Knee Strengthening Exercises: strength training for healthy knees

If you’re a healthy individual, you can use the knee strengthening exercises on this page to do injury prehab, increase your lower body strength and improve your flexibility. The exercises will also make you a better athlete. If you have knee pain, the basic knee strengthening exercises will get you back on the path towards being pain-free, at which point you can progress to performing the more demanding exercises.

You need to use your own discretion when performing these exercises. If one of these knee strengthening exercises feels weird or maybe even causes pain then just skip that exercise. You can try it again after working on the other exercises for a couple of weeks. The important thing is to listen to your body, to challenge it, but not to overstress it. That being said, performing 10 repetitions of a given exercise per day is way superior to performing 70 repetitions of that exercise once a week. Frequency is a lot more important that intensity with these kinds of drills.

Practice these movements every day, if you can even two or three times per day, for the quickest results. Listen to your body for information on how many repetitions you should do. Remember: challenging, but not overstressing.

Additionally, make sure you completely avoid the most common causes for knee pain, as these will slow your healing down or even prevent you from getting better altogether.


Good tissue quality: prerequisite for success with knee strengthening exercises

Rumble Roller: different modelsBefore we dive into the actual knee strengthening exercises, we have to bring out the trash so to speak. The trash in this case is bad tissue quality, which can mean adhesions or trigger points for example. These soft-tissue problems will prevent you from moving freely, as they restrict the free gliding of the layers of fascia. Soft-tissue restrictions will make you less flexible and decrease your power output, as force gets absorbed by the friction between tissues.

The cheapest way to address these soft-tissue problems is by massaging them yourself with a foamroller, tennis ball, lacrosse ball or even a simple stick or PVC pipe. If you can afford to have a professional massage therapist work on your tissues that’s even better of course.

Personally, I prefer the original density model RumbleRoller. You can also use the RumbleRoller to improve tissue quality of almost all other muscles and it is basically a poor man’s massage.

A few words of caution about Foam rolling: it should not be used on parts of the body you have recently injured. If you have chronic pain conditions (e.g. fibromyalgia) or circulatory problems you have to consult your physician before foam rolling.

Foam rolling is a cheap and easy way to improve tissue quality, but results will not appear overnight. You may have to work on your fascia daily for a week or two before you notice improvement.

You should not be rolling your joints or other bony structures. Roll a certain tissue for a minute or two and switch to a different body part. With foam rolling, frequency trumps duration, so you’re better off foam rolling a certain muscle several times a day for a minute.

Roll the following muscles and concentrate on those that are more unpleasant (i.e. need more work):

  • Calves
  • Hamstrings
  • Quads
  • Vastus Medialis
  • Vastus Lateralis
  • Gluteals
  • ITB
  • TFL

Foam rolling the calvesFoam Rolling the hamstrings

Foam rolling the quadriceps with a Rumble RollerFoam Rolling the Vastus Lateralis

Foam Rolling the gluteus maximusFoam Rolling the tensor fascia latae (TFL)

If you want, you can perform some stretches after rolling your muscles. It will be easier than without having rolled. Performing a psoas stretch should be the minimum, as restrictions in the psoas will prevent your gluteal muscles from firing properly. Everything else is up to your discretion.

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Basic knee strengthening exercises for pain rehab

Barring a knee injury or other medical condition, these exercises can and should be performed daily if you have knee pain.

Gluteal Training: most important for knee health

side-lying clams for hip external rotation trainingStrong and functional gluteals are very important for healthy knees. Your glutes will help you control the movement of the knee. They produce abduction and external rotation and resist adduction and internal rotation. In other words: the glutes prevent your knee from collapsing inward when cutting or landing from a jump. The knees-in-position increases your risk of ACL-tears, knee tendonitis and many other knee issues. Because of all that you could say that strong and functional gluteals are a part of the foundation of a strong and healthy human.

Gluteal exercise #1: side-lying clams

Lie on your side with your knees slightly bent and in front of you. Rotate the upper leg out by just using your gluteals. Don’t move your upper body and don’t push off using your toes. Your range of motion will be low in the beginning if you’re doing it right and you should feel some muscles in your buttocks working.

Perform 10 repetitions and hold the upper position for 2 to 3 seconds. Concentrate on contracting the glute hard. Then switch to the other side. Do both sides twice, so 2 sets of 10 repetitions per side.

You can add an elastic band to make this knee strengthening exercise harder.

side-lying hip abduction

Gluteal exercise #2: side-lying hip abduction

Lie on your side and have your body form a straight line. Lift the top leg up as far as you can, leading with the heel. As with the previous drill: don’t move your upper body.

With this knee strengthening exercise 2 sets of 10 repetitions per side will suffice as well. Add bands if the exercise is too easy.

Gluteal exercise #3: Glute Bridge

Lie on your back with your feet on the floor and the knees forming a 90 degree angle. Now press yourself up into the bridge position by contracting your glute hard. There should be a straight line from your upper body to your knees. Poke the muscles to help you nervous system “find” them. Glute Bridge and single-leg glute bridgeWork to have your hamstrings less tight than your gluteals with this drill.

As with the other drills, do 2 sets of 10 repetitions. Once that is too easy you can perform the one-legged glute bridge by having one foot in the air. Concentrate on maintaining good form at the upper position.

Gluteal exercise #4: x-band-walks

For this knee strengthening exercise you will need an elastic band. Loop the band around your feet as shown in the picture, squat down slightly and start walking sideways. Move one leg at a time. Don’t let the moving leg drag on the ground. Pick it up and actively resist the tension of the band.

This exercise can be made more difficult by using a stronger band or pulling on the band more. Just like in the other strengthening drills: move without using momentum. You should be able to stop at any point and then reverse the movement into the opposite direction.
How to setup for the x-band-walk

The simplest knee strengthening exercise: squats!

The deep squat is a basic human movement only few can still do properly. It’s beneficial for relaxing the hip musculature and providing the cartilage of the knee with nutrients. It should also be noted that squatting does not cause knee pain. Squatting improperly might cause knee pain, but doing anything improperly might cause pain.

