How to Strengthen Your Knees for Hill Walking

Proper conditioning can protect your knees from injury.
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Your knees take a lot of pounding from daily exercise, especially in hill walking. The constant pressure on your knees from climbing up and down hills and walking on uneven terrain can wear out your joints. Rather than just focusing on strengthening your knees themselves, physical therapist Gray Cook, author of "Athletic Body in Balance," suggests that you perform the squat, lunge and stepup patterns to strengthen your lower body. These three movement patterns are the basic foot positions in many activities. Not only will your knees get stronger, your whole body will also get stronger, too.

Dumbbell Squats

    Step 1

    Stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart and hold a 15-pound dumbbell in each hand over your shoulders. Keep your elbow close to your ribs.

    Step 2

    Inhale and squat down as low as you can while keeping your torso upright.

    Step 3

    Exhale and stand straight without hunching or leaning excessively forward. Perform two to three sets of eight to 10 reps.

Front and Back Lunges

    Step 1

    Stand with your feet together and step forward with your left foot. Inhale and lower yourself down until your right knees gently touches the ground. Keep your torso upright.

    Step 2

    Exhale and push yourself back to the standing position. Step back with your left foot and lunge straight down until your left knee gently touches the ground.

    Step 3

    Exhale and step forward with your left foot back to the starting position. Perform two to three sets of eight to 10 reps per leg.


    Step 1

    Stand in front of a plyobox that is between 2 to 3 feet high. Step on top of the box with your right foot.

    Step 2

    Exhale and bring yourself up on the plyobox. Raise your left knee to your ribs and hold this position for one second.

    Step 3

    Lower your body down back to the starting position. Perform two to three sets of eight to 10 reps per leg.


    • Once you can do these exercises, explore different movement options in the stepups and lunges such as lunging to the side or stepping up and rotate your upper body. This increases your proprioception, or awareness of your body in space, which can lower your risk of injury, such as falls, says physical therapist Catherine Logan, contributing writer of "IDEA Fitness Journal."

    Things You'll Need

    • Aerobic steps

    • Two 15-pound dumbbells

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