DO NOT DO SQUATS! Let me emphasize the point. DO NOT DO SQUATS!
And learn to recognize deceptive forms of the squat; the deep knee bend, the lunge and its particularly egregious variations, the weighted lunge and especially the forward-moving-weighted-lunge. I don’t know what it is called but I want to put a red circle with a cross hatch on those.
A lot of people are going to hate me, including most trainers, coaches and promoters of video training programs. I’ve got to admit that squats are a good way and maybe the best, most efficient and cheapest way to build gluts, quads and hamstrings. They utilize some of the biggest muscle groups in the body and so you can work up a good sweat and feel the burn. So doing them accomplishes a goal and maybe for football players, it’s the best way. But it’s dangerous for their knees, their cartilages and particularly their knee caps. There are some individuals who are biomechanically sound to do squats but they are rare and there’s really no way to identify those people and predict how long they can tolerate it. So, there are some people who tolerate smoking cigarettes just fine. But more of us can’t and so in general we say, “Don’t smoke.” And in general I like to say, “Don’t do squats!”
Here’s how it works. When you squat you put tremendous pressure on your knee cap since it’s the fulcrum through which you bend and straighten your knee. That puts pressure on the delicate cartilage that lines the knee cap. When you do a deep squat it also put tremendous pressure on the meniscus cartilage (the rubbery shock absorber cartilages between the two bones). Over a period of time (years for some…one squat for others) that can cause wearing of these delicate and important structures in the knee. Once that happens, arthritis begins to develop. And that can even happen at a young age.
For most of us, there are a lot of other exercises we can do to gently strengthen those muscle groups; straight leg raises, quarter squats, leg curls and extensions with low resistance, stationary bike, elliptical trainers, swimming, and the list goes on. I see so many patients with knee pain and in quite a few, particularly those with knee cap pain, I can elicit a history of doing squats…or one of its varieties. So when your personal trainer says he’s going to get your butt into shape…beware of the squat and just say “no.”