A lot of people will use lunges and squats to target areas of the body where they have excess fat. These are exercises that are used to try to burn fat in the abdomen and the thighs in particular. You can use these kinds of exercises to help build thigh and abdominal muscles, giving your body a more toned and fit look.
Are lunges and squats bad for your knees? If you have bad knees, you may have trouble doing these exercises. It might be possible to do a few lunges or a few squats before you start to feel the pain in your knees. Or, after an extensive exercise session, you may feel knee pain. That may keep you from doing the same exercises the next day or you may not feel like doing any exercises at all because your knees hurt.
Are squats and lunges bad for your knees, and do they cause knee pain in people who have weak knees? Exercises like these can put extra stress on your knees, and you do need to be careful about which exercises you do if you are overweight, if you have arthritis, or if you simply have bad knees. You may have to find alternatives to squats and lunges for bad knees.
What may be helpful to you is to do different exercises that can still target those trouble areas without putting a lot of pressure on your knees. If you are overweight, there’s already a lot of exertion required from you and a lot of stress put on your knees simply to move around. Adding exercise to that that will cause more stress on your knees may not be a good idea. You may be looking for ways to strengthen your core, build abdominal muscle, and burn fat in your thighs and abdomen, when lunges and squats may just be too difficult for you.
So, what can you do?
The Spot Training Myth
There’s some great news to share with you about targeted weight loss. If you think that the only way you can lose weight around your thighs and your abdomen is to do exercises that work those areas, you are mistaken.
You can’t actually get rid of fat in specific areas by doing exercises that move those areas of the body. So, if you’re trying to get rid of fat on your thighs, leg exercises don’t actually target thigh fat. What happens is that when you exercise, fat is used up from all throughout the body. Doing leg exercises doesn’t remove thigh fat any faster than doing arm exercises would. That’s great news for many people, because it means that they can do any kind of exercises they learned and burn fat throughout the body.
So, if you’re looking for alternatives to squats and lunges for people with bad knees, it’s true that just about anything will do. Any exercise you choose will help to burn fat, though not all exercises burn fat as quickly. Some of them exert your body more and use up more calories in energy, which is why some exercises are preferred for weight loss.
Also, you should keep in mind that you can burn fat anywhere with any kind of exercise, but you can only tone and build muscle in any area by working that specific part of the body. So, if you want to build leg muscles, you should be working your legs.
With that thought, let’s look at what you can do instead of using lunges and squats for people with bad knees. There are some alternatives and some modifications that will be easier on your knees and will still help you achieve similar results.
6 Ways to Modify Squats and Lunges for Bad Knees
If you find that lunges and squats are hurting your knees or you’re worried that they might come then, you may want to know about some modifications you can do to these exercises. You can make them less stressful for your knees and easier on your body.
Partial Squats- If the only go down part way in your squat rather than all the way down for a full squat, you can still get some of the benefits of this exercise without putting as much stress on your knees. That’s a good rule of thumb for a lot of exercises that could be overexerting you or stretching you farther than you feel comfortable with. Simply decrease the extent of the exercise so that you can still exert yourself and work that part of the body but not cause undue stress.
VMO Dips- This is an exercise that works a muscle called the vastus medialis oblique. If you can build up this muscle, you can help to strengthen the area around the knees so there is less stress on the knees. To do this exercise, stand with one foot on a slightly elevated surface, like a box. One foot should be hanging off the side. Bend your knee on the surface and lightly dip up and down. So long as you’re not feeling pain, you are doing the exercise correctly. If you require some balance and support, you can rest one or both hands on a nearby wall. Simply repeat this exercise with each leg to build up your VMO.
Reverse Lunges- It may be easier for you to do reverse lunges than regular forward lunges. To do this, make sure your weight is resting on your front leg. A normal lunge will require you to step forward, but instead of that, you should be gently reaching towards the toes behind you. As you squat on the front leg, rest your back toes to provide support.
High Knee Walking- Instead of doing lunges and squats for bad knees, you can walk while lifting your knees high in the air. Lift as high as you can while still keeping your knees comfortable. You can walk for as long in this manner as you would be doing lunges or squat exercises. 30 seconds to a minute of high knee walking is great for fat burning and toning up your legs and abdomen.
Adjust Your Weight- When you do lunges, you may tend to keep your weight on the back leg. If you keep all your weight on the front leg, that can reduce stress on the knees as you lunge.
Wedge Modification- When you squat or lunge, you may be placing too much stress on your knees because of how your foot is arched. To correct an arch problem as you exercise, you can place a small wedge under the arch of your foot near the front. This helps to move some muscles into action earlier during the exercise so that less stress is placed on the knees.
These are just some of the modifications you can do to help relieve stress on your knees and create less exertion. Keep in mind that you probably won’t lose weight as quickly with some of these exercises as you would with normal squats and lunges. You can make up for that by doing some upper body exercises. Pushups and pull-ups are a great substitution for really exerting your body when you can’t do squats and lunges as well.
If you do feel a lot of pain in your knees when you exercise, you should definitely talk to your doctor about it. If you are making these modifications, and you still feel knee pain, you should talk to your doctor about that as well. You could have an underlying health issue you don’t know about that needs treatment.
Hopefully, with these modifications or by doing upper body exercises, you can take some of the stress off your knees and still get the exercise you want. You can still lose the weight you want to get rid of and make your body healthy and more toned by simply making some changes to your exercise regimen.