Home / How to Fix Bad Knees using the Correct Exercises and Workouts

How to Fix Bad Knees using the Correct Exercises and Workouts

By Greg Brookes
How to Fix Bad Knees Plus a Bad Knees Workout

Do you suffer with bad knees? Does it hurt when you squat or lunge? If so then here is how to exercise with bad knees along with a guide to fix your bad knees.

How to Fix Bad Knees

If you have trouble with bad knees then all is not lost. You can still exercise your body and get some enormous results without a full knee bend.

Below I have listed 2 exercises for bad knees and also how you can rehabilitate and strengthen your knees.

1. Kettlebell Swings for Bad Knees

Kettlebell two handed swing
Kettlebell two handed swing

The Kettlebell Swing is the perfect exercise choice for those suffering with bad knees because it works your cardio hard without you needing to fully bend your knees or use knee jolting impact. It is a great cardio workout for bad knees.

During the kettlebell swing 100’s of muscles are used at a time as you forcefully use your hips to swing the kettlebell in between your legs.

The kettlebell swing uses the buttocks, hips, quads, hamstrings and back during each repetition.

One great advantage of the kettlebell swing, and why it’s so great for bad knees, is that it does not use a full knee bend.

The lack of a full knee bend takes the pressure off the knee joint but still loads it enough to get some activation through the quads (thighs).

Related: Ultimate Guide to the Kettlebell Swing

Here’s the Kettlebell Swing in action:

So if you never had to perform another Squat or Lunge again you can still get some great results from just using the Swing.

2. Step Ups for Bad Knees

Kettlebell Step Ups
Kettlebell Step Ups

Step ups can offer you the perfect flexibility to strengthen your legs, buttocks and hips while avoiding knee pain.

Begin by using a step height that allows you to perform 10 – 15 repetitions on each side without causing you any knee pain.

Your goal is 3 sets of 15 reps on each side WITHOUT pain, 3 times per week.

Once you can complete a full week without pain increase the height of the step by 6 inches and repeat for another week.

Always monitor your pain, reducing the step height if necessary.

Continue practicing the workout 3 times per week until you manage to raise the step to knee height. You can now start adding extra load, by holding a kettlebell in both hands or a pair of dumbbells.

If You Can’t Squat then You Must Squat

If you avoid all squatting and lunging movements you are setting yourself up for further injuries in the future due to the compensations your body has to make.

If you avoid bending your knees then you start to bend at the hips instead and this puts added stress on your lower back.

People with bad knees often start to suffer from bad backs!

So ultimately, unless you have serious structural damage to your knees then you should start to rehabilitate your knees as quickly as possible.

And the good news is, knees can be fixed, here’s how:

Guide to Fixing Knee Pain in 3 steps

Take your time and work through the following 3 steps in order to help improve your knees.

Step 1: Stretching

Tight quads feed into the knee and added strain can realign and also aggressively pull on the knee cap.

Stretch the quads frequently, at least once per day and preferably more. 3 times per day is better. It takes a lot of time and effort to positively change soft tissue so you need to do this a lot, sorry!

Having a frequent sports massage, using a foam roller or a massage roller will all help too.

Take action: Stretch, Roll, Massage your quads at least daily (5 minutes)

Here’s a video of an effective Quad Stretch

Step 2: Mobilise

Hip Circles for Active Recovery
Hip Circles for Hip Mobility

Bad knees happen for a reason. If you lack mobility at your hips or ankles then the knee joint has to work overtime.

Skiers damage their knees because they remove the ability for the ankle to become mobile when wearing ski boots.

Basketball players used to get bad knees because high top boots restricted movement at the ankle.

Keep your ankles and hips mobile so your knees don’t have to be

Take action: mobilise your ankles and hips daily (5 minutes)

Video of Ankle Mobility:

Video of Hip Mobility:

Step 3: Condition

No Equipment Y Squats Exercise
Body weight Y Squats Exercise

Bending and extending any joint of the body creates a pumping of nutrients.

As you squat you open up the knee joint and suck healing nutrients into the joint and pump old stagnant fluid out again.

The squat also opens up the joints of the lower back too!

Movement of any painful joint is a vital part of its healing process

Start by practicing the squat holding onto a wall, post, chair etc. Move slowly and go down as deep as you can before the pain starts.

Never squat into pain! Stop just before the pain starts.

Keep you weight back on your heals to take the strain away from your knees and into the hamstrings and buttocks.

Continue daily for 5 – 10 reps each time trying to go deeper but avoiding pain.

When you can squat all the way down to the floor then you can start bodyweight squats without assistance.

Take action: perform 5 – 10 assisted squats, as deep and pain-free as possible, daily

Video of an Assisted Squat Using a Pole:

Video of an Assisted Squat Using a Band:

3 Workouts for Bad Knees

Use the following kettlebell swing workout to strengthen the hamstrings, quads, buttocks, hip and back without overloading the knees. It is also a great cardio workout for bad knees.

Once you can complete the following workout comfortably replace the kettlebell swing for the assisted squat exercise (using a pole or resistance band as shown above).

