Knee friendly squat substitutions?

horaholic

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My right knee has been grinding lately.... It doesnt hurt, but it sounds like a bag of potato chips when I bend it in a quiet room. I do have planty of knee injuries in my past, btw.

Anyway, I think I should take a break from squats for the time being. Im still doing deadlifts, because they arent quit as taxing on my knees. I do Stronglift, btw. Im 43, have injured just about everything multiple times and have only recently started a gym regimen. I dont push myself too hard.

Anyway, what do you all recomend to take the place of squats? My gym has a Reverse Hyper machine. That seems like a good sub, in that it works the back and legs without a ton of knee bending. Im not gonna jump on it without some insight though. Thoughts?
 

horaholic

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I need to not bend my knees.
 

Amante Silvestre

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Is this an issue for you when you have a load overhead of the knees, or is it just whenever you move the knees period? Maybe moving the load from above to below the knees and just doing something like leg extensions to hit quads while sitting can help.

But if the issue is whenever you move your knees period, I cannot think offhand of an exorcize that effectively hits quads without knee movement of any kind. Barbell hip thrusts off a bench can move the load away from the overhead and at least minimize knee motion while also hitting the quads, hammies, abs and especially the glutes. That might be worth trying out. Doesn't hit the quads quite the same as a squat, but it's something.
 

speed dawg

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My right knee has been grinding lately.... It doesnt hurt, but it sounds like a bag of potato chips when I bend it in a quiet room. I do have planty of knee injuries in my past, btw.

Anyway, I think I should take a break from squats for the time being. Im still doing deadlifts, because they arent quit as taxing on my knees. I do Stronglift, btw. Im 43, have injured just about everything multiple times and have only recently started a gym regimen. I dont push myself too hard.

Anyway, what do you all recomend to take the place of squats? My gym has a Reverse Hyper machine. That seems like a good sub, in that it works the back and legs without a ton of knee bending. Im not gonna jump on it without some insight though. Thoughts?
If it doesn't hurt, you're probably OK to keep doing what you're doing. However, the popping isn't a 'good' sign either per se, it's either ligaments grinding or joints popping, which means things are out of whack somewhere, but not enough to cause inflammation or pain.

Short term, just lay off squats or any exercise that makes it grind. Give it a week and see if it goes away.

Long term, I would implement some stretching into your routine. Dynamic stretching ahead of the workout, then static after or at night. Strengthen those ligaments around your knee.
 

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EyeBRollin

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There is no replacement for Squats.

Squats with proper form (aka depth and stance) actually divert the load off of the knee. I’d rest a couple weeks then evaluate your form.
 

horaholic

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And yes, I do my pre/post stretches. This is defintitely cartiledge grinding. Stretching doesnt help a single bit for this. I have had a lot of back injuries, which is why I do squats and deads. I realize theres no actual replacement for squats, but I need to keep my back strong, as I've had a lot of injuries, there, as well.

I do like the idea of (at least temporarily) doing barbell hip thrusts instead. But, I was also asking about opinions of this reverse hyper machine. Heres a video for anyone not familiar.
It seems like it works a lot of the same muscles as squats and even deads, but without knee bending.
 
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Amante Silvestre

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And yes, I do my pre/post stretches. This is defintitely cartiledge grinding. Stretching doesnt help a single bit for this. I have had a lot of back injuries, which is why I do squats and deads. I realize theres no actual replacement for squats, but I need to keep my back strong, as I've had a lot of injuries, there, as well.

I do like the idea of (at least temporarily) doing barbell hip thrusts instead. But, I was also asking about opinions of this reverse hyper machine. Heres a video for anyone not familiar.
It seems like it works a lot of the same muscles as squats and even deads, but without knee bending.
Back and abs yes, but quads and hammies are not going to get anywhere near the work of a squat this way. But it’s up to you if you really want the machine.

I would consider Good Mornings to be a better alternative in combination with the hip thrusts. Proper form requires some knee motion in the GMs, but you can try a more knee-bent/stationary version that will at least maintain constant tension on the quads/hammies while youre working the back/abs.

Really depends how long you intend to substitute like this until you can have the knee fixed.
 

horaholic

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I dont know if the knee will ever be fixed... Im also far more concerned about my back muscles than quads and hammies.

The Good morning/hip thrust sounds like a decent substitute. I do want to try the reverse hyper machine, as a lot of people with back injuries swear by it, and hell, its available.
 

speed dawg

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I dont know if the knee will ever be fixed... Im also far more concerned about my back muscles than quads and hammies.

