The Best Workout Program For Bad Knees

Have you been searching for the best workout program for bad knees?

In this article I am going to give you exact exercises to do, exact number of reps to do, and exact number of sets to do. I will also give you a tutorial on how to perform each exercise with proper form.

Whether from an old injury that never fully got healed or just as you age your knees seem to get more and more cranky.

Squats seem to be a no go. Lunges give you pain. Therefore you are looking for a low impact workout program you can do without being in pain 24/7.

Look no further because this article will give you everything you need to still be able to partake in exercise to further your health.

All I need you to do is read the whole article. I don’t want you to leave this current page without feeling completely confident in how to create the best workout program for bad knees.

We cool there? Awesome, let’s get into it then.

Best Workout Program For Bad Knees

workout program for bad knees

There are multiple ways to create a workout program for bad knees, yet the main one I am sure you have heard from your doctor is to “lose weight”.

Thanks, Doc.

This is true. If you are able to lose some body mass that can absolutely take pressure off of your knee joint.

The only problem is, losing weight is hard.

Very easy to say and understand yet putting it into practice can be very difficult.

This article will be mainly centered around the best workout program for bad knees but I would be remorse to not mention nutrition because that is the most important factor in losing weight.

Personally what I would recommend to you if you are having a hard time with nutrition and losing weight is to check out these two resources I have for you below.

First is a very short YouTube I did on how to figure out how may calories you need to eat to lose weight. You can watch that HERE.

Now that you know how many calories to eat to lose weight, next will be an article I wrote on what has to happen for you to lose weight and where many people go wrong on their journey. You can read that HERE.

I am giving you these two pieces of content for free. I have nothing to lie to you about. I use both of these strategies with every single one of my online coaching clients and every time it works tremendously.

If you do these two things I mentioned above, I promise you you will be able to lose the weight.

If you think you may need extra help with your nutrition along your journey, feel free to head HERE to see if we may be a good fit for coaching together.

Now that those things are established, let’s continue on with the article.

The Best Workout Program For Bad Knees Keeps You Moving!

workout program for bad knees

One of the biggest mistakes I see people make when they have knee pain is to stop exercising all together. That could possibly be one of the worst things to do.

You should never stop exercising all together when knee pain is present, rather find exercises to allow you to train without creating that pain.

If you are here reading this right now, you clearly want to continue exercising and moving. You are ahead of the game, so pat yourself on the back why don’t you.

You may be thinking “but the pain makes it hard for me to do lower body movements like squats or lunges!”.

To that I will say I totally get it, and keep reading as I will give you exact exercises to do, how many sets to do, how many reps to do, everything.

The next thing you may be thinking is “well I can’t do any Hiit Cardio like burpees or squat jumps and isn’t that what you need to do to lose weight?!”

To that I will say, absolutely not.

As I mentioned above your nutrition is going to be the biggest driver of fat loss. If you have not checked out those links yet I certainly would after reading this article.

Beyond that for every single one of my online coaching clients I develop a strength training program individually made for them.

You have to remember working out is to build your body up. Lift more weight. Do more reps. Build your strength up, build your bone density, build your endurance.

Your workouts build the body you want, your nutrition loses the fat you don’t want.

The best workout program for bad knees would include a solid strength training program due to so many benefits.

A few are listed below

  • Increased bone density
  • Increased strength in the muscles around the joint protecting you from injury
  • Increased stability around the joint
  • Increased balance
  • Improved posture & alignment

As you can see, I could go on and on.

The stronger your muscles are around the joint not only the more pain reduction you will have but the ability to be able to perform daily tasks that involve squats and lunges will improve.

The main point is strength training is going to be your best friend when it comes to the best workout program for bad knees, not burpees and jumping around like a kangaroo.

What does this strength training look like you ask? As always, I got your back.

Exercise Selection for The Best Workout Program For Bad Knees

So what we discussed earlier about how squats and lunges may not be in your program right now that does not mean you have to stop exercising all together.

Normally when referring to lower body there are two main movements patterns : squat and hip hinge.

The squat normally trains the quadriceps, the muscle on the front of your leg.

The hip hinge pattern normally trains the hamstrings and glutes on the back of your leg.

The squat movement patterns refers to exercises like: squats, single leg squats, lunges, leg press, Bulgarian split squat.

The hip hinge movement pattern refers to exercises like: deadlifts, sumo deadlifts, hip thrusts, glue bridge, single leg deadlifts.

When referring to knee pain the squat movement pattern normally creates the most pain.

On top of that fact when knee pain is apparent usually the back of the leg, your hamstrings and glutes, are often under trained and weak.

So what does this all mean?

This means that if you have knee pain you should prioritize the hip hinge pattern and focus on strengthening your glutes and hamstring muscles.

What do these exercises look like? Again, so glad you asked. Keep on reading below.

