A good friend of mine is dealing with some messed up knees exacerbated by a bad personal trainer, and I wanted to help out a bit and do some research on strength training exercises that won’t cause harm to the knees. I personally do a lot of lunges and squats with heavy dumbbells to get my lower body training done, but I’m lucky to have healthy knees.
One thing I do after my heavy weighted workouts is Pilates, and tons of Pilates exercises can be done without too much knee usage. Here’s my favorite Pilates butt and thigh workout:
You don’t have to totally give up some lower body weightlifting either. The Romanian Deadlift is a bit easier on the knees than a standard deadlift. You start from a standing position and lean down, keeping your back straight, until you feel a stretch in your hamstrings, then, keeping your abs tight, slowly stand back up.
The Single Leg Deadlift is another exercise I do often, usually with heavy hand weights (20-30 lbs per hand), but it can be done without weights to start.
Good Mornings are also a great exercise that isn’t hard on the knees. Similar to the deadlift, the knees are slightly bent, the back is kept straight and the waist hinges while the arms hang with the weights.
And I can’t write an exercise blog without mentioning kettlebells. The kettlebell swing, while LOOKING hard on the knees, is actually a movement focus on the pelvis. The knees only bend slightly in order to aid momentum.
All of these exercises can help strengthen and tone your lower body without overdoing the strain to your knees. Please chime in with any feedback below!