If You Sit A Lot and Have Knee Pain, This Simple Exercise Can Help!

Down With The Fitness

August 23, 2017

What’s up and welcome back to Down with the Fitness!

How is your habit of doing 10 squats and drinking a glass of water every morning when you wake up going??

I hope you’ve been working on your squats, planks, and push-ups since my last post (which wasn’t even about exercise cuz I had to give the new Van Eps album a full blog post).

If this is your first time reading, you can get caught up to speed here.

Some days it feels like the most important part of being a personal trainer is reminding my clients that this fitness thing is a reallllll long game.

Everyone misses some days of exercise; everyone has rough weekends/weeks/months/years on the nutrition front… I can promise you, the sooner you start back up, the better off you’ll be.

Momentum can be your friend, and it can be a cold hard bitch. Don’t let it swing too far in the wrong direction. The snowball effect is real, and it goes both ways!

I want to show you that it can be pretty simple to exercise consistently, and get that snowball rolling in the right direction. I am doing this by giving you ideas on how to develop your own daily routine that you find ENJOYABLE.

I want you to enjoy exercising. You have a MUCH better chance at exercising consistently if you enjoy it. If you enjoy it and do it consistently, you’ll reap some awesome benefits.

Benefits like having: more strength, better balance, more confidence, higher sex drive, and perhaps most importantly for me: a healthy outlet to release the rage that boils inside you on a daily basis as you attempt to deal with our overpopulated society of idiots who can’t figure out how to use a goddamn turn signal!!

Whoaaaaaa, did it just get a little TOO real in here? Let’s reel it back in...

One benefit you’ll notice I didn’t list is weight loss. That’s because even though working out will definitely help the cause, you still have to eat (mostly) healthy to lose any substantial amount of weight.

There are stories all over the internet about people losing 40, 50, even 100 pounds, without ever exercising. That’s how important nutrition is!

NOTE: because I linked to a subreddit, I can’t guarantee there will be a bunch of 40-100 lb exercise-less weight loss stories when you click it. The front page is constantly being updated, that’s how reddit works; but those stories are common. I just wanted to point out this awesome community forum with all sorts of inspiring weight loss journeys. It’s worth poking around if you ever need some motivation!

Even though ~80% of weight loss comes from nutrition, strength training by itself is still HUGELY beneficial for overweight people. The more weight you’re walking around with, the more stress you’re constantly putting on your joints. Strong muscles will help support those joints! Even if you don’t change a thing about your diet, your joints will be glad you started exercising!

I'm one of many people who started working out before attempting to clean up their diet. (Listening to Pantera and lifting weights just sounds a LOT more appealing than eating kale!)

This is where that M word from earlier comes in again: MOMENTUM!

I often notice my clients have an easier time making nutrition changes once they gain some momentum working out. Maybe it’s feeling more in control of their choices because they're consciously choosing to work out and take care of their body every day. Maybe it’s because they’re putting in work consistently and seeing their body change, so they wanna take it to the next level (and heard enough people like me tell them nutrition is the key).

It’s probably a little bit of both, and some other reasons. The bottom line is: nutrition is super important for serious, long-term weight loss; but you also don’t need to stress about it this early in the game, in my opinion. Trying to do too much can lead to feeling overwhelmed and burning out. We don’t want that.

This blog is about keeping it simple and exercising daily for 15 minutes. If you want to improve nutrition, keep that simple too. I'd personally recommend eating one more serving of vegetables than you're used to, every day for 2 weeks. Then add one serving to each meal every day for 2 weeks. (If you can't manage that month, I'd wager you'll have a difficult time experimenting with keto, paleo, IIFYM, or any other popular diet in the long-term.)

Alright, almost 1000 words in. Guess we should get to that exercise for the week, huh?

Today we’re going to go over one of the best butt-building bodyweight exercises out there: the Glute Bridge!

The glute bridge is effective for people of all fitness levels because much like the plank, it’s up to you to generate the force. When I say “squeeze your butt cheeks (aka "glutes") together at 9 out of 10 intensity”, you just clench at 90% of your max capacity, whatever that feels like to you.

