[00:00:52] Podcast Sponsors
[00:03:17] Guest Introduction
[00:06:55] How Ben Became Involved With Treating Knee Pain
[00:20:08] Why walking backward is so beneficial to the health of the knees
[00:34:39] Podcast Sponsors
[00:38:28] Fundamental Knee Exercises That Can Be Done Anywhere, Anytime
[00:49:39] Why Focus On The Tibialis Muscle And Hip Flexors
[00:57:21] Tools And Techniques To Strengthen The Knees
[01:04:52] Why Ben Doesn't Heavily Focus On The Glutes In His Program
[01:09:16] Closing the Podcast
[01:13:53] Legal Disclaimer
Ben Greenfield: On this episode of the Ben Greenfield Fitness Podcast.
Ben Patrick: My Doctor says I have irreversible cartilage damage. I can never play my sport again. I will never regain full knee bent. These are the exact kind of things I fix every day. If you had never in your life heard of training back muscles and all you had done was bench presses and pushups, and you wonder why you have terrible shoulder pain and someone came and said, “Well, let's strengthen the back muscles,” that would be pretty common sense. I can put my shoulders to the floor behind me like it's nothing. Even for people with good knees, 99% can't do that. You know what I'm saying?
Ben Greenfield: Health, performance, nutrition, longevity, ancestral living, biohacking, and much more. My name is Ben Greenfield. Welcome to the show.
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Well, folks, my guest on today's show is kind of the up-and-coming go-to guy when it comes to knee pain and really a whole host of kind of biomechanical performance issues. His name is Ben Patrick. You might know him as the “Kneesovertoesguy.” He's pretty prolific on Instagram in terms of the information that he's dishing out as far as kind of an outside-the-box approach, as the name “knees over toes” implies to fixing your knee pain and also doing things like improving your sports performance, your vertical jump capabilities, just a whole bunch of issues that athletes and, gosh, a whole bunch of other people who may not play basketball or noon ball every day but still have debilitating knee pain need to know about. His company is called ATG, which stands for Athletic Truth Group. And, that's based out of Clearwater Beach, Florida, which is where I used to go to race the Ironman where they have the Half-Ironman World Championships they used to have down there at the White Sands Beach in Clearwater, Florida. That was known as the race to go do if you wanted to really fast bike split because it's all super-duper flat down there in Florida. The overpass that go over the roads are about the biggest hill you get.
But anyways, Ben was a basketball player, transformed his basketball career when he went from being injured to figuring out what to do about these knee injuries that he was having. And, I've been messing around with his program myself because I sustained a knee injury. And so, I'm kind of in that halfwaysy phase right now between rehabbing, still cleaning things up. Meaning, I still have to go in and get one final scope done next month with some stuff that's just hanging around in the knee joint causing some inflammation. But, I'm already starting to use Ben's programs to begin to strengthen and bulletproof my knee so to speak so it bounces back even faster after that.
So, Ben, I'm stoked to talk to you, dude.
Ben Patrick: Man, I really appreciate that intro. I've been a fan of yours since before you knew me. And, I actually used some key quotes from you in explaining my system to people. So, this is going to be really fun.
Ben Greenfield: Yeah. You know what's funny is way back in the day, this was–because a lot of the programs I do and it sounds like you're kind of the same type of persuasion or to scratch my own itch. Meaning, I did a program for managing your own sacroiliac and hip joint pain by addressing hip malrotation issues. And, it was just basically like an online e-book with all the different stretches and strengthening programs you can do to re-rotate your hips back into alignment along with how to self-adjust your SI joint. And then, I messed up my IT band, Ben, training for one of the Ironman World Championships 10 years ago. So, I spent six months rehabbing it with everything. Back then, it was aqua jogging, PEMF, and acupuncture. Just everything that you could throw at at the IT band, what works, what doesn't. And, I called that one bulletproof your knee. And, a lot of these things, I'll just get injured and then throw a whole bunch of stuff at it, figure out what works and what doesn't, talk to a whole bunch of smart people, and then kind of package it up.
And, when I found your Knees Over Toes program, you're putting a lot of really, really good work into this whole idea of an outside-the-box approach to knee pain. And, I know you've got kind of a cool back story. So, fill me in, man. How did you get into all this?
Ben Patrick: So, I grew up totally obsessed with basketball. By the time I was 5, I knew I wanted to go to the NBA. By the time I was maybe 9 or 10, I realized, holy crap, I don't have the genetics to go to the NBA, so I'm going to have to work. My strategy was just to outwork anyone that I possibly knew or met who played basketball.
Ben Greenfield: Yeah, which is a familiar story, by the way, because my hometown guy is John Stockton who faced a similar uphill battle.
Ben Patrick: So, John Stockton was one of my motivations. He had various books. He would wake up at 4:00 am and go out and practice defense. So, just so you know, basketball players, you don't go practice defense by yourself, you know what I mean? He was that kind of a savage. And so, he was waking up and it was fourth grade that he was. So, you're talking fourth grade, I forget, but that's maybe 10, 11 years old. He was waking up at 4:00 am. I set myself an alarm for when John Stockton would wake up and I had a piece of paper that said, “What would John Stockton do?” it's not like I was a morning person, I didn't want to wake up, but that alarm would go off and the light would be on and I would see what would John Stockton do. And, I was like, “Well, he would wake up.” You know what I mean?
Ultimately, where that got me and my genetics, my dad had never grabbed the rim or anything like that. By the time I was 12, I had chronic knee issues that never let up until I was about 20 years old. So, I was already from 12 to 20 trying to figure out my knees and to explain this to someone. It's actually pretty cool because the very thing that made everyone scared of knees over toes is that we're talking almost 50 years ago, some data was studied, and okay, when the knee goes over the toe, there's more pressure on the knee. That piece of data scared everyone.
Ben Greenfield: Right. Even when I was in college, when I would take biomechanics and my Kinesis classes and a lot of the exercise rehab courses and when we were in the athletic training room, that was basically general consensus was, “Watch the football players while they're in their squat workout, Ben, and make sure nobody's got their knees going over their toes because that's going to give you patellar tendonitis, bro.”
Ben Patrick: Yeah. Anyone who's studied your work extensively knows that a human body that has pressure on it actually ages biologically younger.
Ben Greenfield: Within reason, yeah.
Ben Patrick: Exactly. So, the way that you create a short-term problem would be by not understanding knees over toes training and by doing something that was too much. So, a basketball player, every time Michael Jordan ever landed from a dunk, his knee went over his toes. Every time you go downstairs, when you catch an Olympic weight lift, actually, you don't really have a choice and your knee goes over your toes. And, when you decelerate, there's tons of impact your knee is going over your toes. If that exceeds what you can handle, if that exceeds the pressure you can handle, that can create pain or injury. But the way you really create major long-term issues is then by avoiding those pressures in your training. So now, you're still experiencing them in life, or in your sport, or in intense heavy weight exercises, or something like that, only you're not prepared for it. And, your patellar tendon actually can grow and strengthen just like a muscle does. So, it's no different than not having muscles prepared for something. You cannot have knee tendons prepared for something. And, that's exactly what's happened.
So now, if you look over the last 50 years, knee problems have reached epidemic levels. And, there's very little understanding about knee ability. So, that's what I started calling my program was kneeaabili. I only sell ability. My job is I help people achieve less pain and more ability by increasing their pain-free ability. So, my program is actually the gentlest knee system ever.
Ben Greenfield: By the way, I would have called it abiliknee.
Ben Patrick: That's pretty clumsy.
Ben Greenfield: My sons and I play game. We make up words every day. So, this will come quickly to me. Yeah. So, you need to go back and call it abiliknee. But, I rudely interrupted, do continue.
Ben Patrick: No, that's hilarious and very clever. But, that's the idea is the way that you're going to achieve long-term health, the way that you're actually going to totally understand your knees, understand how to have healthy knees the rest of your life, how to have outlier quality of life. The wins I get for people are, “Oh my gosh, I'm 65 and I'm back hiking,” “I'm 90 and I can walk again on my own,” “I'm 60, 70 and I can run again,” or “I'm 18 and I had to give up my sport and now I don't.” And, that's what happened for me is I actually ended up getting my first Division 1 scholarship at age 23. So, I've never heard of that occurring of someone finishing high school, no recruitment at any level, partially artificial kneecap meniscus transplant, quad tendon repair in my left knee. More diagnosed tears in my right knee, but at that point, I was too depressed, already hooked on painkillers, just wasn't going to go down the surgery route, again.
