The knee is brilliantly designed, but vulnerable. This pivot joint, protected by cartilage and activated by muscles, tendons and ligaments — all this allows you to do something like lifting hundreds of pounds, douche and stop on a dime, and crouch on your haunches while you ski. Like all great architecture, it may deteriorate over time. But there are ways to strengthen it. “You need to create mobility in the muscle tissue above and below the joint,” says Adam Rosante, a certified trainer in strength and nutrition in New York. “The strength in your buttocks, hamstrings and quad bikes provides stability, and mobility relieves tension on the knee itself.”
Knee pain can be the result of muscle imbalances, poor exercise and poor movements, so Rosante created a workout that applies to all three. Even if your knees are in great shape, you can benefit from strengthening them, especially if you are active. Do this circuit twice a week with a warm-up that focuses on the mobility of the ankle. Stretch or ride the rope for a few minutes, then unfold the calves and stretch the front side of the tibialis (the muscles outside the calf) for six to eight minutes. For weighted moves, start with body weight, then create up to 12–16 kg (26–36 lb.) weights. Complete all sets of motion before moving on to the next, having rested up to one minute between sets. In ten years, your healthy knees will thank you.