The 30-Day Stronger Knees Challenge

Erik Taylor
by Erik Taylor
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The 30-Day Stronger Knees Challenge

Knee pain is commonplace with just about everyone: athletes, weekend warriors and regular Joes. Why? Reasons abound: wearing high heels or unsupportive shoes, not being able to maintain a healthy weight, a high volume of any exercise, and—most important—many people are just weak.

This challenge will help you build the knee (and leg) strength you need to lessen knee pain. The moves will blast your lower body with squats, deadlifts and lunges, oh my! Did you know that strengthening your booty can improve the health of your knees, and reduce knee pain?

So my challenge to you this month is to strengthen your backside in order to help your knees stay or get healthy. Guess what’s the byproduct of this challenge? Yup, a stronger and firmer backside!

Before we get started, I need you to stop wearing poorly designed shoes. I would also like you to maintain a healthy weight, or be putting forth the effort towards that goal. That leaves us with getting you stronger, and improving the mobility of your body.

Getting you strong, in my opinion, is the best thing I can do for you.

As we age, our bones become brittle, ligaments and tendons get weak, and we start to lose muscle mass. Strength training slows this whole process down. Muscles are the engines that move our bodies; if you are unable to move, life gets pretty darn grim. You need to bank muscle for 15-30 years down the road so you can live a healthy and functional life.

Before You Get Started

For this challenge, you will need a foam roller and tennis or lacrosse ball. Increasing your hip and ankle mobility is a must during this challenge. I know this can sound counterintuitive, but other areas of your body (aside from your knees) can contribute to knee pain. You’ll want to target your quadriceps (front of the thighs), IT band (side of the thighs), hamstrings (back of the thighs) and calves (back of the lower legs). Spend 10 minutes, 3-4 days a week on mobility exercises, and you will start feeling and moving better.

New to foam rolling? Check out these videos:

· Foam Roller Moves for the Quads, Hamstrings, Calves and IT Band
· Calf, Quad and IT Band Foam Rolling Advice from a Chiropractor
· How to Use a Lacrosse Ball for Massage

The second part of this challenge is to strengthen your posterior chain. These exercises need to be done three times a week. If you are already doing a strength-training program, replace leg exercises with the ones that are prescribed here. The exercise selection is small intentionally—you want you to master the moves and watch your progression.

I picked these exercises because our entire body works together as a whole, so when you strength train, you need to use exercises that engage the entire body, like a squat or deadlift. These exercises use the lion’s share of your muscle mass, and that is how you build strength. A side benefit of squats, deadlifts and lunges: they strengthen all of the muscles in your posterior chain, including the glutes, hamstrings and adductors. This group of muscles stabilizes your knees, and will decrease your risk of knee injuries.

Before you start each strength session, complete a quick five-minute warm-up. Here are some options:

· Total-body Cardio Warm-up
· 5-Minute Warm-up with Denise Austin
· 3-Minute Joint Mobility Warm-up

Training Plan

download

 

The 30-Day Stronger Knees Challenge

By now you should be able to use 10-lb. dumbbells on each exercise, or much more. Your body is now stronger than it was 30 days ago. You should have also gained more mobility and stability in your lower body. Congrats, and keep the momentum going!

What to Do If You Feel Knee Pain During the Workouts

If you experience knee pain during the exercises, follow this three-step process:

1. Are you using too much weight? Try using less weight and see if that makes the pain go away.

2. Check your form. Complete the exercise in front of a mirror, and make sure you are executing proper form.

3. Spend more time using the foam roller. Work those tight areas that could be causing you issues.

After troubleshooting with these solutions, if you’re still feeling pain, pause the challenge and see your doctor. There is no shame in making sure your body is healthy!

How to Perform the Strength-Training Exercises

ILLUSTRATIONS_The 30-Day Stronger Knees Challenge [FINAL]v2

Dumbbell Deadlifts:
· Grab a pair of light dumbbells.
· Your feet should be shoulder-width apart.
· Pull your belly button in toward your spine; this will help protect your back.
· Bend your knees slightly and then hinge over at your hips.
· Make sure to maintain a straight back.
· Return to the starting position and repeat the exercise.

Goblet Squats:

· Hold a dumbbell against your chest.
· Stand with your feet just a little wider than shoulder-width apart, and point your toes slightly out.
· Squat down by pushing your butt back and down. Try your best to get your hip crease below your knees.
· As you descend, keep your knees out over your toes and make sure your chest is up.
· Do not let your knees collapse at any point during the exercise.
· Return to the starting position and repeat.

Reverse Lunges:

· Grab a pair of dumbbells and hold them by your sides.
· Start by looking at a spot on the horizon—this will help you keep your balance.
· Step backwards with your right foot. Don’t overreach, as this will cause you to fall.
· Let your right foot make contact with the floor and then lunge towards the floor.
· Return to the starting position and repeat.

Hamstring Curls (Stability Ball or TRX):

· Lie on your back, place your feet on top of the ball or into the foot cradles of the TRX.
· With your arms out towards your sides, raise your hips and lower back off the floor.
· Pull your heels towards your butt, pause, then return to the starting position and repeat the exercise.