The Good morning/hip thrust sounds like a decent substitute. I do want to try the reverse hyper machine, as a lot of people with back injuries swear by it, and hell, its available.
Does the knee grind if you do body-weight squats?
 

PeasantPlayer

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My knees click and crackle when I squat, but if I adjust the positioning of my legs it stops. I have torn knee ligaments and meniscus so it's understandable. There is no pain, I would say try the Bulgarian split squat and look up what muscles it targets.
T Nation just had an article for knee friendly exercises, the article claimed squats don't work out the glutes as much as people believe
 

horaholic

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My right knee sounds like crumpling a newspaper just extending it in air while sitting in a chair... Its that gnarly.
 

switch7

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I need to not bend my knees.
If you had no knees then there would be no need for quads.. so if you don’t want to bend your knees then your quads will disappear. You can hit your hammys off straight leg deadlifts, and you can get some glute work in on various exercises, but the only way to work quads is to bend your knees
 

speed dawg

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My right knee sounds like crumpling a newspaper just extending it in air while sitting in a chair... Its that gnarly.
What about when doing lunges. It's a little different angle than squats.

Honestly, it might be time to go see a doctor and get referred to an orthopedist. If you don't have any pain now, it's only a matter of time. If joints are popping, it means something is off which is creating air pockets. If tendons are cracking, it means they are grinding against bone. It's only a matter of time before those tendons get worn or create bone spurs.

It's fine to 'pop' joints, but just know that there is a reason why the joint was put into position to pop in the first place.
 
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horaholic

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What about when doing lunges. It's a little different angle than squats.

Honestly, it might be time to go see a doctor and get referred to an orthopedist. If you don't have any pain now, it's only a matter of time. If joints are popping, it means something is off which is creating air pockets. If tendons are cracking, it means they are grinding against bone. It's only a matter of time before those tendons get worn or create bone spurs.

It's fine to 'pop' joints, but just know that there is a reason why the joint was put into position to pop in the first place.
As soon as I land me a sugarmomma to pay for surgery and all my bills for a month and a half while Im out of work, I'll jump on it...
 

ghcortez

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The grinding indicates damage to the cartilage, which is serious because it is permanent and gets worse over time if not treated with newer regenerative treatments. You need to take it easy on that joint. I recommend replacing squats with the leg press and training by using one set to failure at very slow speeds. You want to be especially careful to start and stop the movement slowly in the bottom position to minimize force on the joint. As for treatment, look into Regenexx stem cell procedure to treat the cartilage.
 

EFFORT

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My right knee has been grinding lately.... It doesnt hurt, but it sounds like a bag of potato chips when I bend it in a quiet room. I do have planty of knee injuries in my past, btw.

Anyway, I think I should take a break from squats for the time being. Im still doing deadlifts, because they arent quit as taxing on my knees. I do Stronglift, btw. Im 43, have injured just about everything multiple times and have only recently started a gym regimen. I dont push myself too hard.
What else have you injured?

Anyway, what do you all recomend to take the place of squats? My gym has a Reverse Hyper machine. That seems like a good sub, in that it works the back and legs without a ton of knee bending. Im not gonna jump on it without some insight though. Thoughts?
Knees are a dear topic to me. I've spent a lot of time in the rehab world working with clients with all types of knee issues. Out of my private clients about 2 out of 4 come to me with some sort of knee issue that we must resolve. To top it off I've also torn my ACL and rehabbed it. I'll share some things that have been helpful.

Prehab/Rehab Exercises

These exercises are staples for anyone with a knee issue(rehab) and for those without a knee issue (prehab)

1. Terminal Knee Extensions: I progress clients through a countless variety of these. Here is the most basic version.
High reps on these 2x50, 1x100 2x2min/knee usually work well

2. Hamstring curl variations: Seated Banded Leg Curls, Lying Banded Leg Curls, Seated Machine Curls, Lying Machine Curls, Lying Ankle Weight curls, 2 leg and single leg variations of each. I'll rotate these variation but everyone will do some a seated Band hamstring curl (single band or dual band) at least once a week. Reps are very high on these as well. For seated band curls, I use a variety of rep schemes here are some of them (tension and how many bands are used factor into this) 1x100, 2x100, 4x100 2x150, 4x50

3.Band Walking: Lateral, backwards, forwards. Again lots of variation with these. Versa loops can be used around the middle of the foot, ankle or above the knee. Multiple bands can be used at the same time. Hip circles also work well. I use all of these variations. Reps vary but a good starting point for the versions in the video are 2x25 lateral steps, 2x25 forward/backwards steps (per leg so each set is 50reps)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5TaN2KuA9EY
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9FD7jJmSBg0

4. Balance variations: Steamboats, single leg balance, bosu, wobble board, cone reach drills, lunge clock drills, walking drills a lot of variations here I can go into more detail if you're interested.

