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How to Squat with Patellar Tendonitis (NO MORE PAIN!)


What’s up, guys? Jeff Cavaliere, ATHLEANX.com. If you’ve got stabbing knee pain, knee tendonitis
has been bothering you for a long period of time, or short period of time, but it is crushing
your ability to do squats; today I’m going to show you what you want to start doing that’s
going to enable you to keep squatting. You see, I am very familiar with that stabbing
pain that goes right through my knee caps, right into the inside of my knees, and makes
pretty much any type of bending feel impossible. If you do a box squat though, you’re going
to eliminate pretty much all of your source of discomfort pain, and here is why. I’m going to go inside and explain why this
is. So, with the bar itself – or without using
the bar just to demonstrate – the fact of the matter is, if your knees are enflamed,
if you have chronic patellar tendonitis, or if you have an acute patellar tendinitis,
the issue is that your body is relying too much on the tendons to handle the load of
a squat that the quads and hamstrings and glutes should be handling. So it never wants to hand off the load that
you’re lifting from the patellar tendons themselves to those muscles because it either
A) doesn’t have the consistency and the strength in those muscles to handle that,
or it’s just becoming too reliant on the fact of always trying to protect your knee
joints. That is not the function of the patellar tendon. So what you want to do is, you want to teach
it to start letting go and start delegating to the muscles that are supposed to start
doing the work for you during the squat. So we could do that with a box. I’ll show you right here. The height here is about 17”. You’d want to use a box that’s about 17”
or even a little bit lower. I’m just using a bench that most of you
are going to have access to, as opposed to maybe a small box, plyometric box, or something
like that. Ideally, even a little bit lower. Maybe 14”. So now when you go to squat, when we come
down here, if I don’t have a band underneath me, or a box underneath me for security, what
I do is I start bending the knees first because they don’t want to let the quads take over. Again, maybe we don’t have the strength
in our quads, or at least our body isn’t convinced of the strength of the quads, and
more importantly our glutes. So it’s like “I’ll hold you. I’ll hold you. I’ll take care of it. I’ll take care of it.” And you’re basically holding on and stretching
the patellar tendons and developing a lot of tension. They can handle tremendous amounts of tension
there, but they’re not doing any good because that amount of tension is overloading them
and causing them to become enflamed over time. Over use, for a job they’re not built for. Then we come down, down, down, and I don’t
want to let it break into the quads for the very reason that I talked about because if
I did, the minute that it handed over the job to the quads and hamstrings and glutes,
if I didn’t have the ability to handle that load, I’m going down just like that. Because I’ve cheated it so much from here,
to here, to here, to here, and then I finally give in and let the quads take over, it could
be so much that I could just go down. Now, luckily if I’m at a squat rack I don’t
have to have that fear. I’ve at least got something to catch the bar. So you should always squat with either a partner,
or a squat rack that can catch the bar with the pins that’s set at the right height. But when we box squat that fear is now eliminated. What you want to do – and I’ll show you
from the front here, too – is you put the bench between your legs so you’re straddling
the bench. The first thing that this does is allows us
to automatically get a wider stance. The wider stance is going to instantly activate
the hips a little bit more. It’s going to turn your toes out a little
bit more, which is what you want. It’s going to allow us, when we go down, to
let our hips lead the way. Right? When our legs are in this more natural position
here, I’m actually able to let the hips lead the way and drive back. That’s the key difference. You don’t want to lead with the knees. You’ve already gotten in trouble with doing
that. You want to lead with the hips by dropping
them back. Almost like a stiff-legged deadlift. That way you’ve got the bar up here. It’s the same thing, okay? You’re going to lead back, lead back, lead
back, and then we go down. When we’re down, the bench gives us that instant
security knowing that we can’t get in trouble at the bottom of this rep. If I had worst case scenario, I’m stuck down
here, and I could always dump the bar. But it’s not going to give me the sense of
fear that I won’t be able to hand the job from the patellar tendons to the quads and
hamstrings and glutes. So it allows me to do that. Instantly, when I’m down here, now I can actually
power out of this position. I don’t rest here, I just touch momentarily,
and then when I come out of that position I’ve actually loaded up the hamstrings a lot
more by doing what I’ve said in the beginning here, the wider hip stance. So I’m able to actually use the hamstrings
to blast myself out of the hole, get the glutes involved, and we’ve actually targeted all
the muscles we wanted to. We’ve gotten the quads much more effectively
because we’ve gotten down into that parallel position, which I’m not quite there here because
the bench is not as low as I would like it to be. A little bit lower and I could get these quads
nice and parallel. By the way, parallel would refer to the hip
crease right here that you could put your hands in. The hip crease being level with the knee – the
height of the knee. So if I’m down here, my hip crease is here,
my knees just a little bit down from where the hip crease is so I’m not quite at parallel. But even if this is all you had, it’s going
to be a lot more beneficial for you. Most importantly, it’s going to help you to
ease the knee pain that you’re feeling and it’ll actually allow you to start squatting
again. By the way, this is not just something that
is going to make you look like a sissy, or something that Jeff Cavaliere, the physical
therapist is telling you to do. This is a long held belief of even some guys
– the Westside guys – that feel that this variation of the squat is the best variation
of the squat and the only one you should train with. So you really can get some benefits from training
this way. So I get inside here. Again, I lock my elbows down, back away, and
once I’m here, again, I’m already wider than the bench, as you can see here from the front,
and I’ve got my toes pointed out, I’ve got tension throughout my entire body, the core
is tight, I’m going to lead with the hips, lead with the hips, lead with the hips, now
straight down. A little pause at the bottom, feel everything
loaded up, and explode out of there. Hips, down, and up. Now for someone that has knee pain like I
do, chronically, I don’t feel anything. So there you have it. Guys, knee pain, stabbing, killing you, you
can’t squat, you’ve bailed on squatting, you’re looking for skipping leg day as your only
option; not anymore. Just try to put the box down there. If you’re just a beginner it’s okay if you’re
a little higher while you’re trying to learn the mechanics, and most of all you’re trying
to learn that all important skill of allowing and delegating from the tendons to the muscles
that should be doing the job in the first place. Guys, if you’re looking for a way to put the
science back in strength, put the biomechanics to work for you so that you get more out of
your workouts and not have to start avoiding everything because pain from doing things
wrong has sort of broken you down; head to ATHLEANX.com and get our ATHLEANX training
system. As a physical therapist I prioritize, not
just getting you strong, but being able to keep you in the gym being strong for a long
period of time. That’s at ATHLEANX.com. In the meantime, if you’ve found this video
helpful, leave your comments and thumbs up below. Let me know what you want to see and I’ll
do my best to cover it here. I know there’s a lot of things that are bothering
us in the gym. Shoulders, ankles, knees, hips; whatever it
is, you leave it below and I’ll try my best to cover it in a future video. All right, guys. See you soon!

