committed, DRIV-ICATION!
Let me explain further. I have a lot going on right now – Jamie and I are getting married IN EXACTLY ONE MONTH!!! Holy shit balls. Plus, it’s been about 6 months since my last chemo round AND I am getting back into the gym full time. From January of last year to March of this year I lost over 10 pounds of muscle. That sucked. I worked hard to gain that mass and it was heartbreaking to see my body whither away from the chemo.
Side Note – The weight didn’t didn’t wither away that much, but rather I lost muscle and gained a substantial amount of fat. Cachexia be damned! Cachexia is muscle wasting/weight loss associated with chemo. Well, I lost the muscle but gained some fat thanks to my little friend (maybe I will talk more about him later 😉
It was tough going from this…
After chemo, I was READY to start TRAINING. But first, I had to build my body back up, so I started with EXERCISING before moving into WORKING OUT, then I TRAINED to get my lean body mass back.
Which incidentally was ALMOST a success, I gained about 7 pounds of the 10 I lost. The other 3 pounds will come back eventually, but not right now.
I will get my guns back.
The exercising consisted of walking and biking with some light resistance training and yoga. Truth be told, I was just happy to be able to get out of the house without throwing up. That lasted for roughly 3 months, from September to December. In December and January, I started to work out. I pushed it harder, incorporated more resistance training and more interval training. In February I started TRAINING.
I was so happy to finally be able to just WALK with out getting winded.
From November to May my goal was to get back down to under 15% body fat (from over 20%), get my lean body mass back up to 150 pounds (from 140) AND work on getting my strength back (interestingly my strength came back much faster in my upper body than my lower body). PLUS I wanted to start my new life. They say that after you go through cancer treatment you are never the same.
I can say I agree with that 100%. The old Ben is gone, he was burned off with the cancer cells. The new Ben is still trying to figure out where he fits in all of this. But god damn it if he doesn’t have close to his old body back!
As of April 14th – I hit almost all of those goals. Now I could still lean out a little bit more before the wedding, however, I am choosing to drop back to just working out and moving away from training for the next month. And, I am still trying to figure out who the new me is, but it’s coming along.
Here’s why – I am busy. Busy with planning the wedding. Busy with working more. Busy with getting my life back.
This time last year I was losing my hair, starting my 2nd round of chemo and watching the world go by around me while I sat and played video games, watched Netflix (it might sound like fun, but going from a very driven and healthy state to not having enough energy to walk and talk wasn’t fun….and trust me on this fellas, while it may seem like your missing playing video games and vegging out, no one got healthy and/or successful by just doing that) and counted down the days until my next treatment.
When you wake up and have every day like that…watching the world around you change and evolve and your looking down at your fingernails bending back while you’re trying to open a can of club soda…it can be pretty depressing.
Let’s review the three stages of working out before we get deeper. Understand that you should NEVER just “go to the gym” without a goal in mind. Whether that goal is to improve your body composition, get stronger or just to stave off aging, there should always be a goal.
1. Training –
You are 100% focused on your goal, nothing can get in your way. You want to lose 10 pounds, or improve your deadlift, or do a tough mudder, etc. This level requires time, commitment and probably a pretty hefty dose of improving/working on your diet. You are 100% focused on your goal, nothing can get in your way. You want to lose 10 pounds, or improve your deadlift, or do a tough mudder, etc. This level requires time, commitment and probably a pretty hefty dose of improving/working on your diet.
2. Working out –
You are focused on your goal…but maybe not committed to it. While working out your goal is to keep at least 80% of the results you got up to this point, ideally 90%.
3. Exercising –
You think about your goal, but realize that right now, it’s probably best just to go in, get a workout in to maintain your results and go home.
Training is meant to happen for 4-16 week blocks. Why 4-16 weeks? Because most people have a life. Training takes 100% focus on yourself. You have to get those workouts in, you have to (maybe) get those calories in or really focus on your diet. Life needs to take a back seat because you are FOCUSED 100% on that goal related to your body.
Not the time to be training for anything…except to SURVIVE!
Working out is a step down from training. Are you supposed to get 4 workouts in? Maybe you get 3 this week plus an at home circuit. Are you supposed to eat 4 meals or hit 2000 calories? Maybe you were just too busy to really focus on eating. During the working out stage, the diet tends to take the first hit as that’s the most time-consuming.