How to perform the deep squat properly:

Sit back rather than dip down. Keep the shin bones as close to vertical as you can. If you cannot do this without falling over backwards, your ankle mobility needs work. Find something to hold on to, like a doorway, or hold a light weight out in front of you for balance.

the deep squat as a knee strengthening exerciseImagine you’re sitting down on a chair that’s far away from you. This will engage your glutes and hamstrings a lot more.

Place your feet directly under your hip pointing straight ahead. In this narrow-stance version of the squat there is no need to turn your feet out.

Don’t let your knees collapse inward. Track your knees over your smaller toes. If your knees keep collapsing inward you can loop an elastic band around your knees and work against the pressure to keep your knees from collapsing. This will help you recruit and train the proper muscles.

I found it helpful to just do a couple of deep squats every now and then throughout the day. This will provide the cartilage in your knees with nutrients and get some healthy movement into your day.

Resting in the deep squat position is also highly beneficial for relaxing hip muscles and improving digestion. Hold on to something if you’re falling over backwards, but wean yourself off soon.

Don’t stand up too quickly if you’ve spent more than a minute in the deep squat position. Push your hips back as far as you can and don’t let your knees slip forward.

You can make this exercise easier by holding on to something.

Basic four corner balance drill

This balance drill by Scott Sonnon provides numerous benefits. It’s a knee strengthening exercise with high demand for balance and muscular coordination. Your body will learn how maintain balance in spite of external forces trying to push it out of it.

We will be performing this knee strengthening exercise on solid ground, just like you would be performing your sport on solid ground. We live our lives on solid ground and the only time the ground wobbles is during an earthquake. The nervous system adapts specifically to what is trained, so training on wobble boards and similar devices simply does not carry over to performing on solid ground as much as training on solid ground would (SAID principle: specific adaptation to imposed demands). So why would you waste time and money on a piece of equipment when you could derive more benefits from training on solid ground, the most available balance training tool out there?


You need some space around you and solid ground to perform this exercise. Two meters (6 feet) of space in every direction should suffice. To derive maximum benefit from this drill it has to be performed barefoot. Minimalist shoe wear such as Vibram FiveFingers is a distant second option.

Step 1: frontal thrust

With both legs on the ground directly under your hips, turn the supporting foot out to about 45 degree and bend the knee of that leg slightly. Lift your other leg up in front of you, locking out the knee. Push the heel forward and pull the toes towards your shin. Sit back a bit on the planted leg, but only as far as you can without having to lean for balance. Flex the quadriceps of the elevated leg and the glutes of the planted leg, to help the hamstring of the elevated leg relax. Grip the ground with your toes and exhale.

Step 2: lateral thrust

From the previous position you turn with your whole leg by rotating your leg outwards, leading with the smallest toe (i.e. point the toes back)*. The foot of the working leg has to be turned outward at around a 45 degree angle. As in the previous step: sit back without leaning, but continue to rotate your leg outwards. Again: grip the ground with your toes and exhale.

* in the Intu-Flow DVD Series Sonnon advises to lead with the heel, but in his blog post he wants us to lead with the pinky. I guess it’s up to you.

Step 3: dorsal thrust

Now you’re leading with the heel and rotate your leg inward, to then thrust it backwards into a locked out position. To maintain balance you have to lean forward. Don’t forget to exhale and to grip the ground with your toes. Keep your head aligned with your spine in this knee strengthening exercise (i.e. look down).

After step 3 you move back to step one by slowly swinging your bent leg forward. Once you have it in front of you just begin in step one at the point where the working leg was already in the air.


  • Perform this drill every day
  • 3 – 5 repetitions per position
  • slow, controlled and smooth movement
  • relax everything that doesn’t need to be tense or is too tense
  • 10 second holds per position in the beginning
  • 30 second holds per position are very good
  • Scott Sonnon worked up to 60 seconds per position (brutal)

If you want more information on this drill and would like to know about the advanced versions, you can read more about it on Scott Sonnon’s blog: four corner balance drill – 4CBD or watch his Intu-Flow video on Youtube.

Intermediate Knee Strengthening exercises for injury prehab

The following knee strengthening exercises should not be performed without consulting your physician if you’re rehabbing a knee injury. Knee injury rehab should be performed with a qualified physical therapist in actual hands-on sessions, not based on information on the internet.

Knee strengthening exercises for joint mobility

Performing joint mobility has several benefits. With these drills you will restore or maintain range of motion in the joints, which is important for optimal performance. Not only will restrictions in range of movement cause problems such as knee pain, they will also reduce your athletic performance through what’s called the arthrokinetic reflex. I can tell you first hand that after doing joint mobility drills for every part of the body for the first time at the Nature Training seminar in Austria 2011 I felt amazing and proceeded to set a personal record in the towel pull-up.

The second reason why you should do joint mobility drills is to provide the cartilage in the joint with nutrients. The cartilage in our joints depends on movement for its nutrient supply, as there is no network of blood vessels, but only the synovial fluid. So to get nutrients to every part of the joint we have to make sure the whole thing gets used in its full range of motion. That will ensure proper lubrication, so to speak or in other words: “you don’t use it, you lose it”.

Of course there numerous other reasons to perform joint mobility drills. For example you prepare your body for dealing with bad positions in which injuries usually happen by putting yourself in these positions (without application of excessive force of course). You will also train your central nervous system to more efficiently communicate with your muscles, improving the neural pathways and thereby increasing your strength and athletic ability without any increase in muscle mass. Joint mobility exercises are also very beneficial for speeding up recovery after a hard workout (or in general), as they help remove waste products from your system. The list goes on and on.

There are hundreds of joint mobility exercises out there, but we will concentrate on those that focus on the knee. For optimal knee health you also have to take care of joint mobility at the ankle and hip and we will deal with those as well.

