5 Reasons Why Your Knees Hurt Squatting & How To INSTANTLY Fix Them

why your knees hurt squatting


If your knees hurt squatting it doesn’t mean that squats are a bad exercise.


In fact, squats and lunges have gotten such a bad reputation for causing knee, hip and lower back problems.


However, in most cases it’s not the squat that causes pain but rather how it’s performed.


If you’re just looking for some quick tips to instantly wipe out knee pain when squatting then scroll down to the video below where I share some highly effective tips to overcome knee pain during squats.


The truth is that the squat is a poorly understood exercise.   Squats are an excellent exercise for strengthening the hips and knees but, unfortunately, most people do not perform them correctly even though think they do.


There are 5 common mistakes I have identified in individuals whose knees hurt squatting.


Just one of these mistakes is enough to feel knee pain during squats:


1. Weight on the toes: This happens a lot when using too much weight which tends to pull your body too far forward. Other times it’s simply a lack of awareness of how to distribute one’s body weight.


2. Knees moving forward while squatting: This is another common example of using too much weight. It can also be the result of the quadriceps (thigh muscles) overcompensating for weakness of the trunk stabilizers, hips and hamstrings.


3. Thighs and lower back muscles doing most of the work: This happens when the core, glutes and hamstrings are weak. When you lack proper core and hip strength muscle imbalances often result in the quadriceps and lower back over working. This is one of the main reasons for knee pain during squatting.


4. Abdominal stabilizers and hips are weak: These muscles need to be properly strengthened in order to eliminate knee and lower back pain.


5. Trunk collapsing too far forward: This is a sure-fire sign of weak core muscles and/or quadricep and lower back overcompensation. Typically, weakness in the abdominal and hip muscles are the problem.


After you watch the video leave me a comment and let me know what you think about knee pain and squats.


Why Your Knees Hurt Squatting & How To Correct It


If you’re interested, there’s a great program called Muscle Imbalances Revealed that’ll teach you how to address and correct muscle imbalances so you can get rid of nagging aches, pains and injuries fast:



32 Responses to “5 Reasons Why Your Knees Hurt Squatting & How To INSTANTLY Fix Them”

  • JanskiNo Gravatar:

    I have watched this video yesterday, and it revolutionized the way I do squats. I have recently included squats in my work-out, and my knees were hurting even with very light weight. Watching your video helped me understand that it is not the quads that are the primary working muscles, but rather the glutes and hamstrings. The way you demonstrate the hips forward movement has helped a lot. Thank you!

  • Kevin YatesNo Gravatar:


    Thanks for the comment. I’m glad the video helped you out.

  • Graphic DesignNo Gravatar:

    Brilliant blog but seriously the sheer amount of advertisements really make our experience much less.

  • KazzaNo Gravatar:

    hi Kevin

    My problem with squats is that I am physically unable to come down very far at all if I keep my trunk almost upright. Reading point 5 above, I think my core is quite strong so I am guessing it is more to do with quads/lower back – are there any exercises/stretches I can do to improve this?

    By the way, I have been watching your videos etc for a few months now and they are really helpful so thank you!

  • Kevin YatesNo Gravatar:

    It’s not so much to do them completely upright with your trunk just not excessively forward…In your case if it’s quad and low back compensation then stretches will do very little if anything to correct it…instead it may be a case of your core and hips not being strong enough in the extended position so you’d need core strength in the role of stabilization with your trunk in more upright and extended position

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  • MarianoNo Gravatar:

    I don’t know. I tried squatting with my feet straight ahead more or less, and what it does is my hips get pulled down at the bottom pretty hard ie I round.

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    This excellent website really has all the information I needed concerning this subject and didn’t know who to ask.

  • FeliciaNo Gravatar:

    I thought this video would help. But I still have problems. In my ankle, toes, and knees.
    One day I will do a squat properly :/
    Thanks for taking the time.

  • AmeliaNo Gravatar:

    Good video. As soon as my knee pain goes down I will try doing it the right way. Also I have read on many websites that if you got knock knees its better to do the squad with feet pointing outward and knees pointing the same direction. What would you suggest in case of knock knees?

  • Kevin YatesNo Gravatar:

    I’ve discovered that knock knees have more to do with poor core and hip strength (and compensation patterns) than with the knees themselves.

    The feet turned out gives you stability through leverage but not through muscle contraction. Not to say you cannot perform a squat properly with feet turned out but you shouldn’t have to rely on this position to perform a squat safely.

    As your core and hips become stronger the knees will not ‘knock’.

  • Kevin YatesNo Gravatar:

    Check your hips Felicia. Stand with your side facing a full length mirror. Watch your hips. Do they move forward upon the initial decent into a squat? If so, drive your hips back keeping your weight on your midfoot/heels.

  • MariaNo Gravatar:

    I have cronic low back pain from tissue damage. And two knees that “crunch” when I squat or do stairs, they don’t hurt, I just don’t want to make them hurt. My question is this. ..is there any move I can make so I CAN do squats? I think I’d like the result of doing them. Thanks!

  • Kevin YatesNo Gravatar:

    I usually don’t worry about ‘noise’ if it doesn’t cause pain.

    Do your needs move forward, inward or outward as you descend into your squat?

  • MariaNo Gravatar:

    Straight forward…thanks.

