The best strength exercises for healthy cyclist knees

cycling knees strengthEveryone uses their own body in different ways, and you’re likely to have concerns about exercises specific to your chosen sport, or everyday activities. We often receive requests for ideas for strength training that facilitates particular actions – such as considering your knees for cycling. To answer a recent Twitter request, here’s our top tips for strength training that will be the most beneficial to improving your performance with cycling: Continue reading

Does a wide ‘split-the-floor’ squat stance really strain your hips?

wide squat hip strainFollowing on from the account of my experiences of the wide-stance squat, to maximise external rotation, let’s address the feeling of strain that a wide-stance can produce. Many people get scared off from the exercise – people have injured themselves doing it, which gives others an excuse to shy from an exercise that requires effort. But it’s very important that you recognise the difference between the effort required by the style, placing a large demand on the hips, and the idea that the “strain” demanded by the hips could be damaging. Done correctly, the pressure you feel is not harmful. You just have to be sure you are doing it right. Continue reading

Techniques to improve your ankle flexibility for effective squats

ankle flexibility for squatsAn important part of maintaining effective balance during the squat, and ensuring that your knees track outwards, is working on your overall ankle flexibility. Your shin needs to be able to move forwards slightly (roughly the length of a foot), and sideways (that is, outwards), in order to push the knees out far enough to give you space to squat down into. This ankle movement creates what we call a “diagonal shin” – as the shin moves out diagonally from the heel. How much your shin travels outwards will depend on how wide your stance is, as the closer the stance, the wider the knees need to move relative to the feet – but however far you need to travel, the main problem to tackle will be tightness in the calf muscles. Continue reading

How to maintain your balance during the squat

squat balanceA YouTube fan recently told us she had a problem squatting down to parallel. She could only get about half way down before it felt like she was stuck and it would be impossible to get any lower without falling over backwards.

There are a host of issues which contribute to this problem: they can arise from difficulties in technique, strength or flexibility. This means there is no one answer to this question – but we can offer a range of solutions. Continue reading

How to keep those “knees out” for good during the squat

knees out squatRegular readers of the site will have seen how often we stress the importance of keeping the knees outside the feet during squatting movements. This article will give you tips to ensure you always keep your knees out and avoid the dreaded problem of knees caving in.

You gotta have sole

The rubber soles on your training shoes are a secret weapon that help you keep the knees outside the feet at all points during your squats. Continue reading

Why some pain is inevitable when improving your knees

knee pain exerciseKnee pain is a vicious cycle. When it hurts to exercise your knees, you don’t want to exercise. When you don’t exercise, certain muscles weaken. When certain muscles weaken, the muscle strength in your legs becomes imbalanced. When your leg muscles are imbalanced, it hurts to exercise your knees. And so it goes.

In order to prevent that imbalance, and break free from the cycle, you need to be prepared to exercise through some discomfort. You need to expect, and accept, some discomfort in the knees as you first tackle sissy squats. More important than anything, you need to keep going for long enough to make a difference. Continue reading

Thinking between sets: the mental attitude for training success

thinking personal training regimesImproving peripheral exercises like stretches and foam rolling is relatively simple compared to improving when performing movement exercises or weight training. There is a lot to remember in doing something like a sissy squat or weighted squat, for instance. If you want to improve and develop your own training regime, however, there is only one thing you really need to remember: keep thinking. Do every exercise with the correct mentality, asking the right questions about what you need to do next to improve, and the next step should always be obvious. Thinking in the following way will remove the need to rely on prescribed lists of exercises and numbers of reps. It will make your training fluid, interesting, personally adaptive and, above all, the most beneficial training it can be. Continue reading

Choosing the best foam roller for you

best foam rollerFoam rollers are essential. Everyone should have one, or at least have regular access to one, whatever your walk of life. Why? Because foam rollers are such inexpensive tools with massively useful application. If you’re new to foam rolling, you might not know which roller to choose, though. They come in many different materials and sizes, and it’s important to know what you’re getting yourself into.

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Perfecting your unweighted squat form

unweighted squat

When you’ve progressed through doing unweighted squats without pain, the next step is to work on perfecting your form. Proper form unweighted squats will really start to test your knee movements, and allow you to build up to weighted squats safely and without pain. Make sure your squats are flawless with these major points: Continue reading

Progressing with sissy squats: a training regime example

training regimeThough every person’s training is unique, and a good instructor would adapt your regime to your personal needs, you always need a structured plan to monitor and encourage progression. To give you an idea of how you should take sissy squats from basic curiosity to perfect mastery, here’s an example plan of action that you could stick to. Please note this plan is for demonstrative purposes, and your personal training timeline should be adapted to your personal abilities and ambitions. Continue reading