There are many ways in which you can help to strengthen your knees, especially if you play sports or find that you are particularly prone to knee pain and injury.
Your doctor or physical therapist are the best people to speak with about such exercises, as they can ensure that you do not cause more damage to an already tender area of the body to many.
Here we will be covering;
- The best exercises that strengthen knees
- What to avoid
- Frequently asked questions about knee exercises for strength
Exercise to Strengthen Knees
Below we have outlined some exercises that are great for people who suffer such as knee injuries through knee strengthening exercises. these concentrate on the muscles around the knee joint to give it additional support.
1. Squats for Knee Strengthening
Start by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart and firmly planted to the ground. Slowly bend at the knees, as if you are sitting back on a chair. Keep your back straight and abdominals engaged throughout.
Your knees should not go beyond your toes. If you feel off-balance, you can raise your arms out in front of you.
To start you can complete a total of 4 sets of 12-20 squats. When you want to increase the intensity, you can hold weights in your hands too!
2. Wall Squat
If you struggle to keep your back straight during a regular squat then you may wish to start with a wall squat. This is completed, as per the name, with your back flat against the wall.
Your body should be in the squatting position with your back against the wall. Raise the body by straightening your legs and slide your body up the wall. Lower the body in the same fashion.
Repeat for 3 sets of 20 squats each and once you have mastered this you can progress to another squat or add weights by holding them as you squat.
3. Chair Squat
To perform the chair squat, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart in front of a sturdy chair. Cross your arms across your chest by grabbing the opposite shoulder with each hand.
Exhale and sit back, move toward the chair until your thighs are almost parallel to the ground. Pause in this position for 3 seconds and then raise your body slowly, making sure to keep your core engaged ad your back straight.
4. Thigh and Hip Strengthening Seated Leg Raises
The thigh and hip strengthening seated leg raise work your quadriceps and the muscles in the front of your thighs.
Start by sitting on a sturdy chair with your knees bent, your feet should be dangling above the ground. you may wish to add pillows to the chair to give yourself a bit more height and make it comfortable.
Hold onto the sides of the chair to keep your body stable and slowly extend your left leg until it is almost parallel to the floor. try and keep the raised leg as straight as possible without locking the knee joint.
Pause for 3 seconds while holding the leg straight and then return to your starting position. repeat with the other leg and perform 3 sets of 12 reps each.
5. Side-lying Leg Raises
The side-lying leg raises focus on strengthening the muscles on the outside of the hip.
Lay on the left side of the body to begin and bend the left knee so that your left foot is behind your body. Slowly raise the leg until it is at a 45-degree angle to the rest of the body. Keep it as straight as possible in this position.
Pause for 5 seconds here and then return to the starting position in a slow and controlled manner. The right leg in this exercise should be parallel to the floor, not touching it, in the lowest position if this is possible for you.
Repeat this exercise 8 to 12 times on each side with a total of 3 sets. You can add ankle weights to increase the intensity of you find this exercise too easy.
6. Banded Lateral Walk
The banded lateral walk will target your butt and hip muscles, which includes the gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, and the hip rotators.
Start in a quarter squat position with a band looped around your legs, just above your knees. take a large step to your right with your right foot, then follow with your left.
Take as many steps in this direction as your space allows and then move back to the starting position.
Using a step bench, or a staircase, step up with your right foot. Tap your left foot on top of the step, then lower it back down. As you step up your knee should be directly over your ankle.
Repeat with your left foot, a total of 15 reps on each foot for 3 sets.
8. Short-arc Knee Extension
Starting with your back against the wall, left leg straight and right leg bent with your foot flat on the floor, put a ball under your left knee so that your leg is bent. It should be about the same size as a basketball.
Hold this position for 5 seconds and then slowly lower. Repeat for 10 reps on each leg for a total of 3 sets.
9. Calf Raises
Using a sturdy chair for balance, stand with your feet about hip-width apart, with your toes straight ahead. Slowly lift your heels off the floor, rising up to your toes.
Hold this position and then slowly lower yourself. Repeat 10 times for a total of 3 sets.
10. Straight Leg Raises
Sit with your back against the wall, the same as the starting position for the short-arc knee extension. Slowly raise your left leg straight up about 12 inches off the floor and then slowly lower.
Repeat with each leg for 15 reps and 3 sets.
11. Inner Thigh Leg Lifts
With ankle weights attached above the knee, lay on your left side, slightly back on your butt. bend your right leg and place it behind your left, with your right foot flat on the floor and the left leg straight.
Support your head with your left arm. Slowly lift your left leg about 3 to 5 inches, then lower. Repeat for 10 reps on each leg and for a total of 3 sets.
12. Hamstring Stretch
Lay on your back with your left leg flat on the floor Loop a towel or rope around the right foot, pulling your leg as far as is comfortable toward your chest. Keep a slight bend at the knee.
Keep your back pressed to the floor throughout the hamstring stretch. Hold this position for 10 to 30 seconds and then release it to the starting position.
Repeat 3 to 4 times with each leg. The hamstring stretch should be done 5 or 6 times per week.
13. Kettlebell Swing
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, gripping the kettlebell handle with both hands. Bend your knees so that you are in a half squat, then lean forward at the hips so that the kettlebell is between your legs.
As you stand back up, thrust from your hips and use the momentum to swing the weight to chest height. Repeat for 3 sets of 10 reps.
What Should be Avoided?
The following exercises should be avoided if you have recurring knee pain.they are more likely to be done improperly, which can damage the joint and lead to further problems.
- Full-arc knee extensions
- Deep squats
- Hurdler’s stretches
In saying this, if these exercises are performed in the proper manner they should not harm your knees.
But if you have existing knee problems then you are best to either avoid them or seek the assistance of a professional such as a personal trainer.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best exercise for bad knees?
Some of the best exercises to incorporate into your regime are listed above, but if you want to try something different then you can also try swimming, water aerobics, walking, or cycling.
There are many different classes for people with chronic knee pain in water aerobics as it has been found that exercising in water takes some of the stress and pressure off the knee joint.
This is why many people in recovery from surgeries and significant injury opt for swimming or water aerobics in their rehabilitation.
Do squats strengthen knees?
The squat targets many of the muscles that support the knee joint, such as the quadriceps. We have listed some variations above that will take a significant amount of pressure off the knee joint if executed properly.
It is a common misconception that the squat actually harms the knee, rather than strengthen it.
To perform the squat in a manner that will benefit, rather than hinder, your knee joint you should follow the tips listed below.
Firstly, stand shoulder-width apart and bend your legs until your thighs are almost parallel to the ground. they should not be completely parallel to the ground, as this can harm the knees.
Your upper body should be kept straight, do not bend forward as this too can strain the knees. Start with 20 squats without any weights.
As this movement becomes easier, you can hold a barbell with weights attached, or anything else that is heavy, for example, a full milk container if you do not have access to proper weights.