A lot of guys—including myself—have struggled with knee pain in the past. Even today, I have what could probably be called “sensitive knees”, and I’m always very cautious when exercising my legs in a way that puts strain on my knees.
Now, getting into bodyweight workouts, one of the commonly occurring exercises I come across are (plyometric) alternating split squat jumps.
Here’s a quick video that shows what’s involved:
The next video does a better job of explaining what’s involved and what to look out for (although I disagree that your knees and hands should touch the ground, which he advises).
Now the next video will show you how to “set up” your split squats in the first place. He’s not actually demonstrating alternating split squat jumps, but just split sqats. One of the reasons why I like the following video is that he does a really good job at explaining how to figure out the right form for you first, and what to look out for. (1. The knee should always remain behind your toes, never go over your toes, because that creates a lot of sliding pressure on the knee that can lead to pain and other issues. 2. Get into a 90/90/90 stance. That means your knees and your hips should be at a 90 degree angle (watch the video, much easier to get what this is about when you see it):
Another video that does a good job at demonstrating how to set up a proper split squat form is this one, that points our really well how to avoid putting excess strain on the knees, and how to make sure you engage the right muscle groups:
So now that you have a good understanding of how to maintain proper form, and what the causes of knee issues are in relation to this exercise, let’s get down to the practical part:
The best alternative to to split squat jumps
The reverse split squat lunge. It’s a pretty simple exercises, and yes, it won’t have the same effect on your body and muscle development that you can pack into the same amount of time with split squat jumps, but: you can start with reverse split squat lunges, over time build up the supporting muscles and refine your technique, until you’re eventually able to perform alternating split squat jumps.
Watch this video that initially covers some of the causes and helpful points on split squat jump related knee-pain, and then demonstrates good alternatives.
(If you want to go straight to the part where this trainer explains reverse lunges, and why they’re a better exercise for people with knee-pain, you can skip to minute 2 in the video.)
To train around knee-pain, you want to be aware of the following things:
- What’s the position of your shin during the leg exercises?
- What’s the depth of flexion? How much flexion are you getting?
Hope this was helpful for you! It definitely helped me to understand better what caused my knee issues, and made me more aware of how to train properly. Again, so much of what I’m learning here is about the importance of maintaining proper form, and I think this is incredibly important. Yes, you want maximum intensity, but make sure you do maximum intensity with proper form. You want to prevent injuries. Train safely!