Knee circles with a block

Knee strengthening exercises: simple knee circles with a blockThis exercise will improve strength and range of motion in the ankle. The ankles are our first point of contact with the ground, which is why they are very important for optimal force transfer through the kinetic chain. Range of motion restrictions will lead to problems upstream (in the knees) and low strength will set you up for injuries like ankle sprains. These injuries will then further restrict range of motion and strength at the ankle, increasing the stress on the knee and you’re chances for injury even further. A vicious circle that has to be broken!


  • You need a yoga block, a rolled up towel or something similar (e.g. telephone book …)
  • Stand with your feet hip-width apart
  • Place the block between your knees


  • Trace a circle with your knees
  • Try not to move the hips too much (i.e. don’t turn the hip to the side)
  • 5 to 10 repetitions per direction

Supported squat (Amosov Squat)

In this knee strengthening exercise you can take load off the knee by placing more weight on the supporting object. This is helpful if you’re overweight, weak or are just not feeling really safe for whatever reason. From personal experience I can tell you that performing these squats is a great way to speed up healing of patellar tendonitis and they will also make all the creaking in your knees go away.

The supported squat is one of the best knee strengthening exercises (also called asomov squat)Setup:

  • Use a chair, a pole or sturdy piece of furniture for support
  • Stand with your knees slightly wider than hip width
  • Feet pointing straight forward


  • Sit back into the squat
  • Keep your shins vertical
  • Don’t let your knees collapse inward
  • Go as low as you can go without pain
  • Try to go a little deeper every time you practice
  • Perform 50 to 100 repetitions per day (split it up in however many sets you’d like)

Bear Squat

The bear squat is an excellent knee strengthening exercise in that it not only allows you to move the knee through the full range of motion, but it also dynamically stretches all the muscles on the backside of your body from your calves to your upper back.


The bear squat is a good joint mobility knee strengthening exercise

  • You start in downward facing dog (yoga, see the picture)
  • Keep the heels on the floor
  • Get your legs and your back as straight as you can


  • Sit back on your heels
  • Keep the hands on the ground
  • Don’t let your torso move forward
  • Move back into the starting position by completely extending your legs
  • Put the heels back on the floor
  • Don’t let your feet rotate inward (i.e. don’t let the arch of your foot collapse)
  • Inhale as you sit down on your heels, exhale as you push your legs back again

Shin Roll

The shin roll is a knee strengthening exercise that will have you move around, which is actually quite refreshing after being stationary in all the other exercises. This exercise does a lot for your ankles and knees, as both are gently moved in their end-range of motion. It’s fun, try it out.


The shinroll strengthens your knees and ankles

  • Sit on the ground
  • Put one leg out in front of you
  • Bend the other leg and put your heel towards your groin


  • Rock your weight forward to roll over the shin
  • Use your hands for support if you need to
  • Reverse the movement by sitting back again
  • Stay out of pain

The “Squat Clinic”

The following is a collection of knee strengthening exercises that were put together by Ido Portal. These exercises will help you regain range of motion at the ankle and at the hip, while also allowing you to move the knee through the full range of motion. Some of these drills are also excellent for improving muscle coordination of muscles that you might not have used for some time.

Soleus Dynamic Squat Stretch

The soleus squat stretch improves ankle mobility, a vital factor for knee healthRestrictive shoes and lack of movement caused dorsiflexion at the ankle to be very limited in many of us, yet at the same time we need to have a good amount of dorsiflexion range of motion for sports. This drill will help regaining lost range of motion at the ankle.


  • Stand in front of a sturdy object
  • Knees hip-width apart
  • Grab the object at waist height


  • Squat down, driving your knees forward
  • Keep your heels firmly planted
  • Get back up again
  • Ido suggests doing 10 reps and holding the forward stretched position for 10 seconds in the final rep

Hip Rotations on all fours

Being able to produce and resist rotation at the hip is just as important as ankle flexibility. This drill helps you rediscover those movements.


Hip rotations on all fours teach you to produce internal and external rotation at the hip

  • With your back facing the ground, get up on hands and feet with your knees bent
  • Your knees need to be slightly wider than shin-width apart


  • Rotate one leg out as far as you can, pointing the heel to the ceiling
  • Now rotate your leg back to the starting position
  • Next rotate your leg inwards as far as you can (try to touch the floor)
  • This is one repetition. Do 5 per side.

Squat hip rotations

This drill will take the hip rotation that we’ve used in the previous knee strengthening exercise and apply it in a squatting stance. It provides all the benefits of the previous drill while also improving the bottom position of the squat (very important for ankle, hip and knee health).


Squat hip rotations improve hip flexibility and hip internal rotation / hip external rotation

  • Take a stance slightly wider than hip-width
  • Squat down by sitting back
  • Keep your weight on your heels


  • Rotate one leg outward, going up on the outer ridge of that foot
  • Pause for a moment and go back to the starting position
  • Now rotate the same leg inwards until the knee touches the ground next to the other foot
  • Pause, go back to neutral and repeat with the other leg
  • Do 5 reps per side

Toes Stretch

The toes stretch for flexible feet.This stretch will have you sit on your toes for 30 to 60 seconds. Put something under your knees for cushioning if you have to, curl your toes up and proceed to sit on your heels. Keep your heels together. This will be very uncomfortable in the beginning (been there) and in my opinion you should not force yourself to stay in this position too long in the beginning. Try doing it for 10 to 30 seconds the first couple of times. Once it’s easier you can move up to 30 to 60 seconds.

You can and should take load off the toes in the beginning by shifting your weight forward. Try to feel what’s right for you, only you will know.

Dynamic Toes Stretch

The dynamic toes stretch improves toe flexibility dynamicallyNow we’ll take the previous drill and start moving into and out of the stretch dynamically. To do this just place your hands on the ground to the side of your legs, keep them on the ground the whole time and move back on your heels. Once you’re back, still keeping your hands on the ground, move forward and out of the stretch again. Ido suggests doing 10 repetitions.