Ben Greenfield: Which is by the way a huge issue too because I ran into that. I've been fighting this knee thing–well, I had some patellar tendonitis in college because I played middle for the men's volleyball team and then I was playing hole set for water polo. So, I basically had the shearing force of the egg beater kick that you used in water polo, combined with that repetitive impact because we'd volleyball for two, three hours a day. Then sometimes, I'd be out playing sand in the early evening. So, just some days I was four to five hours of jumping.
Ben Patrick: Which is the number one cause of knee pain in young people.
Ben Greenfield: Right, right, even more so in females with their hip angle. But for me, I got almost depressed in college because I went for six months having to take a break from almost anything except like light cycling and upper body work and thought I was going to have to get a surgery. Yeah, I was 20. And so, I wound up getting advised by three different orthopods to go in and get knee surgery. And then, the fourth guy who I went into, he just basically did a hamstring analysis on me, a Trendelenburg test, just basically a real good PT workup. And essentially, he was like, “Dude, your main problem is your hammies are so tight that you're pulling your patella out of alignment. And, I guarantee if you just go off your hamstrings hardcore for the next month, you're going to know some significant changes.” It kind of sounds like you with your what would John Stockton do 4:00 am habit. I went after it like a freaking bulldog with the hammies, everything from deep tissue work to long stretches, to proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation is just everything I could do. And, within a month, my knee pain was gone and then stayed gone all the way up until I did Ironman triathlon. In that one year, I got IT band syndrome that I wound up fixing with that bulletproof knee program.
And then, finally, now, starting a year and a half ago, I started to get cartilage degeneration which I've seen now in an MRI. And so, I got the cartilage all kind of repaired minimally invasive by Dr. Matt Cook down in San Jose. And now, the last thing is I've still got this little like a flap sticking up out of the cartilage that kind of rubs and clicks every time I walk. So, I got to go in and get that scoped up and cleaned up. But long story short is the reason I interrupted you as you were saying that you had been on painkillers was that twice in this whole sequence, I've had doctors prescribe me painkillers due to the debilitating throbbing that occurs at night. And, I'm scared to take them. I have twice like take an oxycodone and cut it into quarter and taking a quarter just so I could fall asleep at night. But, there are so many horror stories of athletes and it starts off with some nagging little pain that they take a couple of painkillers for, and all of a sudden, it's full-blown addiction. So, that's another hole you don't want to fall into.
Ben Patrick: Absolutely. And, I also think for the knee. What I'm going to try to cover in this podcast is rather than just theoretical or hypothetical things, that almost assuredly I've done more than anyone else. And, one of those is having conversations with people who have knee pain.
Okay, the modern age has allowed me to have thousands and thousands of conversations with people who have knee pain. And, the pain killers can be a major risk of major knee injury because it's covering the pain. I actually don't take any supplements of any kind. But, even if there was a great natural painkiller, I wouldn't take it. If anything, I would take something to increase my pain. Meaning, it would alert me to where I have pain so I can address and get that area so it doesn't have pain. You see what I'm saying?
So, what you'll find in a lot of people who have major injuries is that they actually started taking painkillers prior to that. So now, the painkillers did work effectively so they didn't even realize the damage they're continuing to do. And then, they have a “freak blowout.” You see what I'm saying?
Ben Greenfield: Yeah, yeah. Or, the other two would be which is very common now, nerve block, which just basically shuts down the nociceptive signal, pain signal to the brain which is great if you're in pain. But again, it lets you push through and do tissue damage that you might not be aware of. And then the third would be, of course, the corticosteroids, same thing, short-term fix. It'll melt pain away. And, I mean, you get more than four or five of those over the course of a year and you risk serious cartilage degeneration and tendon and ligament wear and a whole bunch of issues related corticosteroids. Yeah, opioids, nerve blocks, and corticosteroids freaking work like magic. And then, two years down the road, you get a joint replacement because you pretty much just blown out everything as you push through the pain that's there but that you can't feel.
Ben Patrick: Exactly. So, let's look at what people can do about it. We can definitely cover more, but I would like to talk about the two things that it is insanely unlikely anyone in the world has done more than me over these last 10 years. So, I'm 30 now and to give you an idea, I train seven days a week, I go out and play basketball, and I'm jumping the highest of my life in my 30s, dunking every which way even though I had never grabbed rim by age 20 and thought I would never dunk and had long given up on dunking. And, only from the knee training, someone saw me playing basketball and was like, “I think you could dunk.” And, I was like, “Get the fuck out of here.” But I've only kept going up. So, I'm 30 and I'm actually getting younger, I'm getting bouncier.
Ben Greenfield: By the way for people who want to see, go to Ben's Instagram channel. If you guys go to BenGreenfieldFitness.com/BenPatrick, I'll link to all Ben's programs and his Instagram and everything. But, you guys can see his hops on Instagram and demonstrations of some of the really unique exercises that he works in.
Ben Patrick: Tons, tons, tons.
Ben Greenfield: Yeah.
Ben Patrick: Exactly [00:17:46]_____ talking about. I don't have any secrets.
Ben Greenfield: You've got hops.
Ben Patrick: I appreciate that. Basically, the two things I can really look back and assuredly have done more than anyone in the world in the last decade are almost opposing qualities. One of which creates healing, the other which creates bulletproofing. So, if we look at what creates healing, how do we get natural healing of a knee joint but in a way that increases that shock absorption so that you don't have the wear-and-tear, right? So, you're running into cartilage stuff. So, that's your shock absorption in there. And so, you could be pain-free and pushing your body really hard and then all of a sudden wind up with pain because of that degeneration over time. If you think about the activities causing that, running would be one of them. There's over time. There's a lot of impact from running. It's been said that a marathon is the equivalent of squatting 500 pounds or something in terms of how much force it is playing sports, all the landings. So, think about you, look how much running have you done, look how much jumping you did when you were younger. There's so much impact. And, all that impact is coming forward into your knees.
So, if we start from a place where they're having successful results with preventing cartilage degeneration, it's simply backward walking in china that's been passed on from generation to generation to generation. But for something like running, I don't think backward walking is enough, it's just an interesting thing that they figured that out thousands of years ago to prevent cartilage degeneration in the knees. So, they pass it on and they make their elderly walk backwards.
Ben Greenfield: Yeah. And, quick grab a hold of the backward walking thing in China I think it's crazy. And, I actually started doing this. Somebody gave me a hard time the other day at my 40th birthday party because they're like, “Every time I drive past Ben's house, I want to tell him he's going to die getting hit by a car because he's always walking backwards up and down the road behind his house,” which is true. And, I used to do it now and then, and now every day because I go on a walk every day. I do probably about one-tenth of the walk. And, I go on long walks walking backwards.
I wasn't aware, I think, until you told me that it was this old Chinese thing for keeping the knees healthy, but I would love to. And, I don't know if you plan on maybe explaining later on as you're explaining your technique about why that works, why the backward walking does the trick. But, be sure to come back to that if you don't plan on addressing it right now.
Ben Patrick: Oh, yeah, we're going right into that right now. So, that technology exists there for their elderly essentially to keep maintaining the ability to walk forwards. When you walk backwards, you're now strengthening completely different muscles. And, if anyone listening to this is to stand up right now and then just take one step backward and stop and just hold that position, you would see that your knee is over your toes.
So, when you go backwards, you're actually doing knees-over-toes training, you're putting pressure on your knee. The pressure sends a signal to the body that you need to be stronger there. But unlike doing some heavyweight exercise or trying to bend too far into pain, if you find a pain-free level of backward, well, now you're able to put that pressure that you need to adapt and you're able to get a lot more blood flow. But, what did I do? Was not just backward walking, I've done hundreds of miles now backwards but against resistance which I actually think is safer and more effective in the sense that let's say you're hooked up to a sled, my second favorite after a sled on turf. So, you'll start seeing sleds on turf in a lot of gyms now. They don't usually have a belt setup. I have my own belt that I just finished designing that will be out on Amazon, way cheaper than any of the belts out there because it's not a common thing. So, I'm bringing a cheaper one. But, if you imagine dragging a sled backward on turf, it actually slows you down. So, it's almost less impact but more pressure. So, we need that pressure on the knees over the toes in order to cause the adaptation of that area. And, when you do this, I mean, you can really get with this leg. You can get a 10 out of 10 burn.
