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Knees Hurt During Squats? Try This

Have you ever experienced knee pain when exercising? Are squatting variations a staple of your trips to the gym?

Consider taking out your squatting exercises for a few weeks and replacing them with the Barbell Supine Bridge, an exercise more knee-friendly, to see if your knees improve.

Aside from being one of the more awkward looking exercises you could possibly do in the weight room, there’s actually a lot of merit to barbell supine bridges.

When compared to a squat, the supine bridge is more of a hip-dominant exercise as opposed to knee-dominant, shifting more of the stress to your posterior chain muscles, like the glutes and hamstrings.

Important note: If you don’t brace your core and breathe correctly, you’re putting your back at a huge risk. Breathe through your belly – not by shrugging your shoulders and you’ll increase intra-abdominal pressure, which will protect your spine and allow you to lift heavier weight.

Barbell Supine Bridge protocol

  • Place a neck pad or other pad on the center of the bar to prevent pain at the hips

  • Set up with knees up and feet flat on the floor, holding the bar in your hands. Your knees and feet should stay around hip width the entire time.

  • Breathe in by pushing your belly up towards the ceiling – watch my belly in the video above to see how it should look. Your ribs and shoulders shouldn’t move. This is called diaphragmatic breathing.

  • Before exhaling, brace your core like you’re about to get punched

  • Think about lifting the weight up by driving your heels through the floor and squeezing your glutes towards the ceiling

  • Lower weight in a controlled manner until the bar hits the floor

This exercise is a great way to train the source of most athletic power – hip extension. Even better, it can be used with a fraction of the knee stress you might experience in a front squat or back squat.

Quick recap

  • Squatting variations can lead to knee issues in some individuals

  • The Barbell Supine Bridge is a great squatting substitute to give your knees a rest for a few weeks

  • Breathe diaphragmatically and protect your spine by pushing your belly away from you when you inhale

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