If you’re looking for squat alternatives for bad knees, this article will show you the best butt and leg exercises you can do at home.
Most people ignore training legs due to knee pain. Not realizing that strengthening the muscles surrounding the knees can help ease the pain.
We all know that squats are one of the best exercises for toning legs and glutes. Unfortunately, they put a lot of pressure on the knees. In fact, doing squats when you have bad knees can increase the pain.
No need to worry though, there are many squat alternatives to keep your legs strong. But it’s important to know what’s causing the knee pain before trying the squat alternatives below. So talk to a physician.
Other than avoiding squats, you also want to stay away from high impact exercises. Exercises that involve jumping or sprinting can hurt your knees.
Use the squat alternatives below to strengthen your legs and relieve knee pain. If you don’t have a quality yoga mat, invest in one because you’ll perform most of these squat alternatives on the floor.
Squat alternatives for bad knees
1. Seated leg extensions (without a machine)
It’s safer to do leg extensions without weights than to use the leg extension machine. Using the machine can put pressure on your knees and worsen the pain.
This is one of the best exercises for people with severe knee pain. It will strengthen the quads and help reduce pain.
Extend and lower your leg slowly when doing this exercise. You won’t get much out of it if you extend your leg fast. Also, remember to squeeze your quads for 3 seconds when your leg is fully extended.
2. Glute bridges
Glute bridges are one of those exercises you should do every day. They help relieve knee pain and lower back pain. They also tone the glutes, hamstrings, and lower back.
If you want to make glute bridges more challenging, place your feet on an elevated surface like a bench.
You have to engage the muscles to get fast results. Perform the exercise slowly and squeeze your butt for 3 to 5 seconds every time you raise the hips.
Advance to the single-leg glute bridges once your legs become stronger.
Step-ups are the perfect squat alternative since they activate the same muscles as squats. However, using too much intensity can put unwanted pressure on the knees.
Use a step-up box or a sturdy chair to perform this exercise. A low box will put less pressure on your knees.
Avoid leaning forward, keep your torso upright throughout. Grabbing a dumbbell on each hand can make the exercise more challenging.
4. Single leg deadlift
This exercise strengthens your legs, improves balance, and loosens the hamstrings. Note that, sometimes, tight hamstrings cause knee pain.
Chances are you’ll lack balance the first time you try to do the single-leg deadlift. If this happens, feel free to grab a chair or a wall for support. Your balance will improve as time goes by.
Remember to keep your back straight and the supporting knee slightly bent.
5. Monster walks
Do you have resistance bands? You can use them to tone your legs and butt without hurting your knees.
This exercise is usually prescribed in physical therapy clinics. It’s beneficial to people with knee, back, and hip pain.
To perform the monster walks, place a mini resistance band around your ankles. Spread your feet apart to stretch the band.
Keep the back straight and knees slightly bent. Walk forward as you stretch the resistance band outwards after every step.
6. Side-lying leg raises
Don’t let knee pain stop you from strengthening your hip and adductor muscles. Doing this exercise regularly will strengthen these muscles and improve your athleticism.
Simply lie sideways then raise the top leg as high as possible, pause for 3 seconds at the top then lower the leg until it almost touches the bottom leg then raise it again.
Wearing ankle weights can help make this exercise more challenging.
7. Swiss ball hamstring curls
You have to take advantage of this exercise because there aren’t many bodyweight exercises that target the hamstrings. Swiss ball hamstring curls also strengthen the glutes and lower back.
If you don’t have a swiss ball, use sliders or a towel. Place a towel on a slippery floor and then place both heels on the towel. Keep the legs straight.
Lift your butt off the floor then slowly slide your heels until you get in the glute-bridge-starting-position. Slide back to starting position and repeat.
8. Inner thigh circles
Air squats don’t target the inner thighs. So doing this exercise will help tone these undertrained muscles. Doing inner thigh circles also tones abdominal muscles. Feel free to wear ankle weights if you want to make the exercise more effective.
To perform this exercise, lie on your back and lift your legs – keep them straight over your hips.
Tighten your abs and spread your legs apart. Simultaneously make 20 complete circles with each leg, 3 times.
9. Good mornings
Good mornings are a great squat alternative that tones the hamstrings, glutes and lower back muscles.
Avoid locking your knees when doing this exercise. Keep them slightly bent and keep the back straight.
Stand upright and keep your feet hip-width apart. Slightly bend the knees and place your hands behind your head.
Bend your torso forward and lower it until it’s parallel to the floor then slowly raise it to start position to complete the rep. When bending the torso forward, make sure you don’t move the knees. Only your hip joint should tilt.
10. Donkey kicks
Donkey kicks are great for toning the butt. But they may not work for people with severe knee pain since you have to kneel on the floor. Do them if you feel comfortable placing your knees on a soft surface like a yoga mat or a towel.
To do donkey kicks, get in all fours position. Lift the right knee off the floor and keep it bent. Slowly raise the left leg backward until the thigh is parallel to the floor. While in this position, squeeze your butt for 3 seconds.
Lower your knee until it almost touches the floor then raise it again. Complete reps for one leg before alternating.
The Bottom Line
Don’t let knee pain stop you from strengthening your legs. Choose a few squat alternatives from the list above and do them consistently. Don’t continue to do exercises that worsen your knee pain.
It’s important to maintain proper form when doing these squat alternatives so make sure you watch every video.
If you want a more organized plan, follow this workout sequence. Most of the exercises in this short workouts plan are gentle on the knees.[related_posts_by_tax posts_per_page="4"]