Regardless of how strong your glutes are right now, doing 3 sets of 12 glute bridges at a 9/10 intensity will make them stronger tomorrow than they are today. If you're stronger tomorrow than you were today, you'll feel better about yourself and your new strength tomorrow. That confidence can have crazy domino effects througout your life.

If your job requires a lot of sitting, these will be extra beneficial as all that time sitting is time your glutes aren’t working.

Why is that important? (Besides the fact that chicks dig dudes with sweet butts too)

Well, from a posture standpoint, weak glutes will lead to some out-of-whack hips (pardon my technical jargon). Out-of-whack hips can lead to low back pain, knee pain, and “tight” hamstrings. We don’t want those.

I've seen these instantly improve hip pain on a client dealing with nasty side effects of chemo drugs. Two weeks ago, an 80 year old woman came to me and said her knees were bothering her. She sits a lot. I had her do a variation of these daily and the next week her knee pain was GONE! 80 years old. I was so happy for her.

From a weight-loss standpoint, the glutes are your biggest set of muscles. As I’ve mentioned before, if you have more muscle mass, your body will burn more calories at rest. When your body burns more calories throughout the day, you’ll lose weight easier!

Much like the more-popular exercises we’ve already gone over, these can get you some serious results when done properly. They can also be a tremendous waste of time when half-assed (no pun intended). I’m gonna do my best to make sure you do it right and get the most value from it!

They look simple and straightforward because they are, but simple and straight forward don’t necessarily mean easy or ineffective!

3 Focus Points:

  • Squeeze your ass cheeks together like you’re trying to crack an egg between them! Like I said earlier, 9 out of 10 intensity is ideal in my book, but feel free to work your way up to that from a 6 or 7. Drive your heels through the ground! This will help you “feel” your glutes working better.
  • Engage your core! Keeping some tension on your core will keep your low back from arching. If your low back arches a bunch during these, it may hurt the next day, especially if you have pre-existing issues in that area (very common). As you can see in the video, I actually press into my abs with my finger as a physical reminder to push back with my core muscles and keep them “on”. All that pressure I created with my core even forced a fart out on the last rep!
  • Keep your knees in line with your toes. A lot of people have tendency to let their knees cave in towards each other here. It’s not the end of the world, but by focusing on keeping your knees in line with your toes, you’ll get a more well-rounded glute workout, particularly on the outside of your hip.

Pace: 1 breath per rep. Inhale into your belly at the bottom (you should feel that create some added pressure in your core), exhale on the way up as you squeeze your cheeks like nobody’s business. As you can see in the video, I like to hold the top position while I finish a powerful exhale. This creates more “time under tension” and gives you a little more bang for your buck.

To Make It Easier: Dial back the intensity from a 9/10 to maybe a 6/10. These are a very simple, beginner-friendly movement pattern. 

To Make It Harder: Do it on one leg without sacrificing control. Tread carefully… this REALLY ramps up the work your core and hamstrings have to do!

Programming Suggestions: If you sit for work, you’ll likely benefit from 3 sets of 10-15 every day! They’re still a great daily exercise if you don’t sit all day, especially as a warm up on leg day in the gym.

Recommended Listening: Steel Panther “I Want It That Way”

Seeing as how you’re basically banging air with these, and they’ll give you a great ass that just begs to be squeezed into some spandex, I think it’s only fitting to go with a song from one of the greatest lifting bands ever: Steel Panther. I know they’d approve of people practicing their hip thrusting technique and getting nicer butts.

Now even though this is our website and not the FCC-ruled airwaves, we’ve still got corporate sponsors that may not want their logo next to one of Steel Panther’s original tunes. Even without that minor inconvenience, this is still a totally bitchin’ Backstreet Boys cover that a lot of people don’t even know about!

I regularly lip-sync to this one at the gym, and always laugh at the idea of someone being able to read my lip-sync and thinking I’m grooving to the original version.

Next Up: My favorite core exercise!

If you've got any questions/comments/success stories/struggles, feel free to come join the private Down With The Fitness Facebook Group 

Take Great Care!

-Matt Koch