- Are You Overweight with Knee Pain? Learn These 7 Easy Exercises Even Obese People Can Do
- 7 Easy Exercises for Overweight People with Knee Pain
- Top 3 Low Impact Cardio Exercises for Bad Knees
- 3 Exercises to Avoid If You Have Knee Pain
- Kneeling Glute Lift With Pulses
- Ball Bridge
- Elastic Band Bridge
- Squat With Kickback
- Exercise Ball Side Leg Lift With Rotations
- ICYMI, there are lots of reasons to strengthen your glutes and hamstrings.
- Here’s how to do the single-leg bridge:
- Glute exercises
- Beginner Glute Exercises
- Intermediate Glute Exercises
- Advanced Glute Exercises
- These Lower-Body Exercises Are Perfect for Those Who Suffer From Knee Pain
- 1. Glute bridges
- 2. Box squats
- 3. Single-leg standing dumbbell calf raise
- 4. Landmine reverse lunges
- 5. Single-leg Romanian deadlift
- No More Squats: 7 Effective Lower Body Exercises That Won’t Hurt Your Knees
- 2. Deadlifts
- 3. Inner thigh circles
- 4. Side raises (with a resistance band)
- 5. Heel presses
- 6. Hip abduction
- 7. Skater lunges
- 5 Leg Exercises To Combat Knee Pain!
- BodyFit Plus
- What comes with BodyFit Plus?
- The Best Lunge Modifications for Bad Knees
- Go one-fourth of the way down.
- Try VMO dips.
- Shorten the stride length of the lunge.
- Use a small wedge for the pad of your big toe to land upon.
- Keep your weight on the front leg.
- Switch to reverse lunges.
- Do high-knee walks.
- 5 Exercise Modifications For Bad Knees and A Low-Impact Workout Plan
- 5 Exercise Modifications For Bad Knees
- A Low-Impact Workout For Bad Knees
Are You Overweight with Knee Pain? Learn These 7 Easy Exercises Even Obese People Can Do
About 20% of American adults suffer from knee pain, which makes sense considering two-thirds of Americans are overweight or obese. Those extra pounds increase the stress on your knees, which can cause chronic pain and lead to other knee-related complications, such as arthritis or osteoarthritis. Fortunately, exercise can help you lose weight and fat, gain muscle, and keep your knees healthy!
Right now you’re probably thinking, “Exercise? Really? Won’t exercise only make my knees hurt even worse?”
Actually, regular exercise can lessen and alleviate overweight and obesity-related knee pain, stiffness, and swelling. The key to treatment and prevention of knee pain is strengthening the muscles around your knee. Having strong muscles helps absorb the shock, relieving your knee joint of extra stress and pain.
7 Easy Exercises for Overweight People with Knee Pain
Rather you’re a beginner or seasoned pro, exercise can seem like a daunting task at times, especially if you have a bad knee. Fortunately, exercise doesn’t have to be hard or dreadful to be beneficial! Actually, low-impact and gentle workouts are best for your knees. These 7 exercises help minimize stress on your knee joints while increasing your flexibility and strength.
1. Up and Downs (Grab a Chair)
- Sit in a firm, armless chair with your feet flat on the floor and your arms crossed or loose at your sides, whichever feels more balanced.
- Slowly stand up, using controlled movements, until you reach your full height.
- Hold for a few seconds, and then slowly sit down again. Repeat for about a minute.
2. Hamstring Stretch
- Sitting at the edge of your chair, straighten one leg out in front of your body with your heel on the floor and your toes pointed towards the ceiling.
- Then, sit up straight and try pushing your navel towards your thigh without leaning the trunk of your body forwards.
- Repeat 3 times for each leg.
3. Calf Raises
- Stand facing the back of your chair.
- Slowly raise your heels as high as you can, then lower.
- Do 3 sets of 10 to 15 repetitions.
4. Calf Stretch
- Face the back of your chair with one leg straight behind you and the other in front of you, slightly bent.
- Place your hands over the top of your chair with a light grip.
- Keep your back leg straight with both heels planted on the floor and lean your torso towards the top of your chair. You should feel this in the calf of your back leg.
- Hold for a few seconds and then switch legs. Repeat for about a minute.
5. Straight Leg Raises
- Lie down with 1 leg bent at a 90-degree angle and your foot flat on the floor. Extend your other leg fully.
- Tighten your quadriceps (thigh muscles) within your straightened leg and raise it to a 45-degree angle.
- Hold your leg in this elevated position for about 1 or 2 seconds before slowly lowering it back to the ground.
- Do 3 sets of 8 to 12 repetitions.
6. Hamstring Curls
- Lie flat on your stomach.
- Slowly bring your heels as close to your butt as you can and hold that position.
- Do 3 sets of 15 repetitions.
Tip: You can also do this exercise standing while you hold onto the back of your chair and lift one leg at a time.
7. Knee Rolls
- Lie on your back, bending your knees so your feet are flat on the floor.
- Keep your arms at your side and your eyes on the ceiling.
- Simultaneously, look towards the left and slowly lower both knees to the right (trying to keep your knees together) until you feel a gentle stretch in your thighs and lower back.
- Hold this stretch for 5 seconds and then slowly lift your knees back to center. Repeat 10 times on each side, with short rests in between.
NOTE: Mild discomfort during exercise is perfectly normal and healthy. However, if you experience severe pain stop exercising immediately and make an appoint with your doctor.
Top 3 Low Impact Cardio Exercises for Bad Knees
Swimming is one of the best cardio exercises for your knees. It helps strengthen weak bones and muscles and improves your flexibility. Plus, it’s fun, so dive on into your local swimming pool! Unlike weight-bearing activities that place stress on your knees as your feet hit the hard surface, your body is buoyant in water, lessening the impact and pressure on your knee joints. Plus, most people can exercise longer in water without strenuous effort or joint pain!
If you’re not a fan of swimming, you might want to consider trying an elliptical trainer. You will burn roughly the same amount of calories using an elliptical trainer as you would on a treadmill. Plus, your feet never leave the pedals, so there is less chance of injuring your knees. Think of this exercise as running but without the impact!
Simply going for a good old-fashioned walk is a great form of low-impact cardio and has multiple health benefits, which can help alleviate knee pain.
3 Exercises to Avoid If You Have Knee Pain
Rather you are at a healthy weight, overweight, or obese, avoid the following exercises if you have sore knees:
- Deep Squats
We understand that knee pain can make it difficult to exercise. With that said, if you are overweight and want to start exercising but could use some extra support, this knee brace is a comfortable way to reduce knee pain, discomfort, and stress.
See more knee support options.
Tight on time? You can still get a tight butt with our 7 minute glutes workout. Do this once a day and you’ll have a perfectly shaped and toned butt in no time.