Static and Dynamic Squats

The final two knee strengthening exercises for injury prehab are the static and the dynamic squat. For the static squat you just go into the bottom position of the squat and hold for a minute or two. Remember:

  • Sit back rather than dip down
  • Keep your weight on your heels
  • To get up, push your hips back as far as you can
  • Keep your shins close to vertical throughout

Finish the session off by doing 10 to 20 dynamic squats, going as low as you can.

How to put the knee strengthening exercises for injury prehab into action

Obviously some of these knee strengthening exercises overlap, so for a given day you would just pick one of the respective exercises. But you know what? Variety is the spice of life, so I thought I’d include more than just one option, especially since I’m convinced that this kind of injury prehab doesn’t have to be boring. It’s only boring if you simply go through the motions, but you could also have fun with it by connection the movements into a more complex routine like going from squat, to bear squat, to shin roll, to squat hip rotations and back to squat for just one or two repetitions each. You get the idea.

Advanced Knee Strengthening exercises for increased athletic performance

I don’t know which kind of knee strengthening exercises you were looking for when you came to this page, but looking at the other top results it seemed like most people are looking for rehab exercises. I’ve covered plenty of knee strengthening exercises for rehab in the previous sections. Once your knees are healthy again you might want to improve your game in your favorite sport. That’s where the following exercises come in.

Considerations for loading, sets and performance

Every sport puts different demands on the muscular and energy system of the body. If you’re competing in MMA and the round length is 5 minutes you would be better off performing a 5 minute strength circuit than just resting between exercises. If you’re playing pickup basketball you would want to train for explosiveness, but you wouldn’t want to get gassed either. That being said it’s hard to give general recommendations for loading and sets, but performing the following exercises will still be beneficial to you, regardless of your sport.


The simple lunge is one of the most effective knee strengthening exercisesThe simple lunge is a very excellent exercise for thigh and hip strength. The peak glute contraction may not be as high as in the exercises that directly target the glutes, but the glutes will still get a good workout if you squeeze them hard. This exercise can also easily and safely loaded by holding dumbbells in your hands. You can keep your back straight and upright easily, don’t have to support a heavy barbell on your back and can move around even if there is little space available. You can do forward walking lunges and if space is limited you just do reverse lunges by stepping back and then forward again.

Some technique points to remember for the lunges:

  • Don’t let your knee collapse inward
  • Keep your pointing forward
  • Imagine your feet are stuck on railroad tracks underneath your hips
  • Keep your back straight and vertical
  • Brace your abs and tense the glutes, especially of the back leg

Barbarian Squat

This is another excellent drill by Scott Sonnon. It will challenge your core stability, legs, grip and upper body strength. You will need a clubbell, a macebell or a kettlebell to perform this. The clubbell definitely works best, but if you don’t have one, just hold a kettlebell by the horns.

The barbarian squat will not only provide benefits in terms of knee strengthening, it will strengthen your whole bodyPerformance:

  • Assume a squatting stance
  • Put the clubbell behind your head by moving it past your head on the side
  • Keep some tension in your triceps (i.e. don’t let your elbow close all the way)
  • Now move the weight in front of you, extending your arms, turning your elbow pits up and slightly out
  • At the same time go down into the squat until you reach parallel
  • Keep your shins vertical
  • From there reverse the movement

One-legged Deadlift

The one-legged deadlift provides numerous benefits:

The assisted one-legged deadlift with the big toe on the ground

  • Improved balance, proprioception and coordination in a sport-specific setup (i.e. not on a wobble board)
  • Improved hamstring flexibility and strength
  • Improved gluteal strength
  • Improved postural awareness

In the beginning you should perform this exercise with a stick to help you find proper form. The stick assists with finding the ideal head and back alignment. Just have it touch the back of your head, your upper back between your shoulder blades and your hip. Keep these points of contact at all times.

Performing this drill with the big toe of the back foot on the ground can also be beneficial in the beginning, as this helps with grooving the proper movement without having to “fight” to maintain balance.

The important error to avoid is having your knee collapse inward (as shown in the last frame). This position puts you at risk for injuries like ACL-tears. However, if you strengthen the correct movement pattern your risk of injury will drop significantly.


  • Stand with your legs hip-width apart, feet pointing forward
  • Place one foot back, only the big toe touching the ground


  • Bend at the waist without bending too much at the knee
  • Keep a straight back alignment
  • Keep your shin vertical
  • Don’t let the knee collapse inward
  • Go as deep as you can go
  • Return to the starting position by squeezing your glutes hard

Just go as low as possible without resorting to bad technique and don’t worry about range of motion (it will increase automatically as you keep practicing). You can experiment with different degrees of knee bend. The less you bend your knees, the more hamstring flexibility the exercise will require. To make this exercise harder you will just need to take the supporting foot off the ground. Once you’ve mastered that you can proceed to loading this knee strengthening exercise with dumbbells. Using just one weight in the hand opposite of your working leg will provide a tremendous training effect for the whole body.

The benefits of the one-legged deadlift go beyond knee health, as the improved proprioception and strengthening of the ankle will also bullet-proof you against ankle sprains and similar ankle injuries. I’ve landed on other people’s feet several times in basketball and I haven’t sprained my ankle once after implementing this exercise (ankle sprains happened every now and then before adding this knee strengthening exercise).

King Deadlift

This is a very difficult single-leg knee strengthening exercise that will require strength and flexibility in the hip, as well as very good balance. It’s a strength drill: perform it in a controlled fashion without momentum (i.e. you should be able to stop at any point, just as you should be able to reverse the movement at any point).


The king deadlift: one of the more difficult knee strengthening exercises

  • Stand on one leg, with the other leg bent behind you


  • Sit back, while keeping the other leg bent and off the floor
  • Don’t let the knee collapse inward (last frame)
  • The knee should stay above the foot (i.e. not travel beyond the toes)
  • The first thing to touch the floor should be your knee
  • Reverse the movement without rocking or momentum

Obviously you should use something for padding under you knee in the beginning and it’s also fine to push off slightly with the back knee until you’re strong enough to just move from the working leg. Wean yourself off quickly though.

