5 simple Knee-Friendly Exercises

donkey kick for a tight booty

Against popular belief, I’m a big opponent of squats. Actually, any exercise is on my blacklist that puts too much pressure on the knees. And that for a good reason. So today I’m sharing with you 5 knee-friendly exercises you can do instead.

When I started my fitness journey back in 2014, I worked out every day. I loved it. I was craving it. I worked out even when I had sore muscles. It was clearly not beneficial to my body. But what can I say, I was hooked!

Then a couple of years ago, my knees started to click doing side lunges. I didn’t pay much attention to it. Until I experienced some light pain in my knees during squats. Encouraged by all the trainers I followed, I naturally went really low in my squats to reap the most benefits. Well, this clearly wasn’t beneficial for my knees at all.

Ever cautious of the signs my body give me, I started experimenting with not going down too low but just sticking my butt out while simultaneously squeezing it. A method I had first seen in the P.volve program.

My knees just were overfed the countless hours of squats and lunges

I continued to do lunges but soon realized that my knees just weren’t having it. Each time, a workout video asked for lunges or squats, I would subsitute it with another more knee-friendly exercise such as back kicks or leg abduction. What worried me more was that I couldn’t find a workout that did not ask for squats or lunges or both.

The funny thing is, that when I talked to my friends and family and mentioned how much trouble I had with my knees doing certain exercises, they all agreed. And still, everyone continued to do them. I began asking myself at which point we started trusting other people more than we did ourselves? And how much do these self-proclaimed fitness experts really know?

I’m a certified fitness trainer and I still don’t get behind certain things that are taught, just because everybody’s needs are so different.

Science is great for explaining things but it’s not always the universal truth and many believes have proven wrong over the years. It’s always worth to take a look behind the curtain but most importantly: listen to your body!

So now you know why I would never suggest you to do squats or lunges in any kind or form. In my opinion, there are far more effective exercises that don’t overstrain your knees. And if a trainer suggest differently than he or she is just too lazy to think about alternatives 😀

Find below my favorite knee-friendly exercises to work your legs and booty, so that you are well prepared someone requests your to do squats and lunges.

Instead of squats, do Bridge Booty Lifts

  • Lay on your back with your feet positioned right underneath your knees.
  • Lift your butt off the ground, pressing into your heels.
  • Give your booty a good squeeze at the top and hold for 5 seconds. Engage your core for more stability and to protect your back.
  • Slowly roll back down while keeping the resistance.
  • For more resistance, simply put dumbells on your hips.
  • Repeat for 15-20 times.

Instead of Lunges, do Donkey Kicks

  • Come down on all fours with hands underneath your shoulders and knees under hips.
  • Pull your navel to your spine to keep you back flat and look down on your mat to not overstrain your neck.
  • Raise one leg, while keeping the 90-degree bend, up to the ceiling. Stop before overarching your back, or your hips begin to rotate.
  • Squeeze your booty at the top.
  • Return to the starting position and slightly raise your knee towards your chest while engaging your lower abs.
  • If you want to spruce up things a little bit, you can add ankle weights or resistance bands.
  • Repeat 15-20 on each leg.

Instead of Side Lunges, do Bend Side Kicks with a resistance band

  • Put a resistance band around your quads, a few inches above your knees.
  • Start on all fours with hands under shoulders and knees under your hips.
  • Keep the knee bend at 90 degrees and your hips stable while lifting your leg up until its parallel to the floor.
  • Lower back down.
  • Repeat 15-20 times on each leg.

Instead of Plié Squats, do Inner Thigh Raises

  • Lay down on your side, your head resting in your hand.
  • Put your upper leg in front of you for stability.
  • Raise your lower leg up to the ceiling and do little movements up and down while squeezing your inner thigh.
  • Do 30 reps before releasing your leg back down. Switch sides.

Instead of Curtsy Lunges, do Leg Abduction with ankle weights or dumbells (optional)

  • Stand tall, abs engaged. Shift your weight to one leg.
  • Raise the other leg up, toes pointed. Stop around 45 degrees or when you feel your hips rotating.
  • Repeat 15-20 times on each side.

Let me know how good you feel doing these exercises! @madeleinestanev

Stay fit & fabulous and make sure to follow me on Instagram @madeleinestanev for daily fitness inspo!

Signatur Madeleine


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