In this article I am going to give you the answers to the following questions:
When should you go see your Doctor about knee pain?
How do you stretch your ankles and hips (the common reasons why people have knee pain when squatting and knee pain in general) to help you squat and move better?
The two different types of squats you can do and how to perform each.
And a hell of a lot more!
I hope you enjoy!
Quick Squat Tutorial
This is a real quick down and dirty squat tutorial where I go over the two types of squats – The power squat and natural squat.
Tests to determine what’s causing your squat issue.
There are three easy tests we use to assess someone’s ankle and hip mobility (mobility differs from flexibility). Mobility refers to how easy a joint moves, flexibility refers to how easy a muscle can move. Think gymnastics for mobility and yoga for stretching. For our purposes, we want good mobility, but as far as you are concerned the terms can be interchangeable when discussing the squat.
First test – Can you touch your toes?
This test assess your straight leg ankle mobility. If you cannot touch your toes this doesn’t mean you can’t squat, but it certainly tells us some stuff…mostly that you have tight ankles in a straight leg position.
Second test – can you squat, hips below knees AND hold it there for 10 seconds?
This test is pretty straight forward – Can you squat without pain? If you want to squat…you need to squat! This test allows us to assess your overall tightness. Specifically, we are looking at it from the hips down. Can you get below parallel? Can you hold it there? Bonus points if you can hold it there WITHOUT SHOES ON. Not a necessity, per se, but that is something to work towards. Some people can bounce down and up with no problem, we don’t want that.
Third test – Can you squat with hips below parallel AND keep your toes pointed straight ahead?
This is another pretty straight forward test – Where are your toes pointed once you get into the full squat and what do your knees do? Do your heels come up off the ground (tight ankles)? Do your knees cave in (tight hips)? Do your feet turn out (tight ankles)?
If you cannot perform any of those movements WITHOUT KNEE PAIN then skip down to the last video on this page – When should you talk to your doctor about knee pain with squatting?
Start at the ankles.
Most knee pain can be attributed to tight ankles. What exactly is a tight ankle/how do you know you have tight ankles? Well…you probably do. Tight ankles and a tight upper back are the MOST COMMON joint restrictions we see at our gym. World renowned Strength Coach Mike Boyle (arguably the guy who brought functional training into the mainstream) always says – “You can always improve your ankle and thoracic mobility.”
There are two ways you need to stretch your ankles – in a straight leg and in a bent knee fashion. You have two muscles that make up your calf (gastrocnemius and soleus – One likes a bent ankle, the other likes a straight leg) both need to be stretched in two different ways.
Then go to the hips.
Hip mobility is the next thing to tackle. Poor hip mobility will cause your knees to do some wonky things during the squat as well as possibly cause lower back pain if you are trying to force yourself into the bottom of the squat.
When should you see your doctor if squatting hurts your knees?
Understand something – Most, as in over 95%, of your aches and pains can be alleviated through proper exercise selection, rest and good coaching/program design. At the end of the day, it takes time to heal things.
Case in point.
Having said that – If you perform these stretches, a few times per day, for 30 days and you still have knee pain when squatting, you might want to consult your doctor. These are just STRETCHES/MOBILITY exercises. If you came to our gym with knee pain, we would use these exercises PLUS strengthening moves that target the hamstrings and glutes. But, that is too much for this article.
Here’s a quick video on WHEN you should go see your doctor about knee pain with squatting.
There ya go! I hope you enjoyed this article and that it helps you squat better without pain!
Do you have knee pain? Let us help you! Give us 30 days and we will show you how to fix your knee pain while also getting some weight off of you, improving your energy and teaching you a lot of things about your body you didn’t know!
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.
Check out these three flows for flexibility in Kettlebell Fitness Training you can string together into a nine exercise combo to help improve flexibility across your whole body! What’s your set and rep scheme like? Well it could be any of the below:
– By the duration – repeat each movement as many times as you can in 10-15 minutes.
– By the flow – repeat each flow for a minute before moving onto the next.
– By movement – repeat each movement with in each flow for 5 reps.
– By the who the hell cares – just do it, when you feel like stopping, stop.
– Mix it up! Improving your fitness doesn’t have to be boring and it certainly doesn’t have to be complex!
Shoulder Smoker – Perform a prone hand release, then a black burn followed by a prone I.
Over Easy – Perform one hand walk out, then a spider man, then a floor pike or downward dog, then finish it with walking feet to hands.
Push Back – Perform a knee to wall on both sides, a wall squat then a post lunge.
“Your Fitness Health Coach says: Sitting is the new smoking” according to the Centers for Disease Control.
According to Dr. James Levine of the Mayo Clinic (the person who coined that term) – “Sitting is more dangerous than smoking, kills more people than HIV and is more treacherous than parachuting. We are sitting ourselves to death.”
Epidemiological data, from almost one million people, link excess sitting to 34 chronic diseases and conditions, including obesity and metabolic, cardiovascular, joint, sleep, and psychological disorders
But, why does it get compared to smoking? That seems pretty far-fetched if you ask me.
Or is it…researchers claim that the effects of sitting are NOT reversible through diet and exercise.
