5 Uncommon but Powerful Exercises to Strengthen Your Knees (for Older Adults)

Strengthening knee exercises

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Estimated Reading Time: 5 minutes read

Your knees are like the foundation of your house. Without a strong and stable foundation, the whole structure is at risk of collapse. The same goes for your knees. Without strong and stable knees, your whole body is at risk of injury. 

But don’t worry; we’re not talking about turning into the Incredible Hulk overnight. Just a few simple exercises can help keep your knees in tip-top shape.

Why Is Exercise Important When Strengthening Your Knees?

Why Is Exercise Important When Strengthening Your Knees?

Your knees are the unsung heroes of your body – they work tirelessly to support your every step and carry you through life’s adventures. But just like any superhero, they need a little extra care and attention to stay in tip-top shape. And that’s where exercise comes in.

Exercise to strengthen your knees is vital for a variety of reasons. First and foremost, it helps to keep your knee muscles strong and stable, which in turn helps to reduce the risk of injury. Strong knee muscles act as a support system for your knee joint, helping to keep it in proper alignment and take on the stress of everyday activities.

But that’s not all – exercise can also improve the range of motion in your knees, making them more flexible and less prone to stiffness and pain. It’s like giving your knees a good stretch after a long day of work.

And let’s remember the long-term benefits – regular exercise can help to prevent age-related deterioration of the knee joint, keeping your knees healthy and functional for years to come.

So don’t let your knees get left behind – give them the attention they deserve with regular exercise to keep them strong and stable. It’s the least you can do for all they do for you!

Warm Up First

Before beginning any exercise program, it is essential to warm up your muscles to prevent injury. A good warm-up should last 5-10 minutes and include light cardio and stretching. 

This can include activities such as walking or jogging in place, leg swings, and ankle circles. Warming up is essential to increasing blood flow to the muscles and preparing them for the workout.

5 Powerful Exercises to Strengthen Your Knees

1. Terminal Knee Extension

Terminal Knee Extension step 1
Terminal Knee Extension step 2
  • Attach a resistance band (light, medium, or heavy) to something sturdy, such as a chair leg. The band should be tied so that you create a loop to step into.
  • Step into the loop with the injured leg, and position the band so that it’s resting against the back of the knee.
  • Stand with the feet side by side, but the knee with the injury will be slightly bent.
  • Slowly extend, or straighten, the knee with the MCL tear. Hold for 5 seconds, then return to your starting position.
  • Repeat 10-15 repetitions for 2-3 sets.

2. Seated Adduction Squeeze

Seated Adduction Squeeze
  • Begin seated in a chair. Place either a ball or a folded pillow between the knees.
  • Gently squeeze the object with the knees, holding the squeeze for 5 seconds, then relax.
  • Repeat 10-15 repetitions for 2-3 sets.

3. Short Arc Quad

Short Arc Quad step 1
Short Arc Quad step 2
  • Begin either laying on your back or in a long sitting position with the injured leg straight out in front of you. You can do this on your bed, couch, or the floor, depending on what is safest and easiest for you to use.
  • Place a rolled towel under the back of the knee so that the knee is now bent.
  • Similar to the quad set, squeeze the top of the thigh (your quadricep muscles), pressing the back of the knee into the towel as the foot kicks up from the surface.
  • Hold up to 5 seconds, then lower the foot back down and relax the muscles.
  • Repeat 10-15 repetitions for 2-3 sets.

4. Quad Set

Quad Set step 1
Quad Set step 2
  • Starting position: Seated with the injured leg stretched in front of you (can be on the floor, couch, or bed).
  • Squeeze the quadriceps (the muscles on the top of the thigh) and try to press the back of the injured knee down towards the surface.
  • Hold for 5 seconds, then relax.
  • Repeat 10-15 repetitions for 2-3 sets.

5. Straight Leg Raise

Straight Leg Raise step 1
Straight Leg Raise step 2
  • Starting position: Laying flat on your back with the injured leg straight in front of you and the healthy knee bent with the foot flat on the surface (can lay on the floor, couch or bed).
  • Squeeze the quadriceps, just like in the quad set.
  • Hold this squeeze, keeping the knee straight, and lift the entire injured leg in one motion off the surface. Lift the leg until the thighs are at an equal height with each other.
  • Lower and return to your starting position.
  • Repeat 10-15 repetitions for 2-3 sets.


With the right exercise, you can keep your knees strong, healthy, and pain-free for years to come. When performed regularly and with proper form, these exercises can significantly improve the strength and health of your knees. Always consult a doctor or physical therapist before beginning any exercise program, especially if you have a pre-existing knee condition.

Wondering What's Next?

Discover 11 Easy, At-Home “Stretch Exercises” for Stronger, Pain-Free Joints (click below)


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