Complete each workout 4-5 times per week. Only move on to the next workout when you can comfortably complete the one before.

Workout 1:

  1. Two Handed Kettlebell Swings x 20 seconds (10 reps)
  2. Rest x 10-20 seconds
  3. Repeat x Goal of 10 times

Once you can complete workout 1 comfortably move on to workout 2.

Workout 2:

  1. Assisted Squat x 20 seconds
  2. Rest x 10-20 seconds
  3. Repeat x Goal of 10 times

Once you can complete workout 2 with all the squats down nice and deep move on to workout 3.

Workout 3:

  1. Bodyweight Squats x 20 seconds
  2. Rest x 10-20 seconds
  3. Repeat x Goal of 10 times

Workout 3 is completed by not holding on or using any kind of assistance during the squats.

Conclusion of How to Fix Bad Knees

Most bad knees can be fixed. You can still get a great workout by substituting squats and lunges for Swings but ultimately if you Can’t Squat then you Must Squat.

Rehabilitation of the knee IS possible it just takes time and daily commitment

Start by using the bad knees workout.

Once you can complete the swing workout you can move on to the assisted squat workout and finally the unassisted bodyweight squats.

I hope you have found this useful and if you do suffer from bad knees it will help on your road to recovery.

Take care,


What Next? See these 5 Kettlebell Beginner Exercises

52 Kettlebell Exercises Download PDF

Let's Get Started

Join over 65,000 subscribers and get the best kettlebell workouts developed after teaching over 1000 classes!
    Related Posts
    View More


    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    1. Estelle Avatar

      Greg, can you advise which beginners kettlebell exercises are safe to do after total knee replacement. My Orthopedic Dr said I shouldn’t do kettlebells cause it will wear the artificial knee down. I am not sure if he is correct, perhaps he doesn’t know kettlebell exercises all that well.

      1. Greg Brookes Avatar

        That is a difficult questions Estelle. I think you should be careful and listen to your Dr at least until everything has healed up nicely. I’d certainly spend lots of time walking and then progress to bodyweight exercises after that. Take care.

    2. Richard Cole Avatar
      Richard Cole

      Recommendation, Please – I have been troubled with sciatica over the last few years. While it is under control, Goblet Squats (any squats for that matter) tend to result in significant sciatic nerve pain.

      What kettlebell exercises do you recommend to replace squats.

      Thanks in advance for your help!

      1. Greg Brookes Avatar

        Hello Richard, take a look at this article I wrote about kettlebell training with sciatica

    3. Lynne Avatar

      This is really helpful, what kettlebell weight would you start at with the swing of beginner and building knee strength after injury?

      1. Greg Brookes Avatar

        Either an 8kg or 12kg Lynne

    4. Tanya Avatar

      Will this exercise help me lose weight as well as strengthen my knee?

      1. Greg Brookes Avatar

        Hello Tanya, you will want to combine full body kettlebell exercises with these 9 Nutritional Tips for Fat Loss.

        1. Tanya Avatar

          Thanks for getting back with me Greg. I was looking into your 12 week beginners program. Would that in combination with the knee exercise be a good place to start as far as weight loss and strengthening my knees? Thanks!

          1. Greg Brookes Avatar

            Hello Tanya, I’d begin with the 21 Follow Along Circuits first, click here to see a sample at the bottom of the page.

    5. Gina Avatar

      I have virtually no cartilage in my right knee (had my left replaced five months ago and it works perfect so I know the movement). I can’t get a single legged deadlift done correctly. It seems the patella slides halfway through the movement that sends me to the moon with pain. I’ve tried all sorts of movements to strengthen that right posterior chain but still struggling with that one move. I know if I can get it strong enough to do a set of single legged deadlifts I will be able to push that replacement surgery an extra year or two.
      Any thoughts?

      1. Greg Brookes Avatar

        Very hard to say Gina without assessing you. Try the bodyweight version first with just a slight bend in the knee and see how that goes. Good luck!

    6. Ashay Avatar


      Recently injured my right knee. Dx with chondromalacia patella. I have a weak VMO causing my patella to track laterally.

      Any recommended exercises.

      1. Greg Brookes Avatar

        Hi Ashay, I’d need to assess you better to recommend any specific exercises. Are you lunging OK? How about single leg exercises? What are your quads and hips like for flexibility? Do they need stretching? Think about stretching what’s tight and strengthening what’s weak. All the best

    7. Julie Avatar

      I have recently had both knees replaced, have more flexability in the right than left (was done 8 months before the left) it will be 1 year in August since I had left one done. My main problem seems to be in the ligaments at the back of the knee and shortened quads, should I keep trying to get my squats to parallel (Not quite there yet but can feel some pain there as if they over stretched the ligaments and they not giving best support) I have started riding my bike again to try and strengthen my legs. Would love some advice on what to do for best results.

      1. Greg Brookes Avatar

        Hi Julie, the important thing is not to squat into pain, so go down as deep as you can. With time and gentle stretching you’re be rocking those squats.

    8. Dave Avatar

      Great info. I just had left hip replaced and working to re-strengthen legs as I prepare for the right hip replacement.