Knee strengthening exercises are important for optimal function and health of the knee joint. Maintaining strength, stability, and range of motion of the connecting muscles and ligaments is a must for athletes and anyone involved in physical activities. Knee strengthening exercises can greatly reduce the risk of injury and will help you achieve optimal performance. We are going to breakdown some of the best knee strengthening exercises for you so you may add them to your physical repertoire. These exercises can also be very beneficial for individuals suffering from a knee meniscus tear.
Cardio knee strengthening exercises
Stationary bike – This is one of the best low impact ways to increase blood flow, strength, and conditioning for the knee. The stationary bike is perfect for post surgical patients, elderly patients, and anyone suffering from a knee injury. If done correctly the stationary bike can increase the strength and function of the VMO. Once the patient has rehabilitated back to optimal knee function mountain biking or road biking can also be great knee strengthening exercises.
Climbing and hiking – For individuals not suffering from a knee injury this type of exercise is greatly beneficial. Just watch out for the mountain lions!
Reverse angle treadmill – For clients looking to develop the VMO and other surrounding knee muscles this is the workout for you. Set the incline to 12.0 or higher and walk backwards at a slow pace. Remember to maintain optimal position of your feet and contract quads with each backward step. Repetition is imperative for results with this low impact long duration exercise. Backwards walking can also be useful for post op ACL reconstruction patients. Adding this exercise 9-12 weeks post op can aid in faster recovery of your knee.
Stair climber – Another great knee strengthening exercise is the stair climber. This workout is great for your quads, gluts and calves. If you feel pain in the knee discontinue use until pain is gone. Stretching prior to using the stair climber is imperative. Remember to maintain optimal posture and contract the gluts and quads with each step.
Jogging and walking – Self explanatory really, these knee strengthening exercises are great for overall health and leg strength.
Resistance knee strengthening exercises
Stability ball wall squats -This is a wonderful way tostrengthen the lower extremities and your core. The stability ball is not necessary for this exercise but is recommended. There are many variations of ball wall squats that can be performed based on the individuals athletic capacity and leg strength. An isometric wall squat is performed by squatting down to a comfortable angle with no knee pain and holding for 30-90 seconds. Eccentric wall squats can be completed by a slow 4 count squat a 3 second hold and a 2 second stand. Wall squat kicks are great for folks looking to increase leg strength and stability. Squat kicks are performed by squatting to a comfortable angle and unilaterally extending one leg. Maintain posture suck in those abs and hold each extended leg out for 5 seconds and switch.
Leg press – This is a common gym exercise to increase overall leg strength and increase hypertrophy. Maintain proper low extremity alignment and perform 8-12 repititions.
Leg curl – This is a common gym exercise to increase overall leg strength and increase hypertrophy. Maintain proper low extremity alignment and perform 8-12 repititions.
Lunges – Lunges are one of my favorite exercises for the legs. There are probably hundreds of variations and different types of lunges. Standard lunges, multi-planer lunges, and rotation lunges are some of the most common variations. Remember to maintain optimal posture and contract the gluts and quads prior to concentric motion.
Stability ball hamstring curls – This is another great exercise for stability and proprioception. Lie down on your back and place your ankles on top of the stability ball, lift your hips off the ground and bring the ball in towards your gluts and repeat. Slow controlled motion is optimal for this type of exercise.
Standard squats – This is a common gym exercise to increase overall leg strength and increase hypertrophy. Maintain proper low extremity alignment and perform 8-12 repetitions.
Single leg squats – Without resistance try squatting on one leg. Maintain good back posture and make sure feet are aligned. Slowly squat to a comfortable position hold for 5 seconds and repeat. Perform 12-15 repetitions per leg.
Stretching is a must for anyone looking to maintain optimal leg and knee function. The best way to stretch is with a stretching partner. If you have the time take a stretching course and learn the proper protocol for stretching muscles. I also suggest getting a foam roll which can be a joggers/athletes best friend. The foam roll helps get those nasty knots out especially around the knee and IT band and can dramatically increase internal function and performance of the muscle.
Knee strengthening exercises tip – Please remember to consult with your physician prior to beginning any exercise or workout program. The above exercises are to serve as a guide only and are not meant to treat or diagnose any diseases.