One of my favorite weight lifting exercises for the quadriceps is the terminal knee extension.
As I grow older, heavy squats become harder and harder on my knees.
I abused my knees pretty badly when I was younger, did squats for a long time the wrong way, and I don't have great knee genetics so I have knees that aren't great.
Many people are in the same situation as me so I wanted to discuss an exercise that has been amazing for me and my knees.
This weight lifting exercise is one of the best knee strengthening exercises I have done because it allows me to overload the quadriceps without putting any stress on my knees.
When you start to have knee pain, you'll take any exercise you can get to really work the leg muscles. And the terminal knee extension is one of the best I have done.
No knee pain at all with the TKE (Terminal Knee Extension).
This Is Not a Compound Weight Lifting Exercise
If you can do squats without any knee pain, I highly recommend squats and any variation of the squat.
Squats must be included as one of your 7 core weight lifting exercises if you can do them with proper form and technique.
If you're choosing not to do squats just because you know they're a tough exercise, then you need to really take a step back and ask yourself if you have what it takes to change your body.
If you want to make amazing progress, you have to fight. You have to work hard and push through those tough exercises. When you make it, you'll know that you've accomplished something many people cannot.
Compound weight lifting exercises are highly recommended within the WLC System because you get the most bang for your time in the gym.
If you choose to do isolation weightlifting exercises, you're going to spend more time in the gym and get inferior results.
Some isolation exercises can be very useful, though, and the TKE or terminal knee extension is one of those because it allows you to strengthen your legs without stressing your knees.
Now the TKE will not provide the gains a squat movement will provide, but it will allow you to work yourself back up to doing squats while you work on your knees. Once you get rid of knee pain, you can begin doing squats again… with proper form and technique this time around.
Some Exercise Videos of the Terminal Knee Extension
In order to do the TKE, you'll need to have a cable system or some resistance bands.
If you do not have a cable system in your home gym, you might think about getting one. I was very lucky to find a power rack with a cable system for a great price at a local sporting goods store. I use the cable system for some very good weight lifting exercises.
1-arm pulldowns, cable kickbacks, overhead tricep extensions, cable curls, cable crunches, and upright rows just to name a few of the exercises you can do with a cable system on your power rack.
Here's what the terminal knee extension exercise looks like:
Make sure you use your quadriceps to pull the weight back on the positive and let the weight down slowly on the negative.
As you can see from the video above, the terminal knee extension is used as a rehab exercise for the knees. When you strengthen the musculature around your knees, you can really help your knees to feel better. You can even get rid of knee pain completely if a weakness in your quadriceps was causing your knee issues.
I had to include the above video for anyone having knee pain. You'll find out how squats can cause knee pain.
You Can Continue to Increase Resistance With the Terminal Knee Extension
You can start out with very light weights on a cable system or a light resistance band.
You can then begin increasing the resistance every workout to gain amazing strength in your quads. Your knees should begin to feel better if a weakness in your quads or an activation problem in your quads was causing the knee pain.
It's worth a shot if you're having knee pain and can't figure it out.
You can go pretty heavy on the terminal knee extension as you build strength and work your way up from light weights.
You MUST start out with light weights and slowly increase the resistance with the TKE.
Evaluate Exercise Form and Technique If You're Having Knee Pain
If you've been doing squats and having knee pain, you need to step back and evaluate your squat form. You might want to take some time away from the squat and try some other exercises to see if knee pain goes away.
The trap bar deadlift is a great alternative to the squats. Add the TKE to your weight lifting program as well along with sled pulling forwards and backwards.
You will strengthen your legs and build musculature in your legs while helping your knee pain. I've been there. It works.
Never continue doing a weight lifting exercise that is giving you knee pain while doing the exercise. Figure out what is causing the knee pain before continuing. If you are causing the knee pain with improper form on an exercise and continue doing the exercise wrong, you can really cause permanent damage.
Always make sure you are using proper form and technique.
Make sure you watch the exercise videos above for the terminal knee extension to ensure you are doing them properly. You definitely do not want to do them wrong and cause more knee pain.
Good luck with the TKE! I think you'll love it as much as I do.