Exercising? Well now, that’s party season. If you are a dedicated gym goer, you probably won’t ever really get to this level and instead bounce around between working out and training. Exercising is moving around with the goal of improving your baseline health. Walking, swimming, jogging, cycling, some group fitness classes, etc. Those are all examples of exercising. The diet during exercising tends to be in the lines of “what diet?”. Another way to think about exercising is what you do if you go on a week long vacation. You enjoy your vacation life while still being active. At least that’s what KDR members are told to do!
You need time to TRAIN.
You need less time to work out.
You need even less time to exercise.
What happens if you FORCE yourself to train during a time you should be working out?
1. First – nothing bad. That’s called driv-icated, or a mix of driven and dedicated…to yourself. We can’t be driv-icated 100% of the time because we would have no friends, no life and no future outside of whatever we are focused on.
But, because training takes a lot out of you, you must pay that back. If your goal is to really:
– Lose weight.
– Build muscle.
– Change your body.
You need to prioritize nutrition, sleep, and gym. Not in that order, but pretty close. If you’re in the gym 5 hours a week, plus prepping and food shopping for 3 hours per week and prioritizing your sleep (which means 8 hours per night minimum) AND working an 8-hour job…that’s a lot. Probably don’t want to be doing that while you’re trying to stay cool organizing a wedding. That’s time for working out.
2. Second – you will often times either get injured, spin your wheels without making progress, get frustrated at your results and at the worse…waste your time.
If you’re truly training for something then you need to recover WAY more then you need to train. And recovery is essentially stress management and destress strategies. Understand that the body identifies stress as anything that moves it out of homeostasis, from winning the lottery to being attacked by a bear…it’s all the same hormones and stress response by the body. So if your fighting over table placement or working on lifting your personal best in the squat…you need to recover from that stress.
Bottom line for me (and probably some of you reading this) – I can’t continue to work out 3 days per week HARD in the gym for an hour, and do an hour of cardio per week, plus 90 minutes of yoga AND count my calories and get 8 hours of restful sleep…4 weeks before I get married and short staffed.
I need to go back to working out while still focusing on my diet and sleep. But, the workouts need to be less than 45 minutes strength training (just like our small group workouts) AND about 20-30 minutes of interval training (just like our team training classes). We’re so smart at KDR.
So – here’s my question for you. Look at your schedule, do you honestly have AT LEAST 4 weeks to commit to a pursuing a goal and TRAINING. 4 weeks where nothing is coming up, no plans and you can commit to yourself 100%? Maybe you have 8 weeks…then do our 8 week Eat to Lose challenge.
But if you don’t have 4 weeks, that’s ok, that doesn’t mean you stop going to the gym, that means you just work out and focus on keeping 80% of your progress.
On this weeks buttfessions lets talk about jeans for the petite athletic female. What do I mean by petite and athletic? Well, if your butt is bigger then your waist, you know what I am talking about.
It’s a bitch finding jeans that “fit”. Most clothing companies don’t make jeans to fit women with glutes or quad…or muscles for that matter. It’s a good problem to have BUT it’s still a problem. I don’t want to wear workout/yoga pants every day! Plus I really hate trying clothes on (Ben loves to shop…true story…you should see his shoe collection) so when I find a pair of jeans I stick with them.
Common issues I have are:
–The waist gap – when they fit my quads and butt just right…but I have a big waist gap in the back.
– The loose knees – when they fit perfect on the waist, butt and quads but my knees are baggy. What?!
– The skinny jean – I find a size that fits perfectly on butt, waist, and quads…TOO long. I have to roll them up like 3 times!
– The Saggy crotch – I barely squeeze them over my quads, get them buttoned…ok…suddenly they went from a high waist to a low waist because I can’t get them all the way up over my butt. The result is a saggy crotch that may split if I do the squat test. ALWAYS DO THE SQUAT TEST!
So what do I wear?
Hear what other fitness professionals are wearing!
Last week I gave you my favorite (builder) glute exercises. Link from 1st post. Check them out here.
Here are my top 5 sculptures:
SL Hip Ups
Side Lying ABD’s
These are movements you can do every day and add to your current workout program. I prefer a high rep range, 15-30 on each to maximize the burn AND pump. Love thy pump! I hope my buttfessions helps you embrace what you have and work with it rather than working against it.