Let’s face it- bodybuilders put their knees through a great deal of stress. Of course exercises such as squats are going to place a monster workload on the knees, and the impact of walking around with a 50-pound muscle suit certainly adds some miles to your joints. You can work to protect them through the use of wraps, rest, and supplements, but regardless, as a bodybuilder, you’re going to face some major stress on the knees. Here are a few tips for bodybuilders to follow to protect the knees from damage.
There are many ways to burn body fat and protect your cardiovascular health. Running is perhaps the most popular (aside from walking), thanks to its ease of use (no equipment required!) and ability to see the world. Despite this, bodybuilders should avoid it. Running places a great deal of repetitive and potentially destructive impact upon the knees. Instead, opt for low-impact cardio, including the Stepper and the Elliptical machine. If you cannot give up running, at the very least complete it on a padded track, or even better, on a treadmill. Also, it would benefit you to step back and re-evaluate your goals. What do you value more – the enjoyment running gives you, or the possibility of being a large bodybuilder with healthy knee joints?
Stop at 90 degrees.
Squats are one tough exercise. We have to do them – because they most certainly are effective. But they sure do take a toll on the knees. It’s obvious to most people that knee wraps should be used when completing heavy squats, but what is often overlooked is the importance of responsible knee angles. When you’re bringing the weight down, don’t keep going down past parallel. It’s true that many bodybuilders and trainers swear by the “ass to grass” method. But it’s also true – and perhaps less well-known – that going down this low means the brunt of the work is transferred from the muscles of the front thighs to the knee tendons. Once you break ninety degrees, your descent, stop and ascent back to the 90 degree point will all be conducted by your knee tendon. This goes against many training protocols calling for deep squatting, but it’s certified by chiropractors and surgeons worldwide. Stop at 90 degrees with your squats – as a rule.
Even proper lifting can become dangerous over time. The cartilage of the knee is going to wear away eventually, no matter how much we warm up and try to protect it. The key is to realize this, and give your knee joints breaks several times per year to give the area time to recover. Just two weeks, twice per year, can work miracles in terms of saving the knees from long-term damage. Besides, your central nervous system could probably use that break too. During this break, cardio is also forbidden, even if you’re one of those rare breeds of bodybuilders who thoroughly enjoys it. When you return to the gym, you’ll see the difference the rest makes!
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