Is Your Knee Pain Screwing Up Your Leg Day?

Is Your Knee Pain Screwing Up Your Leg Day?

Knee pain can be a very effective gains blocker for your leg development. After a meniscus tear, surgery postponed 10 years, and an arthritis diagnosis I have been battling knee pain for several years now. Truth is you may not even have a diagnosis for your knee pain. All you know is it hurts! Ad a load of weight and some range of motion and you are likely to not push very hard on leg day, because you knee says, “Screw you man!”

Don’t fret! You can still get a great leg workout! Let me preface this by saying that if you have an injury you should get it looked at by a doctor and you should not be training while injured. If you have knee pain then there is likely something structurally wrong or an injury that should be addressed most likely by a professional. This leg workout is in now way a cure for knee pain. If you are like me you have been to the professionals and with no help for your pain in sight you will be training anyway. I am sharing with you one of my leg workouts that allows me to stimulate my leg muscles with high intensity while enduring minimum knee pain.

Warm Up

I encourage you to spend 10 minutes on the stationary bike or the elliptical trainer to warm that bum knee up. Wake your muscles up with some movement and get some range of motion going with your legs. Then stretch out your quads, glutes, hamstrings and hip flexors. Stretching WILL NOT make you weaker on your lifts, but will improve your range of motion and overall benefit from each exercise.


A good pair of Knee Sleeves can make a huge difference in your training. Knee Sleeves will provide thermal compression assisting in warm up protocols so your knees are ready to keep up with your performance intensity. They will also assist in reducing both pain and swelling. The increased blood flow from the compression is an added benefit on leg day.

Abductors – Girly Glutes Are Manly AF

Start with the abductor machine and try not to moan and groan like a bad porno when the movement gets a little stressful. The goal here is to pre-exhaust your glutes. There will be no loading of the weight on your knee joint so there should be no knee pain. 

Here are some tips:

• Keep your butt slightly off of the seat

• Drive through your heels and the outside of your knee on each rep

• Squeeze your glutes hard on each rep and count to 2 out loud before releasing

1 set

1. Select a light weight (approximately 50-60 lbs)

2. Complete 10 full reps

3. Change the pin to make the weight stack 10 lbs heavier

4. With NO REST complete 10 more reps

5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 until you can no longer complete 10 full reps

6. Change the pin to make the weight stack 10 lbs lighter

7. Complete 10 full reps

8. Repeat steps 6 and 7 until you are back at your starting weight


Leg Press

I would say we are going to shorten the range of motion here, and we are if you do these correctly, but most people sadly do not. With your glute muscles engaged you will begin to notice a full leg pump after completing this compound exercise. 

Here are some tips:

• Grab the handles firmly, engage your lats, pinch your shoulder blades slightly and pull your butt into the seat

• You should have a slight arch in your low back

• When your knees come to your chest they should never come so far that you lose your arch and your back rounds

• Choose your foot position based your leg development. Need more hams go higher, need quads go lower

• Feet should be shoulder width and toes pointed slightly out

1 set

1. Choose a moderately warm up weight. For me this is typically 4 plates each side

2. Complete 10 reps with a 10 count concentric movement. This means on the way up you count out loud to 10 and do not finish that rep until you finish counting. Maintain tension and pace the push with the count

3. After completing the first 10 reps go directly into your normal leg press cadence and complete as many reps as you can. Your goal should be somewhere in the 40-50 range, but go for failure.

2nd and 3rd set

Your legs should be on fire at this point and you have only done 2 sets! You have exhausted a lot of muscle fibers in a short period of time with minimal knee pain. Progressively increase your weight for your second and third set to something where you will fail in the 10-12 rep range. Rest 3 minutes between sets. 

Bulgarian Split Squat 

This exercise tends to be quite knee friendly. When done correctly the foot position places the knee joint in a less compromising position than a traditional squat might.  

Here are some tips:

• Place front foot in front of your body in a place that does not allow your knee to go past your toes

• Keep upright through the entire movement. Push up through the heels and drive the shoulders straight up. Avoid bending over at the hips

• Squeeze the hamstring and glutes as you push up

2 sets 15- 20 reps each leg. Use dumbbells and push the second set harder with progressively heavy weight. 

Superset each set with dumbbell Romanian deadlifts. 2 sets 15-20 reps

Here are some tips:

• When you pick up your dumbbells engage your lats, pinch your shoulders together ever so slightly, but force them down so you do not engage your traps

• Knees should be slightly bent

• Range of motion start is dumbbells at shins or just below the knees

• Squeeze hamstrings by driving heels together as you come up and then push the glutes to neutral squeezing your glue muscles at the top


That is it!!!! Get ready to be sore and remember it is not just about the exercises, but also the intensity. So, if it feels too easy it probably is. Increase the weights or the reps and make it harder. Also, do yourself a favor and spend 15 minutes after the work out stretching your leg muscles. 


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