A trainer says you should do these five exercises if you want strong, healthy knees

Build a fit, functional body with these moves that you can do at home

Man doing bodyweight squats at home in living room
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Knee niggles are frustrating, especially when you’re an active person. Our knees play a role in most sports and everyday movements, so looking after them should be a top priority. And one of the best ways to do this? Regular strength training.

Strengthening the knees reduces injury risk, improves joint stability, and enhances mobility. To help keep your knees strong and healthy, Fit&Well spoke to personal trainer Roxanne Russell to get her favorite knee-strengthening exercises.

You won’t need much equipment to do the moves, just a step or solid chair. Over time you can make most of these movements more challenging by adding weight with a kettlebell or dumbbell.

Poliquin step up

Man doing poliquin step-up in a gym

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Sets: 2-3 Reps: 12-14 on each leg

  • Place one of your feet on a low step or platform with the heel slightly elevated. If you’re in a gym, you could slip a weight plate under your heel for elevation. If you’re at home grab something like a sturdy hardback book.
  • Arrange your feet so that the toes of the elevated platform foot are slightly further back than the heel of your foot on the floor. Your weight should be on the platform leg and your hips should be stacked over the working ankle
  • Step up by pushing through the heel of the platform leg.
  • Slowly bend the knee of your elevated leg and lower the heel of the other foot to the floor.


Woman performing squat move

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Sets: 2-3 Reps: 15-20

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, toes slightly turned out.
  • Lower your body by bending your knees, sending your knees out in the same direction as your little toe as you go down. Keep your chest up and proud and your spine straight.
  • Push through your heels to return to the starting position.


Woman doing step-ups in a gym

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Sets: 2-3 Reps: 10-12 on each leg

  • Find a step/bench that is knee height.
  • Step onto the bench with one foot. Ensure your entire foot is planted firmly.
  • Pressing through the heel of the elevated working leg, stand up and straighten your legs.
  • Slowly step back down, tap your foot and step straight back up.

Forward lunges

Woman performs lunges on a yoga mat at home

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Sets: 2-3 Reps: 12-14 on each leg

  • Stand with your feet hip-width apart.
  • Take a big step forward with your right leg and lower your body so both knees are bent at a 90° angle. Your back knee should hover just above the ground, your knees should be tracking in line with your ankles.
  • Push through your right heel to return to the starting position.

Seated leg extensions

Time: 5-10 sec Reps: 10 on each side

  • Sit on a chair with your back straight and knees bent at 90°
  • Straighten one leg out in front of you.
  • Squeeze the thigh muscles of the working leg.
  • Return to the original position and repeat on the other leg.

Want more short, effective exercise routines? Try one of these five-minute workouts, or have a go at these exercise snacking ideas.

Lois Mackenzie
Fitness Writer

Lois Mackenzie is a Fitness Writer for Fit&Well and its sister site Coach, covering strength training workouts with weights, accessible ways to stay active at home, and training routines for runners. She joined the team from Newsquest Media Group, where she was a senior sports, trends, and lifestyle reporter. She is a dedicated runner, having just completed her first marathon, and an advocate for spending time outdoors, whether on a walk, taking a long run, or swimming in the sea. 

Lois holds a Master's degree in Digital Journalism, and has written for Good Health, Wellbeing & The Great Outdoors, Metro.co.uk, and Newsquest Media Group, where her reporting was published in over 200 local newspapers.