Quad Exercises For Bad Knees, Runners & Cyclists
Regardless if you want to have more defined legs or strengthen them for cycling or running, quad exercises are a must for anyone doing any physical activities.
Strengthening your quadriceps will help improve the stability of the knee and hip. It can also help reduce the chances of injuries and improve your performance and strength.
While you may think quad exercises are just for the athletic person, this is wrong. Having strong and healthy quadriceps can also help to make daily activities much easier and help improve your posture.
With this being said, the article today focuses on why you should train the quadriceps and show you the best quad exercises for bad knees, cyclists, and runners. So, keep reading to learn more.
What Is A Quad Exercise?
A quad exercise is a movement (either lifting weights or another activity) that works the four muscles (rectus femoris, vastus lateralis, vastus medialis, and vastus intermedius.) at the front of the thigh. These four muscles help flex, raise, and extend/straighten the knee. That’s why it is important to strengthen these muscles, as they help align the knee when walking, running, cycling, and other activities. Having a strong quadricep muscle can also help keep your knees in line when lifting things and performing daily activities.
There are many quad exercises you can do to improve the strength of the quadriceps. These include:
– Lifting weights
– Body-weight exercises
Certain people are more susceptible to weak quadriceps. These people usually have some of the below conditions:
If you have either of these conditions, the quadricep may be weak or might not contract properly. If this is the case, you may need to strengthen the quadricep muscles.
However, some quad exercises place a lot of stress on the knee and the joint area. These are usually weight training exercises like lunges, squats, and so forth. If you experience pain in the knee while doing these exercises, speak to your trainer or coach. They can help provide other movements to strengthen the quadricep muscles without stressing the knee.
Why Should You Train The Quadriceps?
There are many reasons why you should train your quadricep muscles. Since your thigh muscles are used when kicking, jumping, cycling, running, walking, bending, and day to day activities like climbing stairs and getting off a chair, it is important to strengthen the area to avoid injury.
Having strong quad muscles can also help you perform day-to-day activities that require the quadricep to flex, raise, and extend/straighten the knee.
If you play any sports or train regularly in running, cycling, or rowing, you will need to strengthen the quadriceps to improve performance, prevent injury and hold better form and technique. It can also help reduce the stress placed on other areas of the body like the knee, hip, and back.
Quad Exercises For Bad Knees – Which Ones Are The Best?
If you are experiencing sore knees when exercising or performing daily activities, here are some quad exercises for bad knees. Some of the most beneficial ones are:
Reverse Nordic Curls
The reverse Nordic curl is a unique exercise that isn’t known by many people. However, it can be beneficial if you are struggling with bad knees. Because it keeps the hip in a fixed position, it only works on strengthening the knee joint.
How to do the reverse Nordic curl?
1. Find a soft surface for your knees to sit on
2. Then position yourself in a tall kneeling position.
3. Keep the top of your feet on the ground and focus on having a tight core while keeping your back straight.
4. Lean backward as far as you can while pushing your shins to the ground.
5. Once you go back as far as you can. Then return to the starting position.
6. Repeat two sets of 10 repetitions.
Terminal Knee Extensions
The terminal knee extension is a simple exercise anyone can do to help strengthen the knee. If you have bad knees, you will want to start this exercise before moving into more strenuous workouts.
To do the terminal knee extension, start by:
1. Attach a resistance band around a stationary object
2. Attach the band around the top of the calf muscle and just below the knee joint.
3. Alternate between flexing the knee forward and extending the knee backward.
4. Make sure you squeeze the quad muscle when straightening the knee.
5. Repeat two sets of 10 repetitions.
Straight Leg Raise
Since the inside of the knee joint is more susceptible to getting injured, the straight leg raise is a great exercise for strengthening the inside knee joint. During this exercise, the movements help to strengthen the inner thigh muscle.
To do this exercise:
1. Start by lying on your back
2. Bend your left knee and place the left foot on the ground.
3. Squeeze your quadricep muscle and then slowly raise the leg off the ground.
4. Raise the leg until you reach 45-60 degrees. Then slowly lower the leg.
5. Repeat 10 times and do 2-3 sets.
Quad Exercises For Runners & Cyclists
If you are a cyclist and struggle with a bad knee, here are some exercises you can do to improve the strength of your quadriceps which will help relieve some of the pain you experience on the inside and outside of your knees when cycling.
The clamshell exercise is great for strengthening the gluteus medius and gluteus maximus muscles. It also helps to keep the knees inline when pedaling.
