T Nation

Aching Knees After Squats

What do you guys typically do for achy knees? I ran through the smolov base cycle and finished that up around the beginning of June and thats kind of when it all started. After that i had a week off and ran a 12 week cube cycle squatting only once per week. Im currently running a conjugate style approach to training squatting up to 2 times per week.

Once I get warmed up typically my knees dont bother me during my lifts but tend to be pretty achy and sore when i walk up stairs for two to three days after … I ve attached the most recent video of a PR attempt to gauge form. (I know i didnt hit full depth here)

Since you’re gonna go conjugate anyway, try a different stance, a different bar, or a different “style” of squatting for a 3 week wave.

Put your legs in a different position, move your knees in a different motion. Give the sore tissues a break, and work some stuff you haven’t been working.

You could also try more leg curls, or rolling your IT bands or something.

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not this:

It’s not so much the frequency that is the problem, but rather high volume combined with high intensity. I have squatted 5-6 days a week in the past and never had knee issues, but I wasn’t doing a whole lot of volume per session either. If you have one or two brutal squat workouts per week then that could be enough to make your knees hurt. As for what to do now, you could try doing some myofascial release work on your quads and anterior tibialis. And stay the hell away from Smolov.

As for your technique, I don’t see anything that stands out in terms of injury risk. But you are way above parallel, you get a red light from me.

Only issues i have with training hamstrings is I workout in my garage so minimal access to leg curls. I have been doing leg curl iso holds following my ME lower lifts so I cant say yet after 3 weeks if it has done anything. But I do need to pick up a roller one of these days.

I agree the RvR for running Smolov is not too high. I remember barely being able to walk up or down the stairs knowing that I still had to hit a very challenging workout that evening. Im thinking it is the root cause of my problems. Thanks for the input. (I know my depth was poor there, Ive been making effort to get as low as comfortable with workouts)


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A 2 foot piece of PVC works great to roll on.

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I wish i was creative sometimes haha. That helps alot thanks

Where exactly in your knees do you feel the pain? I was thinking about this, I know a guy who did some ridiculous type of training for a while, something like the Bulgarian method with high volume down sets and sometimes two sessions a day. Surprise, surprise, he got patellar tendinitis. There wasn’t really anything he could do to work around it, he ended up taking a month or two off from squatting. If nothing else helps, that might be your only choice.

Its right above my knee cap on both sides.

Sounds like patellar tendinitis.

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Man that would suck, hopefully not the case. Maybe i should decrease loads for a few weeks to see if it improves any

Search online for patellar tendinitis treatment, I looked at a couple pages and it appears that the first recommendation is rest until the pain is gone. If it hurts to walk up stair for days after squatting then this is pretty severe. But like I said earlier, you could try releasing the muscles in your quads as well as your anterior tibialis. If that doesn’t help then there isn’t much you can do.

This is a perfect example of why you shouldn’t do Smolov. Most people either burn out or get injured.

Just doing a quick search on knee anatomy, the patellar tendon is attaching knee cap to the patella. Partly the reason why its also difficult to walk up stairs is bc my legs are usually sore as hell too haha. I wouldnt say its extreme its just dull achyness in the vicinity above my knees.

Heres a pic where it is


Ill try rolling out my quads just above my knee

Work on the whole muscle/muscles, not just close to your knee. Particularly the middle part. Foam rolling isn’t really the best way to do it though, it doesn’t put enough pressure on any particular spot. It may help, but better options would be to use a lacrosse ball (or baseball or tennis ball depending on what’s available) or a massage tool like the theracane. You could even use the handle of a screwdriver of something like that to dig into any sore or painful spots. I tried doing this in the past with my fingers and my fingers hurt after doing it several times, that’s why I am advising to use another object. Anyway, give it a try and let us know how it works for you.

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Thanks! I will give it a shot and let you know

Possibly look into some knee sleeves. Keep the knees warmer right from the start. Warmer joints move better

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I have a pretty cranky right knee myself, I started doing lunges consistently in my workouts as an accessory lift and it seems the nagging is being kept under control. I also hit several body weight squats daily and working through that extreme range of motion seems to help keep the joint moving nicely.

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Be careful with Quadriceps Tendinopathy. Can get worse/chronic if not managed well e.g. tendinosis. If you’re lucky maybe you can work through it but I wouldn’t take that risk myself.
What’s a few weeks off squats to years of painless gains?

Standard procedure is resting from aggravating activities so you don’t perpetuate that injury cycle. Once symptom free you can work on full ROM (you probably have this already) and begin gradual strengthening symptoms limiting with the goal to return to full activity.

Since strength is the activity for you it’s pretty easy. Just BB squat and gradually build back up to previous workloads/intensity/volumes.


High squats can be harder on the knees.

You’re also doing what I call an “accordion squat”. People have lifted ridiculous weights like that, but many people get knee and/or back issues from it.

My suggestion is move out your stance a bit, sit back more, and push your knees out hard. That would be the more moderate approach.

The more extreme approach would be to learn how to Box Squat ala Westside and just work that for a while to give your knee a break and enforce the above cues. You have your entire life ahead of you so even if you hate box squatting like that you might learn something from it and it would only be for a few weeks.