You will need a yoga or exercise mat, an exercise ball and elastic bands.
Kneeling Glute Lift With Pulses
Kneeling Glute Lift With Pulses or Glute Kickbacks is an easy but very effective exercise.
How to do:
- Get on all fours with your knees directly under your hips and your hands beneath your shoulders.
- Lift your left knee off the floor and flex your left foot.
- Raise your left knee several inches higher, as if making pulses, then hold the top position for several seconds.
- Lower your leg in a controlled movement back to the starting position.
- Repeat with the right leg.
- Work each leg for 30 sec.
Tip: Don’t hyper-extend your lower back. To add intensity, place a 3- to 5-pound weighted ball or dumbbell behind one knee.
Rest for 30 sec.
What follows is a super set – no rest between the next two exercises!
Works: glutes, hamstrings, calfs
How to do:
- Lie on your back on the floor and put both feet on the stability ball.
- Place your arms by your sides for the balance.
- Lift your hips off the floor.
- Now bend your knees & roll the ball towards your butt.
- Push your hips up until you form a straight line between your knees, hips and shoulders.
- Continue for one minute.
Tip: If you get a cramp in the back of your legs or calf muscles, take a rest. Slowly build up until you can perform a full set.
Elastic Band Bridge
Works: glutes, hamstrings
How to do:
- Lie on your back with your legs bent and your feet firmly on the ground.
- Place an exercise band across your hips and hold the ends of the band on the floor either side of you.
- Now, lift your butt off the ground until you form a straight line between your knees, hips and shoulders. Your hips should be pressing up against the resistance band.
- Lower your butt back down to the ground, but don’t touch the floor.
- Continue for one minute.
Tip: You can make the exercise harder by doubling up the exercise band to increase resistance. The tighter you pull the band over your hips, the more resistance it will generate.
Rest for 30 sec.
Squat With Kickback
Works: glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings
How to do:
- Stand with your legs shoulder-width apart and your arms at your sides.
- Move into a squat position and put your weight on your heels
- Lift up your right leg straight behind you, while keeping your hips pointing forward (don’t twist them to the side) and extending arms forward.
- Return to starting position and switch sides.
- Continue alternating sides for one minute.
Tip: Ensure you keep your back straight and look straight ahead throughout the range of motion.
Rest for 30 sec.
Exercise Ball Side Leg Lift With Rotations
How to do:
The butt is made up of three layers of glute muscles. By adding rotations, you ensure that you work all three muscles to sculpt the butt from all angles.
- Kneel next to a stability ball and lean over the ball with your left side. Then extend your right leg out sideways with your foot on the ground.
- Now lift your extended right leg off the floor until it’s level with your hip.
- Hold this top position and rotate your leg in a circular movement clockwise. Lower your leg.
- Repeat this move, this time rotate your leg anti-clockwise.
- Complete one set with your right leg and then repeat with your left leg. Work each leg for 30 sec.
Tip: Your supporting leg is also working hard and will get tired as well.
Doing this particular move in Tabata format is seriously challenging because “you are basically doing it for two minutes,” says Oprea. Though you technically get a 10-second break after every 20 seconds of work, that rest is “just like a little teaser,” says Oprea, and won’t give your muscles time to fully recover. During each 20-second round, “you never really relax,” she adds. “The tension never comes off.” That’s also why you’ll feel a serious burn in your muscles.
ICYMI, there are lots of reasons to strengthen your glutes and hamstrings.
Having strong glutes, in general, is important because this muscle plays a big role in stabilizing your hips, which we rely on for so many different daily movements, including running and walking. Having strong glutes, which can translate into stable hips, will help reduce your risk of lower-body injury, particularly in the lower back and knees. “A lot of people have knee issues and don’t realize it’s coming out of their hips,” explains Oprea. That’s one of the reasons she “highly recommends” people train their glutes. Hamstrings, she adds, also help support your knees, and having strong hamstrings can help prevent certain knee-related sports injuries, like ACL tears, she says. Doing glutes- and hamstrings-centric moves, like these single-leg bridges, will help you strengthen both of these important areas.
Here’s how to do the single-leg bridge:
Though the single-leg bridge is generally safe for most people, if you feel any sharp pain and/or discomfort in your knee or back as you move through the rounds, stop and talk with your doctor or physical therapist before attempting it again.
- Lie faceup with your arms at your sides, feet flat on the floor hip-width apart.
- Lift your left toes so that just your heel touches the floor. Press into the floor with your left heel and lift your right leg straight up toward the ceiling.
- Engage your core, squeeze your butt, and press through your left heel to raise your hips until your body forms a straight line from your shoulders to your left knee.
- Pause for a moment at the top of the move, slowly lower your hips about 1 inch, and then slowly raise them back up 1 inch.
- Pause again at the top and then repeat the slow, 1-inch lowering and lifting movements. Keep your glutes and abdominal muscles engaged the entire time.
- Continue for 20 seconds. Rest for 10 seconds (during this break, you can stretch your right hamstring by gently pulling it back toward your face, suggests Oprea), and then repeat for another 20 seconds.
- Continue the 20 seconds of pulsing work, 10 seconds of rest pattern until you’ve done two total minutes.
- Without resting, switch legs and repeat for another two minutes.
The first benefit of strong, well-trained glutes is obvious – they look damn good in a pair of jeans. But there are many other reasons why you should ensure glute exercises feature in your workouts.
The glutes play a key role in keeping your body aligned correctly, which helps you avoid injuries, and provide the power for many movements, especially walking or running up hills or stairs. If your day-to-day involves sitting behind a desk there’s a good chance your glutes aren’t firing as efficiently as they should, and this can contribute to the type of lower back pain that plagues office workers.
To help you get to work on your glutes we asked Andy Macaulay, trainer and ambassador for Virgin Active, and Toby Lynes, The Fitting Rooms Gym personal trainer, to pick and explain the best beginner, intermediate and advanced glute exercises, and we’ve thrown in a few of our favourites, too.
Naturally you should warm up before attempting any exercise, but if you’re about to attempt a move that will take you out of your comfort zone it’s crucial to warm up thoroughly because it’s annoyingly easy to injure your glutes. Both jogging and light stretching will help, as will doing bodyweight versions of the glute exercises you’ve already mastered.
Beginner Glute Exercises
“This is a great move for beginners, activating the glutes while giving a good stretch without the need for equipment,” says Macaulay.
“Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Keep both arms on the floor by your sides with palms facing up. Before lifting your hips, check your heels are close to your butt and your feet are hip-width apart. Squeeze your glutes and lift your hips until you form a straight line from your knees to your shoulders. Pause at the top and squeeze your glutes again to make sure they’re still active, then lower slowly.”
