Top 10 Knee Strengthening Exercises

Top 10 Knee Strengthening Exercises

These various knee strengthening exercises you will get to know as you read on are all aimed to reinforce the muscles and ligaments that all together surround and support the knee joint, therefore allowing movement. After all, your knees carry your weight virtually all the time due to the force of gravity, thus comes the ever more common knee pain. Now if you are worried whether it is safe or not to do some exercise, a proper consultation with your doctor is always the best thing to do. So long as he/she gives you the ‘go’ sign, then nothing should presumably go wrong unless you deliberately change the basics and have it your way.

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Some of the knee strengthening exercises listed here exclusively or collectively benefit and strengthen one or more muscle groups surrounding your knee, including the quadriceps, the muscles on the front of your thigh; the glutes or your buttock muscles; the hamstring which is opposite of the quads; and the calf, the lower leg muscles which is responsible for commanding the foot. All of them play a key role in the functioning of the knee, so it’s important to incorporate exercises that will reinforce them all to ensure an inclusive worthwhile experience.

Top 10 Knee Strengthening Exercises

Top 10 Knee Strengthening Exercises

To warm up, try first riding a stationary bike for at least 5 minutes or taking a brisk walk or jog. At least 15 wall push-ups before doing some calf raises are also recommended. This is all beneficial not just to stretch your muscles before the proper exercises but to prevent the risk of any injuries most importantly.

Wall Squats

Wall Squats

Wall squats are one of the best knee strengthening exercises there is to also build up your upper legs and enhances the endurance and stability of your quadriceps, the muscle in front of your thighs. It is also very effective in managing and even preventing runner’s knee, a loose term for the pain and other various problems affecting the knee.

It might be easy as it appears but it’s really quite demanding. Simply keep your feet flat and shoulder-width spaced out on the floor while standing with your back against an even wall. Carefully bend your knees along with your upper body, still keeping your back against the wall. Remain in that ‘sitting’ position for at least 5 seconds and longer when you do it next time. However, when you feel discomfort, do not force your knees.


Calf Raises

Heel Raises/Calf Raises

One of the simplest, and perhaps among the most vital knee strengthening exercises you can do anytime and anywhere is heel or calf raises. As the name suggests, this routine aims to reinforce the calf muscles that basically helps you walk and run properly and supports your knee. This muscle is located at the back of your leg from your knee just before it reaches your ankle.


To start off, stand straight with your feet faintly apart from each other. You can face and lean with your hand on the wall or on a sturdy chair for balance and support. Slowly raise your heels, as you would on tiptoe, for as high as you can handle while keeping your body straight and hold for up to 5 seconds before lowering. Do so for at least 15 reps twice a day.

Straight Leg Raises

Straight Leg Raises

This one also strengthens the quads. First, lie flat on your back with one leg bent and the other one straightened. Pull your toes toward your direction and clench your thigh muscles. Slowly lift your whole leg up for half a ruler off the ground or as high as possible, maintaining a straight knee. Hold it for 5 seconds, switch sides and repeat for at least 10 times. You can add some weight to your foot when you finally get the hang of it.

There are variations in doing these knee strengthening exercises. In prone straight leg raises, lie on your stomach instead of on the back and repeat the same steps but this time, from behind. Limit the height if you feel back pain. Inside leg raises, lie on one side. Bend the lower leg for support and simply repeat the steps.

Hamstring Curls

One Leg Standing or Hamstring Curls

Not just for strengthening the hamstring muscles and enhancing knee mobility, hamstring curls are also for retraining your sense of balance, also essential for preventing knee pain and injuries. To begin with, stand straight on a wall or with a chair in front of you for support. Raise one leg toward your buttock as high as you can and hold it up for 5 seconds before switching sides and repeating the steps for up to 20 times. You can add some weights to your ankle as you progress. Also, keep in mind not to bend forward and that your knees should be aligned.

Bridging Exercise

The Bridge/Bridging Exercise

Among the knee strengthening exercises here, Bridging Exercise works comprehensively by reinforcing a number of muscle groups all at the same time, including the hamstring muscles, glutes or the buttock muscles, and quadriceps.

