Up to your bad knee in cardio
Cardiovascular workouts are, hands down, one of the best ways to improve heart health, metabolism, and hormonal profile and prevent conditions such as diabetes. Alas, a nasty injury can bring your training plan to its knees and undermine your goals. But, before you hoist the white flag, there are a couple of things you should know. Neither continuing to run nor quitting cardio altogether is a sound choice. Namely, having a history of knee injuries is not the end of the road for you: this predicament implies instead that you must tread carefully and watch your step.
Learning the ropes
First of all, it is a good idea to steer clear of exercises that involve repetitive pounding. This is the case, for example, with running and the jumping rope. During running, each time your foot strikes the ground your body absorbs a tremendous amount of pressure, which equals seven times your weight. A bad knee simply cannot withstand that kind of abuse. Some people turn to riding a bike, which makes sense because it does not include the same level of pounding. Yet, the repetitive stress induces dangerous tear and wear on weak joints.
So, is there a kind of cardio you can do without pushing your knees to the limits? The answer is yes. Even better, you only need to mount your determination and get your hands on a couple of tools. The first one are battling ropes, implements that have come out of the closet in recent years. All you need to do is loop one end around an immovable object, pull out the slack and grab both ends. What follows are timed rounds with the ropes, during which you must maintain an athletic stance.
One round typically lasts for twenty seconds, the same as the rest period. Those who feel like going an extra mile should employ rope slams, a more aggressive variant: slam both ends of the rope up and down and create waves. The goal is to immerse in the rapid and rhythmic flow of movement. Just bear in mind that it is possible to incorporate different versions of rope slams in a training session, by performing them in a circuit fashion.
With bells on
Next, see whether you have some kettlebells lying around, and use them for swings and snatches. The former exercise is great for strengthening hamstrings, the lower back and glutes, all while sparing the knees. Furthermore, hip hinging is an essential movement pattern for anyone seeking to step up their power and athletic game. A 44 or 53-pound kettlebell with several sets and 20-40 reps will do the trick for those only starting out.
Just pay attention to the proper execution of the exercise (avoid squatting down), especially the positioning of the back, but and hips. Note that the extension of the latter part of the body is responsible for the generation of explosive power, not your arms. As for the snatches, they focus more on enhancing the posterior chain and spur the process of building solid shoulders.
Finally, remember that a no-knee-stress cardio can be utilized as a separate conditioning workout, or as a nice finisher, after the main session. Make sure you do not go overboard and put yourself at an unnecessary risk of injury. Also, do not hesitate to seek professional aid and advice every step of the way. Stick to the proper training, get yourself the proper gym wear, and it will do wonders for your overall physical condition, and will also treat your knees right.
Maximum results, minimum risk
Repetitive movement of cardio should not make you abandon the dream of becoming fit as a fiddle and healthy as a horse. The good news is that you may get in shape, burn some fat, and improve your condition without risking further injury. There are many great, low-impact cardio workouts that do not go hard on your knees. Avoid putting too much pressure on them and ensure proper execution. Keep a training journal, and track your progress in order to gradually raise the bar and maximize performance.