“Stand with your feet hip-width apart,” says Macaulay. “Step one leg straight back and lower your torso by bending your knees until both are at 90°Ensure your front heel is grounded, your hips don’t rotate and your chest remains upright throughout. Rise back to standing by pushing down through your front heel and squeezing your glutes.”
“One of the most popular and versatile exercises for glute and leg training, the squat is highly effective if done correctly,” says Macaulay. “It can also help improve your strength, power, speed and endurance, as well as weight loss.
“Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Bend your knees and lower your hips, pushing your knees out over your toes – this takes the pressure off your lower back while promoting glute activation. Lower until your thighs are parallel to the floor, then push back up through your heels. When starting out, focus on mobility – if you find your heels lift, try shortening the range of the squat so that they stay down.”
Floor hip extension
“This is a simple yet effective exercise for working your glutes,” says Lynes. “Get into a press-up position and bring one knee to your chest. Then extend the same leg behind you until it’s completely straight and parallel to the floor. Try to limit the arch in your lower back when extending your leg.”
Cable hip abductions
“This simple movement will work the muscles on the side of your bum,” says Lynes. “Attach a pulley from a cable machine to one ankle. Hold on to something for support and raise the leg attached to the machine out to the side. The most effective approach is long sets – keep going until you feel the burn.”
Let’s not overcomplicate this. You’ll need a stable platform at roughly knee height to step onto.
If you’re going for a duration of time then you should aim to alternate your lead leg after every step. If you’re working in sets, try to do an even number of sets and alternate the lead leg from set to set.
As well as being a suitable beginner exercise, the hand walk-out is one move you can return to as you gain experience. Once you start moving your hands past the press-up position you’re giving your abs a serious test.
To do the beginner’s version, stand with your legs straight and feet shoulder-width apart. Lean forwards, keeping your back straight, and place your hands flat on the ground. Walk your hands forwards until you’re in the top press-up position with your hands under your shoulders. Pause, then walk your hands back and stand up straight. Keep your legs and back straight throughout.
Intermediate Glute Exercises
Bulgarian split squat
“This is not only is a great way to activate the glutes but also improves your lower-body stability, plyometric ability and mobility,” says Macaulay.
“Stand facing away from a bench, then raise one leg behind you and rest the top of the foot on the bench. Keep your torso upright and brace your abdominals to help keep your hips square to the bench. Bend your knees to lower slowly until the rear knee nearly touches the floor and the front thigh is parallel to the ground. Pause at the bottom, then squeeze your glutes to push back up explosively.”
Sumo squat with kettlebell
“The wider foot position of the sumo squat allows more external rotation of the hips which improves glute activation,” says Macaulay. “It really burns! Holding a kettlebell is a great way to progress to back squats.
“Stand with your legs wider than shoulder-width apart and your toes pointed out. Hold the kettlebell handle in both hands between your legs, with your palms facing in. Looking forwards and keeping your chest up, lower your body by bending your knees until your thighs are parallel to the ground. Then push back up. Keep your back straight and heels on the ground throughout, and keep the pace slow and controlled.”
Single-leg glute bridge pulse
“This is a great progression from the beginner glute bridge,” says Macaulay. “Once you’ve gained the strength to keep your hips square this is what you should try next.
“Use the same form as a standard glute bridge until your hips are raised. Then raise one leg until it is stretched out straight. Squeeze the glute muscle on the side of the grounded foot while pushing down through the heel. Pulse your hips at the top ten times before swapping legs.”
This is a progression from the floor hip extension. Start on your hands and knees with your back straight. With one leg, keeping the 90° knee bend throughout, kick back and up so the sole of your shoe faces the ceiling, just like a disgruntled donkey – only you’re happy because you’re working on a great set of glutes.
Make sure the kicks are controlled and try to avoid grounding your knee throughout the set. Go for 30 seconds to one minute on a single leg, then swap.
This could easily make the advanced list, but you’re not going to make the mistake that many make, namely using your arms and back to move the weight. Oh no, you’re going to master the hip hinge using a light weight first.
Start with your feet shoulder-width apart and a slight bend in the knees, with the kettlebell on the floor between your feet. Keeping your arms and back straight, bend over to pick up the kettlebell, swinging it back between your legs to start generating momentum.
Drive your hips forwards to stand upright and swing the kettlebell up to eye level. Control the swing back down, allowing the kettlebell back through your legs and bending at your hips. Remember, if you’re predominantly using your upper body to move the kettlebell, you’re doing it wrong.
Advanced Glute Exercises
“Once you’re confident with the dumbbell lunge, try this challenging progression,” says Lynes. “By eliminating the grip strength required for dumbbell lunges you can load more weight, making it a fantastic exercise to strengthen your glutes and hamstrings.
“Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart holding the bar behind your neck, resting on your traps. Inhale and take a big step forwards, keeping your torso as straight as possible. Bend your knees to lower your body until your front thigh is roughly horizontal. Exhale and return to the start position. If you take a small step the quadriceps will mostly be isolated, but we want to hit your glutes, so take a big step!”
Barbell hip thruster
“This move delivers fantastic posterior strength,” says Macaulay. “Sit with your upper back against a bench, a barbell over your hips, bent knees and your feet firmly on the ground close to your glutes. Drive up through your heels and push your upper back onto the bench to lift your hips and the barbell. Squeeze your glutes and press your hips up as high as possible. Pause for a second or two at the top, bracing your abs to maintain a strong neutral position, then lower back to the start. Make sure you are driving straight up through your heels and avoid pushing yourself backwards over the bench and arching your spine.”
“This move will improve your posture and set your glutes and hamstrings on fire!” says Macaulay. “Standing upright with your feet hip-width apart and your arms straight down, hold the bar with an overhand grip, palms facing you, so it’s resting against your thighs. Inhale and bend at the hips, lowering your upper body toward the floor. Tilt your tailbone back, keep your back straight and your knees soft but straight, and look forwards as you descend. Keep the bar close to your legs – if the bar moves away from your legs it places increased stress on your lower back. Stop the movement when you feel a slight stretch in your hamstrings. Exhale as you stand back up.”
“Head for the great outdoors to really fire up the glutes, but make sure you stay fast and explosive,” says Macaulay. “Running through fatigue can force your body to recruit other muscles and prevent the focused gains you’re after.
“Find a hill and sprint up it as fast as you can, driving your knees up and forwards. Push down with your feet as if you’re pushing the ground away from you. Once you start slowing down, stop, walk back down the hill and wait until you completely recover. Do three hill sprints at first and progress to ten.”
Sliding leg curl
A word to the wise: if you’re doing this properly it will feel hard very quickly, so take it slow. You will need two slider pads. Lie on your back, bend your knees and place your heels on the sliders. Extend your legs using the sliders while keeping your glutes off the ground, then drive them back again.