You have to pay attention to your knees in this knee strengthening exercise. Don’t let them collapse inward and don’t let them travel forward too far. The knee should always stay behind the toes of the foot and to achieve this you simply have to lean forward to a certain degree.

Single Leg Squat

The single-leg squat, aka pistol squat, is an excellent drill for knee strengthening, but it should be used judiciously.Steve Maxwell has written an excellent piece on the full range of motion single-leg squat (aka pistol) and so there is no need to reinvent the wheel: how to become a pistolero. This is a very advanced knee strengthening exercise only few people can perform properly, but it’s no magic trick. On the contrary: dedicate a few weeks of training to this skill and you’ll have it down in no time. No half-assing please, for your own good.

Range of motion in the pistol is even more controversially discussed than ROM of the two-legged squat. The only time I ever felt it in my knees was when I increased my volume injudiciously (as in from 3×6 to 5×9). If you slowly increase one training variable (volume, frequency or intensity) in a given training cycle of 6 to 8 weeks, you will derive great benefits from a properly performed pistol. If you do too much too soon (like I did) or maybe even use improper technique, you will get hurt. It should also be noted that the main reason for using bad technique usually is the desire to get more reps in. Never sacrifice poundage lifted for technique, because in the end that mentality will not only get you injured, but also prevent you from setting records (lesson learned).


There you have it. Knee strengthening exercises that will take you from wherever you are now to the top 1 %. Always remember the most important prerequisites for knee health: strong and mobile hips and ankles, good tissue quality and length, and, most vital of them all, good programming of your central nervous system.

Happy jumping!

And by the way: if you want to know more about all requirements knee health, you should definitely check out my free email course on the most common causes for knee pain (sign-up right below or read more about it here)! It will help you find and fix crucial mistakes you might be making right now. Here’s a preview:


  1. Sisa says

    I broke my knee in a rugby match early august. Had surgery a week and a half later. I have been wearing a ROM brace august 24 on a straight position. I am now rehabilitating my knee. I find it very painful to bend my knee. My patella tendon is where the pain comes from. I assume it is very stiff from being fixed and straight for about 2 months. I am trying to do some knee exercises and massages on the knee in order to get it to bend. I would like to ask for more advice on what i could do to alleviate the pain and get my knee to bend again. i still wear the ROM but now it is loose to bend.
    Kind regards,

  2. Matt says

    Excellent article! Some of these are familiar from past stints in PT from knee surgeries to repair/regrow cartilage. I wanted to find some good strengthening exercises that will support my mission to avoid future knee injuries. Thanks for posting this!

  3. says

    Iam 45 year. I injured play footbal before two year but after three-four month relief pain in leg. Last three month leg & knee pain again becouse light injury in bus. Digital X-Ray’s are O.K.
    but pain in both leg and knee. kindly sugest diet and exercise for leg and knee.

    • Martin Koban says

      Dear DD,

      I suggest you check out my free email course on the most common causes for knee pain:

      This course is over 60 pages in total and details biomechanical causes for knee pain and how you can fix them.

      I’m sorry that I can’t answer your question in more detail, but I don’t know enough about you to do so. Using the information in the email course you’ll be able to discover problems and fix them yourself.

  4. Marwa says

    I am 34,and have been on and off exercising all my life. I recently started doing intense training but after a month of daily working out my knee started getting real painful. I hardly can do squats and when I do its very painful. Do I just get knee support and do the basic strengthenin exercises ? And keep goin with my intense exercising?

    • Martin Koban says

      Dear Marwa,

      If I were you I’d get checked out by a doctor to rule out any knee injuries. Once he has cleared you for exercise, you should start training at a level of intensity that doesn’t aggravate your knee. From there, increase one of your training variables by 10% every (# of repetitions, weight, or tempo).

      One thing that always helped me was to move weights in a slow & controlled fashion. If something is too heavy for you to lift 2 seconds up and 2 seconds down without any bouncing, don’t do it. When knees are aggravated they don’t like bouncing.

      Moving slowly trains your body to place most all the stress on your muscles, instead of your ligaments.

  5. mona says

    hello, and thanks so much for your graceful to share this useful information.I am 28 and i had knee pain for many years and i went to the doctor and they said that my foot Muscles are weak and should strength them with exercises like swimming or spin bike, so i chose spin bike, and unfortunately i did over training and now i feel pain in may inner thigh Muscles and my inner knee especially in my right knee. please help me and i’m sorry if my English language is not good enough.

  6. Attwood Duncan says

    How many of these workouts should I do? I’m football player want to know how many or should I do all of these daily?

    • Martin Koban says

      Hey Attwood,

      You can do body weight variations daily but once you start loading the exercises (by holding on to weights for example) you should allow your body at least one day of rest (depending on how intense your training is).

      I generally go for 3 to 5 sets of body weight exercises and aim at a total number of repetitions around 50. Once I can do 3 sets of 15 of a given exercise I usually increase the difficulty somehow.

    • Martin Koban says

      Make sure to progress slowly and to execute exercises slowly and under control.

      You’ll be surprised about how much it will help you.

  7. nicola wright says

    I was hit by a car 4years ago left knee was crushed ..I then had harvested bones replace my knee bone and I have a metal plate at the back and front for support..there are times when I have a lot off pain…standing all day at work, shopping..even on vacation..what can I do to increase the strength in this knee and the surrounding muscles….

    • Martin Koban says

      Dear Nicola,

      I’m sorry, but a situation like that exceeds my qualifications.

      I recommend you get in touch with Dr. Perry Nickelston at or find another Neurokinetic Therapy Practitioner. Using deep tissue laser therapy can also be beneficial in your case, but someone like Dr. Nickelston is better able to advise you in this matter.

      All the best for your recovery!

  8. smita khedekar says

    I had ACL sprain , chondramalecia patella grade 2 and medial meniscus grade 2 tear, i had this injury 6 week back, had proper bed rest and rice tretment . Doing exercise since 10 days. Still i am not able to walk properly. What should i do so that i can walk properly without pain.

