What to Do at the Gym With a Hurt Knee

A knee injury doesn't mean you can't work out.
i Creatas Images/Creatas/Getty Images

Being injured can put a major crimp in your active lifestyle. Still, once you get the go ahead from your doctor, you may be able to return to the gym and work around your injury. A knee injury means you won't be able to do much if any lower-body exercise and should try tp keep off your feet as much as possible. But this should not stop you from performing some upper-body and core exercises as well as limited cardio.


    Most cardio exercises involve your legs. Stepping, running, rowing and jumping rope are all but impossible if you have an injured knee. There are, however, ways you can maintain fitness without using your legs. Upper-body bikes involve pedaling with your arms and can help keep your heart, lungs, shoulders and muscles in good shape -- no knee movement required. You can also sit on the floor behind a regular exercise bike and pedal with your arms if your gym does not have an upper-body bike.

Resistance Training

    To minimize the need to walk around your gym carrying weights and loading barbells, resistance and cable machines are the best choices while you are injured. If you have a willing training partner who is happy to fetch and carry weights for you, some free weight exercises maybe OK; for example, bench presses, seated overhead dumbbell presses, seated dumbbell biceps curls and supine triceps extensions.

Core Exercises

    There are several core exercises you can perform in the supine position including crunches and situps. Depending on the severity of your knee injury, you may also be able to perform planks and side planks. In addition, there are some seated resistance machines you can use to work your core that do not involve your knees; for example, seated crunches, seated twists and seated back extensions.

Stretching Exercises

    With all the emphasis you are placing on your upper-body muscles while your knee is injured, it is important to stretch at the end of each workout to prevent your muscles from becoming tight -- a phenomenon called adaptive shortening. You can stretch all of your upper-body muscles while seated. For example, place your hands behind your head and push your elbows backward to stretch your chest muscles or reach up above your head as tall as you can to stretch your upper back.

the nest