These Lower-Body Exercises Are Perfect for Those Who Suffer From Knee Pain
Of all the reasons people skip over lower-body exercises, knee pain is one of the most common. It makes perfect sense because it’s hard to get an effective workout when you’re hurting too much to perform an adequate number of repetitions. In many cases, the discomfort might even lead to improper form, which could make the problem even worse.
Getting a great workout for your bottom half without searing knee pain starts with a decent warm-up. Because our joints are stiff after we’ve been stagnate for a while, it’s necessary to get things moving and ready for exercise before jumping right into strength training. Check out this easy routine from STACK. You also have to go for some slightly less traditional lower-body exercises to avoid stressing your knee joints too much. Get started with these moves.
1. Glute bridges
Bridge pose is one of several lower-body exercises that won’t cause knee pain. | iStock.com
One of the simplest ways to get started on strengthening your glutes and hamstrings is a standard bridge. Because you perform this exercise lying on the ground, the pressure on your hips and knees is kept to an absolute minimum. This means glute bridges are a great way to get back into the exercise game if you’ve been nursing a knee injury.
To get started, lie on the ground with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Keep your arms close to your sides, palms facing down. Point your toes up toward the ceiling, then push through your heels to bring your hips up off the ground, stopping once your lower body forms a straight line from your shoulders to your knees. You can see the correct form over at Shape Magazine.
As you get stronger, you can adjust the move to make it more challenging. One method is to hold a dumbbell across your hips as you perform the bridge. You can also up your effort by doing the move one leg at a time.
2. Box squats
Try box squats for better form. | iStock.com
Traditional squats are a favorite among gym goers for strengthening quads and glutes, but they’re also notoriously hard on knees. Many people don’t maintain proper form throughout the lift, which adds way too much stress to the knee joints. Fortunately, you can fix this problem by squatting into a seated position on top of a box. Muscle & Fitness explains this forces you to lead with your hips, keeping your knees right where they should be.
Before you get too excited about lifting a loaded barbell, focus on the movement using just your bodyweight and the box. Men’s Health shares a great demo showing the right technique. While you don’t have to keep your arms extended in front of you, it’s a great method to ensure you maintain balance. Once you’re comfortable with the move, you can begin to add weights to the equation.
3. Single-leg standing dumbbell calf raise
Try these weighted calf raises. | iStock.com
The good news about calf raises is they’re one of the few exercises that don’t put your knees at risk. The bad news is there’s often a long wait for both the standing and seated machines at the gym. By grabbing a dumbbell and going one leg at a time, you can effectively target the area without wasting your precious gym time.
To get started, grab a dumbbell. Everyone will need a slightly different amount of weight, but you’re probably safe starting off with a 10- to 15-pound dumbbell. Stand on top of a weight plate with your heel hanging over the edge, then use your free hand to hold yourself steady as you press through the ball of your foot to rise as high as possible. Hold the move briefly, then lower back down to the starting position. After your desired number of repetitions, switch sides. You can see this exercise over at Women’s Health.
4. Landmine reverse lunges
Traditional lunges can be hard on the knees, so try these out. | iStock.com
Like squats, lunges can be bad news for knees. To make this lower-body exercise pain-free, you just have to think about it a little differently. T Nation suggests stepping back into a lunge using a landmine weight. The story explained using this type of load allows you to use it as a counterbalance, meaning you can more easily take a large enough step back without fear of toppling over.
You’ll load up the bar with a manageable amount of weight, then anchor it to the ground using a landmine unit. If you’re doing this move at home, you can also create a makeshift anchor by wrapping the end in a towel and wedging it into the corner of a room. Hold the weighted end just a few inches in front of your left leg with your left hand. Keeping your body erect, step your left leg back to lower yourself into a lunge. Step back to the starting position, repeat for your desired number of repetitions, then switch sides.
5. Single-leg Romanian deadlift
This move targets the back of the legs. | iStock.com
This move is one of the absolute best lower-body exercises because it targets your hamstrings, glutes, and hips. Breaking Muscle explains this boosts functional movement in your hips, which minimizes stress on your knees. Because you’ll be working each leg separately, this move can also help smooth out any muscle imbalances.
You can perform this exercise with dumbbells, kettlebells, or a barbell, so use whatever’s available. To get started, hold a weight in each hand and stand on your left leg with your right just behind your left heel. Hinge forward at your hips to bring your upper body parallel to the ground, and let your arms dangle perpendicular to the ground. Stand back up to the starting position and repeat to complete one set on the same leg, then switch sides. You can see a great diagram by heading to Health. This move will challenge your balance as well, so take your time.
Follow Christine on Twitter @christineskopec
No More Squats: 7 Effective Lower Body Exercises That Won’t Hurt Your Knees
You’ve heard it before — squats are one of the best exercises you can do for your lower half. They firm up the glutes, strengthen the quads, and provide a decent cardio workout if you participate in the jumping variety. Unfortunately, many squatters have difficulty maintaining the position due to bad knees — and they’re left with painful joints after their workout is through.
If this sounds like you, fear not. There are plenty of lower body exercises that are excellent for those who don’t like to squat but still want to see serious fitness gains. Try out these seven moves instead.
Woman doing glute exercises | iStock.com/undrey
Not only are glute bridges great for your behind, but they’re also super effective for your abs. The American Council on Exercise explains you begin by lying on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Your feet should be hip-width apart, toes facing away. You should also work to press your lower back into the floor to engage the abs.
Then, lift the hips upward by squeezing the glutes and keeping that abdominal contraction strong. Slowly lower down to your starting position to complete one rep.
If you want a serious hamstring, back, and glute workout, look no further than deadlifts. To start, Shape explains you’ll want to take a dumbbell in each hand for added resistance (try beginning with a weight similar to what you would use for a bicep curl). Then, keep feet hip-width apart with your palms facing your thighs. You’re going to bend forward with legs straight but knees slightly soft, keeping your back straight by pushing your hips behind you. Stop once your upper body is parallel with the ground, and slowly rise back up to complete one rep.
Want to make this move harder? Try going for a one-legged deadlift using the same technique.
3. Inner thigh circles
Woman doing leg exercises | iStock.com/DenizA
It can be tough to work your inner thighs without resorting to a sumo squat position — but that’s what inner thigh circles are for (and they’ll secretly work those lower abs, too). Shape explains you begin by lying on your back on the floor with both legs straightened above the hips. Keep your feet flexed with heels touching, and turn your legs out to 45-degree angles.
To start, lower your legs about 45 degrees to the floor. Open your legs out to the sides as you circle them upwards, and bring them together over your hips to complete one large circle for one rep.
4. Side raises (with a resistance band)
Weights aside, one of the best ways to build strength in your lower body is to employ the help of resistance bands. Redefining Strength explains many exercises that can be done with bands to provide an extra challenge to many simple (but effective) leg moves.
