Knees Over Toes Guy
Knees Over Toes Guy helped me to recover from a meniscus injury last year. I found a simple bodyweight routine I do anywhere. For me, what was a rehabilitation regime has become a very convenient and effective strength-building method. The concept is the work of Ben Patrick, a former collegiate basketball player who suffered multiple knee injuries and many subsequent surgeries. You can see more details on his atgonlinecoaching.com site, and his YouTube channel is handy too. Here’s Ben explaining his methodology:
Getting Started With Knees Over Toes
Like any new programme, I started slowly with knees over toes. Which was helpful, given I was still experiencing periodic swelling and clicking in my right knee. The calf exercises were easy enough, although the tibialis raise found some new muscles I didn’t realise I had. There’s a lot of emphasis on building from the ground up, and it didn’t occur to me that ankle strength and range of motion were important until this point.
The novel element is Reverse Knees Over Toes Walking. That’s right, walking backwards and making sure the knee goes over the toes. I got some strange looks on Hampstead Heath, as I did my daily ten-minute reverse walk. But it works, and I improved after only a handful of days. I progressed quite quickly to reverse Knees Over Toes Sled Pulls in the gym, using a Spud Inc harness together with a climbing rope bought from eBay. I grind out ten minutes of reverse sled pull and get my quads pumped, before getting into the work.
Initially I worked on the Patrick Step, which was helpful to get that initial quad strength to stabilise the knee. It also demonstrated to me the imbalance between my legs. I saw this most when cycling, when my left leg consistently did 6-7% more of the work. After being patient with the Patrick Step, I moved to the single-leg Ass To Grass squat; the heart of the Knees Over Toes philosophy.
Five ATG squats per side was my starting point. Reverse sled pulls and Patrick Step laid the foundation. Then ATG squats over the next 12 weeks really started my recovery. Some months down the road, I can do sets of 20 on each side, and I will tend to do anything between 40 and 50 reps per workout. Even with bodyweight, that’s a serious workout.
Does Knees Over Toes Work?
Yes, Knees Over Toes does work. My knee pain is virtually gone after 14 months. My consultant has me diagnosed with mild osteoarthiritis in the left knee, and moderate in my right knee, given the meniscus wear and tear. Muscle mass has visibly increased on my quads, with the vastus medialis supporting the knee having become prominent. There is measurable improvement on the bike, my left and right power balance are almost perfectly balanced. The other benefit is flexibility, my hip flexors and ankle mobility having improved beyond recognition.
A number of strength coaches and physiotherapists are opposed to the ATG squat, firmly believing that the knee should never cross the vertical plane of the toes. Ben Patrick believes the movement and pressure stimulates delivery of synovial joint fluid to the knee.
I’m not qualified to referee an argument between people highly qualified in sports physiology. I do know that my knee pain is gone, and I’m stronger and more flexible. At 65 years old, I can knock out ATG single leg squats deep enough to ensure the calf muscle makes full contact with the hamstring.
Maintaining Knees Over Toes Fitness
As expressed elsewhere in my blog finding time to work, exercise, and recover is difficult. That’s before I get to living life outside of the office and exercise environment. Sometimes my regular Knees Over Toes workout gets missed, particularly when I’m focusing on my deadlifting. The knees remind me relatively quickly that they need regular attention, via some nighttime pain. Fortunately even a session, or two sessions at most, restores my knees. The beauty of the regime is it can be done anywhere, I can easily do a few minutes at home, or in a hotel room while travelling. There’s no excuse to miss is the truth.
Where Next ?
Ben Francis, Mr Knees Over Toes, has programmes for full body work. He starts at the foot and works all the way up. The ATG squat is as far as I go, but you may find some of his routines very useful. It’s worth noting that there are more advanced versions of each exercise, where weight is added. For example, I use the Tib Bar to strengthen my ankle and tibialis. I also use a Slant Board to increase the intensity of my Patrick Steps. Many people progress to holding dumbells while doing the ATG squats, although I find three sets of bodyweight squats does it for me.
Ben is very open with his training knowledge. You can see all his techniques demonstrated on YouTube, and much of the theory discussed on his Medium page. You can sign up for his ATG online coaching programme, with 50% off the first month. I subscribed for three months, and this gave me the most in depth understanding, including access to coaches via the app. Ben is also generous with his time for his subscribers.
As you would imagine, I wholeheartedly endorse Knees Over Toes Guy. It worked for me.