So, for 10 years now, I've been chasing that 10 out of 10 blood flow. It takes a lot of blood flow to get down to the tendon level and even more blood flow to get down to the ligament level. So, if anyone just understands this really quick, muscles, tendons, ligaments. You have an inverse thing going on here. The muscle is the weakest of the three, but the muscle is the most flexible of the three. So, the ligament is the least flexible but the strongest. The tendon is in the middle. So, the tendon is more flexible than a ligament, but not as strong as a ligament. It's stronger than a muscle but not as flexible as a muscle. And, in terms of blood flow, it's very easy to go get a bicep pump, much harder to get blood flow to your knee, the tendons in your knee. And then even hardest to get it into a ligament level and even wicked hard in terms of getting down to a cartilage level. But, I'm dead certain that you can actually create changes to the cartilage. These degrading kind of things, you can gradually reverse them out by finding a pain-free level and gradually resisting it to the point that you're getting 10 out of 10 blood pumps pain-free. So, what I have used is a sled on turf. there is a company called–
Ben Greenfield: But, you're not pushing inside, you have a belt, you're dragging the sled and you're walking backwards?
Ben Patrick: Great question. Backwards is mandatory. Let's say you had a 10 or 20-meter space, you could just go backward forward, backward forward, backward forward, but you would have to do as much backward as forward. You see what I'm saying? So, I'm actually a huge fan of forward on the sled for getting into leg strength and foot benefits because so much of what we do in the weight room, our foot is just flat, flat, flat, flat, leg presses, leg extensions, hamstring curls, what about our freaking feet? So, when you're even pushing a sled and if you want to know if you really understand the subject, see if you can teach it to a six-year-old.
And, I'm able to teach six-year-olds knees over toes. You know how? I put some weight on a sled and I ask them to push it, and their knee immediately gets way over their toes. This is getting a lot of pressure, but it's not that jarring impact. It's a more controlled pressure, so you get stronger, you get blood flow to heal and strengthen at the same time. Now, my ideal scene is I push-pull. So, every day, seven days a week, I push-pull on the sled. But, the backward would be the foundation and it's not always as easy as to have a sled setup that you can push and pull. Someone could go on Amazon, get just a cheap $50 sled, put some weight on it, go out to a park and start going backward every day. Then, the next sleds will have pushing poles and you could set up for backwards.
And, I was starting to say there's a company called Torque Fitness and they sell one for $1,600. I'm designing one and I don't care if someone hears this and beats me to the market. Go for it. I just want the tools out there. So, Torque Fitness has one. But, it's a bit bulkier than is needed. With a sled, you know how much weight is on it but with the Torque one, it has internal resistance but you don't actually know what you're accomplishing. So, it's very easy. I have one being designed right now that measures your distance and time. So, it's very simple. Okay, I went backward 100 meters in X amount of seconds at X resistance. So, those are $1,600 right now for Torque. I own them and buy them wherever I go because $1,600 is still cheaper than treadmill and a heck of a lot cheaper than knee surgery. So, that thing is amazing and you can push-pull with that thing.
Ben Greenfield: This is a sled that actually has the wheels on it, right?
Ben Patrick: Yeah. So, it has an internal resistance. So, you can put it right out of the garage. And, I mean within five minutes, you'll have, honestly, I think better than a PRP injection. That's just my honest opinion based on actually training people on this. The amount of people who have come to me, “My doctor says I have irreversible cartilage damage, I can never play my sport again, I will never regain full knee bend.” These are the exact kind of things I fix every single day.
So, with that sled concept, we have a fundamental difference between, let's think about a squat, okay. Let's think about a squat versus pushing and pulling a sled. The squat, you let the weight move you, then you move the weight. With the sled, the weight never moves you, only you move it. So, if you're going backwards, only you move the sled. If there's a thousand pounds, it just won't move. When you go forward, only you move the sled. If there's a thousand pounds, it just won't move.
So, think about my mom who's 67 and I've rehabilitated her ability to run 100% pain-free. She looks like she's in her 20s running and she does the sled every day. My program is sled plus at least two exercises, that's it. That's how important this sled is to us.
Ben Greenfield: Yeah. Well, you definitely got to let me know once that sled comes out. I have a sled, but the problem is my driveway. And look, because I live out in the sticks and my sled is not on wheels, it's just one of the cheapo sleds. And, I've got a belt and everything on it and I got it. You know Brian Johnson, The Liver King? Have you heard of this guy before?
Ben Patrick: Of course, yeah.
Ben Greenfield: He's big on TikTok right now, but he has this work called The Barbarian where he'll put ankle weights on, two kettlebells, sled, and backpack, and do a mile-long sled drag. Apparently, anyone who works for his ancestral supplements liver capsules company has to do this work out as proof that they can actually work for the company or something like that. But–
Ben Patrick: I think that's awesome.
Ben Greenfield: I bought that sled to do the workout because I tried to work out, it's pretty hard. I just did this farm road back behind my house. And, it definitely ripped me wide open, but the sled doesn't. It's a pain in the butt to drag it up and down at parkway.
Ben Patrick: If you have an actual metal sled, you need turf.
Ben Greenfield: Yeah, it catches on stuff.
Ben Patrick: Because again, what we're trying to create, we're trying to get the pressure but without the jarring effect. So, what would be the worst? So, if you look at someone's knee gets worse and worse, what becomes scariest to them would be landing. You see what I mean? The higher the landing, the more freaky it gets, right? So, it's not that the pressure inherently is bad, it's that this jarring pressure that you can't handle is bad. So, that's where the sled comes in that allows us to get significant pressure. I mean, your whole body gets stronger. You start sprouting people who thought they'd never have abs. It's like, “What the heck? How am I getting abs?” That's because you're getting–anyone who comes and experiences with me in person uniformly says it's the toughest workout they've ever done. But, the point is that you're able to get that pressure in a pain-free way, in a non-jarring way. So, we actually intentionally start slowly. So, if I'm doing 100 meters, I'm actually only going more intensely as I go. I'm taking very controlled smooth steps forward and backward gradually building up the blood flow. And then, as that blood flow is there more and more, it's this amazing feeling of being able to exert at a %100 without any pain.
You know what feeling I'm talking about? You've probably experienced that so many times in different ways. But when you're giving everything you have but you're not in any actual joint or spine pain, do you know what I mean?
Ben Greenfield: Yeah. And, that's another thing I was thinking about this so-called backwards walking which also if you guys look it up, you might find it listed as, what's it called, retro. I think they just call it retro walking.
Ben Patrick: Retro walking, yeah.
Ben Greenfield: Yeah, yeah. The interesting thing is, A, there's actual studies on. I think there was a four-week study, and I'll find it linked to it in the shownotes, and it looks specifically for chronic osteoarthritic patients and found a significant increase in functional mobility of the knees and decrease in pain from four weeks of this retro walking. Not even with a sled or anything. These people were just walking backwards like I do with my death which walks along the busy road behind my house. I like to do a slight uphill grade.
And sometimes, if it's super snowy and icy out like it is now, I'll just do it on the treadmill because if you put your treadmill on 2 or 3 miles an hour–
Ben Patrick: Or, turn it off is what I do.
Ben Greenfield: Yeah. Mine almost has too much resistance off. But, if I put on a super low speed, it's decent. And, by leaning forward on the treadmill, you can kind of sort of simulate a sled push and then you can also go backwards on it. So, you can get a little bit of what you'd be getting from a sled on that. But then, the other interesting thing that I've noticed, maybe not just from the backwards walking but also from doing the other elements of your program because I think there's about eight different exercises you sent to me. It takes 15 minutes to go through them all. And so, I've started to do that just two to three times a week.
And, the other thing though that I've noticed is it seems to really help out with pelvic mobility and also lower back pain. Sometimes, at the end of the day, I'll have a little bit of lower back pain just from working all day. And, even though I have a standing desk, your hips kind of get tight. But, this backwards walking not only seems to be magic for the knees but also it seems to really help alleviate low back pain.