For side raises, simply put the band around your ankles and stand hip-width apart. Then, raise your leg to the side. If you point your foot 45 degrees out from your center, you’ll feel the work in your inner thigh. If you raise directly to your side, you’ll work your glutes.
5. Heel presses
For serious glute work, you’ll have to go back down to the floor for this one. Lie on your stomach with my arms bent and your chin resting on your hands, Shape instructs. From here, bend your knees, flex your feet, and press your heels together. Your feet should be over your knees to start.
When you begin the move, press your heels to the ceiling with the aim to lift your thighs. Then, slowly lower your thighs to the floor to complete one rep.
6. Hip abduction
Woman doing hip abductions | iStock.com/Veles-Studio
Your hips can be a tough place to work, so employ this exercise to strengthen this region. Start by lying on your side, ACE explains, and keep your legs extended so you form a straight line. Your legs should be stacked and your feet should lie one on top of the other. You can keep your head supported with your arms here, too.
To start, lift the upper leg off of the lower leg with the knee fully extended. Make sure your hips stay vertical to the floor and your knee of the lifted leg points straight away from you. Slowly lower down to complete one rep — and don’t forget to switch sides.
7. Skater lunges
Skater lunges are an excellent substitute for squats, as they also add a cardio aspect to your routine. Redefining Strength says you’ll want to start by standing on your right leg. When you’re ready to begin, bend the right knee and drive the left leg behind you until your upper body is parallel to the floor. Come back to standing once you’ve gone as far as possible to complete one rep. Continue on the same side without touching the left toe to the floor to challenge your balance, and then switch sides.
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5 Leg Exercises To Combat Knee Pain!
Leg training. Ugh! Not everyone loves it, but the results are always worth the pain. The beauty of leg training is that it gives the body a fuller look and puts you far beyond the competition on the amateur level.
For argument’s sake, let’s pretend that you love leg training. The feeling of not being able to walk for a minute or two after a set of squats makes you want to push yourself into the ground with more intensity.
Now there is just one problem: Your knees feel like they are shot to shit. You’ve tried to squat… out of the question. You’ve tried to leg press… lowering the carriage is about to send you wailing like a banshee. The competition is 12 weeks away and you’ve already committed to it. What now?
Time to reinvent your workout to get your legs shredded and full for the show.
What Doctors Say
When I first hurt my knees, I went to the doctor. In all honesty, I just wanted to hear that I didn’t have any tears in my tendons and ligaments, and I would take it from there.
Thankfully, I just had a slight buildup of calcium just above my knee caps. I found it interesting that my doctor told me it was okay for me to squat and leg press. He explained that leg extensions were totally out of the question and bad for my knees. I begged to differ with him.
The knee is the most complex joint in the body. As complex as the knee is, it’s an amazing stabilizing joint in certain exercises, even after injury. As a former Division 1-A track athlete, I learned more about how to train legs than anything else. So the workout I’m going to propose to you will not only give you the edge in the competition, it will also show you the brilliance of the human body and its ability to overcome a physical setback.
I do want to stress that you should speak with your doctor before trying this—or any other—exercise regimen.
Of course I’m not going to put any running exercises or speed drills in this article. We are bodybuilders, not malnourished rabbits trying to outrun everyone. I’ve combined my knowledge of muscle development with that of pushing through pain as an athlete to give you an understanding of what we want to accomplish: beautifully shredded legs!
So let’s hit it!
Warm-up Exercise Leg Extensions
2 warm-up sets of 40 reps, 4 sets of 30 reps
The leg extension has been given a bad rap by doctors who say it destroys the knees. This exercise alone saved me from having diminutive legs on stage for my first show. If you use this exercise wisely and follow the prescription of what most of the pros do, it will be the staple of your leg workout.
This exercise warms up your quads and get what little blood you have in your joint flowing, with the intent on working the legs to their full potential. Now I will stress you must be careful not to go heavy in the beginning. When bringing the weight up, make sure to lock out your knees with controlled descent.
You will use this exercise to warm up initially, then move more into quad/ham/glute development from there.
Here is a sample of what you will be doing.
- Leg Extensions: 2 warm-up sets of 40 reps
- Leg Extensions: 4 sets of 30 reps, 60-90 seconds rest
High reps really prepare your quads for the leg workout to follow. You’ll have so much blood flowing through your legs you’ll be ready to tackle the big exercises, accelerating your leg development. It will be well worth it in the end.
After you have finished leg extensions, your knees should be cooperating fully, with blood, adrenaline, and excitement flowing through them. Okay, so the easy part is done. Now let’s get to the real workout.
Stabilization Is The Key!
As I said earlier, the knee is a marvelous joint in stabilization, and for some people you’ll be able to get more done on one knee at a time than two knees at the same time.
If you are having knee problems, the best thing you can do is choose exercises that require you to be on one leg at a time. I know what you’re thinking: “But doesn’t that put more pressure on the joint than using both knees?” I use to think that too, until I realized the human body is meant to be symmetrical in both appearance and strength.
Being on one leg allows people to put their bodies in a better technical position to perform a movement properly without further injuring themselves.
Another reason these particular exercises were chosen is because of the dynamic function of all the muscles involved. All of these exercises will hit the quads, hams and glutes in a maximum effort, so be prepared to be uncomfortable when you sit down.
Many beginning and amateur bodybuilders need to develop a lactic-acid pain threshold. This workout is not for the weak, but if your knees are giving you problems then this workout is for you. Even if you just want to do something different, this workout will be more of a challenge than you think for you healthy people also.
Squatting, leg presses, and hack squats were out of the question for me. So here is where I pulled out some of the old track weight-training that helped me win three first-place trophies in my first show. This workout is only to be done once a week.
Exercise 1 Dumbbell Step ups
4 sets of 15 reps
The first exercise is step-ups. You take the bar (or dumbbells), put it on your shoulders in the high bar position, and step up on a bench with one leg. Bring the other leg all the way up into a 90-degree angle, stepping back down to the floor with the 90-degree-angle leg, switching legs the next time you step up.
Exercise 2 Single-Leg Barbell Squat
2-3 sets of 15 reps
single-leg barbell squat
The next exercise is the single-leg squat. To execute this movement properly you will do the version that requires you to put one leg back, and rest your foot on a bench behind you, so your forward leg comes down in a perfect 90-degree angle.
I prefer using the barbell on these, but using dumbbells is fine also. Perform this exercise by lifting one knee high in the air and stepping out as far as you can, to insure a 90-degree angle on descent. Some people prefer to use the quicker, shorter version by taking smaller steps.
If you have knee problems, I strongly recommend stepping out as far as you can. By the time you get to this exercise your legs are going to be wobbly, so 2 sets will be sufficient to finish off your leg routine.
