7 Best Knee Strengthening Exercises for Athletes

Knee strengthening exercises are of utmost importance to athletes. (Photo by Kampus Production via pexels)
Knee strengthening exercises are of utmost importance to athletes. (Photo by Kampus Production via pexels)

Knee strengthening exercises are beneficial for athletes, as they help prevent injuries and also develop stronger and flexible muscles around the knees, core and legs. As athletes are involved in high-intensity moves and demand extra from their knees, it's crucial to make sure their muscles are well-built and powerful enough to undertake athletic activities.

Certain knee strengthening exercises can help ease knee pain and prevent future injuries by giving the knees the extra support they need without affecting the knee joints directly. That can alleviate strain on the joints, helping athletes be more active and strong.

Knee Strengthening Exercises for Athletes

Here are seven most effective knee strengthening exercises that athletes can do to make their knees and surrounding muscles strong and flexible.

1) Banded Terminal Knee Extension

A banded terminal knee extension is one of the classic knee strengthening exercises that act as an effective quad activator. It helps pump blood to the knees and quads and also helps prepare the entire lower body for more rigorous physical training.

How to do it?

  • Loop an exercise band around a strong base, and step inside the band with one leg while placing the band above your knee.
  • Move a little, and allow some tension in the exercise band.
  • Slightly bend, and extend your knee by straightening it and contracting your quads as hard as you can.
  • Switch sides, and repeat.

2) Single-leg Deadlift

A single-leg deadlift engages all the glutes muscles and helps prevent the knees from bending inward. Although this exercise is done using weights, you can do it with your body weight too.

How to do it?

  • Stand tall holding a dumbbell in both hands in front of your thighs.
  • Shift your entire weight to your right leg, and keep a slight bend in your right knee.
  • Hinge at your hips to lean forward, and bring your torso parallel to the ground.
  • Extend your left leg behind you, and lower the weight towards the ground.
  • At the bottom movement, make sure your left leg is almost parallel to the ground, and the weight is a few inches off the floor.
  • Push through your right heel to stand up, and bring both your legs together.
  • Switch sides, and continue.

3) Wall Quad Stretch

The wall quad stretch is one of the best knee strengthening exercises that target the knees, ankles, quads, shins and the front of the foot.

How to do it?

  • Stand up against a wall, and take a lunge position.
  • Extend your back foot, and keep your toes on the surface of the wall.
  • Make sure your back knee is closer to the wall so that you feel a deep stretch in your ankle, foot and quads.

4) Standing Hamstring Curls

The standing hamstring curls is another great strengthening exercise that engages the buttocks (gluteal muscles) and hamstrings.

How to do it?

  • Stand upright with your knees two inches apart. Hold on to a chair for support.
  • Slowly bend one knee behind your body, and lift your heel off the ground while keeping your thighs properly aligned.
  • Continue to raise your heel in a gentle motion till your knee reaches a 90-degree angle. Make sure to keep your other leg slightly bent to prevent locking.
  • Hold the bent leg for a few seconds, and lower it towards the ground.
  • Switch legs, and repeat the exercise.

5) Step-up

Step-up is a compound exercise that helps improve the glutes and quads – two major muscles that support the knees.

How to do it?

  • Stand in front of a step, and keep your hands on your sides.
  • Keep your left foot on the step followed by your right, and use both legs to lift yourself.
  • Pause when both your foot are on the top of the step at a hip-width distance.
  • Slowly bring your left foot down followed by your right, and take up the starting position again.
  • Switch sides, and continue the exercise.

6) Leg Lifts

Leg lifts are one of the best knee strengthening exercises that engage the quads and abdominal muscles.

How to do it?

  • Lie down on a mat with your back flat and legs straight.
  • Keeping your right leg straight bend your left leg at your knee, and bring your left foot closer to your body.
  • Engage your abdominal muscles, and pull your navel towards your spine.
  • Slowly lift your right leg without bending your knee, and keep your toes pointed upwards. Continue to lift your leg till it's at least ten inches off the floor. Hold the right leg up for a few seconds, and bring it down.
  • Switch sides, and continue the exercise.

7) Lateral Lunge

The lateral lunge targets the quads and glutes with much more intensity compared to the regular lunge. This exercise also offers a gentle stretch in your inner thigh muscles.

How to do it?

  • Stand straight by holding a dumbbell in each hand. You can either place the weight at your shoulders or by your sides.
  • Take a big step to your left, and hinge forward at your hips.
  • Push your butts back, and bend your left knee into a lateral lunge position. Keep your right leg straight.
  • Pause, and push your left foot to return to the initial position.
  • Repeat the same on the other leg.


Knee strengthening exercises like the ones mentioned above are a beneficial way to keep your legs strong and prevent injuries. These exercises can help keep your muscles flexible and alleviate pain and stiffness.

However, before starting any of the knee strengthening exercises, it's best to consult a doctor to seek advice on what exercises would be most suitable for you.

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Edited by Bhargav
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