Home » Can’t squat? Try this knee-friendly exercise instead to build stronger legs

Can’t squat? Try this knee-friendly exercise instead to build stronger legs

by UNN Feed

Squats are a great compound move that strengthen your legs and back. But if you struggle to do them because of bad knees or limited mobility, I recommend this alternative.

The seated leg lift is a knee-friendly exercise that works your hip flexors, core and quads (thigh muscles), without putting strain on the joints.

I’m a personal trainer and find that many of my clients struggle with squats, so I recommend they do the seated leg lift instead. To increase the intensity, we add ankle weights or dumbbells for resistance.

How to do the seated leg lift

  • Sit up straight on a mat with your legs out straight in front of you. Put your arms behind you for support.
  • Brace your core as you slowly lift your left leg off the floor, then lower it again to the starting position.
  • Repeat this move on your right leg. Aim for 8-10 reps on each leg, building up to 10-12.

You don’t need any equipment to do this exercise, but you can add some resistance if you want to progress it. Add ankle weights or gently press 3kg dumbbells on your thighs as you lift your legs.

How it works

This move primarily targets muscles in your hips, upper thighs and core.

It’s particularly good for strengthening your hip flexors, located at the top of your thighs. The main function of these muscles is to pull your legs and knees towards your trunk, for example when you walk or run. They can become weakened by excess sitting but this move helps to rebuild them.

The exercise will also target the front-thigh quad muscles, which will have to contract to stay stable during the exercise. As you have to maintain a stable, upright posture throughout the move, it also challenges your core and helps to build abdominal strength.

Why are strong legs important?

Strong legs provide a solid foundation for everyday activities like walking, running, climbing and standing. When you build leg strength, it helps with balance and stability. By…

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