Ben Patrick: Yeah. The studies on it are actually phenomenal including for the lower back and it sets a foundation that makes it easier to get into more hip exercises. I'm going to read you a message because the doctor sent it to me last night. His name is Brian Ziegler, he's a physical therapist. And he says, “Though I'm sure you're already aware, but the research in support of ROKP,” that's what I call it, reverse out knee pain, because it's a broad category of dragging a sled or this. So, we just call it reverse out knee pain, right? So, he says, “The research in support of ROKP and all the really cool things it does, it does make me wonder why it hasn't been a standard of care for all knee pain for decades. I have research going back to the '80s showing the superiority of ROKP for muscle recruitment force reduction and pain reduction almost seems to make any clinician that prescribe forward walking for knee pain negligent and yet, this was never mentioned once in PT school and not a single one of my 30 co-workers use it as a rehab tool.”
So, that's why I had to be knees over toes guys because the gross misunderstanding of this, it didn't work out, it didn't work out for me and it didn't work out for millions of other people. And, when you run from understanding a subject, that's how you create a long-term disaster. So, this one category of just getting stronger backwards, if all you did was do it for just the simple concept of like, okay, if you think about most workouts in most sports performance, I mean seven times as much money is spent studying acceleration as deceleration. So, we already have lives where we've all tried excessively to go forward. You know what I mean? Like playing volleyball and jumping forward, jumping forward, jumping forward, like basketball, running, it's not necessarily the human body was designed to go from a three-hour practice to this or that. There would be more of a balance.
If you think out in the wild, what are the odds you'd be doing three, four, 500 jumps a day? There's no way. You know what I mean? So, we've already excessively done it. So, if all you did was just for the same reason, if you had never in your life heard of training back muscles and all you had done was bench presses and push-ups and you wonder why you have terrible shoulder pain, you know what I mean, and someone came and said, “Well, let's strengthen the back muscles,” that would be pretty common sense. So, if all you did was just from a common-sense perspective, was work backwards, you'd be putting in a smart investment.
So, can backward walking work? I think well enough for maintaining the ability to walk. I think it could get good general blood flow, but I think when you add a sled to the matter on turf or one of these tank sleds that uses internal resistance so that you can do it on any surface, even if you had–if you had an incline, that could be pretty good. However, then you have the going down. So, you'd have to go extra slow down to make sure that you're not overdoing it and we covered with the treadmill at low speed or turned off completely and using your strength to go backwards. Those are all really good things, but the whole time for me, I've been using an actual sled or a tank sled. You know what I mean? So, I also can't say that, yeah, a hill is going to work as good as these other things when I'm dragging a couple 100 pounds, you know what I mean, for them.
So, if you think about the pressure with the knees of our toes of dragging a couple 100 pounds a 100 miles and now people think I'm [BLEEP] and they I get messages that say, “Let's just be honest, you were dunking easily in high school.” And, I'm like, “You just gave me the best compliment ever.” For so many people, it's unbelievable how I've gone from being a [BLEEP] athlete with [BLEEP] knees to now having freakish knees and being able to jump so high, but I'm also the only person who's actually put that much pain-free pressure on that exact quality. You see what I'm saying? So, there's the foundation right there.
Now, everything we do though, there's going to be different reactions to it in the sense of that's one exercise that didn't take us through a full stretch, that didn't stretch our hips, that didn't work the front of the ankle, that didn't work the hamstring. You see what I mean? So, it's like, “Yes, that would be a great start, but it's also not like that's all I did.”
Ben Greenfield: Yeah. Well, I know that's not what you did because there's so many other kind of cool elements of your program. And, I know there's some little toys you can use too like these boots and calf stretches. But, before we get into those little toys which I think are cool but might be slightly distracting compared to the stuff you can just do for free with your own body.
Ben Patrick: Exactly. Actually, the second thing is just totally free, and that's the second thing. When I mentioned, I was trying to be clear that two things I've for sure done more than anyone else. Look, I can do front splits. You know what I mean? I can do Nordics with the best of them. So, I have both hamstring strength and length with the best of them. It's not like it's only knees, but it does have to be clear that the backward and the second thing I'll cover which you don't need anything, those are the things I've done proportionally more than other people.
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So, I want to get into a few of the other moves that are the key core elements. And, obviously this is an audio podcast, but in the shownotes at BenGreenfieldFitness.com/BenPatrick, I'll link to video demonstrations of some of this stuff too. And obviously, Ben systematizes all of this with his actual programs. You can go online and then buy one of his programs where he walks you through all this too and kind of customizes it to you. And, I'll put the information for that in the shownotes. But, I think some of this stuff is pretty easily described via audio and I think will help people wrap their heads around this.
So, walk me through some of the key fundamental exercises because they're so cool and unique and they're just simple to do anywhere.
Ben Patrick: Yup, exactly. So, the whole thing I just described this reversing out knee pain and it puts you in this advantage of getting the pressure, getting the blood flow. Now, the other big angle to making freakish natural healing is the concept of motion and compression which maximizes production of synovial fluid, the delivery of nutrient to the joint. To credit Asian culture again, I remember seeing there's been some viral videos of 80, 90-year-olds and they're down doing bottom-quarter squats. You know what I mean? Full knee bend that even for me in my younger years, I would have been like, “Oh, my god, that would be so excruciating for me even to do.” And, even the studies full knee bend, just like the knees over toes thing gets a really bad wrap. And, your knee naturally goes over your toes to some degree, but when you do a full knee bend, that gets a bad wrap. But I mean, 164 research papers were analyzed and doctors concluded that not only is it not bad but actually it's a desirable quality that's an effective lower body protector and you actually get less knee pain and jump higher. But, when we go back to that short-term thing, even seeing that data back when I was in the shit zone, I couldn't just go down and bend my knees. You see what I'm saying? It was too painful.
So, the whole thing that unraveled this for me, and which is why I now understand the subject so thoroughly is that I understand now that if you don't get that motion compression of fully bending a knee yet that's how you get the decay, you're not getting the nutrients there, your body quite literally thinks you're not using it fully. But, if you work through pain in that motion too, you can also cause damage. So, I actually work this. If you imagine putting a foot up on a chair and just bending it, you know what I mean? Just gently bending it, and over time, you actually wind up getting a really good stretch in the back leg. So, when you see the end product, I'm essentially doing a split squat fully bending my front knee without my back knee touching the floor. Meaning, you have to actually have remarkable hip flexor length. And, if you think about that, it's not a passive stretch for the hip flexors. So, you're actually loading the hip flexors almost a Romanian deadlift or something like that. You're actually loading the flexors in a stretch position which also helps give some more room for the knee to bend and stuff like that.
So, my left knee with the partially artificial kneecap, I was told they would never fully bend again. Go look at some of my videos, from a full squat, I can spring up and dunk a basketball. I mean, I have a world-class knee bend.
Ben Greenfield: Yeah, your knee range of motion is ridiculous in terms of you landing in almost a full crouch with your knees like a foot over your toes, yeah.
Ben Patrick: I can put my shoulders into the floor behind me like it's nothing. That's even for people with good knees. 99% can't do that. You know what I'm saying?
So, the point is that, again, these two things I did, this reversing out knee pain and then the concept of just finding your 100% pain-free knee bend. You see what I mean? That was the ticket. And, one side at a time because odds are if you've had a knee issue and you try to get into deep squats, one knee gives you more problems. So now, that can make things even worse by doing double-legged squats because now you either are working through damage on that side or now you're shifting and getting even more out of balance because you're naturally just trying to get through the exercise and use the other side.
So, I'm actually a huge fan of restoring full knee bend squats, never with a bounce, always with a full pause, totally putting the ego out of the equation. Meaning, using freaking dumbbells or kettlebells and stuff like that, using stuff to elevate your heels, and actually restoring a full knee bend but not out of proportion to doing that one side at a time with this ass to grass split squat. So, to me, that's the magic zone is that. So, in my program right now on Mondays, I do the ass to grass split squat. And, on Thursdays, I do the ass to grass squat. But again, totally with the ego out of the equation, magical form.
Ben Greenfield: Even though you could do it loaded, you can also, and a lot of people listening in who might have knee pain right now, you'll start this, just totally non-loaded like in your basement or in your living room.