100 thoughts on “How to Squat with Patellar Tendonitis (NO MORE PAIN!)

  1. Man thank you for this. Leg day used to be my fav day of the week. After a year or so of heavy leg days my knees started KILLING ME. I haven’t had an honest leg workout in over 4 months. I think this will help me.

  2. Jeff is Gold! Thank you again for such precious info! After 10 yrs of bro science workouts, now i really start to actually train muscles not moving the weights!!!

  3. Amazing! I have been suffering from pain in my knees during squats (but not in the leg press) for years and it's been limiting the weight I could do and making my knee pain worse. Just the technique / mental visualization shown here is exactly what I needed to do squats without knee pain (I used a box for the 1st set only but still using your technique). Just finished a leg workout with NO PAIN! This fix did fix it! I cannot thank you enough!

  4. Why not just do Anderson squats off pins instead? I don’t like all that supramaximal axial loading on the spine when you sit on a bench.

  5. JEFF, THANK YOU…..3 MONTHS WITH NO LEGS WORKOUTS DUE TI A RIGHT KNEE MENISCUS TEAR……LED ME TO SHRINK. I HATE IT, BUT IM GLAD I SAW THIS.

  6. I've tried this, but it seems my glutes still aren't activating. No soreness which sucks. I've followed all of the step by step. Am I not going low enough? I don't have a box, I use a bench temporarily

  7. There was a rumor/saying/thing that said that squatting with a bench could be dangerous because if you landed too quickly on the bench, it could really be dangerous on the back. Is there any truth to this?

  8. Sorry I’m too lazy and don’t have time to search all the comments, but could one use a smith machine to add an extra level of support, or would it change the dynamic of the whole exercise?

