Build lower-body strength with this trainer’s three-move, knee-friendly workout

Build a strong lower body with this functional home workout

A woman in a sports bra and leggings is exercising in a tree-filled park on a sunny day. She is in a half-squat position, with a resistance band looped round her thighs and her knees gently bent. Her hands are clasped in front of her.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Lower-body strength training is important because it helps build stability and balance. Working your leg, buttock and abdomen muscles also protects against injury; having stronger muscles in these areas will support key joints, including the hips and knees.

As a certified personal trainer, many of my clients come to me with weak knees, and have difficulty doing certain moves such as squats and lunges. So I’ve designed this knee-friendly three-move workout to build lower body strength. All you need to get started is a looped resistance band and a dumbbell or kettlebell.

How to do the three-move, knee-friendly, lower body workout

  • Resistance band lateral walk: 3x10
  • Single leg deadlift: 3x10
  • Wall sit: 3xholds (as long as possible)

For the workout, do each exercise listed above in order, taking a 30-second rest between each move. Once you’ve completed the moves, repeat the set twice more.

If you need weights or resistance bands, I'd recommend getting these $12 FitSimplify bands and these $50 Amazon Basics adjustable dumbbells.

I'd also recommend starting the workout with a warm-up to increase heart rate and blood flow so that your muscles are well supplied with oxygen. You should finish by stretching for at least five minutes, as stopping exercise suddenly without cooling down can cause lightheadedness.

1. Resistance band lateral walk

Personal trainer Maddy Biddulph looks to the camera as she demonstrates a banded lateral walk. She's standing on an exercise mat in a half squat position, with her knees gently bent and her hands clasped in front of her in a prayer position. The room she is in is sunny; there is an exercise bike and three kettlebells near her and in the background we can see a leafy garden.

(Image credit: Maddy Biddulph)

Sets: 3 Reps: 10

  • Stand with your feet hip-width apart and place a resistance band on your thighs above your knees.
  • Push your hips and butt back into a squat hold position, then take a step to the left.
  • Keep taking small steps to the left and then repeat on the right side.

2. Single leg deadlift

Personal trainer Maddy Biddulph performs a single leg deadlift in a sunny living room. She wears a vest, leggings and sneakers and stands on one leg, with the other leg straight out in the air behind her; one arm is on her hip, while the other one holds a dumbbell and hangs down near her shin. Nearby we can see kettlebells and an exercise bike, in the background we can see a leafy garden.

(Image credit: Maddy Biddulph)

Sets: 3 Reps: 10

  • Start with feet shoulder-width apart with a dumbbell in your right hand, palm facing inwards.
  • Take your left foot off the ground, hinge at the hips and slowly lower the dumbbell down your right leg as you extend the left leg behind you.
  • When the dumbbell reaches your right shin, squeeze your glutes and bring your extended leg back to the start position in one dynamic but controlled movement.
  • Focus on keeping a straight back the whole time.

3. Wall sit

Fitness trainer Maddy Biddulph faces the camera, smiling, as she performs a wall sit. Her back is against a full-length window, her knees are bent at 90 degrees and her arms hang by her side. In front of her, we can see an exercise mat, three kettlebells and an exercise bike. Behind her is a leafy garden.

(Image credit: Maddy Biddulph)

Sets: 3 Reps: Hold for as long as you can maintain good form

  • Lean back against the wall and lower your body down as if you are sitting on a chair until your upper legs are parallel to the floor. Your knees should be at a right angle.
  • Hold this position, keeping your hands back against the wall or crossed at your chest.
  • Squeeze your core and butt muscles to help hold you up
Maddy Biddulph

Maddy Biddulph is a freelance journalist specializing in fitness, health and wellbeing content. With 26 years in consumer media, she has worked as a writer and editor for some of the bestselling newspapers, magazines and websites in the US and UK. 

She is also a qualified L3 personal trainer and weight loss advisor, and helps women over 40 navigate menopause by improving their physical and mental strength. At Maddy Biddulph Personal Training, she runs one-to-one and small group training for menopausal women who want to get fit to ease symptoms and feel like themselves again.