Ben Patrick: Exactly. You'll actually start it negative. I started it negative loaded. It's wild sometimes, the most common-sense thing I thought I couldn't do this stuff because I actually couldn't even do it without my own body weight without pain but no one ever told me, well, do it less than your own body weight. You see what I mean?
I saw an old guy yesterday on Instagram and he was doing his backward walking in the fricking pool. So, this is a guy who can't walk who's restoring his ability to freaking walk by walking backward in a pool. But anyways, for my intensive purposes, to get into the full knee bend, I had to elevate my front foot greatly and I had to use assistance with my hands. You hold PVC pipes or have some table near your chair. It's impossible not to find something that you can do this with. And then, you gradually put in more repetitions and more repetitions. And, what are you doing? You're now delivering those nutrients to the joint without creating damage in the process so that you're maximizing your chances of recovering back a little bit stronger, a little bit stronger. So, you have a scale. Any exercise has a scale from negative weight to body weight to loaded. And so, you could apply that to someone who thinks they can't do a chin-up. So what? My mom can't do chin-ups, but we go on the cable machine and she works one arm at a time and she goes to a full stretch, and then she pulls the weight down to a full control and pauses at the bottom. And, it's easy to explain with something a chin up, but it hasn't been explored enough, not enough to be broadly known, not enough to have been tested with thousands of people like I have for the knees because this knees over toes thing scared everyone off from the subject.
There's your two secrets right there.
Ben Patrick: No. So, the ATG split squat requires more recovery, whereas the backward walking concept, yeah, you can actually do that every day. You see what I mean?
A lot of people like to just start with my bodyweight program. I have that online, so you can have feedback for 49.50 a month, no contract. I also have that in a book called “Knee Ability Zero” on Amazon. It's that program alone with no weights and no equipment has already produced thousands of knee success stories.
So, that will give you a really good schedule for doing this stuff when you're just trying to get out of fit zone, don't have the equipment like I want to freaking start now. You see what I'm saying? You can just start now so you can have it on an app with feedback, coaching your form, or you can start with a book if that's what you prefer. I just understand that people like to learn in different forms. It's probably terrible.
Ben Greenfield: Yeah.
Ben Patrick: It's not necessarily good or bad for business to like it's probably better to just do one or other for business, but–
Ben Greenfield: But it makes sense. I'm one of those guys who's like, “Give me a cheap e-book and my Kindle in the gym.” I'm not much of an app guy, I just like a printed 8 and a 1/2 by 11 piece of paper that's in the corner of the gym just because I really don't like to drag my technology and dink around with an app at the gym. So, I'm one of those minimalist guys who would get your “Knee Ability Zero” book and just have that open on Kindle on the gym floor. But then, other people like the fancy bells and whistles apps that walk them through everything.
Ben Patrick: Yeah. And, in my case, the purpose of it is actually to coach form. So, we coach tens of thousands of form videos every week. So, what this means is that for someone to know they're progressing right, it can really help to be able to send in your video of what you're doing. This is a more sensitive subject. It's not like, “Here's a clever way to get a good pec workout. Do five sets of five and then three sets of ten on exercises that you see in the gym every single day.” No, it's like, “Here, you're about to do things that you've never seen anyone do in the gym in your entire freaking life.” You know what I mean? And, you already are in pain trying to work your way out. So, that was the purpose of the online business is just to make it affordable, it's the cheapest there's ever been for actually coaching your form. And, the reason I'm able to build that business is because I've helped so many people.
I have a list waiting of people who are just dying to work for me to help other people because they've used it to help themselves. They're already using it with others. We have over 500 coaches around the world who are now being certified in this stuff.
So, that was necessary. I paid about 10k to get my form coached on so many of these tools. So, I would go around to whatever experts. Charles Poliquin, super hardcore guy, probably the greatest genius I've ever met. Absolutely shivering when you're doing your form in front of him. But, I also from reading and stuff, I didn't actually realize that my form sucked. You see what I'm saying? So, that's why for me, it was integrity-wise, I have to have it available for people to get their form coached. It would be way better business-wise I could just be by myself just cleaning up. You know what I mean? Not having to organize a business or worry about all that shit. In the end of the day, I think it's going to work out if you run your business with integrity and produce the results. So, that's where it is so that people can get coaching on these things.
I actually didn't used to be an app guy and even now I'm like, “Ah, thank God for this app because I can just go look at my schedule each day and stuff.” That's how it works. And then, you can use common sense, it would take two, three, four, five, six, seven podcasts to cover it all. But, you can use common sense that I'm selling ability, so okay, I'm also responsible for the most views on Nordics and which regresses to so many gentle things and tibialis raises. I'm responsible for innovating equipment for training the tibialis. But it's just because I'm selling ability, there's nothing in any joint of your body that I don't want you to have pain-free ability. You see what I'm saying? You get just better and better and sharper and sharper at your subject when you're just pushing ability, ability, ability. So, that's what I do. It's a full-body program. It's balanced.
Yesterday, I was training my wrists, elbows, shoulders so that they're pain-free and able to withstand demands and last for a lifetime. I think, that gave a pretty good overview. But if I didn't stress that the reverse out knee pain and the ATG split squat are the most important, someone could totally neglect really taking the time to master those and understand they're important. You see what I mean? If that was all I could get in on the world, I would be okay with that. You know what I mean? If I was in a Jim Carrey movie and I could only teach two exercises, I would be okay with that for my career.
Ben Greenfield: Yeah, yeah.
There's obviously a ton of different kind of bodyweight exercises, everything from like that where you're sitting on the ground with your knees flat or with your legs stretched out in front of you in an L shape and just doing literal seated leg lifts on the ground. There's the tibialis raise where you've got your back against the wall and you're just drawing your knees up towards your shins with a pretty big emphasis on shin development. And, that's actually a question I wanted to ask you because it seems a lot of these bodyweight exercises, they're not done with the knee over the toe, they're instead done with the leg stretched out in front of the body and strengthening what seems to me to be either A, the hip flexors kind of the ass to grass split squat that you described where if you're doing it really slow and under control, you are loading the hip flexors or they seem to be triggering the tibialis muscles. Why when it comes to knee pain would you focus on the tibialis muscles and the hip flexor muscles in addition to some of the muscles tendons and ligaments that get stretched when you do a knees over toes, ass to grass squat, or split squat?
Ben Patrick: Exactly. So, I'm knees over toes guy not because knees over toes is magical, but because completely misunderstanding that subject is very disastrous. You see what I mean? So, it's not like I'm doing more knees over toes training than knees behind toes training. So, if we look at the tibialis, every step you take, we walk around and we're planting heel first. So, if we want to reduce that degradation over time, we want to have really strong shin muscles. It's almost like having a lighter-weight body. So, think about this for a second. People with more bodyweight, if you go on to Google and you try to find out what you can actually do about knee pain–did you know that Google tells you that there's actually nothing you can do other than lose weight? Meaning, everything else is either drug, or surgery, or see your doctor. Google doesn't believe you can do anything about knee pain other than lose weight.
Ben Greenfield: Stupid Dr. Google. Geez, I thought Dr. Google was the go-to.
Ben Patrick: Unfortunately, Google is reality. So, it's up to us to change that reality. You see what I mean?
Ben Greenfield: Yup.
Ben Patrick: Reality is not the same as truth, but Google is reality. But if all we do is just extrapolate that data, well, crap, it's not like people who are obese are out doing extreme sports, they're often just going through day-to-day life and they have more knee pain. You see what I mean? So, if we just take the simple act of getting those shin muscles stronger, you don't even have to load your knees. We actually get the blood flowing through the feet and the tibialis and the calf muscles before we even get to the knees just to put odds more in our favor and to reduce the impact that comes into the knee in the first place. Plus, how many people?
Okay, real question. In your lifetime, how many times have you taken your tibialis to failure? Now, think about how many times you've taken your chest or your back to failure–
Ben Greenfield: Until I started doing your exercises, I've never taken my tibialis to failure.
Ben Patrick: Right. So, we all have the same odds of knee pain as obese people. Do you see what I'm saying right there? Because of the fact that if you build muscle, that's still weight building in all these areas above our knees disproportionately to how our body was actually designed. So, we're already off on a bad foot. No pun intended. I got to remember that line. It's a good line.
