Knee Strengthening Exercises for Runners

knee strengthening exercises
By Fara Rosenzweig

Pounding the pavement day in and day out can be as painful as it sounds—but it doesn’t have to be. Despite being a high-impact sport, running doesn’t have to lead to knee pain and injuries.

Building strong quads will help keep your knees healthy and strong, and the following exercises help you do just that. Add them into your routine, performing all three one to two times a week on non-running days.

Quarter Squat

Stand with feet hip-width apart, hinge your hips and sit back, as if you’re sitting in a chair. Keep your back straight, and squat until your knees are at a 45-degree angle. Rise and return to start to complete one rep. Repeat for 10 to 12 reps for 2 to 3 sets. Make this squatting on just one leg.


Stand with feet hip width apart and step your right foot out front, bending the back leg so the knee just barely touches the ground. Push through your front foot to come back up to the start. Repeat on the other side to complete one rep. Do 8 to 10 reps for 2 to 3 rounds.

Be sure that your knee stays in line with your toes in the front foot—to do so, focus on bending your back knee rather than your front leg.

Leg Raises

Sit on a box or chair, back straight. Lift your right leg so that it’s straight out. Lower it slightly, raise it back up and then return to start. Repeat on the other side to complete one rep. Perform 10 reps for 2 to 3 sets.

Make this harder by adding light ankle weights to both legs. Start with a small amount of weight, such as 2 to 3 pounds, and slowly add more at a 10 percent week-over-week incremental increase.

As a runner, it’s important you take care of your knees. Focus on them during your strength training sessions to get the most out of every run and avoid injury.