How to get stronger with knee pain


You want to squat but your knee hurts.

That's been my challenge lately, as well.

This post will go into what I'm doing to train hard while dealing with knee pain, and what you do also.

Remember, if you are in serious pain to seek help from a medical professional. (just find that's good and you trust)

How to get stronger with knee pain

  1. Stop making it worse!
  2. Take video of your lifts
  3. Box squats
  4. Strengthen your posterior chain

Stop making your knee pain worse

This one is obvious but we all overlook it. Stop doing what hurts. If that means no lunges or step-ups for awhile, so be it.

You need to get out of pain and give the knee a chance to heal.

If your knees bother you when you squat, check your form.  This leads us to the next step...

(Since I only do squats and deadlifts for my lower body lifts, this is what I've done.

Take Video of Your Lifts

For those who don't have access to a good coach, taking video of your lifts is IMPORTANT.

You may not realize what your body is doing even if you have been lifting for awhile.

Bad habits creep in easily.

You'll be surprised by what you see in your technique, but also in the speed of the lift. Sometimes the rep feels slow but on video it looks faster.

Box Squat

Now that you've eliminated common knee-pain triggers, and watched video of yourself squatting, you can either:

  • Change your squat form (more sit back, less forward-knee-travel


  • Box squat- this will require you to reduce the weight you are lifting, AND put the emphasis of the squat on your backside.  (hamstrings, glutes, hips, back)

The box squat takes the quads out of the movement, requiring more power production from the hips.

When the knee pain started, I adjusted my squat stance but it wasn't enough. I needed to give my knees a break.

Now I'm working on box squats exclusively.

I'm not sure how long, but I'm expecting a few weeks.

You may not need to do box squats. Or you could try a few sets of your normal squat and finish off the workout with some box squats.

Make sure you are doing the box squat correctly.  (box squat tutorial)

Sit back TO the box. DO NOT collapse on the box and get loose.

Stay tight . Touch the box, stop, and then explode up using your hips, glutes, abs.

Strengthen Your Posterior Chain

This goes hand-in-hand with the box squat, but you should also do some extra posterior chain work.

My favorite is the Romanian Deadlift.

I prefer to do all my training with a barbell.

You can use dumbbells or kettlebells, if you prefer.

Kettlebell swings, good mornings, glute-ham-raises, back extenstions are all fine.

How many sets/reps?

Twice a week do 2-4 sets of 8-12 reps.

Follow these steps to get rid of that nagging-knee pain and keep training to get stronger.

1- Remove movements that cause knee-pain

2- Take video of your squat form

3- Box squat

4- Strengthen the posterior chain

If you have some serious issues, get them checked out by a medical professional!

If you need someone to look over your current training program and make it better, go to my online coaching page here.