T Nation

Tendons and or Ligament Training


hello all... my brother-in-law is very much over weight. i know he used to be in great shape many years ago. his problem is he's trying to get back into the swing of things, but everytime he tries to do like bodyweight squats or workout his lower body he injures his legs. to me it sounds like a tendon or ligament injury. i recommend to him to start slowly, but he says he is. my question is... is there good program that i can recommend to him that will emphasize strengthening these areas to avoid injury?

thanks for any help.


e-mwell first thing to know is that tendons and ligaments are very, veeery slow in adjustment compared to muscles. Second is that a long slow eccentric phase at a light weight will help usually. it's often the prescription for helping to rehab an injury or tendonitis. second thing is he might a) be doing shit entirely wrong form wise and that's why he keeps injuring himself, or b) he's sayi.g that to give himself an excuse for sucking and/or half assing workouts or missing them. or he could be actually injured.


Is it the same/similar injury every time?


same places. in the soft tissue area behind the knee mainly. injuries are real. he'll be limping and in pain for a few weeks. nobodies making him try. he really wants to do this and wants to get to the bottom of this issue. thanks for the replies...


This may seem basic/obvious, but has he gotten a doctor to check it out?


look into getting some ART therapy.

How heavy are we talking? Try this walking plan for a month or so...


no to a doctor. i was figuring he was pushing to hard. maybe getting greedy. thought maybe since he's been very athletic in the past his muscle growth/strength gain was surpassing his tendons and ligaments. my suggestion was to workout but not to use weights. mostly cardio with minimal body weight movements... atleast for a while.

his weight is about 350. i thought maybe if there were some exercizes that would promote strengthening tendons and ligaments he could apply those. maybe a stretching program.


That's not safe. He needs to lose some weight by the use of PROPER DIET first. He has up to 150lbs of unnecessary weight just fucking him and his knees.

Imagine doing all of your weight-lifting with an averaged-sized person on your back, or just hanging from your stomach and pulling you down? Would you rather lose that person or attempt futile "some strengthening".

Your friend needs to start going on hilly walks(the form of exercise that hopefully wont injure him, also very good for 'fat burning') and really educate, or remind himself, about nutrition. He needs to lose weight first, by the help of proper diet.

You're putting the cart in front of the horse.


Given his weight now, I'd suggest just walking and hiking right now. His weight combined with this problem is not necessarily somethign to be messed with. I agree, it's a great idea...except that he's now injured so it changes the game; I would typically suggest the same thing you did (bodyweight exercises for legs, maybe some weights for arms IN ADDITION to hiking daily and a good diet), but right now the lower body isn't doing so hot.

On a related note, I think you might try some ART as someone suggested above. The muscles and tendons around the back of the knee tend to become extremely aggravated if you are standing, leaning, or walking with your legs hyperextended--just ask any bartender :). I used to have issues all the damn time when I was leaning over a 4 foot wide bar 5 days a week. Soft tissue work will help a lot--tennis ball, rolling pin, dowel rod, whatever helps. Going to need to loosen up the calves as well probably.

Hell, at his weight just foam rolling could be a workout :/.


Exactly what was he doing/how was he "training" when he got injured? If he jumped right into deep bodyweight squats or high volume stuff, then sure there's a chance he aggravated something.

So he was very athletic and in great shape, and now he's obese. Did an injury end his athletic training or was it just a lifestyle change, or something else?

How tall is he? It's a small point, but if he's 5'6" or 6'2", it gives a little different picture of the situation. Also, how old is he and how long ago was he in great shape? I'm picturing like a 40-year old guy saying what great shape he was in during his college baseball career 20-something years ago. If he's been out of shape for way longer than he was in shape, it might not have much carryover other than trying to rekindle that attitude for motivation.

I think you might be over-investing in the tendon/ligament thing, unless there's a pre-existing situation I didn't see mentioned yet. Obviously it's worth repeating that the dude should get a basic doctor's check-up, first and foremost.

I agree with what's been said, you can get a running start (pun intended) by cleaning up his diet and doing some consistent walking. Yes, strength training/bodyweight training will be a benefit, but diet and cardio are going to be essential anyway, so the sooner those happen, the better.

You can always regress a bodyweight squat by using something to help stand up (a pair of chairs to push off of, or a partner or anchored rope to help pull up). That would essentially "reduce the resistance" and make the exercise easy enough to do more reps until strength and conditioning is built. But yeah, shotgunning guesses as to what's going on with his knee isn't the way to fix things.


he was doing bodyweight squats the first time and he said he thought he fucked up from doing it ass to grass. felt like he bruised the soft tissue area behind the knee on the back side of the leg (popliteal pain) . healed then he got back on it but i asked him to not do to many. just a few every now and then and not to go any lower than a sitting position. he's injured it 3 times and everytime it's while making strength progress.

weight gain due to life getting in the way. working too many hours in a job with no type of energy expenditure. he recently changed jobs to work less hours to emphasize on his health.

he's about 5'10/5'11. stocky build. about 350. as bad off as he is you can see a good base under there. you can tell he's lifted before and i know he use to do sports. i think that's part of the problem mentally. he wants to be where he was too fast. age 40 and in pretty good athletic shape about 6 years ago. great shape more than 10 years plus.

so soft tissue work, myofacial release (foam roller), hiking when possible...... what is ART therapy? i google it and it brings up psychology for artists, lol. also i'll try and talk him into seeing a doctor. i know he just changed jobs so hopefully it's a possibility.


DUDE. DIET. NUTRITION. That's his top priority. How is that getting lost?


not getting lost at all. thank you...


yeah, for him unweighted squats are weighted...

there are a bunch of reasons why people hurt their knees squatting. usually: knee cave. but there are a bunch of reasons for knee cave... have you taken a look front on to see whether that might be the issue?


short for Active Release Technique ,its the gold standard of soft tissue physio...

By the sound of things I would leave off the leg work until he gets down to something like 280 and ease into it with just super light and high rep machine work, especially hamstrings.

In the meantime hammer the upper body, look into that walking program and get him eating all clean foods etc


Thanks for all the help, folks. Alot of good info here.