3 Powerful Hardbody Strength Training Tips to Bulletproof Your Knees

Table of Contents:

  1. Introduction
  2. Importance of Knee Health in Strength Training
  3. Strengthening the Vastus Medialis Oblique (VMO)
  4. Enhancing Force Absorption with Jumps
  5. Conclusion


The best type of ability is availability, and when it comes to knee health, this couldn’t be more true. The amount of high school athletes I see wearing weight belts and doing quarter squats makes me sick. It’s not their fault. Trust me, I’ve been there. Back in the day, strength & conditioning was not very common, and there were a limited number of accessible coaches who thoroughly understood how to develop an athlete properly.

Fortunately, now there is almost too much information, and the coaches who have their athletes training improperly often lack understanding of the nervous system’s complexity, anatomy, or prioritize their ego over the athlete’s health.

Importance of Knee Health in Strength Training

When training to reduce the risk of injury to the knee, we must emphasize two areas. The first area is training the vastus medialis oblique (VMO), also known as the teardrop muscle on the inner portion of the knee. This muscle is often very weak compared to the vastus lateralis, one of the quadriceps muscles on the outside portion of the knee. When the strength ratios of these two muscles are significantly out of balance, knee pain is likely to be an issue.

Strengthening the Vastus Medialis Oblique (VMO)

To address this imbalance, following a well-designed training program is crucial. My favorite exercises for knee health include squatting through a full range of motion, pin squats, split stance lunges, and backward sled drags. Each of these exercises offers various beneficial variations.

Example Exercises:

  • Squatting through a full range of motion
  • Pin Squats
  • Split Stance Lunges
  • Backward Sled Drags

Enhancing Force Absorption with Jumps

In addition to strengthening the VMO, ensuring athletes can properly absorb force is essential. We incorporate different jumps that emphasize proper landing mechanics. We are more concerned with our athletes’ ability to absorb force than achieve a high box jump with poor form.

These jumps are performed progressively, starting with low jumps onto a box and gradually increasing height as tolerated. We also use repetitive jumps to improve ankle stiffness and various hop variations (single-leg) to teach athletes to control their bodies and land properly.

Progressive Jump Training:

  • Low jumps onto a box (increase height gradually)
  • Jumps over hurdles (increase height as tolerated)
  • Repetitive jumps to improve ankle stiffness
  • Single-leg hop variations

If an athlete trains four times per week, we focus on a different hop/jump emphasis each day: vertical, linear, lateral, and rotational. This exposure to different planes of motion significantly reduces the risk of injury over a long season or high school career.


By following these Hardbody strength training tips, high school athletes can bulletproof their knees, enhancing their performance and reducing the risk of injury. Remember, simple and effective always wins!