The separation you will create in your glutes and hams will be phenomenal.
Exercise 3 Barbell Lunges
2-3 sets of 15 reps
The lunge is another great leg-development exercise that can be done after a knee injury, and it is my personal favorite. After leg extensions, step-ups, and single-leg squats, you’d think you’d be done. Oh please! We are trying to win a competition! We need some tears, and you might have been crying at the single-leg squat so this exercise will put an exclamation point on the workout!
I prefer using the barbell on these, but using dumbbells is fine also. Perform this exercise by lifting one knee high in the air and stepping out as far as you can to insure a 90-degree angle on descent. Some people prefer to use the quicker, shorter version by taking smaller steps.
Just as with the single-leg barbell squat, I recommend stepping out as far as you’re able to. Your legs may be feeling wobbly by this point, so you only need to do 2 sets.
Exercise 4 Stiff-Legged Barbell Deadlift
4 sets of 8-12 reps
Stiff-legged barbell deadlift
I prefer direct hamstring work, and I feel implementing the lower back is crucial in getting the separation bodybuilders need to have total symmetry. The best exercise for the hams is the stiff-legged deadlift.
A major point I must make here is the need to go heavy in this exercise. I mean heavy! If you are a guy and you weigh at least 170 pounds, you should be able to straight-leg dead 285 pounds. I’m not playing! When this exercise is done right, your hams will pop out like rows of corn.
Plus the benefit of lower-back development and showing striated glutes when you hit a side-chest shot, side triceps, rear-back double biceps, and rear-back lat spread will be insane!
Start with your feet about an inch apart, toes facing forward. The barbell should be resting in front of you on the floor. Grab the barbell with one hand as an underhand grip and the other hand as an overhand grip. Keep your back straight with a slight bend in your knees, and pull the bar with your hams, glutes, and lower back. Hold at the top of the movement for a second, and descend the weight down in full control.
Sample workout 1 4 sets, 15 rep (60-120 sec. rest)+ 3 more exercises
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Developing great legs is hard enough, but when you have an injury to your knees it feels like it is impossible. Thankfully the human body is built for compensation.
Use this to fulfill your goals in bodybuilding and do not be afraid of training through injury, discomfort, and pain. In the end, the only thing that separates champions from the wannabes is the will to do what your competition will not do. Good luck.
The Best Lunge Modifications for Bad Knees
Although a seemingly simple and effective full-body move, the lunge is often difficult to perfect—especially if your knees are sensitive or recovering from injury. It’s really all about form.
As personal trainer Dani Singer explains, most people either place their knees in vulnerable weight-bearing positions, move too fast, or up the intensity before they’re ready. Other parts of your body contribute to this misalignment.
For example, weak hips or quads may force you to place more stress on your legs. The good news is that there are ways to improve lunge form and make the move more comfortable for your knees.
Try these lunge modifications for bad knees in your next strength training session.
Go one-fourth of the way down.
You may start out feeling strong in your lunge form. However, according to Singer, the closer you inch toward the ground, the more likely you are to lose your posture, which may force unnecessary pressure on your knees. To alleviate this try going only one-fourth of the way down, working within a pain-free range. From there, you can gradually test your boundaries as you build strength and can move deeper into your lunge.
Aaptiv has workouts that are lower impact for your knees. Check out some samples here.
Try VMO dips.
Lunge problems can occur in part because of weak knees. One muscle above the knee—called the vastus medialis oblique, or VMO—often needs to build its strength before you can properly perform lunges. Personal trainer Jill McKay suggests incorporating VMO dips into your routine to prepare you for more intense workouts.
To try it out, stand on an elevated surface such as a box or step with one foot hanging off the side. Bend the knee on the surface and—as long as you’re not in pain—begin to dip slightly up and down. Hold a nearby wall if you need balance support. Repeat this for three sets, with ten to 12 reps on each leg.
Our trainers have the perfect workouts for your ability and skill level. Learn more about Aaptiv here.
Shorten the stride length of the lunge.
The range of you lunge may be aggravating your knee. Personal trainer Rocky Snyder says beginners or those with injured knees should start with a shorter stride length and build up distance. “Begin with small steps to allow the joints and muscles to be introduced to the movement. Over time the stride length can grow to increase physical demand,” he says.
Use a small wedge for the pad of your big toe to land upon.
Stand up with your feet slightly separated and look at your heels. Does one lean in a bit more than the other? This is called overpronation, and Snyder says it’s a common condition. When this happens, the arch of your foot doesn’t maintain its proper shape. Your big toe hits the ground faster than it should when you step. This is bad news for your knees, especially in terms of form and alignment. Snyder says you can protect yourself when doing lunges by placing a small wedge (or a small, folded workout towel) on the floor to cushion the inside portion of your forefoot on the landing. “It will allow certain muscles to wake up sooner to slow the knee’s movement from going where it shouldn’t,” he says.
Keep your weight on the front leg.
One way exercisers miss the mark on their lunge form is where they position their weight. If you’re leaning forward or backward too much, you’re putting unnecessary added emphasis on one side or the other instead of keeping yourself balanced. Singer says the best way to think about proper lunge form is to imagine it as a single-leg squat. “You’re squatting on the front leg while keeping your back toes on the ground for balance. Keep all your weight on your front leg, and bend your hip and knee,” she explains. When you do this, you save your back knee a lot of heartache.
Switch to reverse lunges.
Reverse lunges are Singer’s go-to for clients that struggle with form. Going backward instead of forward allows you to focus on your biomechanics and understand where you’re applying more pressure. As Singer explains, it can actually be simpler to hold your stance and tune in to your body. “Simply keep all your weight on your front leg. Instead of stepping forward, gently reach your opposite toes back behind you. Rest the back toes lightly for support while squatting on your front leg,” she instructs.
Do high-knee walks.
If you’re still recovering from a serious health concern, you may not be able to do lunges at all. In this case, you can switch them out for something that is less intense on your knees but gives you similar benefits. Exercise physiologist Jerry Snider suggests swapping out lunges for a high-knee walk. To do this, walk ten, 20, or 30 yards, bringing your knee up to a full 90-degree angle before placing your foot on the ground. “With this, you still get the range of motion workout in the hip and knee without the pressure on the knee joint,” he explains.
If you’re still experiencing knee pain as you lunge, talk to your doctor or trainer. It’s important to check with a trusted professional who can provide feedback and guidance for your specific joints, muscles, and bones to ensure your safety and health.
In the meantime, try a lower impact workout like yoga or stretching. You can listen to some of our workouts here.