Ben Greenfield: Yeah, as good as ability.
Ben Patrick: We're already off on a bad foot. Alright, we're already off on a bad foot with weak feet, weak ankles, weak shins, compared to how our body was designed. That wasn't the intentional design. We're all out there walking around. Now, factor in, when you actually watch a volleyball jump on a wood surface, not a single high jumping volleyball player in history doesn't slam hundreds of pounds of force through that tibialis. What that step before the actual jump that penultimates to, I don't know, what words. I mean, I'm in basketball, so I don't know what words are common. But when someone goes into a jump, if they're stepping right-left step, like if a right-handed volleyball player was going to hit the ball, they're planting so much force through that tibialis muscle. And then, what people don't watch is the landing after. So basically, there's so much force coming up through those ankles before it gets to the knees. So theoretically, if you were strong enough through the ankle, you wouldn't even have an excessive amount of force to the knee in the first place. But as we know, those things can go excessive like we talked about three, four, 500 jumps a day, our body wasn't designed for that either.
So, that's why the tibialis becomes important. It's the first line of defense. If someone wants to see it in action, they can go on YouTube and they can look up “tibialis raise” and they'll see my free video of exactly how to do it right from my program which has over half a million views. And then, look at Michael Jordan foul line dunk in slow motion, it's a freaking tibialis race. When Michael Jordan jumps from the foul line, he's planting heel first. The amount of force going up through that foot, ankle, shin into the knee, so it's common sense. And, I think we can understand it there based on–because there's no study on strengthening the tibialis. Not one. We do know that if we're overweight, we have more chance of knee pain and blah, blah, blah. So, if we're in the gym and we're building muscle and all this stuff but if we're not training tibialis, then we're essentially designing a body that's more designed to have knee pain.
Ben Greenfield: Yeah, yeah.
Ben Patrick: So, that's why the tibialis. As for the hip flexors, number one, there's very few just like blanket statements you could say about the human population. But one of them you can say is that we all have tight hip flexors. And now, yanking around just trying to stretch them, that could help, and probably a lot of people have had relief of various things from that. But as I described on that ATG split squat like your knee is not touching the floor, you're not resting your hip flexor, it's loaded in a stretch position. So, that's huge for strengthening it. But then, we also want to be strong at raising our knee. So, if you think about running or something like that, and now imagine your leg is so heavy that you can't pick up your knees which most of us have because we train squats and deadlifts and leg presses and leg extensions, we don't actually load hip flexion, we load hip extension. That's where the money is starting. That's the potential. Hip extension is the potential. But now, to actually pick up that leg, the way our body was designed, we need strong hip flexors.
And so, that's actually been found to be the biggest muscle size difference between regular humans and elite sprinters. Not the hamstrings, not the glutes which are very different, but the hip flexors. And, I've trained so many people. And, the freakiest fast guys comparatively have freaky strong hip flexors. But if you don't, what do you think running around is going to be like when your legs feel like a ton of bricks? You actually have to run with more trauma. You don't run as graceful. You don't run with as good of mechanics. And, it's all very well to say, “Oh, sprinting is enough exercise for hips.” Yeah, it probably is, but not when you're like me and you're in a freaking wheelchair and on a walker for two years. You see what I'm saying? You lose your hip flexor strength.
The moment you stop sprinting, you start proportionately losing your hip flexor strength compared to what it should be for our body. Our body wasn't designed to just all of a sudden go through long periods of never sprinting, it was designed to sprint probably to run from danger or whatever probably the rest of your life at various times or you get eaten. So, those of us with bad knees by the nature of stopping, running our fastest, sprinting, then we wind up. And so, I'm not going to send people with knee pain to go start sprinting. It's the same concept. Let's just address the pain-free ability of the area. Now, I'm fast, I didn't expect I'd be fast either. You know what I mean?
Ben Greenfield: Yeah, yeah.
Ben Patrick: But, holy crap, over the last let's say three or four years now, my speed has changed tremendously but I've also done more actual loaded. To me, raising my knee like hip flexors, I care way more about than my bench press. I haven't done a bench press in the last three or four years, but I've lifted weights with my feet a ton.
Ben Greenfield: Yeah.
Ben Patrick: And now, I run faster and people say, “Oh, you can't change genetic speed like that.” Well, you haven't done all this stuff and it's all common sense.
Ben Greenfield: Yeah, yeah. Okay, alright. Got it.
So, I want to shift into because, like you mentioned, we could do seven or eight podcasts on all the different moves, the entire philosophy behind the program and that's kind of why you have your program structured online and available there for people. But I do want to cover just a few of the fun toys that people could have around because there's all sorts of kind of things to enhance this. We talked about the sled and the sled belt obviously. So, we've got that one out of the way as something that would be beneficial for someone to have around and also establish the fact that you could. And, there's some videos of you demonstrating this online, use a hill or a treadmill to kind of sort of simulate what a sled would be doing–
Ben Patrick: Or, a car in neutral is actually fantastic. So, my jeep has a little hitch on the back.
Ben Greenfield: Good point.
Ben Patrick: And so, I already have my samples on the sled belt and I hook up, and I go push/pull. Okay, alright. I shouldn't advise people to do this, but I don't even have anyone in the car with me. I put the car in neutral and I drag it backwards, and then I push it forward and I go backward and forward, backward forward. And, I mean within five minutes, you have an out-of-body experience.
Ben Greenfield: Yeah, yeah. No, I used to do that when I was triathlon training in our old cul-de-sac. I don't really have a driveway conducive to that now. But, there's some other stuff too. There's slant boards and tib rays, apparatuses. So, walk me through some of the goodies.
Ben Patrick: So, I think sled is the most important. And so, that could be finding a gym or getting one or whatever. But I think a proper sled setup is most important. Then the second is some kind of a slant surface. The reason for that is if we just all had that marvelous ankle mobility like we did as kids, you know what I mean, it's much easier to train that full knee bend. So, when you actually lift your heel and you get on some kind of slant board, I'm literally trying to design more affordable stuff for all this, so I have something called ATG buddies. You can actually go on Amazon and buy industrial-sized door stops. Mine will be bigger and better design, but you can actually for 20 bucks buy an industrial size doorstop to elevate that heel or you could get a slant board or something that. But again, I'm training that one side at a time. So, it's actually much easier for me to have a smaller rubber grippy thing to elevate my heel than a bigger slant board.
Anyways, that really locks it in on the muscles you're trying to hit and it allows you to get that full knee bend a lot easier. To me, that's the second most important. Mine will be super cheap. Slant boards, you can get a good one for 100 bucks. Mine, I'll probably sell for 40 or less bucks. And then, third, I actually rank a back extension. And, the reason for that is because we're doing all this knee work and I'm not trying to throw people into heavy deadlifts and squats. To me, those are sports. If you want to do them, awesome. I'll help you do them better, but I don't do them. I really try to rebuild people on a single-legged back extension where you slowly go up, squeeze the glute, you lower all the way down. You can even grab the pole underneath and get a hamstring stretch at the bottom, then you come up, then you switch legs at the top so that you're getting tons of time under tension in that extended position. So, I rank sled slant back extension because with those three alone, it's absurd how much results you can get with just sled slant back extension.
And, if people see me doing the freaky Nordic hamstring curl or whatever, that's not even essential, that's an optional toolbox. The back extension I do every Friday of my life, that's an essential.
Ben Greenfield: The back extension is different than the–that's different than the reverse hyper machine. Are we talking about just the standard back extension?
Ben Patrick: Same family of exercises. I'm talking about the cheap one that you see in every YMCA, 24th. I'm talking about that one, but it's how I use it. I'm not swinging, I'm going slowly the entire time.
Ben Greenfield: Yeah.
Ben Patrick: Stretching at the bottom. And then, I'm fully squeezing my glute at the top and then I'm switching sides.
Ben Greenfield: I had one like 100 bucks on Amazon on a dusty corner in my garage and I drag it out and started using it once I started doing your program. Same thing, I keep myself in really good dorsiflexion and do it super slow.