    • Martin Koban says

      That outside my area of expertise, sorry. You need to find a good medical professional to help you deal with this. I recommend Dr. Perry Nickelston or Dr. David Weinstock. You can find them through Google. Good luck.

  9. Rebecca Murphy says

    I’m 16 years old, but I have hurt my knee to the point that my dance can be hard…. I keep dislocating it and it’s happening easier and faster. Would these exercises help my knee, I don’t really want surgery?

    • Martin Koban says

      Dear Rebecca,

      I’m sorry to hear about your knee issues.

      I wish I could give you more specific advice, but unfortunately, I’m not familiar with knee dislocations and what to do about them. It’s outside my area of expertise.

      If you’re still looking for help, I suggest giving Dr. Perry Nickelston a call and if you can, dropping by for an in-person consultation:

      I wish you all the best!

  10. Kevin says

    Thank you so much for the website and book, which I bought on Amazon. I have been doing all the stretches, bought a foam roller and my knee has improved. The only nagging symptom is tightness around the entire kneecap and even behind the knee. I feel this when I’m walking, when my leg is straight with weight on it. I can’t do the runner’s stretch (where you pull the leg behind toward your rear end). That’s the one stretch that will give me some pain. Sometime when I am walking I feel like there is a popping underneath the kneecap that can be painful. Will these symptoms improve with continued stretching and rolling? I haven’t got a slant board, will that help with these lingering issues?

    • Martin Koban says

      Hey Kevin,

      Sorry for getting back to you so late.

      The slant board is for treating patellar tendonitis. If you don’t have that specific injury, you may only use it for stretching your calves and doing joint mobility exercises, but squatting on it won’t bring benefits over squatting on even ground.

      The symptoms you describe sound like they’re cartilage-related and they may be caused by a maltracking kneecap. For the cartilage issues, you can get a supplement like MoveFree on Amazon (or another supplement with Glucosamine, Chondroitin, MSM, and hyaluronic acid) and supplement with liquid fish oil to reduce inflammation (inflammation prevents cartilage repair).

      For the maltracking, make sure to massage your TFL muscle religiously and to strengthen your gluteus medius with the clamshell exercises described above. Also, massage the outside of your thigh muscles.

      Making the pain disappear is a question of finding a way to remove the overload and providing the body with the nutrients it needs to heal.

  11. SA Gizara says

    Injured my knee during Military training.

    Good afternoon, I have a question regarding knee stregth. I have been hiding my knee injury for the past four months becasue of medical discharge possiblities. Now that I have graduated I can no longer be discharged(without benifits. I had a MRI and X ray and no serious damage is apparent. But I still feel pain in my knee when I walk and squat.
    Also sometimes my knee with seam to “give out” and buckle. This is very pain full.
    My PT doc says that I have massive stregth in my legs but im very tight and have little to no flexiblity.
    Is that why I am in pain? And would you suggest I run/do my FMF PT (similar to cross fit) exercises?

    -SA Gizara

    • Martin Koban says

      Dear SA Gizara,

      I’m not familiar with FMF PT, but in general, any activity that increases pain has to be avoided while you’re strengthening your knee through self-massage, hip exercises like the ones above, single-leg exercises to work out muscular differences between sides, and then gradually increasing load on the front of the knee. As for stretches, calf, hamstring, and quad stretches are most beneficial for knee pain, but you need to be careful with the quad stretches. If they increase your pain, don’t do them.

  12. Teresa says

    Dear Martin,
    Im 49 yrs Old , and doing lots of aerobics excersice at least 4x a week and their all heavy impact, a month ago I felt pain on my left knee, went to see a physical theraphy and said my left knee has no problem
    It was my right knee. My right knee was weaker than left. Apparently Im doing too much excersise. She said by correcting my right knee it would takes ages and need some help of accupuncture. To be honest I don’t think i like the idea of stickin some needles every week on my legs.

    Thanks & God Bless !

    • Martin Koban says

      Hey Teresa,

      Sorry to hear about your pain. The good news is that it sounds like you’ll have the gumption to take of it the right way.

      To fix your imbalances, you can use the single-leg exercises and do them in front of a mirror with perfect alignment (don’t fatigue yourself). Do them slowly, to reveal any and all weakness. This also takes care of them.

      Good luck and let me know how it goes.

  13. Asad says

    Hi Martin,
    I was diagnosed with patellar tendonitis about 3 months ago.
    The doctor said my biomechanics is not suitable for a hip and glute are not flexible enough so there was too much load onto my knee that caused this injury.
    I had this injury for the first time in May 2014 but not knowing it was this type of injury I rested for 3 months from any activity and went back to playing football with no pain at all but it slowly came back.
    I had MRI at end of January 2015 which confirmed patellar tendonopathy and was sent for physiotherapy.
    I have visited the clinic 6 times in 6 weeks and they have been giving me self massage, stretching and stregntening exercises just like in your book.
    I did some research and found you and bought your book which has everything I need. I have noted a difference in how you progressing treatment in your book and how I did it with my physiotherapist.My physiotherapist advised me to progress much faster than how it is advised in your book. He advised to increase load and using a 20-30kg backpack when doing the eccentric excercises.
    I have few questions;
    At which stage of the treatment am I since I started the rehab process before buying your book?
    I have no pain at all when I’m doing all the eccentric excercises, I can do the phase 3 progression test, single leg squat with no pain at all, only slight discomfort after the excersise.

    is it ok for me to start jogging and is this minimum discomfort normal during the treatment? I just dont want to rush to playing football again and re-injure the tendon. this has been a painful 4 months without partecipating my favourite sport and want to avoid any mistake that could add more time to the recovery time.

    Hope to get a reply from you.

    Thank you


    • Martin Koban says

      Hey Asad,

      You already made great healing progress. Good work!

