Maybe you’ve suffered a knee injury, and you want to rebuild your strength. Perhaps you’re a healthy but active woman, and you want to strengthen your knees to improve your performance or to prevent an injury. To strengthen a joint, work on the muscles surrounding the joint. In this case, building your thigh and calf muscles will help stabilize and strengthen your knees. Along with stronger knees, the resulting toned look of your thighs and calves will be a nice bonus.
Warm up before exercising until you break a sweat. Walking on a treadmill, jogging in place on a rebounder or pedaling a stationary bike will all do the trick. Jumping rope is another option, if your knees are already in good shape.
Perform dynamic stretches such as front or rear lunges, in which you lower one knee close to the ground, or front and side leg kicks.
Select some exercises to perform on weight machines. To perform a leg press, for example, place your back flat against the seat’s backrest and put your feet flat against the machine’s plate. Adjust the seat, if necessary, so your knees are bent at right angles. Make sure your legs are parallel with each other. Exhale as you push the plate forward until your legs are extended fully, but without locking your knees. Don’t move your upper body. Hold the position for a split-second, then inhale as you slowly return to your starting posture. You can also perform the exercise one leg at a time. Other machine-weight exercises that strengthen your knees and the surrounding muscles include knee extensions, hamstring curls and calf raises.
Perform body-weight exercises such as leg lifts. Lie on your lower back and rear end while propping your upper body up on your forearms. Flex one knee, then extend the opposite leg and lift the straight leg up. Lie on your side with your body straight and one leg on top of the other to perform side leg lifts. Keep both legs straight as you raise the top leg up as far as you comfortably can. Perform a dipping exercise by placing one foot flat on a low stool, then pressing the leg down to lift your opposite leg off the ground. Hold onto a tall object for balance if necessary.
Try isometric exercises. Hold each position for five seconds and try to perform 10 repetitions. Sit on a bench with your leg extended and a rolled-up towel under your knee, then tighten your front thigh muscles. Lie on a mat with the rolled-up towel under one knee, place both your heels on the floor, then extend the leg sitting over the towel until your knee is straight. Sit on the edge of a bench with one knee bent at 90 degrees and the other at 45 degrees. Press the heel of the leg bent at 45 degrees down onto the floor.
- Perform your workout three times each week, but never on consecutive days.
- Increase the amount of resistance slightly, approximately every two weeks, by either increasing the amount of weight you’re lifting, or the number of repetitions you’re performing. Ease off if you feel any pain, however.
- Speak with your doctor before performing these exercises if you suffer from arthritis, you’ve had an injury or you feel any pain in your legs or knees.
M.L. Rose has worked as a print and online journalist for more than 20 years. He has contributed to a variety of national and local publications, specializing in sports writing. Rose holds a B.A. in communications.