There are many reasons you might suffer from knee pain. A lingering injury, arthritis, tight muscles, or lack of mobility are a few of those reasons. We know that knee pain can hamper you and keep you from enjoying the activities you love to doing. The best knee strengthening exercises can help you regain strength and mobility in the joints. And, you can get back out there to do the activities you love when you regain strength and mobility.

We understand how bothersome knee pain is. Especially for those who are highly active and love being on their feet. Whether you're recovering from an injury or building up muscle strength, the right exercises will help get you there.

Why Perform Knee Strengthening Exercises

There are many reasons to perform knee strengthening exercises. Exercises will help increase flexibility, build muscle, and help strengthen the joints, to prevent injuries. For individuals who have arthritis, mobilizing the knees is extremely painful. The right exercise routine will help minimize pain and discomfort. Although it won't rebuild cartilage, exercise can help reduce inflammation, swelling, and relieve arthritis symptoms.

Alleviate arthritis pain

Both osteoarthritis and people living with rheumatoid arthritis can benefit from engaging in knee strengthening exercises. Exercise helps maintain a full range of motion in the joints. It also helps strengthen the muscles supporting those joints, to help prevent further injuries. And, building muscle strength helps minimize shock absorption upon landing.

To benefit from knee strengthening exercises, people living with arthritis don't have to do strenuous workouts. Nor do they have to be weight-bearing exercises. As long as they achieve a full range of motion and stretch, the activities will benefit them.

Prevent injuries

Football player in pain due to knee injury

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Injuries occur because the joints and ligaments aren't healthy enough to support body weight. Imbalances, weakness, and instability, lead to injuries. Engaging in knee strengthening exercises can help minimize the possibility that injuries will occur. At least those injuries that occur because of weakness and muscle imbalance. Building muscle strength around the joints helps improve balance and stability. So, engaging in regular exercises to strengthen the bones, will positively impact people who perform those exercises.

Strengthen muscles

Under-utilization of muscles, lack of development, or prior injuries, might be reasons for weakness in the knee muscles. There are many knee strengthening exercises people can perform, to improve those weaknesses. Developing the muscle groups can help improve the range of motion, and strengthen surrounding muscles. It will help prevent future injuries, and also help individuals develop muscles they don't work out regularly.

Improve flexibility

Man stretches for knee strengthening exercises

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If you want to improve flexibility it is essential to stretch the muscles after performing knee strengthening exercises. Tight muscles tend to lead to injuries. When you develop the muscles through activities and stretch them correctly, this naturally increases levels of flexibility. Stretching after exercise is imperative to muscle mobility and durability. It also helps to improve flexibility, to prevent future injuries naturally.

How We Reviewed

The knee strengthening exercises we reviewed offer many benefits to individuals who perform them. In our review, we consider the activities that target joints and muscles around the knee. These exercises help develop strength, and build-up the joints, to prevent injuries. We also believe the exercises that benefit more than one muscle group. And, we include activities that are beneficial in more than one way (such as build muscle, pain relief, etc.).

The Best Knee Strengthening Exercises to Perform

Not all knee strengthening exercises are as beneficial as others. Some help to minimize the pain but don't do much to build muscle strength and stability. These are some compound exercises that will promote healing, muscle development, and target pain.

Leg raises

This knee strengthening exercise promotes joint mobility and strength by working the quadriceps muscles. It focuses on building that core muscle group, to help improve joint mobility. It also strengthens the hamstrings, helping enhance lateral knee strength to help reduce chances of an injury.

When performing leg raises, adding weight around the ankle, can further enhance the benefits of this exercise. Leg raises also help strengthen the core and abdomen. By utilizing larger muscle groups, makes the activity beneficial in building strength and joint mobility.


Squats are one of the best exercises for building strength. In addition to helping improve range of motion and mobility, they work the quadriceps, glutes, and hamstrings. Targeting the largest leg muscle groups is highly beneficial to building strength and burning fat.

Individuals who don't have as much leg strength can use a chair or wall for stability when squatting. Those who are stronger and want to build muscle can use barbells or free weights when squatting. There are many variations, including single and double leg squats. And, the deeper individuals sit into the squat, the more it will build the large muscle groups. Holding squats for 5-10 seconds will also help strengthen large muscle groups. It helps develop strength faster also.

Seated leg raise

This exercise is perfect for individuals who have arthritis. It doesn't put much impact on the joints because they're sitting. It is also beneficial because it requires a full range of motion, at a 90-degree angle.

Raising the leg slowly, to a position parallel to the floor, also requires individuals to extend the knee fully. Doing this also helps work the quadriceps and hamstring muscles. Therefore, it can help build muscle, which can in turn help with injury prevention over time.


Lunges require individuals to work one leg at a time, isolating the quadriceps, hamstring, and glute muscles. Extending one leg forward, and bending at a 90-degree angle, isolates the knee and surrounding muscles.