5 Exercise Modifications For Bad Knees and A Low-Impact Workout Plan
Working your legs is essential for your overall fitness! After all, your legs not only move you, but as the largest muscles in your body they help you perform those big calorie-burning exercises which bump up your metabolism. The problem is that bad knees can get in the way—and they’re a common problem. One study from Gallup-Healthways found that 26% of the adult population in the United States suffers from knee pain. Injuries, surgeries, arthritis and runner’s knee—there are many reasons you might be experiencing knee pain, but it should never cause you to skip leg day. We’re here to show you the best exercises for bad knees so you can strengthen your legs without putting stress on your knees. Learn the leg exercises for bad knees below and then we’ll show you both strength and cardio options so you can get a full-length workout done that won’t hurt your joints.
5 Exercise Modifications For Bad Knees
Most knee pain actually stems from a lack of strength in your legs. How’s that for ironic? Yes, strengthening the muscles around your knee joint is one of the best ways to protect you from knee pain. There are all kinds of ways you can work your legs by either modifying traditional leg moves and choosing moves that are effective but more gentle on your knees. Here are five great exercise modifications for bad knees.
1. Swap Out Your Squats
The big daddy of all leg moves, squats are a must do! If you have knee pain, however, you might have already decided they are a must don’t. So…
Try: Stability Ball Wall Squats
Instead of a traditional squat, grab a stability ball, place it between your mid-back and the wall. These squats for bad knees will still help you work your lower body without putting pressure on your joints.
- Lean slightly back against the ball with your feet shoulder-width apart in front of you and begin your squat.
- Not only will this take some pressure off your knees, but you’ll also be able to adjust the move on the fly to suit your own strengths and weaknesses.
- Get a feel for this and then add some dumbbells in your hand to make it harder.
Tip: Choose your range of motion—go lower if you can, but stay higher if your knee pain kicks in. The key is to sit back as you squat and keep all your weight in your heels!
2. Reverse Your Lunges
Another essential move for toned legs, lunges work not only your leg muscles but, when done properly, they also help you fire up your glutes. The lunge that tends to hit your knees hardest is the forward lunge. So…
Try: Reverse Lunges
You definitely want to practice them without any added weight, but once you get the motion down and concentrate on keeping the weight in your front foot, you’ll likely find these lunges are much easier on your knees. Add weight once you’re confident in the move.
Tip: Pay attention to your glutes. You should feel this move in your rear end and put very little weight into the leg that goes behind you.
Related: 10 Lower Body Exercises To Combat Knee Pain
3. Come Alive With Deadlifts
If you want to give your booty a little lift and your knees are bugging you, deadlifts might be your new best friend. So….
Deadlifts are one of the most potent and overall best strength exercises one can perform. Not only are you going to target your glutes and hamstrings, but also your low back, middle back, traps, calves, forearms and core. Whew! That’s packin’ a whole lot of punch. The whole move centers around your center, and you work the entire back side of your body. This move is a must!
Tip: Use heavy weights—either barbells or dumbbells—since you have many muscles recruited to do this lift. Keep your knees slightly bent, but do all the work in your abs and glutes.
4. Bridge The Gap With Bridges
Yes, you are lying on your back. No, you are not getting a break. A Glute Bridge is like a laser beam for your butt! If your knees keep you from squats or lunges, or you just need some variety in your lower body moves, the glute bridge is a killer. So…
Try: Glute Bridges
The glute bridge targets and strengthens the glutes, hamstrings, core, lower back and hip muscles and uses your stabilizers to keep your body strong. Performing a glute brdge will give you amazing results for lifting the backside, without all the consequences to your joints.
Tip: Try a single leg glute bridge too! It will target the hamstrings and give you an extra challenge once you’ve mastered the traditional glute bridge.
5. Roll With A Stability Hamstring Roll-In
Hamstrings are notoriously weak. They are a tricky muscle to target and often overpowered by the quads. We’ve got a move that will tackle those hamstrings along with your glutes and core. So…
Try: Stability Ball Hamstring Roll-Ins
Stronger hamstrings, along with stronger quads and glutes all work together to protect your knee joint. The Stability Ball Hamstring Roll-In is one of the most intense and effective ways to target those hamstrings and build strength in a very necessary spot. Yes, it requires a stability ball.
Tip: Start by lifting and lowering your hips with your feet on the ball. One you have the strength to do that, you can progress to the roll-in. Also, expect cramps! It happens during this move, primarily due to the weakness of the hamstring muscle. Hang in there. It will get better!
A Low-Impact Workout For Bad Knees
If you have bad knees, exercise can become your nemesis. So often cardio workouts involve jumping, bouncing or lunging in ways that can trigger knee pain or further injury. The good news is that there are a bunch of exercises for bad knees that can help you burn fat, get strong and stay fit without causing you pain. To show you it can be done, we’ve come up with a complete workout plan just for you that will knock off both cardio and strength in one session! Best part? You can do this workout right at home! There is no equipment needed for the cardio portion and for the strength workout just a simple resistance band is all you’ll need to tone your legs and sculpt your upper body.
The workout below shows cardio first which will get you warmed up and prepared for the strength session that follows. You can definitely switch the two around if it works better for your body!
Low Impact Cardio
Do each of the following moves for 45 seconds, then rest 15 seconds while you transition to the next move. Once you get through the list, go back and do the whole sequence one more time.
- Upper Cuts
- Front Kicks
- Mountain Climbers
- Push-Up Jack
- Foot Fire
- Plank to Chair Squat*
*(note: if you aren’t able to sit back into a squat, just skip this move! Tip: don’t jump forward and backward from this; step one foot at a time back to plank and forward to chair. Sit back on your heels to avoid putting pressure on your knees.!)
Now repeat each exercise one more time!
Low Impact Strength
Many of the knee problems people own come about due to weaknesses in the muscles and connective tissue surrounding the knees. In particular, people often fail to work the adductor and abductors—inner and outer thighs—which work together with the hamstrings and quadriceps in keeping the leg muscles in balance and strong all the way around. This balanced approach to training your legs protects the knees and helps them stay healthy.
So that’s where the resistance band comes in! Dumbbells are a great strength training tool, but the resistance band can give you moves for the outer and inner thighs that you can’t achieve in other ways. Below is a full body strength workout that will zero in on the muscles surrounding the knees and give you a full body workout along the way! Try each move for 12-15 repetitions and then go directly to the next move without resting.
- Resistance Band Chest Press
- Resistance Band Tick-Tock
- Balancing Single Arm Row
- Resistance Band Outer Thigh Press
- Resistance Band Shoulder Press
- Resistance Band Butt Blaster
- Resistance Band Tricep Extension
- Oblique Crunch
- Forearm Plank
As fun as it is to be the guy doing walking lunges across the circus that is your weight room floor, artfully dodging stray pieces of equipment and/or fellow gymgoers staring intently at their smartphones, this part of legs day can be as tedious as it is tiresome. In a moment of desperation, we asked some friendly fitness pros to suggest a few alternatives to this mainstay of your workout routine that you haven’t changed since high school. Disclaimer: You still might have to traverse the gym, but at least you’ll get a better workout doing it.
