You Can Still Use a Kettlebell with Bad Knees, Here’s How

Kettlebell With Bad Knees

If you have trouble with bad knees, you can still receive the benefits of using a kettlebell without having to band your knees all the way.

Kettlebell exercises such as high knees, side swings, single-leg deadlifts, step-ups, alternating knee lifts, and squats can strengthen bad knees. Running, jumping, and kickboxing exercises should be avoided to reduce strain on the knees.

Here is how you can use a kettlebell, even with bad knees.

Kettlebell Exercises for Bad Knees

High knees

Since the hip abductors are responsible for maintaining pelvic motion and body alignment, high knees are a great exercise since they combine your strength with balance.

How to do this exercise:

  • Start in a standing position with your feet hip-width apart from each other with the kettlebell held in your hands.
  • Raise your right knee to hip height as you exhale. This helps to maintain a strong core.
  • Take deep breaths while lowering your right leg back to your starting position.
  • Do the same thing using your left leg?
  • After you have reached your desired number of repeats of this exercise, keep alternating your legs.

When performing this exercise, maintain a strong posture during this motion. When you start raising your knees, try not to let your knees cave in. Then make sure your arms are moving forward and backward, going at the same time with your legs. Try keeping your balance to increase movement.

Side swings

This exercise requires a force of the hips. One of the safest ways you can use a kettlebell with bad knees is the side swing. When swinging the kettlebell on one side of your body, more weight is being pulled over your lower extremities and your hips.

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How to do this exercise:

  • Stand straight and hold the dumbbells in front of your thighs.
  • Pull the left dumbbell towards your chest and raise the right dumbbell towards your right side.
  • Lower both dumbbells, reverse your arms, and repeat this.

Keep your back flat, and your neck relaxed and open. Open your chest and breathe out while you slowly lift the dumbbells. Squeeze your shoulders and your back at the top of the lift. Maintain your core and inhale while lowering your dumbbells back to your original position.

Single leg deadlifts

The purpose of single-leg deadlifts is to focus on strengthening your hip while limiting your motion at the knees. Maintaining a single-leg stance is a challenge to keep your control and balance. However, the pain areas of your legs and knees can be strengthened by doing functional movements.

How to do this exercise:

  • Stand on one leg with your knee bent slightly while holding a dumbbell in each hand.
  • Start bending at the hips while extending your free leg behind you.
  • Lower your torso till you are parallel to the floor.
  • Return to standing position and repeat this with your opposite leg.


A step-up is a simple body resistance exercise that works your muscles in the legs. Step-ups target the quadriceps, and it conditions the lower body.

How to do this exercise:

  • Step up with your right foot, pressing through the heel to straighten your right leg.
  • Bring your left foot towards your right foot on the top of the step.
  • Bend your right knee while stepping down with your left foot.
  • Bring your right foot down to meet your left foot on the ground.
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Stand with a step, plyo box, or a high-quality weight-lifting bench directly in front of you. Hold your set of dumbbells in your hands at shoulder level.

Alternating knee lifts

Knee lifts are a cardiovascular exercise that benefits those with bad knees. Knee lifts work out your abdominal muscles, hips, and oblique muscles.

How to do this exercise:

  • Start in a squat position with your weight back on your heels and arms next to your side. Hold your dumbbells in both hands.
  • Squeeze your glutes as you press up and lift up your right knee while curling the weights to your shoulders.
  • Slowly start lowering the weights back down into a squat position. Repeat this with your left knee.

Many people end up swinging their arms too far forward. To prevent this from happening, you should incorporate little arm movements such as when you go jogging. Having too much movement can make it more difficult to maintain a solid core during this exercise.


Kettlebell With Bad Knees

Knowing how to do squats with dumbbells can better your workout performance and how you function in your day-to-day life. The benefits of doing squats with dumbbells are key for strengthening your entire lower body.

How to do this exercise:

  • Stand with your feet wider than hip width with your toes facing the front.
  • Bring your hips back while bending at the knees and ankles. press your knees slightly.
  • Sit in a squat position while keeping your heels and toes on the ground. While doing this, keep your chest up and shoulders back.
  • Eventually, you should be parallel, meaning your knees are bent at a 90-degree angle.
  • Press into your heels and straighten your legs to return to a standing position.
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Aim to do three sets of 10-20 repetitions at least three times a week. This can enable you to give your lower body muscles a workout while being able to recover in between sets.

Are Kettlebell Swings Bad for the Knees?

Kettlebell swings are good for the knees when you are doing the exercises with the proper form. If you try to swing the bell and slam it into your knee, then yes, kettlebells are very bad for your knees. If you are doing the exercise properly, you should not have a ton of knee flexion.

Kettlebell swings are a hip-dominant hinging motion that actually takes the pressure off the knees when doing these exercises. If you have bad knees, doing kettlebell swings is a great way to strengthen the connection from the ground up.

You are actually strengthening your lower legs, quads, and everything else without putting tons of pressure on your knees. Make sure you are ready for this step before going into it. Don’t perform these exercises if you have severe pain.


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