Long-term exercise, itself, can cause wear on your knees! But if like me you've suffered a knee injury, or carry a lot of excess weight, exercising in the 1st place can be challenging and painful. However ironically building more muscle in your legs is the best way to strengthen weak knees and lose body fat. On my fitness journey I've had to learn ways to exercise hard enough to build muscle and strength in my legs without causing pain and damage in the process. So I teamed up with my pal, Personal Trainer, Amy Mercado who's going to help me demonstrate a few ways you can build stronger legs with weak knees.
*Please consult a health professional before embarking on any new workout regime. Especially if you're rehabilitating from injury or haven't exercised in a long time!
SWISS BALL WALL SQUAT
Amy Say's - Use a Swiss ball Approx. 55 to 65cm in diameter to perform this move. Place the ball into the lower arch of your back against the wall with your feet slightly in front of you and shoulder-width apart, push back against the ball for support as you squat down like you're sitting in a chair. Remember to keep your heels flat and your knees out, pushing through your heels when you stand and holding your arms out for balance!
The Swiss ball squat is something I did a lot at the beginning of my weight loss; carrying 23 stone it was hard for me to perform and hold a squat, but using the Swiss ball helped me build strength quickly. If you don't have access to a Swiss ball or any of the kit we use today you can also use a chair or the wall for support. Try holding the squat for 30 sec intervals or squatting down 10 times in a row.
KICKBOXING/ FRONT KICKS
Amy Say's - Stand with your feet shoulder width apart in fighting stance, lift your leg kicking through your heels engaging your core and buttocks. Control your kicks and keep a slight bend in your supporting knee as you repeat.
Kicking is great all round exercise as when you 'kick up' you don't put as much strain on your knees as when you 'freestyle' squat or when you're running and doing it burns as much, if not more, fat. My favorite kind of cardio is kickboxing - I realised I can get my heart pumping and build stronger legs without having to do painful excessive running. Try kicking facing a wall - I pretend to kick the wall with my heels, this helps me engage the correct muscles, helps me control my kicks and gives me a target to improve the height of my kicks too!
TRX ASSISTED CURTSY LUNGE/ LUNGES
Photography by Jasdip Sagu Photography
Amy Say's - Set the TRX handles so they are at shoulder height, lightly grasping the handles with both hands - place one foot across behind the supporting leg, as though you are performing a curtsy, lower the knee until your arms are straight out in front of you and then use your arms, core and buttocks to rise up - repeat on both sides.
The curtsy lunge is an amazing type of lunge as it's so beneficial for hip rotation, flexibility and strengthening legs... especially the muscle around your knees! And if your gym has TRX cables start using them NOW - when I discovered this simple piece of equipments' multiple uses I was astounded at how I could push my boundaries and perform exercises, confidently, that I never thought I'd be able to! You can use the TRX to perform assisted squats, lunges and much more!
Whatever your condition there is a way for you to comfortably exercise and reap the benefits, it's just about finding what's right for you and striving to improve from that point. I wasn't going to let my injury, or excessive weight, stop me from achieving my goals, and if I can do it so can you!
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