The Best Squat Routine for People With Bad Knees

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Simply hearing the word "squat" may cause those with bad knees to cringe. The squat takes the blame for many a person's knee discomfort, but this effective and important exercise does not have to be painful. Although the squat requires repetitive bending of the knees, the exercise is modified to protect the delicate joints of those with bad knees. If you are one of those people, do not throw squats out of your exercise rotation. Check with your doctor first, and be sure to use proper form with safety modifications. Allow at least one day of rest between squat workouts. Your knees and strong leg muscles will thank you.

Exercise Guidelines

A lengthy warmup prepares bad knees for squatting exercises. The American Council on Exercise suggests a five- to 10-minute warmup using full body movements such as walking, cycling or marching in place. This pre-workout exercise increases your body temperature, including warming your knees. A warm knee allows for a greater, more comfortable range of motion. Proper stance in all types of squats will reduce discomfort on your knees. Position your feet just wider than your hips and slightly turned outward. Point your knees and toes in the same direction. Once your foot placement is secure, maintain that position throughout the exercise.

Quarter Squat

A full squat requires a 90-degree bend in the knees. A quarter squat is a smaller bend of approximately 20 degrees. Stand facing a chair. Place your hands on the chair for balance. Assume your squat position. Inhale and bend your knees slightly as you lower your hips. Exhale and straighten your legs to a standing position. Complete eight to 12 repetitions. Begin with one set and increase to two or three as your strength improves.

Half Squat

Once you master the quarter squat, progress to the half squat. This squat bends your knees to approximately 45 degrees. Hold a light dumbbell in each hand, using a weight that allows you to comfortably complete 12 half squats. Keep your body weight in your heels throughout the movement. Inhale, bend your knees to a 45-degree angle as you lower your hips. Exhale and return to a standing position with a slight bend in your knees. Repeat the squat 10 to 12 times and for one to three sets.

Wall Squats

Use an exercise stability ball to perform the wall squat. Stand with your lower back on a ball, and the ball against the wall. Walk your feet approximately 12 inches from the wall, so you are leaning back into the ball. Inhale, bend your knees and lower your hips toward the floor. The ball rolls down the wall. Keep your knees over top of your heels and lower to a comfortable position, but not past a 90-degree bend in the knee. Exhale and straighten your legs to the starting position. Complete one to three sets of 10 to 12 repetitions.