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8 Exercise to Armour Plate your Knees

On Monday I posted about the worrying amount of knee injuries recorded in field sports.

The article I referred to was from Ireland’s native GAA, but it’s the same across most team field sports.

While I have several rugby, GAA and even a Hockey player in my gym, most of my crew are in the martial arts.

A large chunk of whom are BJJ.

So while the predominance of knee injuries in field sports happen off the ball, ie the player hurts themselves. In BJJ (and many rugby injuries) there’s someone out to hurt you.

Image stolen from

Image stolen from

Which means the reasons BJJ knees get hurt could be very different to the reason a Hurler’s knee gets hurt.

But the fact that we need to bullet proof said knee joint remains the same.

Now, in Monday’s post I spoke a lot about the mechanics of movement. Cleaning that up should always be a first priority, and is the reason Wild Geese has an area which has become affectionately known as “Cripple Corner”

Assisting one of our Thai Boxers in Cripple Corner

Assisting one of our Thai Boxers in Cripple Corner

It’s where we get people to do their specific rehab work and fix any faulty movement patterns before we allow them to join the “fun” stuff on the main training floor.

But when it comes to picking specific strength training drills to bullet proof the knee after we’ve improved the mechanics (note: improved, not perfected. We don’t need to wait until the person is fully healed to start armour plating) we have a short list of top options.

In no particular order:

  1. Pistol Squats (usually, but not always, a box squat)

  2. 1 Leg Romanian Deadlift

  3. Romanian Deadlift

  4. Heels elevated Front Squat

  5. Lunges

  6. Split Squat

  7. Sumo Stance Kettlebell Deadlift

  8. Single Leg Battling Ropes

That’s 8 exercises, each with a myriad of progressions/regressions we can rotate through.

Some suit better than others, that all depend on the individual in question.

But we try to get a good mix of single leg and double leg work in.

For example:

1A: Pistol Box Squat 1B: Romanian Deadlift


1A: Heels Elevated Front Squat 1B: Front Foot elevated deep lunge

All done with a focus on top quality form before we look at building volume before we look at adding load.

And all the while we continue to work on movement mechanics, usually in the warm up or super-setting it into the workout.

And in the words of Dan John, who nicked it from his old coach Dan Gable:

“If it is important, do it every day. If it’s not important, don’t do it at all.”

Which Dan then takes into the principle of “Make your warm up the workout”

And I can’t tell you how much I love that principle.

Especially as I work a lot with people who get injured and call it sport!

(my favourite type of athlete by the way, I couldn’t work with boring folk who never got hurt….!)

So I’ve a little task for you.

You can fill me in on your plans to apply this by emailing me or hitting me up on facebook.

But the task is this:

  1. Identify YOUR weak points – spend a moment in quiet reflection pondering on what you suck at, where you hurt, what holds you back

  2. Identify the things you need to do to stop it being a weak point

  3. Devise a “warm up” based around eliminating  these weak points

It’s that simple. You now have a daily warm up, that will help you resist injury.

If it’s not that simple, I can help ( <— that’s a link, click it!)

If you check out the warm up I post on my lunchtime fitness wall, it goes like this:

  1. Over head squat

  2. Reaching Lunge

  3. Active Hamstring

  4. Handcuffs

  5. Swimming

  6. Deadbug

  7. Quick yoga

In other words, we’re rehabing your body every time you warm up, before you do the strength and conditioning work.

It looks like this:

Now I realise this post is getting a bit long and in sever danger of meandering off course.

So lets do a round up:

  1. Knee Injuries suck and are unnecessarily common.

  2. Field sports guys hurt themselves

  3. BJJ guys hurt each other

  4. Clean up movement mechanics, do it daily, make it your warm up

  5. Armour plate the knee by wrapping it in muscle

Do all this and you may just stay off the physio table.

And if you need assistance, don’t be afraid to ask! In fact, click this to get the help you likely need:


Dave Hedges

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