About the Author

Erik Taylor
Erik Taylor

Erik is a NASM-certified trainer who works with clients online to build their fitness and nutrition plans. He works with people at all levels, from first-time exercisers to weekend warriors and endurance athletes. Erik lives in one of the beach cities of Los Angeles with his wife and two daughters. Connect with Erik on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat (eriktaylorsfit) and Taylorsfitness.com.

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20 responses to “The 30-Day Stronger Knees Challenge”

  1. Avatar continental hospital says:

    Good infographics and pictures this article gives us good way to follow diet.Thanks for sharing.multi speciality hospitals in India

  2. Avatar Nicole says:

    I already do weightlifting, amongst other exercises, and following this regime would see a huge decrease in my weight maximum. Do I have to use such little weights?

  3. Avatar Pollgera says:

    Not in a million years!! Doing a squat would rip my knees to shreds to say nothing but trying to get back up. I’m 58 years old, I have bursitis in both hips, bad knees, a curved spine, Fibromyalgia… Despite all that I do swing dancing and Lindy hop three times a week. I would love something that would help my knees but these exercises are NOT for those of us that are older with health issues.

  4. Avatar RicCat says:

    I have a right knee that needs to be replaced and just had arthroscopic surgery on my left knee. Some of these exercises appear to be too stressful for my knees but I need to strengthen them. Any ideas?

  5. Avatar DCM752 says:

    I was excited to see this topic until I saw the exercises – I too am 59 and not able to do theses. These are for people who are already in good shape!!

    • Avatar CZ says:

      Start small, do a few of each. I’m 57 and I have had a total of 4 surgeries on each knee. Last surgeries on the left were both partial knee replacements. I will still engage in a vigorous workouts. On top of that my L5 is 85% degenerated and the surrounding disc on there way. I was always told that I will have to do exercises like described here to keep my knees and body moving. People think I’m in my 30’s, so there’s other benefits. I go full force, mind over matter until you become stronger.

      • Avatar Strangerinastangeland says:

        I am 67 with a full right knee replacement. Start with a few reps. Ride the exercycle until you are good for 1/2 hour, then mix in the elliptical for a while. Graduate to elliptical/stairclimber and walking. Lose weight. You can do this.

  6. Avatar Paul A. Andrews says:

    Thank you for encouraging me to get with it.

    I’ll be 71 this Sunday, left hip replacement, lower back fusions, cancer and whole bunch more.

    I still see patients three days a week and I’m finding that I’m getting a little slower.

    The other doctors are 56, 43, 44 and 45.

    Your program is the kick in the butt that I need.

    Paul

  7. Avatar Linda says:

    I was doing 100 to 120 lb squats, had to quit because of pain over the top of my knees. This pain is there when I walk down stairs, I am so unhappy I can’t do squats anymore. Lunges also cause that pain over the top of my knees. What to do, I am losing quad strength. I can still dead lift 120 lbs withput knee problems, its just squats and lunges. I am 67 and don’t want this to get worse! What can I do to get the same heavy duty exercise I’m used to but not hurting my knees.

    • Avatar Elizabeth says:

      I had the same problem. I went to see my Ortho doc and he told me my patella is off track. (Chondromalacia) He offered gel injections but after I refused he suggested a patella stabilizing brace. I use it only on leg day and the pain when I do squats is minimal compared to what it was. I also started kinesio taping my knee if I need something less bulky. Not sure if that helps, but good luck and I hope you’re back to doing squats again soon!

    • Avatar Angela Gracia says:

      I had similar pain and started working on my form and hip strength (weakness can cause knee pain). I would suggest hip strengthening exercises such as side lying straight leg raises, clams with a thera band, and lots of stretching. Slowly start squats and lunges with body weight only in pain free range, being extremely cautious of form!! If it’s chondromalacia, check footware and see a PT for patellar tracking taping. Hope this helps!

  8. Avatar Pam Aviles says:

    How do you log this challenge in MyFitnessPal? The exercises aren’t in there. Is there a way to join the challenge via the app?

  9. Avatar Trilby16 says:

    Are you nuts??? As someone who has knee problems, if I ever want to finish off my knees once and for all, I will certainly try these exercises!

  10. Avatar Kaye says:

    I am also 59 and have had a hip replacement. I started exercising a year and a half ago to loose weight. I had to start out slow, not squat down all the way and use the wall for balance. But now I can do all of these exercises and more. Start slow, but do start it will help in more ways than you know. I for one am getting YOUNGER everyday!

  11. Avatar Brona says:

    Why is the girl working out have different skin colors? It was something I just notices lol

    • Avatar aiphay21 says:

      I think they were trying to get a 3d representation in the drawing by casting shadows on certain parts of her body to show that it’s in the back. It’s an art thing! Lol

  12. Avatar Lilliana Valle says:

    What Is the foam roller?

  13. Avatar Beth says:

    “For this challenge, you will need a foam roller and tennis or lacrosse ball.”
    … And a weights set and a stability ball.

  14. Avatar The Core Institute says:

    I’m liking the calendar that is incorporated here! Great read thanks for sharing!

  15. Avatar Bill Wilson says:

    I love the images here! Thanks for sharing this is great!

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