Sumo Deadlift

The sumo deadlift is a staple in anyone of my online clients training programs where knee pain is present. This exercise can develop a ton of strength and power in your lower body without putting a ton of pressure on your knee.

Sumo Deadlift Technique Points

  1. Take a stance outside hip width. Turn your feet out slightly. Think about you are ripping the ground apart with your feet, creating a volcano crack in the ground.
  2. Take a big breath into your core to push your stomach out and brace your abs.
  3. Keep your arms long, squeeze an orange between your armpit, bend over by pushing your hips back to grab the bar.
  4. Push your feet into the ground, rip the ground apart, stand up and squeeze your glutes at the top.

I strongly urge you to watch the video to ensure proper execution.

Sumo Deadlift Programming Recommendations

Frequency: 1-2x a week

Sets & Reps : 3-5 sets of 3-6 reps

Workout Placement : At the beginning of your workout

Cable Pull Through

The cable pull through is a staple movement to strengthen the hamstrings and glutes, all while putting minimal stress on the knee joint.

Cable Pull Through Technique Points

  1. Set up your feet about hip width apart. Keep your shoulders away from your ears and keep your arms long.
  2. Start to send your hips back to the wall behind you like you are trying to close a dresser drawer. Keep a soft bend in your knees.
  3. As you stand back up push your heels into the ground, bring your hips forward, squeeze your glutes in.

Cable Pull Through Programming Recommendations

Frequency: 1-2x a week

Sets & Reps : 2-4 sets of 6-15 reps

Workout Placement : The 2nd or 3rd exercise of your workout

Glute Bridge

The glute bridge is a staple in any solid strength training program. This is a very low impact exercise that can help build your glute strength and put next to no pressure on your knees.

Glute Bridge Technique Points

  1. Set your feet about hip width apart. Keep your feet flat or have your toes lifted off the ground.
  2. Push your heels into the ground to lift your hips in the air. As you lift your hips be sure to keep your core braced so you do not arch your lower back.
  3. At the top be sure to squeeze your glutes by pushing your heels into the ground and tucking your hips under you like a sad dog does with its tail.

Glute Bridge Programming Recommendations

Frequency: 2-4x a week

Sets & Reps : 3-5 sets of 8-20 reps

Workout Placement : These can be done at any point of the workout or throughout the day to start to strengthen your glutes.

Hip Thrust

The hip thrust is a progression from the glute bridge and it can seriously build some strength and power in your hamstrings & glutes.

Hip Thrust Technique Points

  1. Position your mid / upper back on a bench. Be sure your back does not slide back and forth but rather acts as a pivot point. Be sure to keep your shoulders down and away from your ears.
  2. Place the bar in the crease of your hips with your hands holding the bar in position throughout the movement. Feel free to use a pad or soft cushioning under the bar to protect your hips.
  3. Set your feet up by walking them up close to your but and creating a vertical shin position.
  4. Take a deep breath into your stomach, brace your core, tuck your chin, push your hips up by driving through your heels.

I strongly urge you to watch the video for this to ensure proper execution.

Hip Thrust Programming Recommendations

Frequency: 1-2x per week

Sets & Reps: 2-4 sets of 4-10 reps

Workout Placement: Best done in the first 1-3 exercises of the session

Split Squat

The split squat is a great way to slowly start working back into the squat movement pattern. It is very low impact and it can be very easily modifiable.

Split Squat Technique Points

  1. Set up your feet staggered on in front one behind. I would take a wider stance than you may be used to if you are struggling with knee pain. If your feet are too close, you will continue to put a ton of pressure on that knee joint.
  2. Stay up on your toe on your back leg. Slowly lower yourself to the ground, going as low as you can without pain.
  3. Over time, look to get lower and lower without pain.

Split Stance Programming Recommendations

Frequency: 1-2x a week

Sets & Reps : 2-4 sets of 6-12 reps each leg

Workout Placement : These can be done at any point of the workout.

Ready To Put Your Workout Program For Bad Knees To Use?

You know have what you need to put together the best workout program for bad knees.

The one thing I want you to remember is you are not deemed to chronic pain and lack of movement your entire life.

I have worked with hundreds of online coaching clients who came to me with knee pain at first, and 3 6 9 months in they were able to do squats, deadlifts, lunges, all without pain.

More importantly they were able to get in and out of their car without pain, or pick up their kids or grandkids without pain.

I truly want you to know it is possible to strengthen the muscles around your knee joint that are going to lead you to be able to do things you may think you currently can’t.

If you know it is possible you will be much more likely to put the work in to do what it takes to get there.

I hope you enjoyed the article and feel confident moving forward.

If you have any questions don’t hesitate to leave a comment below or shoot me an email at with the title “workout program for bad knees”.

If you want help along your journey with creating a workout program for you in particular or with your nutrition for weight loss, feel free to head HERE to fill out my coaching application form to see if we may be a good fit to work together.

Beyond that I truly hope this article gave you some value and look forward to talking soon.


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