Lunges require a great deal of focus. And, it forces individuals to work out the large muscle groups. When done correctly, lunges force individuals to dip to a 90-degree angle, straight down. Doing this stabilizes the knees, helps build cartilage strength and helps increase overall strength around the joints. The more strength people develop around the knees, the less likely it is they are going to injure their knees.

Knee marches

The exercise is great for those who are recovering from an injury. It doesn't place stress on the knees and builds up the quadriceps muscles at the same time. Individuals have to sit on a chair, with their feet flat on the ground to perform this exercise.

To perform this exercise raise one leg up off the ground and hold it in the air. Hold it for several seconds before lowering the leg, and raising the other one. It is marching in place while sitting down. Doing this for a couple of minutes daily will help build the quadriceps. It will help strengthen the muscles and increase fluidity.

Lateral band walk

This exercise is excellent for building muscle. It also helps with joint mobility and strength. To perform this exercise individuals will get a resistance band, and place their feet between it. Moving in a lateral position, they'll move side to side, moving one leg at a time. Then, return going in the opposite direction.

The exercise trains the abductor muscles, hamstrings, glutes, and thighs. It also helps increase hip strength. Doing this helps to minimize the possibility of knee injuries.

Leg curls

Another one of the best knee strengthening exercise is the leg curl. As the name implies, when doing the workout, people will curl the leg towards their body. Some machines require you to place your calves on top of a bar and bend in a downward position.

Leg curls help build the hamstring muscle. Especially when doing variations using the body weight (ball leg curls, wall leg curls, etc.). Utilizing the body weight, instead of sitting on a machine, helps develop strength and target larger muscle groups. Working the larger muscle groups is beneficial in injury prevention. It also helps establish joint force around the knees. So, it increases the range of motion and allows individuals to extend the usability of the muscle groups. Over time, it will also help strengthen the knees, joints, and work to help prevent injuries.

Calf raises

Although people don't believe this will help the knees, it does. The calves help minimize impact upon landing, in turn, reducing shock absorption on the knees. If the calves are muscular, this can help minimize how much impact the knees feel when walking or running.

Calf raises are an excellent exercise for targeting the lower legs. People can perform them in a standing or seated position. Additionally, turning the toes inward when performing the activity, aims at a different muscle head than turning them outwards. So, people can pinpoint which muscle groups they're working, and target the interior and exterior knee joint muscle groups.

Body bridge

To perform this exercise, people should begin by laying down on their back. They'll extend the legs, and place the feet about shoulder width apart on the ground. Then, they'll lift the hip area off the ground, to create a body bridge. Hold the exercise for 5-10 seconds at a time, and slowly return to the starting position.

The body bridge works the hamstrings, quadriceps, and glutes. By strengthening these large muscle groups, it helps with injury prevention and developing knee strength. The exercise also focuses on stabilizing the body in the air for several seconds at a time. This isolation exercise targets joint force around the knees. Building the joints helps to prevent buckling of the knees, which can lead to injuries.

Prone straight leg raises

Another one of the best knee strengthening exercises is a prone leg raise. Instead of laying on the back, this exercise requires individuals to lay down on their stomach. With the legs straight, they'll raise up one leg off the ground as high as possible. Then, hold the leg up for 3-5 seconds at a time. Slowly lower the leg and alternate to the other leg, performing the same movement.

The exercise helps build quadricep muscles and the hamstrings. It also targets the glute muscles directly. Each of these muscles helps strengthen the knee. By stabilizing the supporting, large muscle groups, this will help prevent injuries and improve joint mobility. The stronger the legs are, the easier it is to prevent knee injuries. This exercise focuses directly on the large muscle groups in the legs, which will conversely help increase knee strength.

The Best Knee Strengthening Exercises

There are many excellent knee strengthening exercises that people of all ages can perform. Working in a combination of these exercises is highly beneficial for strength, development, and injury prevention. Especially for those who are otherwise immobile or don't do too many activities outside of the home.

The best exercises for injury prevention are lunges. Lunges force individuals to work the quadriceps and hamstring muscles in isolation. Holding the 90-degree angle, this builds up the muscle groups and stabilizes the knee in place. By focusing on maintaining a straight line with the knees, it forces individuals to focus on developing muscle groups. By building up those muscles, and strengthening the ligaments and joints, this helps preserve the knees.

Woman running outdoors

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The best exercise for arthritis relief is a seated leg raise. This exercise helps build the muscles around the knees. For individuals who have arthritis, it also requires a full 90-degree range of motion. So, you're forcing yourself to work the knee in all directions. It helps work out air that develops between the bones, which causes pain.

The best knee strengthening exercises to help build joint strength are leg raises. The exercise is simple to perform. It works the front, rear, and lateral muscles, to strengthen the joints. It also helps minimize the chance of injury, by building the larger core muscle groups.

The best exercise to strengthen the muscles are squats. Squats not only target the largest muscle groups, but they are also a compound exercise. By working several muscles at once, this burns more fat, more calories, and builds muscle faster. Squats are the ideal exercise to work out the largest muscle groups and develop muscle. Over time, this will help with injury prevention, because muscles and joints around the knees are stable.