|When reviewing my email first thing in the morning one of the most frequent questions I get from current bodybuilders or weight training enthusiasts like myself is questions regarding using the Leg Press and /or squatting after knee replacement surgery.
In fact, this is a question I see from older adults as well who are more inclined to use a leg Press than squatting weight on their back with a barbell.
Of course in the body of the email is the infamous, ” my surgeon said to either swim or get into a pool to exercise my legs” well if you were like me that didn’t go over too well. I was not about to give up my entire leg exercise routine and pretend I was 75 years old now and never saw the inside of a gym in my life.
But, I also was well aware now that some changes and modifications were in order when it came to weight training and my legs. I was never one in the first place who loaded up 500-600 pounds and did deep squats so, powerlifting was not something I excelled at or would have missed.
I did work on both the leg press and squats with moderate weights however and of course, that’s relative in a sense. After my surgery, though, I didn’t completely give up on either exercise.
Today nearly 18 years after knee replacement surgery, I still use both, though I favor the leg press as I find the leg press is excellent in balancing the weight and taking the strain off other parts of my body.
As you age and wear and tear sets in, its a smart move. For you younger lifters that feel the leg press is for sissys, you will also in time make the adjustments I assure you.
I presently use light weight and work on on a HIIT program with it to maximize a pump in the muscles and spur on new strength and growth as well.
You just need to understand after knee surgery that the days of loading up on heavy iron will have to stop but, you still can get in effective workouts without damaging your prosthesis.
I am a big believer in pre-fatiguing the quadriceps group before I get on the leg press for instance.
I may knock out two or three sets of leg extensions for 15-20 repetitions and then immediately go to either the leg press or the smith machine to knock out leg presses or light squats. Air squats are one of my favorite’s now as I get a good leg workout along with continued cardiovascular conditioning. Try for instance 10 rounds of air squats for 30 seconds work sets, 15 seconds rest between sets
The weight I tend to use is between 200 and 250 pounds and you can do that for high reps. I will use 135 pounds as well at the end of my workout as fatique sets in and just knock out high repetitions to get the blood flowing through my quads and hamstrings’ as well.
If you are looking to go heavy like you did before or cannot face the fact you have to use lighter weight, then I recommend you do not have the knee replacement surgery done in the first place. That, however, will also depend on the level of pain you are in and how it has affected your quality of life.
Knock out a set of 20 repetitions with 225 pounds on the leg press then immediately follow that up with 20 bodyweight or air squats in other words, going as deep as your new knee will allow and tell me if your legs are not on fire after that.
You can use your imagination when it comes to working legs after knee surgery, just use some common sense, you want to be in it for the long haul.
And I realize that there are medical personnel right now that would think this may be a bit extreme, just work within and understand what your boundaries are in the first place, everyone is different and will have different starting weights etc….
I have been doing this now close to 18 years without incident. By the way, I continue to work my calves and hamstrings no different then I did before surgery with the same amount of weight etc…
Its the forces you put through the prosthesis with the heavy pressing movements that can damage and pre maturely wear it out.
But for heavens sake do not quit working your legs altogether or think you are doomed to a skinny or non functional pair of legs.
Where there is a will there is a way.
If I can be of more help in regards to this subject matter feel free to either email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or, leave a comment below.
Richard Haynes PTA,CPT
Total Joint Fitness LLC
Total Joint Fitness LLC