Build strong, healthy knees with these five home exercises

Increase your chances of avoiding knee pain with these bodyweight moves

A woman performs the wall sit exercise at home. She presses her back against a wall with her upper legs horizontal and her knees bent to 90°. She wears a white tank top, blue sports leggings, and is smiling
(Image credit: Kanawa_Studio / Getty Images)

Knee pain is a common complaint and it can be exacerbated by high-impact exercise like running. However, this doesn't mean that you should throw away your running shoes and miss out on the many benefits of running, one of which, surprisingly, is that running can reinforce knee cartilage.

As well as giving your joints time to recover after a run, strengthening the muscles around your knees and your core can help you avoid knee pain altogether. Ultra runner and running coach Yana Strese recently shared a great example of a preventative routine you can do at home to "bulletproof" your knees.

How to do Yana Strese's workout for stronger knees

There are five moves in this routine and the only equipment you need is a Pilates ball (if you don't own one, Amazon sells one for less than $10). You'll also need a wall and a step or other stable, raised surface.

Strese offers twists on well-known exercises, for instance adding a Pilates ball and leg lift to the wall sit. Keep an eye out for Strese's runners lunge, too. Watch closely and you'll see Strese bring her heel up towards her butt before she steps forward.

The final exercise is also a popular choice. Dr Andy Fata-Chan, a doctor of physical therapy, recently recommended it as an exercise that will build stability in your knee joint and help to improve your balance when standing on one leg.

Strese's Instagram post details rep counts, just note that Strese uses unilateral exercises to challenge one leg at a time, so make sure you repeat the same amount of reps on each side.

Strese recommends two to four sets, so you can tailor the intensity to your level. Look to add reps or sets if you repeat the routine regularly. This is called progressive overload and it's a tried-and-tested technique for safely building strength.

Once you've mastered this routine, try these three knee-strengthening exercises.

Alice Porter
Freelancer Writer

Alice Porter is a freelance journalist covering lifestyle topics including health, fitness and wellness. She is particularly interested in women's health, strength training and fitness trends and writes for publications including Stylist Magazine, Refinery29, The Independent and Glamour Magazine. Like many other people, Alice's personal interest in combining HIIT training with strength work quickly turned into a CrossFit obsession and she trains at a box in south London. When she's not throwing weights around or attempting handstand push-ups, you can probably find her on long walks in nature, buried in a book or hopping on a flight to just about anywhere it will take her.