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The Best Glute Exercises for People with Bad Knees

If you have knee pain, it can be frustrating to find exercises that don't hurt but will still target and tone your booty. We've got you covered with five of the best butt exercises—plus two bonus moves—that are still totally doable if you have bad knees. Yep, that means no squats or lunges! Even if your knees are A-OK, these alternative glute moves are great for switching up your go-to routine. (Because doing the exact same moves every time is fine, but you'll see even more results with a little exercise variation.)

How it works: Do each move for the number of reps indicated and then repeat the circuit one to two times. Watch the video for full move demos and form tips. (Want to get your upper body involved too? Try this arm circuit workout next.)

You'll Need: a set of medium-weight dumbbells and a medium- to heavy-weight kettlebell.

Romanian Deadlift

A. Stand with feet hip-width apart, dumbbells in front of the hips, palms facing in.
B. Hinge at the hips to lower dumbbells in front of shins. Make sure to keep core engaged and back straight throughout the movement.
C. Lift torso to return to standing.

Do 15 to 20 reps.

3-Point Glute Kickback

A. Stand on the right leg, hands together at chest level with the left foot hovering just off the ground to start.
B. Pulse kick the left leg directly to the side, then return to start.
C. Pulse kick the left leg diagonally back, then return to start.
D. Pulse kick the left leg directly back, then return to start. That's 1 rep.

Do 10 to 15 reps. Switch sides; repeat.

Split Stance RDL (Romanian Deadlift)

A. Start in a split stance position: left foot forward, foot firmly planted on the ground. Right foot is about six inches behind, balancing on the ball of the foot. Hold dumbbells in front of hips, palms facing in.
B. Hinge at the hips to lower dumbbells in front of the left shin. Make sure to keep the core engaged and back straight throughout the movement.
C. Lift torso to return to standing.

Do 15 to 20 reps. Switch sides; repeat.

Glute Bridge

A. Lie face-up on the ground with heels planted and knees pointing up to start.
B. Pressing the heels into the ground, lift the hips up, and squeeze the glutes at the very top (hold for one second).
C. Slowly lower hips down to hover just off the floor, then lift hips to begin the next rep.
Form tip: To make it harder, perform single-leg glute bridges: extend one leg into the air, and perform the movement on the other leg.

Do 15 to 20 reps.

Super Hydrant

A. Start in tabletop position, on all fours with hips over knees and shoulders over wrists, core engaged.
B. Lift right knee off the floor and perform a hydrant: lift knee out to the side, maintaining 90-degree bend.
C. Return to start without touching knee to the ground, then lift right leg backward and up, bent at a 90-degree angle with foot flexed so the bottom of the right foot is pointing toward the ceiling.
D. Return to start without touching knee to the ground. That's one rep.

Do 10 to 15 reps. Switch sides; repeat.

Kettlebell Swing

A. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, kettlebell on the floor, arms-distance away from the toes. Hinge at the hips with a soft bend in the knees to grab the top of the kettlebell with both hands.
B. Hike the kettlebell backwards between the legs.
C. Thrust hips forward up to standing, swinging the kettlebell forward to about chest height.
D. Let the kettlebell swing back through the legs, hips back, then thrust up to standing again. Continue to Repeat.
Form Tip: Remember, this is not a squat—it's a hip hinge. There should be minimal bending at the knees. The power is driven by your hips, so send them back as far as you can while maintaining a flat back and strong core throughout the exercise. (Think of sending the butt back versus dropping the butt low.)

Do 15 to 25 reps.

Single-Leg RDL

A. Stand on left foot, with right foot slightly behind, toes touching the floor for balance. Hold a dumbbell in the right hand in front of hip, palm facing in.
B. Hinging at the hips, lower dumbbell to shin height while kicking the right foot back. Keep hips and shoulders square throughout the movement.
C. Reverse the motion to return to start.

Do 15 to 20 reps. Switch sides; repeat.

Don't forget to subscribe to Mike's YouTube channel for free weekly workouts. Find more of Mike on Facebook, Instagram, and his website. And if you're looking for full-length 30+ minute workouts, check out his newly launched subscription site MIKEDFITNESSTV.

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