The Best Workout Moves to Build Strong Knees

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The knee is brilliantly designed yet vulnerable. It’s a hinge joint protected by cartilage and activated with muscles, tendons, and ligaments—all of which let you do things like lift hundreds of pounds, sprint hard and stop on a dime, and brace in a squat as you ski. Like all great architecture, it can deteriorate over time. But there are ways to fortify it. “You need to create mobility in the muscle tissues above and below the joint,” says Adam Rosante, a certified strength and nutrition coach in New York City. “Strength in your glutes, hamstrings, and quads provides stability, while mobility relieves tension on the knee itself.”

 

 

Knee pain can be the result of muscle imbalance, bad exercise form, and poor movement patterns, so Rosante created a workout that addresses all three. Even if your knees are in great shape, you can benefit from bolstering them, especially if you’re active. Do this circuit twice a week with a warmup that focuses on ankle mobility. Jog or jump rope for a few minutes, then roll out calves and stretch the tibialis anterior (the muscle to the outside of the shin) for six to eight minutes total. For the weighted moves, start with body weight, then build to a 12- to 16-kg (26- to 35-lb) kettlebell. Complete all sets of a move before going on to the next, resting up to one minute between sets. A decade from now, your still-healthy knees will thank you.


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Banded Side Walk

BEST FOR: Activating glutes; building balance.

HOW TO DO IT: Position a small resistance band around thighs, just above knees. Drop into a half-squat to start. Step laterally with left foot 6 inches, then step right foot toward left for 1 rep. Do 5 reps, then switch sides. Repeat 4 times.

Justin Steele

Bulgarian Split Squat

BEST FOR: Identifying and correcting imbalances in leg strength and flexibility; challenging knee stability.

HOW TO DO IT: Stand about 2 feet in front of a bench, right toes resting on bench, a kettlebell (or dumbbell) beneath chin to start. Pressing into left heel, take 5 or 6 seconds to lower right knee to ground, then explode up for 1 rep. Do 3 sets of 12 reps on each side.

Justin Steele

Goblet Squat

BEST FOR: Strengthening glutes and quads; practicing proper squat position.

HOW TO DO IT: Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, holding a kettlebell (or a dumbbell) beneath chin to start. Keeping chest tall and body weight in heels, sit hips back and down until thighs are at or below parallel, then explode up for 1 rep. Do 3 sets of 12 reps.

Justin Steele

Glute Hamstring Raises With Slow Eccentrics

BEST FOR: Lengthening hamstrings for injury prevention.

HOW TO DO IT: Kneel on a pad while partner holds ankles (or use a loaded barbell under ankles to anchor). Cross arms in front of chest to start, and slowly lower torso to ground, catching yourself with your hands, for 1 rep. Press through palms to return to start. Do 10 reps.

Justin Steele

The post The Best Workout Moves to Build Strong Knees appeared first on Men's Journal.

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