5 Workout Moves That Strengthen Your Knees, According to a Personal Trainer
Injury prevention isn't one fitness goal to ignore, especially when it comes to your knees.
According to Kat Ellis, an NASM-certified personal trainer for obé Fitness, one way to prevent knee injuries from plaguing your workouts with pain is by building up your strength.
"The knee is a highly mobile joint that requires strong muscles to stabilize it so it doesn't move in an injury causing pattern," Ellis explains. "The stronger the muscles around the knee are, the less likely it is to become injured."
Bonus: you can even work this knee strengthening focus into your cardio routine — just follow these five moves curated by Ellis, below.
Remember: Because everyone is different and knee injuries aren't anything to mess around with, it's always best to speak with a personal trainer or physical therapist if you have any concerns and/or previous injuries.
"This compound exercise gives you a lot of bang for your buck because it works to stabilize both the knee and the hip at the same time," Ellis says.
- With a chair directly in front of you, bend your knee and set one foot completely flat on the chair.
- Driving your heel into the chair and your knee forward, step up onto the chair, completely extending your standing side and bringing your opposite foot to the chair's surface.
- Reverse this motion by sending your hips back, setting the foot you just brought up to the chair on the floor.
- Repeat for three sets of 10-12 reps on each side.
Single Leg Eccentric Slider Hamstring Curls
Ellis says focusing on the hamstrings is crucial to develop lower body strength, as they balance out the quadricep and allow for efficient movement of the knee.
- Lying down face up on a slick floor, place a towel, slider, or paper plate underneath one foot while the opposite leg extends in the air.
- As you bend your knee, dig your heel into the ground, and then lift your hips into a bridge position.
- In a slow three-count motion, lower your hip and re-extend your knee together, causing them to slowly arrive on the ground at the same time.
- Be sure to keep your opposite leg in the air for the whole set.
- Repeat for three to four sets of 8-12 reps.
Single Leg Squat
"Single leg squats are a fantastic way to address the asymmetry between our right and left sides and work on getting our weaker side stronger," Ellis explains.
- Facing away from the chair, stand on one leg and balance with your opposite foot off the ground.
- Drive your hips back as your knee bends, allowing you to sit on the chair.
- Without putting your floating foot on the ground, drive into your standing leg and return to the starting position.
- Repeat for three to four sets of 8-12 reps on each side.
Side Plank With Hip Adduction
"The muscles on the outside of your knee and hip are a vital part of lower body stabilization, and the stronger and more stable they are, the less likely you are to experience a knee or hip injury," Ellis notes.
- Lie down on one forearm, facing the side with your hips elevated and feet stacked on top of each other.
- Without allowing your hips to dip, elevate your top leg a few inches into the air, keeping your top foot flexed.
- Then, return to the starting side plank position.
- Repeat for two to three sets of 10-15 reps on each side.
Forearm Plank With Hip Extension
This exercise strengthens the knee joint and the core, Ellis says.
- Start in a forearm plank.
- Without moving your upper body or hips at all, alternate kicking one heel up into the air, creating a 90-degree bend at the knee.
- Repeat for two to three sets for 10-20 reps.