5. Various mobility exercises, hamstring mobility, hip mobility, calf, ankle, back a lot to type here let me know if you're interested in more details.

6. Belt Squat Marching: Incredible movement. These are done usually for 2-4sets of 2min
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9RZByiHfHNg
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m853L-bJJaU
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m8ongBV7XZ0

Primary Exercises

Here are some "main lift" type exercises that do really well.

1. Sled Walks: These are mandatory for all of my clients. I don't care if your gym doesn't have a sled buy one or make one out of a tire (I prefer the tire sled the most because of the friction it creates when you use it on concrete). I also don't care if your gym doesn't have a place to use a sled, take it to a park parking lot and use it there. I would say about everyone I've had use the sled reports feeling it more than they do any squat. For lower body were walking forward/backwards/sideways with these then a variety of other methods to target hamstrings, psoas/anterior core.

Forward Drag 3x100yards
Backwards Drag 3x100yards
Sideways Drag 100yards Right, 100yards Left

The weight you put in the sled will depend on what type of sled you're using and on what surface your pulling on. If you're pulling a tire sled on concrete your sled weight will be a lot less than if your pulling a traditional sled on turf. Start light and slowly work your way up over time.

2. Wide stance Barbell/Specialty bar box Squats: These are great for a lot of reasons. Set the box at a height that doesn't cause sounds/pain in your knee.

3. Rack Pulls/Rack Sumo Deadlifts: These should all be fine.

4. Barbell Hip Thrusters

Accessory Exercises

1. Reverse Hypers: You have no idea how fortunate you are to have one in your gym. Use it a lot. Various rep schemes 4x25, 2x30, 2x50, 4x30, 4x15

2. Goblet box Squats holding KB/DB or even weight vest on

3. Reverse lunges (range depends on how your knee performs, sliders on the rear leg work well for these)

4. Weighted Carries (tons of these)

A lot more to say on this topic but this should provide a good start on movements to integrate into your program. Start slow and experiment. Let me know if you have any questions or want any help setting things up.
 

horaholic

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Thanks, Effort. I've wrecked both shoulders several times each snowboarding. Dislocated both knees quite a few times, and thrown my back out of whack a bunch of times. I started with a trainer a few times, and did plenty of band excercises. Doing all the core exercises has helped all of the above, although I dont push myself too hard. Im 43, after all. I didnt think I'd be able to do shoulder presses or squats the way I do now, to tell you the truth. This new knee thing is different. Walking upstairs freaks me out now. Its not something time in a gym is gonna help.

Anyway, yes, my gym has sleds and turf setups. Its very weight training/crossfit oriented.
 

sangheilios

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There are some really good posts on here that have already given a lot of solid information. There are tons of alternatives to the traditional barbell squat that will build up your lower body. Unless you are competing in powerlifting, olympic weightlifting or some other sport where squatting with a bar is necessary than you shouldn't feel the need to perform an exercise when there other options.

Without knowing all that much about you, your injuries or limitations and what your goals are here is my personal input.

I'm 6'4", have relatively long femurs for my height and narrow hips. Your standard front and back squats have never been very kind to me, even in my late teens and early 20s they often caused issues with my hips, knees, back, etc. These issues are actually fairly common with many people, including athletes. Joe Defranco utilizes the box squat for collegiate and professional athletes, as he has found they perform the exercise far better compared to standard squats and without the issues that come with them.

If I could give you a general list of different exercises that can give you some impressive results here are some ideas;

- split squats and/or lunges
- box squats
- hip thrusts
- back extensions (utilizes hams and glutes very well)
- deadlifts if you do well with them- after reading your other posts I wouldn't really recommend these
- glute ham raise
- leg press, for you I'd recommend putting your feet farther up on the foot plate, far less strain on the knee and uses more hamstrings and glutes
- sled pushes or go push a car
- hill sprints- these are far safer compared to sprinting on a flat surface and you are less likely to tear something

Those right there should be more than enough
 
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