  • MandiNo Gravatar:

    I am very glad I found this video because I did pay good money for a personal trainer (only to injure myself) who told me the EXACT opposite!

    I did appreciate the trainer telling me that squats were one of the best exercises (I did not know that and I am glad this video is consistent).

    BUT, the trainer had me working quads over and over again, even when I told him my knees were hurting! He said if I couldn’t unsupported squats then spread 30 mins on the leg extension machines or leg press machines. Those machines, while I was able to lift lots of weight, only hurt my knees more.

    I burned out! I quit going to the gym. I thought I had seriously had hurt myself beyond repair.

    This is a great video to refer to when I want to SLOWLY re-introduce squats into the workout.

    Thanks for clearing up the expensive misconceptions I paid for earlier.

  • Kevin YatesNo Gravatar:

    What you’re describing is actually very common and it happens in more than just personal training.

    I’ve seen many, many physical therapists having their patients doing the same thing…strengthening the quads without ever looking into the fact that our bodies are not meant to work in isolation.

    They are a functional unit designed to use many muscles to accomplish movements.

    One quick suggestion that may help you out…

    …If you’re not yet able to squat you can try using a cable machine and perform bent over rows. Just line the cable in front of you rather than toward the floor so it moves in a straight line toward you. That way it allows you to squat to your depth (whatever is comfortable for you) and conditions you into the squat pattern.

    You can progress your depth as you’re able.

    I’m happy to know my video helped you Mandi :)

  • MarleneNo Gravatar:

    WOW! I’ve tried over and over again to do squats but all they is hurt my knees. I followed your suggestions and was able to do five without any pain!!! Thank you!!!!

  • MonkeyfighterNo Gravatar:

    Fuck! I have had these lower back and knee pain all the time, I thougt my knees were broken or so.. I’m gonna try it the way you showed it, I guess it’s gonna fix the problems, thank you very much man!

  • IvanNo Gravatar:

    I’ve been trying to work around knee pain for several years. Squatting heavy with poor form damaged them and I only made it worse by continuing to put pressure on my knees with a variety of activities. Nothing helped. Trainers and gym members told me that my form was good, so I thought that it was just my anatomy that wasn’t conducive to squatting. Xray and MRI showed no damage but the pain continued so I gave up squatting with weights, only doing bodyweight squats until they began to hurt.

    Just came across this video and tried it on a whim. I wasn’t expecting anything, but am now squatting without any pain besides normal soreness. No weights yet but this is already a remarkable difference. Thank you so much!

  • Kevin YatesNo Gravatar:

    Right on Ivan! That’s awesome…I’ve NEVER once in 14 years I’ve been doing this seen anyone who cannot squat without pain as long as they’re activating the right muscles.

  • Kevin YatesNo Gravatar:

    Cool man. Lemme know how it goes.

  • lindapNo Gravatar:

    Was worth a shot, but didn’t work for me.

  • alinaNo Gravatar:

    I am doing squats for 5 days and I have a terrible knee pain . I just want you to ask the pain is when the squats arent doing in the right way or these pain are normal -thanks for the video btw

  • alinaNo Gravatar:

    Hello . I am 15 years old and I started doing squats . Since ive started I ve got too much pain in my knees . Day by day the pain is bigger. Is that if I am doing wrong squats or is it a normal thing . Should I do exercises soon or should I stop. I mgonna wait for your answer . Thank you wery much ☺<<<

  • Kevin YatesNo Gravatar:

    Having minor muscle pain is normal but having joint pain is not something you should be feeling.

    The knee pain can be fixed by correcting your technique.

  • Kevin YatesNo Gravatar:

    Also, make sure you’re not doing squat workouts everyday. Gotta give your legs time to recover.

  • Kevin YatesNo Gravatar:

    Hey Alina, I just replied to your other question but for now take some time off to give your knees a rest.

    After the pain resolves itself try squatting with just your own body weight so you can master the technique.

    If you have trouble then try squatting while holding a support like a pole, light weight dowel or something similar that’s stable.

    It’s not the exercise that’s hurting your knees. It’s just that you’ve gotta get the technique down with the right muscles working.

    Once you get it down you won’t feel pain in your knees.

    Hope this helps :)

  • LeighNo Gravatar:

    hmmm..been doing squats for years and since ive increased my weights recently, I have noticed knee pain. will try your suggestions. the instructors always say toes pointed out! thanks for posting this video!

  • Kevin YatesNo Gravatar:

    lemme know how it works Leigh

  • Erik BNo Gravatar:

    One last question remains for me: Do you recommend deep knee squats or stopping when the hips and knees are in line horizontally? Thanks.

  • HankNo Gravatar:

    Thanks for the informative video Mr.Yates.
    I have been having terrible knee pain the last few months. It all began when I started the Madcow 5×5 program.
    I really, REALLY like that program, but since beginning my knees have taken a major hit.
    Just bending down to pick something up sends waves of sharp knife-stabbing pain to my knee’s.
    I had basically given up on doing squats. The whole purpose of working out is so I can remain in good shape to play with my kids and grandkids. It seems like it’s doing the opposite.

    I’m going to try your recommendations and see if it helps.
    One question I have is, what is your opinion on ATG (arse-to-grass) squats?
    I’ve enjoyed that form more than parallel but want to make sure it’s safe and the proper way of squatting.


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