Ben Patrick: Right. And, you could imagine we're trying to rebuild the body, so I'm not just trying to throw on heavy deadlifts and things which everything in fitness, I think, has awesome benefits in its own way. I'm trying to help people in my own way. And, this allows us to get really strong hamstrings and glutes and lower back in a really gentle way, actually creates ton of back success stories. When you think about that using the back extension for that max pain-free blood flow while using the ATG split squat to open up the hip flexors.
So, those are my big three. Then, when it gets into training that tibialis, one of the problems that people run into is if they're not strong enough to the bodyweight version. So, many are but many aren't strong enough. So now, there's two devices, so you could start with a pound, 2 pounds. So, it's like you can actually regress even the bodyweight tibialis by doing it loaded. So, that starts to get pretty cool.
And then, there's this device I use various things to work the hip flexors. You don't even need any equipment to work with hip flexors, but it's pretty cool to know how much weight you're lifting with your feet. And so, there's this Monkey foot, which is awesome. You just clamp it onto a dumbbell and now you can actually see. Okay, with strict form, how many reps and how much weight can I lift with my foot? You know what I mean? How strong are my hip flexors measurably?
Ben Greenfield: That's the one that I have that is still–okay. So, I knew I was going to record with you and I actually reserve some time this Saturday to make sure I have my whole setup going out in the garage.
Ben Patrick: Oh, cool.
Ben Greenfield: But, the Monkey foot is still in the box. I haven't taken that one out of the box yet, but you literally just attached a dumbbell to it. Yeah, it's almost like, yeah, the leg extension machine at the gym, except it actually allows for range of motion because the weight's actually attached down by your ankle, almost a boot.
Ben Patrick: And, in this case, I'm not even doing leg extensions, I'm actually just doing knee raises with it. But you'll notice as you're doing that, you're actually getting really gentle into that knee bend a little bit. So, people with knee issues will often notice when they start doing that, it's like, “Wow, my knees feel a little better.” But, that's because we're getting a little bit of that motion and compression going on where we're improving your day-to-day mechanics by having stronger hip flexors. You don't have to worry about them being too tight because we're also working them in a lengthened position. So, that's really the magic and training when you're working the ability to contract a muscle and lengthen it. If you're missing either one, yeah, you're going to be going to physios thinking there's stuff genetically wrong with you and you're actually just not even training your body naturally. So, you're going to really like that Monkey foot. Yeah, sled, slant, back extension, something to load the tibialis.
Really, those should just be machines like you know how you have seated calf machines at [01:03:34]_____. I love seated calf machines too. There should be a seated tibialis machine right next to it, to be honest with you.
Ben Greenfield: Yeah. but honestly, that one exercise that you have where you just get close to the wall and then you shove your knees over your toes and do calf raises with knees over the toes against the wall, if I get 25, 30 reps on that, I feel I really don't need a calf raise machine like a seated calf raise machine.
Ben Patrick: I know. But imagine if you were 100 pounds overweight, you know what I mean?
Ben Greenfield: That's true, yeah.
Ben Patrick: Or, if your knee, if you had such gnarly surgeries that you couldn't even bend it over your toes. You know what I mean? So, fortunately, those seated calf machines are in every LA fitness. If I do my job right, there will be seated tibialis machines next to them by the time within a decade.
Ben Greenfield: Yeah. Well, I'll hunt down a lot of this stuff and show people examples in the shownotes.
Ben Patrick: Keep everything I'm describing. I actually have links and discounts for. So, everything I'm describing, you can literally type atggyms.com, and it's a shortcut to my medium blog. Medium is just a free blog. So, I keep a list. Yeah, I keep a list of everything that I use and I reach out to every company and try to get a discount code for it. So, someone can save a lot of money actually just by going right to that list. And, it's in order of what I think is most important.
Ben Greenfield: Yeah, I think I have that one printed off somewhere in my gym, but I'll link to it in the shownotes.
The other thing I wanted to ask you because I know we're starting up on time, but something that maybe playing devil's advocate here that it seemed your program was a little bit deficient on. And, I wanted to ask you if this was purposeful or if this was just something you decided not to focus on because it was irrelevant. Bret Contreras, The Glute Guy, obviously has the idea of the hip extension and a lot of these apparatus that are used to strengthen the glutes and a whole host of glute strengthening exercises with the glutes as being one of the muscles that's often targeted for training for a wide variety of performance, parameters, and then also for injury prevention. How come you don't have a big focus on glutes in your program? Or, do you and I'm not seeing it?
Ben Patrick: So, the first thing that allows you to really use your glutes, so that ATG split squat when you unlock the antagonist muscles. When your hip flexors are now all of a sudden really opened up, you'll go out and run or something, and you'll be like, “What the heck my glutes are sore.” Because you're actually using your glutes more because you can actually extend your hips better. But also, a lot of people assume that they'll start the bodyweight program and they'll assume that's–that's literally a program with nothing. You know what I mean? It's much harder to get elite glutes with nothing. So, the more we come up the chain, we are going to need to get some loading and stuff like that. So, what I do, okay, Mondays, I did that ATG split squat with load. So, not only is the back hip flexor stretching, now as we get deeper, that front glute gets majorly plateau busted. That front glute is going through full range of motion one side at a time which is awesome. Then today was, “Oh, look at all the sled work I'm doing.” So, I do an even amount of forward and backward. Oh, my gosh, all that forward–
Ben Greenfield: Yeah, that's true. Sled work is pretty bomb for the glute.
Ben Patrick: If you're a girl out there and you just want the sexiest pair of glutes that are popping, girl or guy, and you just want amazing glutes, do as much forward slide as I've done. You know what I mean? But, I'm always going backward as much as go forward but seven days a week. Seven days a week, I'm pushing a sled, my glutes are pumped.
Ben Greenfield: That's kind of funny. The girls with the most impressive glutes I ever see at the gym, they're doing the stair climber, the stair mill to nowhere, taking it two steps at a time. But if you watch them, they're leaning forward knees over toes. So, they're actually doing a very, very similar motion as a sled drag except they're doing it as almost an uphill stair climb.
Ben Patrick: Yeah. So, I'm doing so much glute work seven days a week with the sled. I'm getting them totally plateau busted with the ATG split squad on Monday. Today, I did three sets of 20 on a dumbbell Romanian deadlift where–you ever do a Romanian deadlift where you're not going for max weight, you're really trying to get a great upper hamstring stretch? So, that also helps you. If your hamstrings are super stiff, bend over and you're not even able to use your glutes very well. You know what I mean? So, you already rounded up a dog shitting. You know what I mean? So today, I was doing Romanian deadlifts which really potentiates the glutes. And then, every Friday, I'm working on that single leg back extension. So, back extension is already great for the glutes. Now, pause at the top every rep and contract your glutes. Now, when that gets easy, do it one side at a time. Now, when that gets easy, add load. So, I'm doing single-legged back extensions, full stretch of the bottom, full glute contraction at the top. So, my glutes are actually freakishly strong from my program.
Ben Greenfield: That makes sense. And look, what I think you should do, Ben, maybe for your April 1st exercise is release the humped over dog shitting exercise where you're just out in your yard, you hunt yourself over and kind of crawl across your yard with your back hunched over like a dog that's getting ready to take a shit. As they do, they make it look so easy, they just kind of hunch over their back and stuff starts to fall out. And then, you can kind of go backwards and drag your ass on the grass as the way to wipe. And, you could do the Ben Patrick dog shitting ass to grass exercise. That's going to be your April fools–
Ben Patrick: That would be the elite extreme program.
Ben Greenfield: Yeah.
Ben Patrick: But, you give me a totally good idea. I take every criticism, I look at it and I go, “Okay, how do I take responsibility for that?” I'll script up a really good video describing what I was just describing to you, no, on like how to get killer glutes so that people have a resource that they're realizing like, “Oh, we actually are training the glutes just because I'm not thought.” I think it's just more because most programs, they're talking about the glutes more. You know what I mean?
Ben Greenfield: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Well, first of all, I know that for the ATG program like Ben mentioned, it's $49.50 a month.
Ben Patrick: It's $20.22 for the first month with no long-term contract. So, you could pillage me right now during the holidays, learn everything, look at all the programs for $20.22.