  9. Thank you so much for this video, I havent been able to effectively squat for 2 years and this method has finally brought me relief

  10. I have this and I’m only 17 yo 😂 have to wear knee pads every day I go to the gym or stretch a lot and don’t do hard workout

  11. Jeff, I know this is am old video but I play a lot of volleyball and workout my legs a lot. I have recently developed Jumpers knee (Patellar tendonitis) and it has ruined my leg workouts. In this video you talk about an alternative but do you know what exercises I should be doing to rehab the tendon and fix this problem. I have been training/playing sports for over 10 years.
    Thanks in advance for your help and I really enjoy your videos. Especially specific ones like this that target problems that I may be dealing with

  12. For 20 years I did box squats because my knees hurt any time I squatted down. They always cracked since I was a kid. Some doctor told me never to squat. Well this year I decided to do full squats starting over with light weight and using proper squat form. My knees are getting stronger and hurt less than they ever have. Something to be said about full range of motion

  13. Hey Athleanx, I've got tendonitis in both my knees. When I squat, the first rep is usually painful but as my legs start warming up it isn't that painful. Do you still think I should do the box squat or as long as it is not very painful I should continue to do normal squats ? Also does squatting help heal tendonitis?

  14. Jeff says he has chronic knee pain in this video, for someone who trains so correctly all the time why does he have knee pain?

  15. I feel like this video was made for me! When I first started powerlifting my knee pain was so bad but the more I built my quads and hamstrings the better it's gotten and its almost completely gone. I get flare ups every once in a while but I'm not in pain every day anymore which is seriously amazing.

  16. By far the best training orientated Youtube channel.. EVERYTHING he mentions is just clear and concise.. It's like he's gone through ALL of the "pain in the arse gym injuries you can get known to man, and he's simply found a legit ways to counter them all.. ?

  17. Is this condition the same as femoropatella condhromalacia…. If not , could you address it in a leg workout … I can't bend further that 30 degrees 'cause hurts like a mother….

  18. Wow! Thanks for this!! I've had to take some time off for my leg training because of knee pain. Going to try this and see how it works! Thanks!

  19. Hi Jeff! I'm 25 years old and recently been diagnosed with patellofemoral syndrome, and was told by my physiotherapist that I should never run, squat, jump, or do stairs ever again. I've been an athlete as long as I can remember, and have been training in the gym for about 10 years now. What can i do to keep my legs strong and healthy with this issue? My doctor suggested swimming, but I just want to squat 😢

  20. that's physically and physiologically nonsense. If you are in a certain position, load on the tendon is the same whether the muscle is activated or elongated and not activated. If it was less, the position wouldn't be constant. actio = reactio.

  21. Hi Jeff, great video as usual! I just want to ask, what if my pain is more significant just above my knee cap where the quad tendon area is when i am coming up from a squat? How can i fix it? It has reached a point where i can't even squat with my own body weight without feeling the pain.. Cheers!

  22. Thanks so much for this. My knees are hurting and clicking from squats, and I look forward to trying this.

  23. Man this ACTUALLY helps! I was afraid of trying with my PT and was about to quit squats for good. But with this variation I can squat without pain, it's amazing!!!

  24. So glad I found this! Currently resting for the week, my patellar tendons are flaring. But now I have a great plans when I start back up. Thanks Jeff!

  25. Sorry but I would rather try to find and fix the root of the problem (the knee pain) instead of just 'working around' it by doing box squats instead of real squats.

  26. How do the hamstrings help with squats? There function is to bend the leg back that's there main purpose so if I am standing up after finishing my squat how are they activated?

  27. Man i've been watching your channel for the last 9 years, since you were making videos in your home gym, and I still am learning more things from you

  28. I like the theory but haven’t had any luck with this. Knees hurt like hell trying to box squat. Hamstrings are not activating even at body weight. The curse of long legs lol.

  29. I really liked the way you explained the whole process, had this pain for the past 2 weeks….great video! Keep up the good work!

  30. I was the guy not hip hinging. Jeff I honestly thank you, you saved my knees from further injuring because they were already starting to hurt.

  31. Fuck me, my squats been stalled for 2 years and I couldn't figure out why. Now my knees jacked and I'm looking for squat substitutes and I find this. I can squat again! Downsides of a home gym, you don't know when you're messing up.

  32. Ok … So what does this tell me?
    I can Leg Press, let´s say 250 Kg, without any issue of feeling pain in my right knee, but if I try to Squat with "just 50 Kg" the right knee dies in Pain.

    Not tried the Box Squat yet, just to admit.

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