A 15-Minute Lower-Body Workout for Bad Knees

By , Jessica Smith, Certified Personal Trainer
Squats and lunges are two of my favorite classic moves to incorporate into lower-body workouts because they really work! However,as effective as they are, these particular moves can cause knee pain for a lot of people. The good news is that you can still effectively target the lower body with these alternative exercises that won’t strain your joints. This full-length, low-impact workout doesn’t include a single squat or lunge and is designed to be gentle on the joints but tough on your hips, thighs and glutes! 
 
All you’ll need is a sturdy chair for this routine, and--if you’d like to add more intensity--a set of light dumbbells.
 
Please note: If you are working with a specific knee injury, be sure to get your doctor and/or physical therapist's approval before attempting this workout. If you suffer from regular knee, hip or other joint pain, be sure to consult a professional for an expert diagnosis.
 


Like this workout? Be sure to check out our knee-friendly "Walk On" 3-DVD set, available now on DVD.
 
Leave me a comment below and let me know which move you felt the most!
 
Subscribe at Youtube.com/JessicaSmithTV to access a full library of over 200 FREE full-length workout videos. New episodes air every Saturday at noon EST!

About the Author
As someone who struggled to lose weight for years, Jessica found that the key to her own 40-pound weight loss was making small, healthy lifestyle changes that led to big, lasting results. Now, as a certified wellcoach, fitness instructor and personal trainer, she has spent the last 15 years helping students and clients reach their goals in New York City, Los Angeles and Miami, and now reaches millions online through her YouTube Channel and home exercise DVD series. Please visit jessicasmithtv.com/shop to learn more about her fun, results driven programs for all levels of exercisers.


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Comments

KHALIA2 6/15/2018
I really appreciate this one. My knees aren't bad, but I have a friend that I will share this one with. Report
KHALIA2 6/13/2018
Thank you, Jessica! Report
BLESSEDBEING 5/31/2018
Haven't done this in a while. I forgot how intense it is for glutes, thighs, hips. Sometimes could not keep to Jessica's pace, and couldn't raise legs as high--left quad wanted to cramp. I'll do it cautiously as I get stronger. Report
JAMER123 5/29/2018
Thank you for sharing Report
MBPP50 5/29/2018
Thank you Report
DEBVNE 5/29/2018
I really like this routine to help strengthen the core and muscles surrounding the knees. Jessica does a nice job of providing form cues, so you know exactly what to do. Using a chair for stability is a good modification. You can press pause at any time, (itís helpful with transitions) and itís one of the benefits of working out at home. Both my knees were replaced 11 years ago. I know what it takes to rehab, strengthen, and protect them...bionic parts have a shelf life. Initially these moves might feel daunting, try a few...build slowly. Improving the muscles that support the knee is a huge game changer, it helped me immensely. Report
ARMY_MOM17 5/28/2018
...very helpful tips... enjoyed the leg extension while using chair for stability... Report
ROBBIEY 5/28/2018
good information for if I ever develop a problem with my knees Report
KATHY024 5/28/2018
I really wish that someone would come up with a exercise routine geared for people with hip and knee replacements. I love a lot of the routines and can do them until they hit the floor and pop back up again. Can't do that anymore. Frustrating that I can't find a routine I can use. Report
1CRAZYDOG 5/28/2018
Useful information . . . have a right knee replacement (11 yrs. old) and due to have my left knee replaced. No fun.

I am doing all I can to strengthen my quads to take a load off the knees. That, in addition to the weight I've lost. Report
MSROZZIE 5/28/2018
Good information, but the use of a chair is very important to use with knee issues. Report
RUNESHADOW 5/28/2018
My pain level tells me this workout is not for me. I could do some, with adaptations (balance issues, so I used the chair back), but she lost me when she got on the floor. I agree with others who have posted that this is not or folks with extensive knee damage. It may be easier on the knees for folks who want to avoid knee damage. I will stick with mostly chair exercises and using the chair back for support/balance. Nice workout -- just wish I could do it. Report
SPARKYFLOWER 5/28/2018
Great Article, Than You Report
SPARKYFLOWER 5/28/2018
Great Article, Than You Report
CHERIRIDDELL 5/28/2018
This is for mildly damaged knees not really bad knees Report
SHELLLEY2 4/27/2018
Always looking for new exercises to help strengthen my weak, injured knees. Quite a few to chose from here and put into a routineZ thank you for sharing these! Report
PIPPAMOUSE 4/23/2018
I love this workout! This was exactly what I was looking for. Perhaps I will gain the strength in my legs to do the squats and lunges, in the mean time, this is my work out! Report
ALABAMASUSAN17 10/14/2017
I need this! Thank you! Report
Good information for someone with minor bad knee but mine really hurts to do things like this Report
This is only good if you don't do it so long, with bad knees you have to do it real slowly or it will hurt bad. Report
Love Jessica Smith's workouts!! Report
I have bad knees and this exercise does help Report
SHAUNAI1
What an excellent workout. My knees are a problem with lunges. This looks like a great alternative. Thank you. Report
Another great Jessica Smith workout! Report
Good workout, though I needed to modify some moves (body weight on flat hands hurts wrists, so I do it on fists), and I added several minutes of stretching for hamstrings, glutes, quads, inner thigh, abs. And I pause to drink water during the workouts. Report
KJDINSC
How do I log this workout on my fitness tracker? Report
Love the little Frenchie doing yoga stretches at the beginning. :-) Even the dog exercises!
Report
Thank you Jessica!! This is the workout I've been looking for.
Report
KJDINSC
Wow, great workout. Wish I'd found it earlier. Report
This seems a lot easier than the squats and lunges that almost make me cry when I do them. Report
Doctor just told me that due to the bone structure of my hips/pelvis, I will probably never be able to do squats...I can do some mean leg lifts though! So I am glad to have found a nice alternative - great workout. Report
I am an adult ice skater who recently strained my knee. I am looking for alternatives to squats and lunges to help with my rehabilitation. This workout is a perfect fit and I will be using it regularly! Report
When you have had a knee replacement like I have had getting up and down off of the floor is a feet in itself. I have learned to do a wide range of exercising without using the floor. Report
I workout with Jessica Smith every week on her YT channel. All of her workouts are awesome. She sometimes makes workouts by viewers suggestion and such. All of her walking videos are fun. Her fusion workouts are the best. Report
I have some knee troubles and am always looking for a workout that will cause no damage. This one left me feeling more loose without hurting. Thank you! Report
HILLSLUG98239
"Bad knees" covers a pretty broad range of conditions. I have difficulty with lunges and squats, but I can still run. Report
MKELLYCLARK1
I think this is a great workout-I'm due for a knee replacement on one side and I know I need to build my quads and any other surrounding muscles as best I can prior to surgery. No matter what you do, it hurts a bit, but all the research I've done, states that even with arthritis, exercising is key and can't hurt anything more than it already is. That being said, I'd definitely use a chair for balance with a bad knee. Report
GYPSYBRN
I'm sorry but she has no idea what it is like to have bad knees. Standing, walking in place, and any repetitive motion hurts. This is not a workout for a person with bad knees. Report
 
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