Exercises for bad knees

15 Best and Worst Leg Exercises For Bad Knees (Without Weights)

If you have bad knees, this article will show you the worst and best leg exercises for bad knees you can do without weights.

You can’t do any leg exercise if you have bad knees. Doing the wrong leg exercises puts extra strain on the knees and increases knee pain.

The exercises I’m about to share with you aren’t for treating knee pain – they’re low impact exercises which won’t make your knee problem worse. With that said, these exercises are known to strengthen the knees and even reduce pain.

Note that all knee problems are not the same – some are more severe than others. So listen to your body and stick to exercises you’re comfortable with. The worst thing you can do is to train through pain. Stop whenever you feel unusual sharp pain.

The exercises below can strengthen your hamstrings, quadriceps, glutes and calf muscles.

Best Leg exercises for bad knees

This article will show you the best and worst leg exercises for bad knees without weights #leg #exercises #bad #knees #flabfix

These exercises put less strain on the knees and will activate all leg muscles. Don’t do high reps – limit your reps to a maximum of 15 per set.

1. Reverse Lunge

lunges without weights

This is an effective lunge variation for strengthening the quadriceps, hamstrings and the glutes. Unlike the forward lunge, this variation allows you to control alignment as you step backward. Stepping backward will also improve your balance.

How to perform

Stand upright with hands on the side or place them on the waist.

Step backward with one foot then lower the rear knee until it almost touches the floor – go as low as you feel comfortable.

Perform the exercise slowly to avoid hitting the floor with the rear knee. And make sure the front knee doesn’t go past the toes.

Slowly rise until the front knee is straight, and then repeat several times. Do the same number of reps for each leg.

See demonstration video

2. Box squats

You need a sturdy chair or a box to perform this exercise. Do the exercise slowly to activate the quadriceps fully.

How to perform

Stand a step away from a chair, facing away from it and keep the feet shoulder-width apart.

Bend the hips and lower yourself until the butt rests on the chair. Then slowly rise without push yourself off the chair.

You have to control your motion to benefit from this exercise. It won’t be helpful if you do it fast.

See demonstration video

3. Standing calf raises

calf exercise for bad knees

This exercise will help build the stubborn calf muscles. Note that the calf muscles support the knees so strengthening them will increase knee strength.

This is a low impact exercise which means you can do it every day.

How to perform

Stand with your feet a few inches apart and keep the legs straight.

Raise the heels as high as you can – only the balls of the feet and toes should be on the floor.

Hold that position for 3 – 5 seconds and repeat 10 times.

If this exercise is too easy for you, perform it on one leg. You’ll activate the calves more. Feel free to hold on to a table or pool for support if you lack balance.

See demonstration video

4. Side-Lying leg lift

side lying leg raises

This exercise mainly works the adductor and hip muscles. The adductor muscles are responsible for moving the thighs side of the body. Strengthening them will improve your movement and athletic performance.

How to perform

Lie sideways and keep the body straight. Stretch out the bottom hand and place your head on it.

Raise the top leg as high as possible then slowly lower it to starting position to complete the rep.

Repeat this movement several times and do the same number of reps for each leg.

You can wear an elastic band on the thighs to make the exercise more challenging.

See demonstration video

5. Seated leg extensions

Doctors usually advise against machine leg extensions when someone has knee problems, but seated leg extensions are totally safe. In fact, they’ll strengthen the knees.

This exercise mainly targets the quadriceps.

How to perform

Sit upright on a chair and keep the knees bent at a 90-degree angle.

Slowly lift one leg and straighten it as you engage the quadriceps. Keep leg straight for 3 seconds as you tighten the quadriceps.

Slowly lower the leg to starting position and repeat. Complete reps for one leg then switch.

See demonstration video

6. Glute bridges

glute bridge exercise

I’ve talked about the glute bridges in numerous articles. They activate the glutes, hamstrings, lower back and ab muscles.

How to perform

Lie flat on your back and place hands on the side.

