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.