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5 Low-Impact Exercises for People with Bad Knees


Are you at the beginning of your fitness journey and want to lose weight first to reduce the impact on your knees? Or you have painful knees and high-impact exercise just isn’t in your future…at all?

No worries, there are plenty of low-impact exercises you can do that will get your heart rate up, strengthen your muscles and give you a great workout. 

Working out with bad knees

High-impact workouts like plyometrics and running are not for everybody. People with bad knees can find these workouts really challenging and even painful.

Recovery techniques like yoga and foam rolling are essential to keep the knee joints feeling good.

Bad knees don’t need to stop you from getting active. There are a lot of low-impact workout recommendations for people with bad knees.

In fact, the best way to support your joints throughout your life is by building the muscles around them so they can bear more of the load. You don’t need a gym or fancy equipment to maintain leg strength. Always incorporate leg exercises in your routine to protect your joints.  

Since a strong core provides the foundation for your fitness journey, we’ve put together 5 low-impact core exercises for bad knees that you can do anytime, anywhere. These exercises require only your own body weight! Outside, at home, in your hotel room…these exercises are perfect for all occasions!

5 Core Exercises for Bad Knees

How to:

  • Perform all of these exercises for 1 minute each.
  • At the end of all 5 exercises, rest for 60-90 seconds
  • Repeat for 3-5 rounds

Are you ready?

1. High Knee Pull Down



Exercise tip:

Try to bring that knee up above the belly button to effectively engage your core. And, really activate that mind-muscle connection and pretend like you are actually pulling something down.


This exercise strengthens your core muscles. A strong core can improve flexibility and balance while also reducing back pain. Looking for more core exercises? Check out our core workouts in the adidas Training app

2. Standing Knee-to-Elbow



Exercise tip:

Keep all the weight in your base leg. The lifted leg should only tap on the ground. Really squeeze your obliques (your side abs) as you bring your knee to your elbow to get the most out of this exercise.


Another great core exercise for bad knees, the Standing Knee to Elbow also works the muscles of your upper legs and hip flexors. If you struggle with lower back pain or having trouble walking or bending at the hip, you might have tight hip flexors. Incorporating hip mobility stretches into your workout can help loosen up your hips.

3. Knee Tuck Crunches


Exercise tip:

Keep your chin off of your chest, shoulders down and away from the ears and keep your back straight.


People often neglect their lower abs in the quest for a six-pack. Knee-Tuck Crunches work both upper and lower abs in this dynamic exercise, while also getting your heart rate up. 

Want to see this exercise in action? Find it in the adidas Training app or on adidas Training’s YouTube channel.

4. Punches


Exercise tip:

Keep your knees slightly bent and your core engaged. Focus on something in front of you and concentrate on hitting that point! You can even write down something that’s bothering you on a piece of paper and tape it to the wall. A great way to release some negative energy.


The Punches exercise improves coordination while adding an aerobic element to the workout. Stabilize your core and improve balance with this upper body exercise.

Want to see this exercise in action? Check it out in the adidas Training app or on adidas Training’s YouTube channel.

5. Squatting Side Step



Exercise tip:

Stay low in the squat with your chest up and core engaged and just step side to side (as wide as feels comfortable for you). You can also add a resistance band around the ankles for an added challenge.


With all this core work, don’t forget about building leg muscles. The Squatting Side Step works your quads and glutes along with your core muscles. It’s another effective exercise for better balance and agility.

Do you have bad knees and have a favorite low-impact exercise? Share it with us in the comments section below! Happy sweating!

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