Weight Lifting With Arthritis: 15 Exercises To Build Strength Without Stressing Your Joints

Weight Lifting With Arthritis

Weight lifting is one of the best things you can do to ease arthritis pain, keep active, and maintain your lifestyle as you get older. Improving movement, building strength, and increasing mobility all help to limit impact on your joints to prevent arthritis from getting worse.

Click Here For More Ways To Prevent Your Arthritis From Getting Worse

With that being said, there are diffierent considerations when weight lifting with arthritis. Choosing low impact exercises, focusing on proper form, and targeting certain muscle groups help limit impact on your joints to treat arthritis. The following 15 exercises are movements we use in the clinic to help those dealing with arthritis build strength without stressing their joints.

Lower Body Exercises

Glute Bridge

Strong glutes and hamstrings are absolutely vital to protecting your back and knee joints from arthritis. The glute bridge is the safest and most effective exercise to build strength in the glute/hamstring complex.

Clam Shells

Building strength in the glute med muscle group is important for back, hip, and knee health as well as stability while on the single leg (i.e. walking, running, hiking). The clamshell is an safe, entry level exercise to strengthen the glute med.

The Step Up

The step up is a beginning lunge exercise that places less stress on your joints. Vary step height and weight for your ability level.

The Air Squat

The squat is an important full body movement that targets the glutes and hamstrings. Learning, understanding, and practicing the squat will help limit pain and stiffness from arthritis.

The Kettlebell Deadlift

The deadlift is one of the best exercises to improve movement patterns and build strength to protect your joints. Starting with a kettlebell is a safer variation for those dealing with arthritis.

Upper Body Exercises

Single Arm Dumbell Row

Strengthening your upper back is a great way to build back strength for healthy, pain free shoulders. The dumbell row allows you to control the weight making it a great exercise for all ability levels.


Easily my favorite  exercise for strong, healthy shoulders. Facepulls build strength in the upper back to bring balance and strength to your shoulder complex.

Rear Delt Fly’s

Another great exercise to target the muscles in the upper back. The rear delt fly can be done without weight, bands, or dumbbells depending on your ability level.

Single Arm Dumbell Bench Press

The bench press is a great push exercise to build strength in your pecs. Starting with dumbbells allows you to control the weight making it safer for those with arthritis.

Kneeling Shoulder Press

The press is another important movement for healthy, pain free shoulders. The kneeling press is a safe and effective exercise to introduce the press movement.

Core Exercises


The plank is a simple, safe, and effective exercise to build core strength. These isometric contractions allow you to target your core muscles without stressing your joints.

The Side Plank

A plank variation that targets your obliques and lower back stabilizers. The side plank is a great exercise to limit the wear and tear on your spine making it a great exercise for those with arthritis. May be difficult to perform for those with shoulder pain.

Pallof Press

‘Anti-rotation’ exercises are used to better control the impact on yoru spine as you move through your day. The pallof press is a safe and effective variation for those with arthritis.

Birddog Row

A traditional posture exercise, this variation of the Birddog utilizes your core to mainatin balance while performing. Give this one a try, it’s harder than it looks!

Farmer’s Carry

Functional core strengthening exercises are designed to build strength movements we use through the day. Weighted Carry’s are the most effective functional core strength exercises for those with arthritis.

Weight lifting with arthritis is one of the best thing you can do to ease pain, keep active, and maintain your lifestyle as you get older. Finding low impact exercises with a strong focus on proper form will help you build strength without stressing your joints. To get started with your own weight lifting program for arthritis be sure to download our free program ‘Solving Pain With Strength’ at the link below.

Limited By Arthritis? Get Started With Our Free Program

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

2 thoughts on “Weight Lifting With Arthritis: 15 Exercises To Build Strength Without Stressing Your Joints”

  1. I’m гeaⅼly impressed with your writing skills and also with the layout
    on your blog. Is thіs a paіd theme or dіd you customize it yourself?
    Either way keep up the exceⅼlent quality writing,
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    1. Dr. Carl Baird DC, MS

      Thank you for the kind words. I believe we used the Astra theme in WordPress. We use Elementor to help design. Hope that helps!

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