Idalis Velazquez: Landmine reverse lunges. Attach a barbell to the landmine—that’s the contraption in your gym that stabilizes one end of a barbell on the ground—and hold the other end in one hand. Brace your core and take a big step back with the same leg as the arm holding the barbell. Pause at the bottom of each rep. Be sure to keep your core engaged at all times for balance. The offset loading makes this exercise more difficult, but also allows you to avoid placing a barbell on your back, which many find uncomfortable.
Ben Booker: Single-leg press. I see many people struggle with performing the lunge due to knee or hip issues. A single-leg press performed on a leg press machine is a great way to build knee stability safely and effectively while still getting the strength training benefits of a lunge. If you have a Smith machine available, moving your lunges over there can also be tremendously helpful.
Robin Arzon Bulgarian split squat. Place one foot behind you on an elevated surface and squat down until the back knee touches the floor. This will help to improve balance and target your glutes and quads.
Jay Cardiello: Proprioception lunges. Try moving your lunges to an uneven surface—if you’re on the road, you can even put that extra hotel mattress on the floor and stand on that. Try performing five sets of 30 seconds of lunges on each side without resting between sets.
Gideon Akande: Dumbbell low lunge. The lunge you’ll feel tomorrow and the day after! Grab two dumbbells and perform a standard reverse lunge, but as you do, bring your chest towards your knee and lower the dumbbells on either side of your front foot, as shown here. Stand tall, alternate legs, and repeat. Perform the motion safely by keeping your back flat and your weight mid-foot. This variation provides an additional challenge for the legs and works the extensors in your back, too.
Alexia Clark: Uneven lunges. Hold a weight of some kind on your shoulder—a medicine ball works great—with one hand, like so. Perform a walking lunge, keeping your weight on the heel of your forward foot. Make sure to keep your core tight, and avoid leaning toward the weighted side. Loading the weight like this forces you to engage your oblique muscles, too.
Jennifer Forrester: Step-ups. Step-ups focus on the same muscles (quads, hamstrings, glutes) as lunges. This exercise requires a little balance, but it’s pretty simple—just stand up tall, and use your right leg to step up on to an elevated platform. When you place your foot onto the platform, your knee shouldn’t be higher than your hip, so if you notice that your thigh is slanted down toward your hip, the platform is too high. As you step up, raise your left knee to balance against your right leg. Avoid pushing your knee forward past your toes. Hold the position for two seconds, and then repeat on the same side.
Watch Now: TABATA At-Home Leg Workout
Why are static lunges better for you? “When you say lunges, there are a plethora of them,” Rodriguez says. You can stand still and take a step forward, or backward, or out to the side. Any way you do it, there is motion involved. That motion involves momentum which makes it hard to stop and slow down your movements, which can add to the pressure on your knee.
Static lunges are also a great movement to start with if you have any balance issues. “There’s a coordination element while moving your body through space. A walking forward lunge contains too many variables for people to organize and control well,” Rodriguez says.
Do these two moves to fix the issues that are causing your knee pain.
The best exercises for knee pain during lunges will work your inner thighs, glutes, and hip muscles, including the deep stabilizing muscles of your hip joint, Rodriguez says. It’s the imbalances in all of these that can cause knee pain when you lower into a lunge. That might sound like a long list, but you really only need two moves to help strengthen those muscles:
1. Modified bridge
“The best is to do a modified bridge, where you lie on your back, put your feet and knees together and then activate your glutes,” Rodriguez says. Because your knees and feet are together, you’re working your inner thighs and deep into your glutes to start to address that imbalance.
Here’s how to do it: Lie face up with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Place your feet together. Lift at your hips; pause. Return to start. Tip: Squeeze your butt as you push your hips up. It’s normal if you can’t get your hips quite as high as they can go in a regular bridge.
Start with a 10-second hold, then lower back down. Repeat this ten times. Then, do that whole set twice. Bridging is also great for your endurance, so once ten seconds seems easy, feel free to add an extra five. Do this three times per week as part of your warm up.
When you do clamshells, you’re working on stabilizing your core and focusing on the hip rotation, two key things you need to keep your body in balance.
Here’s how to do it: Start lying on your right side with knees bent and heels together. Rest your head on your arm. Keep your heels together and lift your top knee to 45 degrees. Try not to move your pelvis, Rodriguez says.
The trick with these clam shells is to make sure your knees aren’t out in front of you, mermaid-style. Instead, you want to make sure you’re one long line from the top of your head, down to your core and glutes, through to your knees. Then your feet can be pointed back behind you.
Lift up your top knee slowly and hold for three seconds, then lower back down for one rep. Complete ten reps and then switch sides. Repeat that whole set twice. Do three times per week as part of your warm up.
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Have you ever had trouble doing lower body exercises such as lunges because of discomfort in your knees? If you aren’t dealing with a pre-existing injury, chances are the discomfort is from improper form and technique.
When done well, lunges are an effective exercise for toning your legs, booty and core. The key to getting the most from the exercise is performing it properly. Below are my tips for performing lunges without discomfort.
*Disclaimer: please consult your doctor before beginning any new exercise program. This advice is intended for adults with healthy knees who need tips on proper form. If you are currently dealing with an injury, please only perform exercises that have been approved by your doctor.
1. Widen your stance. First and foremost, begin with feet hip distance apart. If your feet are too close together, it is easy to lose your balance and cause poor alignment. Tip: while performing the lunge pretend your feet are on two opposite railroad tracks. This widens your base, giving you greater stability and helps you maintain your balance.
2. Keep your knee over your ankle. Ideally in a traditional lunge, your front leg should be at a 90 degree angle with your knee directly above your ankle. If you look down and can’t see your big toe, your knee is extended too far. Stand up straight and sit the hips back slightly until you can see the tip of your shoe.
3. Plant your heel. The key to an effective lunge is keeping the heel of your front foot firmly planted on the ground. All of your weight should be planted in that heel to work your glutes as you come back up from the lunge. If you lift that front heel, excess pressure will be placed on your knee, potentially leading to injury and causing you to miss out on the booty-building benefits of lunges. Tip: I like to raise my toes slightly while raising from a lunge, to ensure I’m keeping my heel down.
Try this: a reverse lunge. If you’re just starting to get comfortable with the lunge movement pattern, reverse lunges can be easier on the joints than a traditional forward lunge. Begin in a standing position with feet shoulder distance apart. Take one step back, slowly bending both legs into a lunging position. Press through that front heel to return to standing, and repeat on opposite leg.
Talk to me:
- Do you include lunges in your fitness routine?
- What are some of your favorite lower body exercises?