      There are no set rules for the stage you’re at now, but I can give you some guidelines. You’re ready to return to sports, here’s what I’d do:

      – Continue the eccentric exercises once per week and focus on moving slow and under full control (3 seconds down, 3 seconds up, no bouncing)
      – Practice your sport once per week (have 2 or 3 days of rest in between the eccentric exercises and the sports practice)
      –> Start with very light sports activity for the first 2 weeks and then scale it up carefully in the weeks that follow
      –> Observe how your pain changes and never train hard on consecutive days
      –> Pay attention to how you’re moving in your sport: is your knee coming forward/collapsing inward? Are you using your hips/glutes or are you relying too much on the quads?
      – Be sure to continue the self-massage exercises, as well as the stretching of calves, hamstrings, and quads

      Patellar tendonitis gets worse again if you make one of the following 3 mistakes:

      1) Do too much in one training session (move too explosively, train too long, or a combination thereof)
      2) Train too often without enough rest (2 to 4 days are needed for the tendon to adapt safely to higher loads)
      3) Interfere with tendon recovery in some way (e.g., by having bad sleep, taking NSAIDs, or having excess omega-6 fatty acids in your diet)

      So these are the things you need to pay attention to during this period.

      Good luck!

      • Asad says

        Hi Martin,

        Thanks for your great advice.
        I have found other friends that suffer from this injury for years and never did anything to get rid of it so I have advised them to get your book and follow the treatment process in there as well as educating themselves on how to avoid this coming back in the future.

        You have advised me to return to my sport gradually and continue with eccentric exercises.
        I have returned to jogging first as my sport and level of it would be too much ask for my knee.
        Is it normal to feel this discomfort right below (or underneath) the patella after a run?I feel this discomfort which is minimal and it is a little painful if I press just below the patella.
        I went for jogging for the first time yesterday together with streching and eccentric exercises and felt discomfort and burning sensation on the patellar tendon while in bed last night but no pain.
        Are all these these normal symptoms when gradually going back to activity and will I need to stop the activity if the discomfort happens during activity (jogging for now).

        Thanks Marting,

        Look forward to hear from you.


        • Martin Koban says

          I’d definitely stop the activity if you feel discomfort during it. As for the pain, as long as you have your 2 or 3 days of rest in between runs and there is only some pain after the activity, you can stay at that training level. If, however, pain increases again from week to week, the training is still too intense and you need to return to doing the slow squats for another month or two until all discomfort is gone.

          Unfortunately, everybody experiences pain differently with this injury so uncovering the way to proceed always requires some experimentation, since it’s individual. Work based on the additional advice given in the book (try heat, try the supplements mentioned, etc) to give yourself as much of an advantage as possible.

          When in doubt, I’d continue with the slow squats for another month and if you feel safe doing so, you can work towards doing full range of motion single-leg squats, always aiming to decrease discomfort from week to week. Make sure to perform the squats just as slowly (3 seconds down, 3 seconds up) and with good alignment.

          • Asad says

            Hi Martin,

            Continuing the accentric exercises and currently at one legged and bending until parallel to the ground.
            During this exercise I can feel heavy load onto my patella and I now developed discomfort on the actual patella ( lower side/underneath it). I can no longer feel any discomfort on the patella tendon but I’m wondering if I have damaged the cartilage behind the patella when I was trying to fix patellar tendonitis. Have I loaded the the patella too soon?shall I not load all the way to parallel to the ground?
            I have started jogging and noticed stiffness and slight swelling on lower side of the patellar after the session but improves after streching. is this to do with cartilage damage as well?



          • Martin Koban says

            Hey Asad,

            Good to hear that you’ve made progress with the tendonitis. As for the discomfort you mentioned, try these adaptations to the single-leg squats to see if you can get them to work for you:

            – sit your hips all the way back to keep your shins as close to vertical as possible
            – shift your weight to your heels to do that, but not so much that you cannot maintain balance well
            – a good drill to train this is working from the bottom position: get down on both feet, feet pointing forward, now place one foot out in front of you and get into the bottom position of the one-legged squat. Next, push your hips back and try to get your shin closer to vertical. You should also check alignment of your foot and knee: foot pointing forward, knee tracking over 2nd or 3rd toe.
            – begin doing daily quad massage and quad stretches. Search for “wall quad stretch” on google to find a great stretch for this. Make sure you use a ton of padding on the ground and to brace your abs as well as your gluteal muscles. This takes tension out of the rectus Femoris and quads, which the heavy squatting training can cause. You can also do it twice daily, but make sure that it doesn’t aggravate your pain.

            If in spite of these modifications, you still can’t get the full range of motion to work, return to doing single-leg squats to parallel. It’s completely fine in terms of healing the tendon. You’ll still have to stretch your quads though (tension builds up after frequent training).

            I’d love for you to get back to tell me which of these modifications worked best for you.

            – Martin

  14. Jessie Mcclease says

    Please send me your free email exercises for help with my knees. There are exercises for other body areas as well. Thank you. Jessie.

  15. Punith says

    Hi Martin,
    I have been playing basketball for 4 months, from last 1.5 month I am experiencing minor pain after playing basketball and a knocking sound sometimes when I walk. But during play time I don’t experience any pain, can you help with what sort of problem I am going through before it worsens.


    • Martin Koban says

      Dear Punith,

      Sorry to hear about the pain you’re experiencing.

      Before you do anything about it, you need to see a doctor to rule out other knee injuries. I mention this because of the knocking sound you mentioned.

      Once you know more about the injury, you can come back and sign up to the email course on the front page ( to get you started with great exercises to get you pain-free. I collected a lot of material in the course, so that I can share it freely and help as many people as possible.

      Also, if you find out that you have patellar tendonitis, you can search Amazon for my book Beating Patellar Tendonitis or you can get the two most important chapters of the book for free on my website (it’s in the menu on the right).

      Good luck Punith!