To get going, lie on your back on the floor or on your bed and keep your knees bent for roughly 90 degrees. Tighten or clench your glutes or buttocks and slowly raise your bottom off the floor as high as possible. Remember not to arch your back; your bottom should be the only one working. Hold your position for 3 to 5 seconds before descending your body. Maintain a normal breathing throughout. You can do 20 repetitions two times daily.

Butt Kicks Exercise

Butt Kicks Exercise

In doing this exercise, lie on your stomach on the floor or on any flat surface with both your legs straight. Lift or ‘kick’ with your foot from behind and off the floor toward the direction of your butt as far as you can handle. After slowly returning to your original position, repeat these simple steps 10 to 20 times, preferably thrice a day. You can deal with an added weight in your ankle when you get used to it.


Performing butt kicks is a great cardiovascular warm-up to increase your heart rate before or as part of your proper workout, besides of course being among the most effective knee strengthening exercises there is. By strengthening the hamstring muscles, you are supporting your knees as well.

Quad Clenches

Quad Clenches

Perhaps the most unchallenging of all the knee strengthening exercises is the quad clenches. It bolsters the quadriceps at the front of your thighs, bolstering your knee along the way as weak quads are among the most common culprits for knee pain. It is undemanding since you need not move your knee or your body in general but still gets to strengthen it. This exercise is fitting for those in their early stages of surgery or injury.

To benefit from this, simply lie flat on your back on a flat surface or in a sitting position. Both your legs should be straight in front of you. Clench or tighten your thigh by trying to push your knees down, hold it for at least 3 seconds, and repeat for more than 10 reps thrice daily. You can place a towel rolled up beneath your ankle if you find it difficult to straighten your knee.

The Clamshell Exercise

The Clamshell Exercise

The Clamshell is one perfect example of glutes knee strengthening exercises. We already know that the glutes or buttock muscles are essential for the knee, making sure that not too much pressure and strain gets through the knees and that they go through uniformly. This would be great news for those suffering from knee pain.

For your starting position, lie on your side, bend your hip and knees for about 90 degrees, keeping your feet together all the time, that means throughout the whole duration of the exercise. Then lift the knee on top as high as you can, forming a ‘clamshell’ with your legs, and hold it there for at least 5 seconds before lowering it down. Do twice a day for not more than 20 reps. To progress, try squeezing your heels together to involve your glutes in the exercise.


Short and Long Arcs

These two knee strengthening exercises basically follow the same principle. By reinforcing the muscles at the front of the thigh, the quads, you are fortifying your knees in return. For the short arcs, lie flat on your back or sit up with your leg straightened flat. Under one knee should be a rolled up towel. Pulling your toes toward your direction and while clenching your thigh muscles, gradually lift your foot off the surface until your knee, with the towel underneath, is leveled and hold for 5 seconds. 15 reps should be enough. You can either increase the size of the towel or add some weight to your foot or even do both.

For the long arcs, simply raise and straighten your knee as high as possible, and hold for 5 seconds before lowering down, all while sitting on a chair. 15 repetitions will also do and an added ankle weight can help you progress.

Step-ups and Sit to Stand

Step-ups and Sit to Stand

These last two knee strengthening exercises also work a number of muscle groups all at once. For the step-ups, you will be needing a small platform, preferably the lowest step of a staircase in your home. Simply place one foot on a step, keeping your upper body and pelvis level, and then step back down. Switch sides and repeat 15 times. To make it virtually difficult, try doing it on a higher step and have your heel, instead of your toe, touch the floor.

For the sit to stand, sit first on a chair with your body straightened up and with your feet on the floor. Slightly lean forward when you lift your butt and stand up, keeping your body straight, before sitting back again. Repeat up to 20 times. You can use a higher chair to make it not that difficult. Otherwise, use a lower chair, don’t use your arms, and speed it up while holding a heavy load. Not only you boost your quads and glutes, you also enhance knee mobility.

In doing all these knee strengthening exercises, along with other types of workout, always remember not to force your knee to the point of feeling discomfort and pain, particularly the sharp and sudden one. Also, try avoiding high-impact activities but depend on cardio that is knee-friendly. It could be swimming or even water aerobics. In the end, consulting your doctor would always be among the greatest options you can make.