To do this exercise:
1. Lie on your side on the ground.
2. Place a resistance band around your legs, just above the knee.
3. Place your right arm under your head to support it. Place your other arm in front of you and on the ground. This will help stabilize the body.
4. Make sure your knees are bent and your ankles, knees, and hips are stacked.
5. Keep your heels together and lift the left knee upwards as much as possible.
6. Slowly return to the starting position.
7. Repeat 10-15 times, alternating between sides after each set of 10 or 15 repetitions.
The reverse lunge is another good exercise for cyclists. It helps to improve the strength of the quads, inner and outer knees, thighs, glutes, calves, core, and hamstrings.
Reverse lunges are generally safer than forward lunges as the pressure is applied to the muscles than a forward lunge. It also helps prevent you from extending the leading foot out too much. So, it makes it safer for a cyclist who deals with knee pain.
To do this exercise:
1. Stand up straight and tighten your core.
2. Take a long step back with your right foot and lower into a lunge. The left leg should form into a 90-degree angle as you extend the right leg backward.
4. Complete 10 repetitions with the right foot and then do 10 more repetitions with the left foot.
Resistance Band Lateral Walk
The lateral band walk is a great way to strengthen the hip abductors, gluteus medius, and the inner and outer knees. It will also help improve the stability of the knee.
How to do the Resistance band lateral walk:
1. Place a band around your ankles.
2. Stand with your feet hip-width apart so the band is taut.
3. Lower yourself into a micro squat
4. Step out to the right
5. Bring your left foot in so both feet are hip-width apart again.
6. Continue this motion for 10-15 steps before reversing to the left.
7. Make sure you keep the band taut at all times and repeat up to 2 sets of 15 repetitions.
Alternatively, if you are a runner that deals with knee pain constantly, you can try implementing some of these quad exercises for bad knees:
Straight Leg lift
If you have a painful inner or out knee from running, the straight leg lift can help strengthen the surrounding areas that will keep the knee in alignment. This includes the quadriceps and hips.
To do this exercise:
1. Lie on your back with one knee bent (90-degree angle)
2. Extend the opposite leg out in front of you.
3. Tighten the quadriceps of the extended knee
4. Raise the extended leg up to 45 degrees while keeping the quadriceps tight.
5. Hold your leg for 2-3 seconds when you reach 45-degrees
6. Slowly lower the extended (raised) leg back to the ground.
7. Repeat 15-20 times. Then switch legs and perform 2-3 sets of this exercise.
Step up Exercise
The step-up exercise is a good exercise for runners that need to strengthen the quads and glutes. By doing this, you can help relieve some stress on the knee when running.
To do this exercise:
1. Find a step or block that is at least 30 cm high.
2. Stand in front of the box or step
3. Take your right foot and step onto the block
4. Then place weight on your right foot and in a stepping motion, the left leg should extend off the ground.
5. Repeat this back and forth motion 10 times before switching the legs out.
If you have serious knee pain, this exercise is not recommended for you. Instead, start with other exercises explained in this article. Once the pain has gone, you can move into the step-up exercise, otherwise, you may find it will irritate the knee too much.
Most Popular Quadriceps Exercises
There are many more popular quadriceps exercises that can help with knee pain. However, before starting any type of strengthening exercise, make sure it doesn’t cause more knee pain.
Most quad exercises will help strengthen the:
Rectus femoris. The rectus femoris muscles are located in your hip and run down to your kneecap. This is one of the many muscles that help flex your hip.
Vastus medialis. The vastus medialis muscle is located at the front of your quadriceps. This muscle is used to stabilize your knee cap and extend your knee.
Vastus intermedius. The vastus intermedius is located between the two other vastus muscles at the front of your thigh. This muscle helps the extension of your knee.
If you perform regular quad-strengthening exercises, it may help the extension of the knee easier and allow the hip to flex easier. It will also:
– Stabilize the kneecap under load
– Protect the knee from injury
– Reduce the chances of knee osteoarthritis
– Balance and stability will be improved
– Make everyday activities easier.
Some of the most popular quadriceps exercises are:
– Bodyweight squat
– Walking lunge
– Bulgarian split squat
– Lateral lunge (side lunge)
– Squat jump
– Box jump
– Single-leg raise
– Single-leg squat (pistol squat)
However, before performing any of the above exercises, make sure the knee doesn’t hurt or feel pain when doing these exercises. If it does, either rest of performing easier exercises that place less stress on the knee, like the straight leg lift, or resistance band lateral walk.
Alternatively, reach out to a personal trainer or coach. Both can help you find the right exercises to help strengthen the quad and in turn make the knee stronger and more resistant to injury.