How to Build Strong Knees

Article by Lucas Rockwood

Do you have bad knees? Are you worried about your knee alignment in poses like a full lunge or a deep squat? Or maybe you just want to take better care of your knees? If so, this article is for you.

Maintaining healthy knees is crucial to enjoy an active lifestyle, reduce your risk of injury, and improve mobility. The simple, but effective, five-minute exercise routine in this guide can help to strengthen the muscles and stiffen the connective tissues that support your knee joint.

Anatomy of the Knee Joint

Your knee is a synovial hinge joint, which means it likes to open or close, and doesn’t like to twist or rotate very much at all.

The muscles surrounding your knees, such as your quadriceps, hamstrings, and gastrocnemius are the big mechanical movers and play a crucial role in stabilizing the joint, in tandem with ligaments, tendons, and cartilage. When it comes to improving knee strength, you need to focus on strengthening this soft tissue complex.

Download PDF pose chart

Strengthening Exercises

With daily practice, these muscles will strengthen very quickly, but it’s important to remember that while muscle tissue is highly metabolic and can develop in weeks, ligaments, tendons, and cartilage will often require months or more of careful training to build resilience. So, take it slowly, move with care throughout each pose, and listen to your body if you feel any discomfort.

Crescent Lunge

We’ll intentionally flex your front knee past your ankle and over your big toe—or beyond—assuming you can do this without pain and while feeling stable. The goal here is to isometrically load the connective tissues of your knees in maximum range so that over the coming months, they will become stronger and more elastic.

  • Lunge your right leg forward until your knee moves over—or past—your big toe
  • Rest your hands on top of your knee, in a prayer position, or even above your head
  • Hold for one minute
  • Switch sides and repeat

Supported Sissy Squat

Grab a stool or chair for this pose. Since you´ll be on your toes with maximum knee flexion, it’s important to have support.

  • Stand with your feet hip-width apart
  • Lean forward with your hands on the stool for support
  • Pop up onto your toes and slowly flex your knees as far as you can, pain-free
  • Lean forward as much or little as needed to find your maximum depth
  • Hold for one minute
  • Repeat three times

Forward Step Lunge

For this last pose, you’ll need a block, a book, or a pillow to put between your knees to keep your legs aligned. You’ll train here in a knees-over-toes position that is typical of walking downstairs or downhill, but we’ll do it isometrically to ensure control.

  • Place a block between your knees
  • Step forward onto your heel, toes lifted
  • Flex your back knee as deeply as possible, pain-free, with your heel on the ground
  • Steeple your hands at your heart
  • Hold for one minute
  • Repeat twice on each side

Safety Disclaimer

This guide is for educational purposes only. If you have a serious knee condition, please err on the side of caution, and speak to your doctor before starting any self-care practices.

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