Like most people who knew nothing about fitness, I sort of wandered into doing things that seemed to fit the conventional wisdom.
I took up jogging. Heck, I even lost a little weight. My calves still look good. But…
There was a problem.
My knees started hurting. Not right away, for I was young and invulnerable. But later on, even though I didn’t do more than a few 10 milers at the top of my range, I noticed my right knee would hurt.
The pain was like this: If I was sitting down and the knee was in the bent position for about a half hour, the joint itself would become sore and it would become unbearable. I would have to stretch that leg out to relieve that pain.
But things changed for me once I traded running for strength training. Prior to that time, it was cardio only for my legs.
I started doing squats. And you know the conventional wisdom for squats..it’s gonna break your back and your knees are going to pop off.
Nope, surprisingly, my pain has gone down. My squat strength is not that impressive but it worked.
And let’s throw in that I still do plyometrics in which I am bouncing around on that sucker and I am still pushing my cardio, only with different goals. That is, I am not taking it easy on my knee. I still but some distance on the joint and I am still over 200 pounds.
The thing is, your legs are made for squats. It’s natural. The stress on the knee is minimal. What is happening is that the various ligaments and cartilage are being strengthened as a whole when you squat with weights. Running or jogging may be what the joint is made for, as well, but running is ultimately destructive. It’s a repetitive, low-intensity exercise (think of it as RM100000 instead of your squat’s RM5). Therefore, running doesn’t strengthen the joint as much as you would like. On the other hand, by using your knee in its natural movement frame under a good amount of stress does seem to build it up.
Finally, when considering your running, you do know that your body will eventually make it as efficient as a movement as possible. I don’t know if the dreaded baby step is bad for the joint, but it sure doesn’t burn calories like you would hope. Finally, for goodness sake, don’t cheap out and use the fancy weight machines. They will hurt your joints and trick you into thinking you are making gains.
So, don’t be afraid of the squat rack. Use it for what it’s made for. After all, you don’t want to make this guy mad: