top of page

Knee Strengthening Exercises For Runners To Stay Strong Run Longer & Feel Better

As runners, we know that we need to take special care of our knees. We need to make sure that we don’t run into chronic pain or overuse injuries that may affect or cancel our training for a while. As runners, we really want to avoid these knee issues.

Many runners don’t focus on strength training exercises which tends to get overlooked often as we focus on what we enjoy most, running. We shouldn’t avoid performing some strength training workouts as they are essential for a happy, healthy running life.

How to strengthen our knees is very beneficial, and to add the knee strengthening exercises into our strength training routine, will be super-efficient. We won’t be strengthening the knee joint as we are strengthening the muscles surrounding it, such as the quads, glutes, and hamstrings. To perform these knee strengthening exercises 2-3/ week will support our healthy runs.

Benefits Of Knee Strengthening Exercises For Runners

There are plenty of benefits to knee exercises, not just for runners but for everyone and especially to keep people more active and fit. Being able to comfortably bend our knees makes day-to-day activities such as bending down and going up and down stairs, and even just walking, much more accessible and comfortable.

Strengthening the muscles surrounding the knee joint eases pressure on the knee, which may relieve existing knee pain. It can also reduce the risk of injuries and increase knee stability which can help with the impact of running.

Doing knee exercises unilaterally, or working one leg at a time, can also assist in fixing muscle imbalances, so we don’t overload our dominant leg.

The following knee strengthening exercises will work the muscles surrounding our knee to make us strong, stable, and ready to support the impact of running on the road, or trail.

10 Knee Strengthening Exercises For Runners

1. Dumbbell Step-Ups With Knee Drive

You will need a plyo box or step and a pair of dumbbells for this exercise. It targets our quads, glutes, and hamstrings.

  1. Stand with your feet at hip-width apart, facing the box, holding a dumbbell in each hand.

  2. With the dumbbells at your side, step up onto the box with your right foot while driving your left knee upward, reaching 90 degrees.

  3. Carefully bring your left foot back to the floor and step down with your right foot.

  4. Repeat for the desired number of reps or amount of time.

  5. Repeat with the other leg.

2. Single-Leg Reverse Box Lunge

This exercise must be done in a controlled form to gain the strengthening benefits. It mainly works your quads and glutes.

  1. Begin standing tall with your left foot on the box and your right foot on the edge of the box.

  2. Extend your arms out in front of you.

  3. Bend your left knee as you lower your right foot down toward the floor, barely making contact with it.

  4. Extend your left knee driving yourself back up to the starting position.

  5. Repeat for the desired number of reps or amount of time.

  6. Switch to the other leg.

3. Clamshells With Resistance Band

This is a great exercise to work those glutes, doubles as a tremendous hip-strengthening exercise, and works to help stabilize your pelvis. You will need a mini-band to perform this exercise with the appropriate resistance.

  1. Loop a mini resistance band just above your knees.

  2. Lie on your left side with your knees stacked one on top of the other, bent at a 45-degree angle.

  3. Use your left elbow to prop yourself up.

  4. Engage your core.

  5. Lift your right knee as high as possible while keeping your feet together, left leg on the floor, and hip stable.

  6. When your right knee reaches its peak high, pause, and then gently lower it back down to its starting position

  7. Repeat for the desired amount of time or reps.

  8. Switch to the other side.

4. Split Squats

Split squats are a great exercise to strengthen your quads, hamstrings, glutes, and hip flexors. They can also help increase flexibility.

  1. Stand tall with your feet shoulder-width apart.

  2. Step forward with your right leg and lower into a lunge position with your knee just above the ground.

  3. With control, extend your right knee.

  4. Again, in a controlled form, flex the right knee and lower the left knee toward the ground

  5. Repeat for the desired number of reps or amount of time.

  6. Switch to the other leg.

5. Lateral Lunges

These lateral lunges work your quads, glutes, hamstring, abductors, and adductors.

  1. Stand tall with your feet together.

  2. Lift your left foot and take a large step toward your left side.

  3. Bend your left knee and sit back as if you were sitting back in a chair.

  4. By pushing off your left foot, return to the standing position.

6. Lateral Squat Walk With Resistance Band

This is one of our knee strengthening exercises that will help stabilize our knees. As the resistance band will constantly push our knees inward, we need to ensure they stay in their outward position. No collapsing knees. This exercise for runners will strengthen our glutes to the max.

  1. Begin in a basic squat starting position, standing tall, with a mini resistance band looped just above your ankles.

  2. Lower into a basic squat and take several steps toward your right side, ensuring your knees remain in position and do not collapse inward.

  3. Then, take several steps back to your left side.

  4. Repeat for the desired number of reps or amount of time.

7. Side Planks With Leg Lifts

Side plank is a great core exercise, also the addition of the leg lifts helps strengthen our glutes and hip abductors.

  1. Lie on your left side with both legs on top of each another, propping yourself up on your left arm/hand.

  2. Extend your right arm straight into the air, forming a straight line between both arms.

  3. Lift your top leg (right leg), so it lines up with your hip.

  4. Hold for the desired amount of time, or pulse up and down for the desired amount of reps.

  5. Switch on the other side.

8. Reverse Lunges

This exercise not only strengthens our quads, hamstring, and glutes but also helps to improve our hip mobility and flexibility.


  1. Bend your right leg and, with control, slide it back into a low lunge position, the right knee just about extended and your left knee bent in front of you at 90 degrees.

  2. Slide your right foot back to your starting position.

  3. Repeat for the desired number of reps or amount of time.

  4. Switch to the other side.

9. Single-Leg Glute Bridge

This is a good glutes strengthening exercise.

  1. Lay down with your back flat on the ground, knees bent, and your feet flat on the ground. Raise your hips, activating your core, tightening your abdominals and buttock muscles to support the lift

  2. Lift your left foot off the ground and straighten your leg out so that your toes are pointing toward the sky or ceiling.

  3. Lift your midsection up off the ground till your body makes a straight line from your shoulders to your right knee.

  4. Hold for a half second and then lower yourself back down.

  5. Repeat for the desired amount of reps and then switch legs and repeat.

10. Single-Leg Deadlift

This is one of the most classic knee strengthening exercises that will primarily work your hamstrings, glutes, and core and test your stability. For these single-leg deadlifts, you can use 2 dumbbells.

  1. Stand tall with your right foot slightly in front of your right, knees slightly bent with a dumbbell in each hand.

  2. Keeping the slight bend in your right knee, lean forward, hinging at the hips until your torso is parallel to the ground. Your left leg extends straight behind you while simultaneously lowering the dumbbells toward the floor.

  3. Engage your core, and bring yourself upright to your starting position.

  4. With all deadlifts, you must ensure you do not bend at the waist or lift the weights with your lower back. This exercise should be felt in your hamstrings and never cause lower back pain. If it does, make sure that your back is straight when you hinge forward

Perform Some Good Knee Strengthening Exercises, Feel Better, More Stabilized, And Enjoy Nice And More Comfortable Runs!


bottom of page