7 Best Exercises to Get Stronger Knees and Thighs

Knee stretches should be done on a regular basis (Image via Pexels/Pavel Danilyuk)
Knee stretches should be done on a regular basis (Image via Pexels/Pavel Danilyuk)

The knee is a vital joint that allows you to do a range of tasks, including walking, running, and jumping, which is why including knee-strengthening exercises in your fitness routine is a good idea.

The quadriceps and gluteus maximus muscles must be strong enough to stabilize the knee while it moves. Knee-strengthening activities can help with this.

You may lower your chances of injury by spending the time and effort to strengthen your knees—through both quad-strengthening exercises and glute-focused routines.

Best exercises for strengthening your knees and thighs

Knee stretches should be done on a regular basis as it helps build a wider range of motion and lowers the chances of pain and injury. By improving shock absorption through increased muscle strength, lower body strengthening activities may help to relieve unnecessary stress on the knee joint.

Check out this list of seven best exercises to get stronger knees and thighs.

1) Seated straight leg lifts

Leg lifts help to strengthen your hamstrings, which are the muscles that run along the back of your thighs. You can do them with ankle weights or by looping a resistance band around your ankles as you get stronger.

Here are the steps to do straight leg lifts properly:

  • Sit up straight in your chair, feet level on the floor, knees bent.
  • Slowly lift your right foot until it is straight out in front of you, engaging the muscles in your right thigh.
  • After a brief pause, carefully lower the leg.
  • Rep the exercise on the left side after you've completed your set.


2) Hamstring curls

Hamstring curls help to strengthen the hamstring, enhance mobility, and reduce knee stiffness.

Here are the steps to do hamstring curls properly:

  • Hold the back of the chair for support and slowly bend each leg behind you, reaching your heel as far back as possible towards your buttocks.
  • Maintain a straight line between your thighs and knees.


You can also opt for the following variations:

Lying on your stomach with your legs straight out in front of you is one version.

Wear ankle weights or use a resistance band to make either type of hamstring curls more difficult.

3) Side leg lifts

Quadriceps and inner thighs are strengthened with side leg lifts.

Follow these steps for proper side leg lifts:

  • Lay on one side with your legs piled on top of each other to prepare for the workout.
  • Slowly elevate your top leg while flexing your top foot and maintaining it straight and firm. Raise the leg to about shoulder height, pause for a while, and then slowly lower it back down.
  • Switch sides and elevate the other leg after you've completed your set.


4) Squats

Quadriceps, glutes, and hamstrings are all strengthened by squats.

Here are the steps to follow for proper squats:

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Sit back and down as far as you can comfortably go while keeping your back straight and your knees from extending past your toes.
  • After a brief pause, stand up again.
  • Begin with a quarter or half of the squats and work your way up to full squats as your strength improves.


5) Split squat

This single-leg squat version, which is essentially a stationary lunge, is excellent for quad and glute strengthening. It also works on stabilizing your hip muscles.

Here are the steps to do a split squat properly:

  • With a dumbbell in each hand, take a staggered stance with your feet hip-width apart and one foot placed several feet ahead of the other.
  • Lower your body into a lunge (or split squat) by bracing your core and bending both knees until your front thigh is parallel to the floor. Maintain a firm core, a straight spine (your torso may need to tilt forward slightly to do this, which is acceptable), and shoulders back (not hunched up or rounded forward).
  • As you straighten your knee and return to standing, push through the heel of your front foot. This is a single rep.
  • Repeat on the same side for 8–12 times, then swap legs and continue.


6) Lateral lunges

The lateral lunge targets the quadriceps, outside thigh muscles, and glutes, with a stronger emphasis on the glute medius than forward or reverse lunges. It also provides a great stretch to your inner thighs.

Here are the steps to do the lateral lunges properly:

  • Hold a dumbbell in each hand and stand with your feet together. The dumbbells can be racked at your shoulders (as shown) or held by your sides.
  • With your right foot, take a big step out to the right. Hinge forward at the hips, push your butt back, and lower into a lateral lunge by bending your right knee while keeping your left leg straight. If you start with the weights by your side, the right leg should now be framed.
  • Return to the starting position by pausing for a second and then pushing off your right foot. This is a single rep.
  • Repeat on the same side for 8–12 times, then switch legs.


7) Banded glute bridge

The glute bridge focuses on the glute muscles. The resistance band increases the challenge for the glute medius and other outside hip muscles as you engage them throughout the motion.

Here are the steps to do the banded glute bridge properly:

  • Lie down on your back, arms on your sides, knees bent, and feet flat on the floor hip-width apart. Just above your knees, wrap a resistance band over your thighs. This is where you'll begin.
  • Squeeze your glutes and abs, then elevate your hips a few inches off the floor by pushing through your heels until your body forms a straight line from your shoulders to your knees.
  • Hold this position for a second, making sure the band is taut and your knees aren't collapsing in on themselves.
  • Return to the starting position by slowly lowering your hips. This is a single rep.
  • Perform 8–12 repetitions.


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Edited by Prem Deshpande


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