      – Martin

  16. F.Venable says

    I took a bad fall & fractured my knee cap & portion of my shin. Had arthroscopic surgery end of April. Surgeon performed subchondroplasty procedure only, both ACL & MCL were stretched but not torn, required no surgery. Drs orders to not put any weight on it for 3-4 mos. So Mr. Koban’s floor exercises have been very helpful. I’ve also benefitted greatly from stretching yoga type of exercises – this has helped w the stiffness & even pain the most. On top of stretching 3-4 x’s a day, I have been applying lavender oil on my wounded knee 3-4 x’s a day, this has been a Godsend!! It helps w the pain, & even my dr. wondered why there was no bruising & swelling was v.minimal. I first rub a little olive oil on my knee (this helped my 3 incisions to heal nicely), then I put 10 drops of lav.oil to that area & massage it in real good.

    • Martin Koban says

      Hello F. Venable,

      Thank you for sharing your oil massage method. I’m sure other readers will want to try it.

      Also, great to hear that you’ve gotten so much better. Makes me really happy for you :-) — Congratulations!

      I’m sure if you keep working on it, you’ll continue to see more results.

      – Martin

    • Martin Koban says

      Hey Maria,

      Yes, clamshells and hip abductions can help. You can also actively rotate your knees to the outside and to the inside when standing to become aware of which muscles you need to work.

      It’s a two part equation: one part is strengthening the muscles (via the exercises mentioned earlier) and the other part is awareness during everyday movement.

  17. Mateen says

    Hi Martin, while I am taking time off running and squatting to rehabilitate my knees, would it still be alright for me to continue upper body exercises (bench press, military press) and would it be okay for me to swim still?

    • Martin Koban says

      Hey Mateen,

      I think you emailed me the other day.

      Just want to answer this for everyone: upper body training is allowed and strongly encouraged.

  18. ashwani says

    Hello sir I am Ashwani 2year ago I played basketball and heavly injured in patella tendon so now days injury pain in my knee if I walked long time then more pain and not proper flexibility in my knee I suffer to long time to this injury please suggest exercises and medicines tips and sir I take ice on injured part or not

  19. tejas vyas says

    I am having os good shallter in both of my knees. Will these exercise help me in curing this problem. and my age is 16 years I am suffering from this problem since last two years.

    • Martin Koban says

      Yes these drills can help, but the most important requirement for recovery from osgood’s is appropriate rest. The body will take care of healing if you give it enough time.

  20. James says


    I got patellar tendinitis while hiking. It’s been a couple of months and slowly starting to train again with mild to occasional moderate pain in my patellar. What rehab exercises would you recommend?


  21. Rabiraj says

    Dear Martain,

    6 month ago my right leg twist on a pice on stone. From that day till date i am getting sever pain. I been to lot of docter they are teling. You got ligament injury it will go. After prescribing some Nsid they ask to cpme beck after 15 days. Till date no result i am getting. Now i am putting a knee cap. please suggest me.

    • Martin Koban says

      Dear Rabiraj,

      I don’t have experience with ligament tears, so please stick to what your doctors told you and be safe.

      Sorry that I couldn’t give you more help. I hope you get better soon.

  22. shradha yadav says

    Hiiii Martin,
    I m 22yrs old i have knock knees in both of my legs. I want to get it correct in 1month as i want to join indian armed force. Can u please suggest me proper diet and excercise to correct my knock knees just in a month. Because i have medical exam in april. I m very much scared for my knock knees. Anyhow i want to clear my medical exam. This is my dream to get into indian armed force.
    Reply me urgently.

    Thank you

  23. Tony Gonzalez says

    I found your article Knee Strengthening Exercise very hopeful. I just turned 40 and I tore my meniscus about 3 yrs ago. I was told that surgery wasn’t required but have never felt confident on my knee. I constantly experience pain on both knees, upper legs and recently inner thigh where it connects to my pelvis. I was given a husky pup for my birthday and would like to exercise for my own health but also hers. She’s a running breed. I’m ready to get the described tools to start working my muscles and knees to hopefully be able to jog in the future. Any other exercise you can recommend will be greatly appreciated. Your article has given me hope. THANKS so much!!!

    • Martin Koban says

      Hey Tony,

      That’s so awesome! My parents had two huskies when I was younger. Great animals and super-friendly to everyone (even though some folks were scared thinking they were wolves haha).

      For other exercises, you can check out this article: – it has a ton of material, as well as research.

      One thing to bear in mind for your meniscus is that exercise cannot repair a torn meniscus (to the best of my knowledge). If you feel any locking sensations or swelling, you won’t be able to fix it with exercise, but you may be able to avoid positions (deep squat) that trigger problems.

  24. Sully Nur says

    I have been suffering from genu Varum ( bowlegs) and don’t know what to do about it. I play a lot of basketball and am planing on getting extremely serious about it because I really want to play college ball. But every time I want to go to the weight room and work lower body I feel a lot of excercises are awkward because of my bowed legs. when I stand with my feet together my knees are apart and point towards each other. Aside from sports it looks kind of weird and would really want to change this. If you can help it would mean so much to me.

    Thank you

  25. Bryon says


    I recently started having a ‘popping’ type sensation in my knee when I flex it all the way in. I had an MRI but it showed no structural damage. Any ideas on what is wrong, or what exercises might help?

  26. sagar sharawat says

    i m 16yr old and i m a 100m sprinter through sprinting sudden start cause knee pain on my left side behind the knee had checked by 6-7 docter but no benifit.when my knee heatup no pain, what i do..plz….help me.

  27. humaira says

    My left leg knee is inward and this is not the issue from my birth. Please suggest me exercises and food so I can recover it without surgery. I really get scary from surgeries. Thanks

  28. Alex says

    Hello, thanks for the article, I have been having issues with my knees only when I do squats with the barbell. I have decided to start really light and work my way up. I do still get a little knee pain from this. do you think this will work in the long run? or will I simply further injure my knee. I do not get pain from running or really anything other then barbell squats

  29. bissal says

    Martin please help me .when i am perform squat exercises my left knee knock when iam siting anywhere i will bend my left knee at outside of my left knee its crack over there how to fix it ?

  30. karella says

    I’m almost 18 and i have knocked knees. I don’t have any pain but when I walk/run I feel them touching. Would these exercises help me fix that ? Like would they basically correct my X legs if I do those everyday ? Thank you.

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