Bring your calves close to the thighs until the ankles are directly below the knees.

Using the support of your arms – slowly lift your butt off the floor and raise the hips as high as you can. Hold the top position for 2 or 3 seconds then slowly lower the butt to the floor and repeat.

Performing this exercise on one foot will make it more challenging.

See demonstration video

7. Standing hamstring curls

This is a simple exercise and most beginners should be able to do it. And it can also be done while lying on the stomach. It targets the hamstrings and glute muscles.

How to perform

Stand on one foot – grab a table or a wall for support.

Bend the other leg backward and bring it as close to the thigh as possible.

Hold the top position for 2 seconds then slowly lower it to starting position and repeat.

You can also perform this exercise while lying. Lie flat on your stomach then bend both feet and bring them close to the thighs. Then slowly straighten them and repeat.

Hamstring curls don’t put any pressure on the knee and they’re one of the best exercises for someone with severe knee pain.

See demonstration video

8. Single leg deadlift

one leg deadlift

The single leg deadlift will strengthen hamstring and glute muscles. It will also improve your balance, flexibility, and stability.

How to perform

Stand with feet close together. Bend forward as you lift the right foot backward.

Keep the supporting leg slightly bent. Lower the upper body as low as you can and lift the right leg until it’s aligned with the back.

Slowly lower the leg as you lift the upper body to return to starting position. Finish reps for one leg then switch legs and do the same number of reps.

It may not be possible to perfectly execute this exercise the first time you try it but here’s how a perfect one leg deadlift should look like – the back should be straight, touch the floor with both arms and keep the lifted foot aligned with the hips and the back.

See demonstration video

9. Wall Sits

Isometric exercises are also good for the knees because there’s no movement. Use a timer to track duration for each set.

How to perform

Stand a step away from the wall then lean back and rest your back on the wall.

Slowly slide downwards until the thighs are parallel to the floor and hold that position as long as you can. Make sure the toes are past the knees when in this position.

If this is too challenging, do wall slides – place a tennis ball on your back or use a smooth wall.

Slide downwards until the thighs are parallel to the floor then slide up until you’re upright and repeat.

See demonstration video

10. Step Ups

step up lunges

This a great low-impact exercise for strengthening the quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes. Use a box lower than your knee height.

How to perform

Stand a step away from the box then step on the box with one foot.

Straighten the front foot and place the rear foot on the box. Then lower both feet down and repeat the movement.

Do this exercise slowly to avoid hurting yourself.

See demonstration video

Worst Leg Exercises For Bad Knees

These exercises can make your knee problem worse. Avoid them completely or do them in low reps.

1. Plyometric exercises

Avoid any exercise that requires jumping. Plyometric exercises have a high injury risk and they put a lot of strain on the knees. So stay away from box jumps, jumping jacks, frog jumps and so on.

2. Deep squats

Deep squats are challenging even for folks with healthy knees. They stretch the hamstrings and quadriceps which are attached to the knees. Avoid squatting below parallel until your knees become stronger.

3. One leg jump rope

Jumping rope with one leg puts a lot of pressure on the knees. If you like jumping rope, jump both legs and stick your landing to reduce the impact on the knees.

4. Forward Lunges

Forward lunges may hurt your knees because of the pressure placed on the knees when you make a big stride.

5. Sprinting

Avoid sprinting especially on flat ground or downhill. Hill sprints actually reduce the impact on the knees – give them a try if your knee pain is not severe. You should also know they burn lots of calories.

There you have it, my friend. These exercises will strengthen your legs and even strengthen your knees.

Before I forget, there is a 5-minute ritual that can help you get rid of knee pain for good. This unique ritual decreases knee pain by up to 58% in just 5 minutes. Try it today.

Do you know other leg exercises for bad knees?

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One Comment

  1. Ann

    September 28, 2016 at 4:24 pm

    I find it hard to take advice when there’s so many grammatical errors in the article.