I call bullshit on that one unless you really get into the nitty-gritty of exactly what you’re talking about as far as “irreversible.”
If sitting is the new smoking, then let’s just stand! Hold up…standing can cause issues in and of its self.
According to Hazards.org (yeah…that’s a real website) “Individuals spending most of the day on their feet every working day are at greater risk of health problems. Such as varicose veins, poor circulation and swelling in the feet and legs, foot problems, joint damage, heart and circulatory problems and pregnancy difficulties.” And “Chronic heart and circulatory disorders are linked to prolonged standing at work. Prolonged time in an upright posture at work may cause hypertension comparable to 20 years of aging.”
That’s some scary shit. So sitting is like smoking and standing is like….not that good for you either!?
So…what to do! NEAT (non-exercise activity thermogenesis) or spontaneous physical activity (SPA).
That’s so NEAT!
Basically NEAT/SPA is the spontaneous movement that occurs (or at least it should) throughout the day. Examples of this are:
Getting up and walking around for 10 minutes every hour.
Taking a walk after every meal for 10 minutes.
Performing some calisthenics every hour, for instance, 10 burpees every hour or jump squats.
Taking the stairs.
Parking farther from work.
Doing 10 air squats every hour.
You get the picture.
NEAT and SPA can add up. In fact, I found a number of studies all saying the same thing. The more you move at low intensities throughout the day, the leaner and healthier you will be. They also went on to say that the more you move in a day…again at low intensity and often…the more weight you will keep off after you lose it.
There was not a clear consensus on exactly HOW MUCH or HOW OFTEN to move. However, it would appear that as long as you keep the intensity low, i.e. a three on a scale of 1-10, or roughly at 50-60% of your max HR – the more you move, the better!
Results: Compared with metabolic rate in the supine position(laying on your back) (5.4kJ/min kj = kilojules, for all intents and purposes think calories) , energy expenditure increased while sitting motionless by 6%, while fidgeting while seated by 29%, while standing motionless by 8%, while fidgeting while standing by 38%, while walking at 1.6 km/h by 38% (this is SLOW), while walking at 3.2 km/h by 45% (this might seem faster…but it’s still pretty slow at about 2 mph), and while walking at 4.8 km/h (about 3 mph) by 81%. There was a significant, positive correlation between changes in energy expenditure and body weight for fidgeting-like activities while standing but not while seated.
Take home point, while we can’t all walk at 3 mph for a few hours, we can certainly stand up and fidget for most of the day!!!
This is akin to getting 10,000 steps in per day. However, people took the the 10,000 steps thing and assumed they would lose weight with it. NOT TRUE! I found NO STUDIES to support walking 10,000 steps a day causes weight loss in already active and healthy people.
That’s right…zero studies. The body is a pretty cool piece of machinery. As energy output goes up, energy utilization will not always follow suit, especially if that energy output rises substantially and is from high-intensity activities. And this is ESPECIALLY true if you’re in a state of low caloric intake.
However, I came across this gem:
CONCLUSIONS Interrupting sitting time with short bouts of light- or moderate-intensity walking lowers postprandial glucose and insulin levels in overweight/obese adults. This may improve glucose metabolism and potentially be an important public health and clinical intervention strategy for reducing cardiovascular risk.
“The Role of Non-exercise Activity Thermogenesis in Human Obesity”
Like what you read?! We drop knowledge bombs like this all the time to our members! Don’t take our word for it – come and talk to us to see how we can help you get the body you want and the health you deserve!
What if I told you that the RAMP is the most important part of the workout?
What is a RAMP? AND why do we do it?
RAMP- Range of Motion, Activation and Movement Preparation (also know as a good warm-up)
Most of our clients come from not moving their bodies much, if at all during the day at work to moving A LOT here at the gym. The RAMP is designed to take the body and through multiple planes of movement so that a member is ready to work hard during the actual work out. We make our members warm up dynamically, so they are not just stretching cold muscles. It is designed to get their body temperate and heart rate up. In a sense we are turning peoples muscles on and getting them firing properly.
We take time and design our RAMPS to warm-up every system in the body- from wrists to ankles. We have them getting up and down off the floor several times during the movement and this can be a workout in itself for some. The RAMP is also a sneaky way to get them to burn more calories and build strength and power!
Why RAMP? Our first priority is our member’s safety- (Do no harm, but take no shit!). Warming up is our first step in preventing injury. This happens on a couple of levels, the first being the simple physiological reason- people don’t spend their day moving so they need to prepare for this. Have you ever tried to exert yourself suddenly with no prep after being at a stand still? What would happen if you just decided to jump out of your current position and sprint? You might be cringing to think about it because you’d probably pull or hurt something!
Most of our members sit a desk for hours on end so easing them into moving is our first way of keeping them safe. The other way the RAMP helps prevent injury ties into the RAMP overview above- Our coaches gets the chance to evaluate them that day, in that moment. There are days where someone may be able to touch their toes and others when they cannot. Then the coach has that information about someone before going into a workout.
Here is a RAMP you can do any day just to move and stretch OR before a workout.
Need a fitness jump start? Let us help you. Give us a call today!