The Best Lunge Alternatives For Those With Bad Knees

The lunge is a movement that we use everyday (stairs, hiking, walking, running) and is an important part of solving joint pain with strength. However many people avoid them because of knee pain or not having adequate strength to perform safely. The lunge alternatives we discuss in this article are great for adults who have been told they have bad knees, who are dealing with knee pain, who have arthritis, or is brand new to strength training and looking to work up to lunges. 

The lunge is also one of the foundational movements (along with the hinge, lift, and the squat) that is important for everyone to be able to be able to perform. By first building strength and confidence in these lunge alternatives you’ll be able to work your way up to performing a full lunge.

Lunge Alternative #1: Step Ups

Step ups are a great alternative to the lunge that are a lot safer on your knees. Place one leg on an 8-12″ box. Press through top leg to bring yourself straight up. Avoid ‘toeing off’ with the back leg and rocking side to side to use your momentum to stand up. Hold weights to make even more challenging.

Watch the video on the right for more detailed instructions.

Lunge Alternative #2: The Split Squat

The split squat is the next progression when working toward lunging. You’ll have two points of contact through the whole move so balance should be much easier. Getting into split stance, simply drop the back knee and press through the front leg to stand back up. Use a support (TRX, band, even doorknob) to provide some assistance if you need.

Lunge Alternative #3: The Assisted Lunge

If you’re feeling strong in both the step up and the split squat but not quite ready for a full lunge, try these assisted lunges. Holding onto a TRX or band is a great way to build strength and confidence in the movement without taking the full impact. It also helps with balance.

The lunge is a great goal to work up to. Use these lunge alternatives to help overcome pain and build the confidence to do a full lunge. It can be difficult if you’re dealing with pain, arthritis, or balance issues but I promise if you put in the effort to improve, you can get there!

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Solving Pain With Strength: An Approachable, Step-by-Step Strength Program For Adults Limited By Joint Pain

Are you new to strength training? Be sure to check out other articles in our Strength Training For Beginners Series to be sure you can build SAFELY build strength – without being in pain.

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