Discover more from Longevity Minded
Knee Down Fitness
How I bulletproofed my knees to live longer and do what I love without pain.
“How the f**k did this even happen?”
I helplessly muttered under my breath as I slowed to a pathetic limp and watched my stepdad run over the hill and fade into the horizon.
Less than ten minutes into my first run back after taking an entire month off to recover — which I opted to do with my stepdad to “pace myself” — my knee was being uncooperative again.
Behind the top of my right kneecap, I felt shooting pain, clicking, and locking tendons with each stride. In combination with my shin splints, and despite my urge to push through the pain, I couldn’t keep running without causing further, potentially permanent, damage.
Like a kid in a funk, I felt hopeless, lost, and despondent. A barrage of questions flooded my head.
If I can’t run, how will I build my cardiovascular fitness? How will I maintain my emotional equilibrium and maintain strong mental health? Will I have to cancel my upcoming hiking trip? How am I going to squat and lunge? How will I regain mobility so I sit on the floor cross-legged? Will I be able to move again without pain?
One injury halted my exercise program and eliminated my ability to move freely and fully and without pain.
Then, in a moment of serendipity as I sat on the couch that evening fruitlessly icing my knee, I remembered a conversation from two years prior with my good friend and then university roommate.
We had just left our apartment and were strolling down King Street when he asked me if I had heard of the Knees Over Toes Guy.
I knew nothing about him other than his Instagram handle but immediately and condescendingly dismissed him.
“Sounds like a guy who’s trying to make a name for himself by being contrarian and provocative,” I retorted.
The logic supporting my hasty response was clear. Everyone knows the number one rule in fitness. It’s so fundamental to exercise that it’s the first rule you learn and the one thing you never forget:
Your knees should never go over your toes.
But now I was desperate.
I could barely walk without my knee clicking and locking up in pain. I had no options and I wanted to lace up my running shoes again as soon as possible.
Swallowing my words and abandoning my preconceived notions from two years prior, I flipped open my laptop and searched knees over toes exercises.
The Knees Over Toes Guy or, as he’s known by his family and the government, Ben Patrick, didn’t design the knees over toes program to become Instagram famous, make heaps of money, or be the contrarian. He forged it out of dire personal need.
By age twelve he had chronic knee pain.
By fourteen, his rusty knees earned him the nickname “Old Man” on his basketball team.
By the end of high school, his dreams of playing college basketball hinged on whether he could figure out how to restore and bulletproof his knees. Out of desperation, he started studying and experimenting.
After a year with no results, he was certain he would need another knee surgery. But then, a bolt of truth struck through the page of a book he was pouring over:
"The athlete whose knees can go farthest and strongest over his or her toes is the most protected."
This went against everything he had been taught.
Ben, just like me, was conditioned by trainers and physical therapists since he was a kid to follow the foundational rule of exercise: NO KNEES OVER TOES.
But deep down, he immediately knew it was true.
Ben had a questioning mind and was willing to drop his preconditioned beliefs. He was desperate for answers and unafraid to challenge the common narrative. He excavated the deeply kept secrets stored in the corners of the internet and became a student of Charles Poloquin, a strength coach who was experimenting with knees over toes training.
Fueled with a vision of rekindling his basketball career, he religiously practiced the knees over toes techniques. By age 21, he signed a college basketball scholarship where he won two straight conference championships.
Ben found his purpose: to help others eliminate chronic knee pain and get back to the activities they love.
After hearing Ben’s story and testimonials from thousands of others he’s helped, I started practicing his Knee Ability Zero program every day.
During weight lifting sessions, I used the rest period between sets to do tibialis raises, FHL calf raises, or knees over toes calf raises.
On top of that, I did the full Knee Ability Zero program, which consists of seven exercises and three stretches, three or four times per week.
Fast forward one month, my knee pain and the clicking and locking went away.
I could walk and hike confidently again. My shin splints vanished and I could squat and lunge without pain.
Two months later, I could run freely. Running is just as critical to my mental well-being as my physical health. It clears my head, acts as my mediation.
It’s also my Zone 2 aerobic training which is critical to longevity as it bolsters strong metabolic health and cardiorespiratory fitness: Knees Over Toes may have saved me from a future heart attack or cancer diagnosis.
I’ve unlocked incredible strength and range of motion through my ankles, knees, and hips. I can move with confidence and sit cross-legged on the floor which means, if I maintain my training, I’ll be able to play on the floor with my grandkids in 70 years.
Eighteen months after starting, I still practice Knees Over Toes every day, often in between sets at the gym or when I’m waiting somewhere.
Bulletproofing my knees by training Knees Over Toes has been the most impactful long-term improvement to my health, fitness, and wellness in the last two years.
If you want to do what you love without pain, Knees Over Toes might be for you too.
Knee Ability Zero
You can download a PDF of Ben’s Knee Ability Zero program here:
Pro Tip: While strength training, use your rest time in between sets to perform Tibialis Raises, FHL Calf Raises, or KOT Calf Raises. They’re low-intensity movements that fortify your ankles and knees and not just minimize your risk of future injury, but improve your performance in athletics and in life.
More from Ben
ATG Online Coaching: “We coach your form every workout for only $49.50 (USD) a month. Use code ATG20 for $20 off your first month.”