Ben Greenfield: Well, if anything doesn't work out, you could sell used cars. And then, also a ton of stuff just for free online, Ben's super generous in terms of putting a ton of really good stuff out there which is why I actually think you've found success in the industry, Ben. And, that's what I found is just help people put out a bunch of really good content and give options for people to take a deeper dive with personal coaching or whatever. But yeah, it all starts with just finding stuff that freaking works and putting it out there to help people. That's always been my MO. And, I think you're doing a good job doing that.
So, I'm going to hunt down pretty much everything that Ben and I talked about for those of you listening in. And, if you go to BenGreenfieldFitness.com—
Ben Patrick: I can just send it to you to make it pretty easy.
Ben Greenfield: Yeah, that's easy too. You got my email. So, BenGreenfieldFitness.com/BenPatrick. And, I'll just put a chock full of shownotes in there. And then, if you have specific questions, leave them in the shownotes.
One other thing I should mention–
Ben Patrick: Or, send me a DM.
Ben Greenfield: Yeah. Be careful what you wish for, bro. The other that I should mention is that obviously there's some benefit I've found to deep tissue work, to some trigger point stuff. Have you ever seen the “Knee Pain Bible,” Ben?
Ben Patrick: Yeah. Okay. Do you have any thoughts on trigger point release or pairing some of this stuff with some foam rolling or anything like that? Do you mess around with any of that?
Ben Greenfield: No. So, I took a really exact approach that was going to be, I'm going to see exactly what my body can do if I don't do anything for recovery, whatsoever. So, I don't take any supplements, I don't do recovery. I'll never get a massage. I'll never go on a foam roller, anything like that. I've been doing it for years at which point now I look back and I go, “Holy shit, I just did the smartest experiment ever because now it makes me master my training so well that I don't over train.” Do you see what I mean? Imagine if you couldn't do anything for recovery, how precise you'd have to get with your training. But now, what am I doing for other people? Great. Do my program and go take your supplements. You probably know so much about the supplement side of it and the treatment side of it. My God, now you have all the tools but if I'm getting results from that shit, how do I know it's for my exercises? You know what I mean? So, I'm just trying to play my part in the game. So, it's very important to me. I don't anything for recovery, that way, someone could do my program, go out there and try to feel even better than me like go for that. You know what I mean? Go learn from experts in their different fields.
Ben Greenfield: Yeah, that's something I always like to emphasize because I know I have a lot of listeners who are kind of the biohacking flavor who likes to pop a pill and go sit in the sauna and do Wim Hof breathwork to fix an injury. There's some benefit to those type of things for blood flow, for lymph flow, for even the mental component if you're meditating and manifesting healing. I don't have anything against any of that stuff, and anybody's listening to this podcast for a while knows that I also heavily emphasize the blood, sweat, and tears component and actually getting out and doing the work.
And, Ben's program, like you mentioned, I mean 15 to 30 minutes three times a week with string together all these exercises, that's doable especially when you consider you can do a lot of this stuff against your wall while you're watching tv at night rather than sitting and watching TV at night. So, it's not as though this is yet another thing to try and squeeze into the schedule. A lot of this is totally doable to squeeze in, at least in my experience.
Ben Patrick: Appreciate that.
Ben Greenfield: Yeah. Alright, folks. Well, we've been going for a little while and I got a boogie just because I have another podcast coming up soon. So, I will put all the shownotes at BenGreenfieldFitness.com/BenPatrick.
Ben, it's been super great to kind of get to know you over the past few months. And, now that I'm on the cusp of finally getting the last little piece of clicky poppy flesh out of my knee, I have a feeling that I'm going to be close friends with you and your books in your program for about the next six months. So, I'm sure we'll be talking more.
Ben Patrick: I'm here to help. I'm super honored that you had me on. And, thanks for everything that you're doing in the industry to show people, and help people, and empower people to be in charge of their own health, which is probably the most priceless thing there is.
Ben Greenfield: Thanks, bro. Alright, I'll talk to you later. I'm Ben Greenfield along with Ben Patrick who I think I called “bro” ten times on this show, so that shows that we're really friends, signing out from BenGreenfieldFitness.com. Have an amazing week.
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Ben overcame debilitating knee and shin pain, as well as subsequent surgeries, through a personal journey taking knee and foot strength training means to their fullest potential.
With his methods, Ben transformed his basketball career, going from being continually injured and under-achieving to having a successful junior college stint through improving his own knee health and performance. This culminated for Ben with a scholarship offer to Boston University for basketball, but due to NCAA eligibility rules, Ben turned it down and began training athletes.
Many people have been recommending Ben’s methods as completely transformative in their knee pain, and recently I've begun experimenting with his programs, so thought I would have Ben on the show to discuss his very unique approach to healing the knees.
During our discussion, you'll discover:
-How Ben became involved with treating knee pain…06:50
- “What would John Stockton do?”
- Chronic knee problems from age 12-20
- “Knees over toes” was considered taboo for the longest time
- Pressure within reason causes a body to age biologically younger
- It's a knee ability program (abiliknee.com is available btw)
- Jumping is the #1 cause of knee pain among young people
- Ben addressed knee problems by taking care of his hamstrings as a younger man
- Painkiller addiction can increase the risk of injury by masking the pain
-Why walking backward is so beneficial to the health of the knees…21:45
- Aka “retro walking“
- Walking backward actually is doing knee-over-toes training
- Strengthens completely different muscles
- Take a step backward, you see your knees are above your toes, putting pressure on the knee
- Sled on turf walking backward at least or as much as walking forward
- Sled on turf to create the pressure without the jarring effect
- Torque Fitness push sled – bulky and expensive
- Only you move the sled, vs. squats
- Brian Johnson, The Liver King
- Effect of Retrowalking on Pain, Functional Disability and Functional Mobility in Patients with Chronic Knee Osteoarthritis
- Also alleviates lower back pain
- 4-week study on reverse walking
-Fundamental knee exercises that can be done anywhere, anytime…37:22
- Motion and compression of fully bending the knee
- Full knee bend gets a bad rap; research shows it's a desirable quality
- Find your 100% pain-free knee bend
- Pain-free knee secrets:
- ATG split squat requires more recovery than walking backward
- Knee Ability Zero by Ben Patrick
- ATG for Life by Ben Patrick
- Start with the Bodyweight program
- Charles Poliquin
-Why focus on the tibialis muscles and hip flexors…48:57
- Stronger shin muscles = a lighter-feeling body
- We all have the same odds of knee problems as obese people without focusing on the tibialis
- Video of tibialis raise
- MJ dunking from foul line video
- We all have tight hip flexors
- Hip flexors are the biggest differentiator between sprinters and average folk
-Tools and techniques to strengthen the knees…56:16
- Push/pull a car in neutral
- Training Sled is the most important
- Slant surface
- Industrial size door stop on Amazon
- Back extension
- Monkey Feet on a dumbbell
- Monkey foot exercise
- Hip Flexor exercise
- Knees Over Toes tibialis raise
- ATG Gyms
- Knees Over Toes Guy Youtube channel
-Why Ben doesn't heavily focus on the glutes in his program…1:03:47
- Bret Contreras, The Glute Guy
- ATG Split squat and forward/backward sled walking works the glutes
- Knee Pain Bible by Christopher Kidawski
- Torque Fitness
-And much more…
- Keep up on Ben's LIVE appearances by following bengreenfieldfitness.com/calendar
Resources from this episode:
– Ben Patrick:
- Knees Over Toes Guy
- ATG Online Coaching
- Knee Ability Zero by Ben Patrick
- ATG for Life by Ben Patrick
- Knees Over Toes Guy Youtube Channel
- Tibialis Raise Video
- Hip Flexor Exercise
- Monkey Foot Exercise
- The Better You Are Backward, The More Protected You Are Forward, But Why?
– Other Resources:
- Knee Pain Bible by Christopher Kidawski
- Brian Johnson, The Liver King
- Bret Contreras, The Glute Guy
- Charles Poliquin
- Effect of Retrowalking on Pain, Functional Disability and Functional Mobility in Patients with Chronic Knee Osteoarthritis
- The Efficacy of Backward Walking on Static Stability, Proprioception, Pain, and Physical Function of Patients with Knee Osteoarthritis: A Randomized Controlled Trial
- Retro-Walking Improves Symptoms, Pain, And Function In Primary Knee Osteoarthritis: A Randomised Control Trial
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